Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults

Beginning this month, Popular Paperbacks, along with Quick Picks and Amazing Audiobooks, is being transitioned over to the Hub. Transitioning the selected lists to The Hub will offer a better opportunity to highlight books that are being considered for each list in a more timely and easily accessible manner as well as provide members with more virtual participation opportunities. More info can be found here.

Policies and Procedures


To annually prepare one to five annotated list(s) of at least ten and no more than twenty-five recommended paperback titles, selected from popular genres, topics or themes.

Purpose of the List

To encourage young adults to read for pleasure by presenting to them lists of popular or topical titles which are widely available in paperback and which represent a broad variety of accessible themes and genres.


Young adults, ages twelve to eighteen.

Committee Members

Committee members, including administrative assistants and chairs, are appointed by YALSA's President-Elect and serve a term of one year. Committee members may be selected to serve a concurrent, second one-year term based on the member's first year performance and his/her interest and availability in serving another year, for a total of a two-year maximum concurrent term length on the committee

Members who have served two consecutive years as a member and/or administrative assistant may not be appointed to the same committee for three years from the conclusion of their last term. This guideline will not apply to the Chair.  In extreme circumstances, and at the President’s discretion, an exception may be made if a committee member resigns suddenly.  The President, after discussion with the Committee Chair, may determine that the best course of action is to fill the vacancy with an experienced committee member, and appoint a member in good standing who successfully served on the committee in question during the previous three years.


One member of the committee will be appointed by the Vice President/President-Elect to serve as Chair for a one-year term. While the primary role of the Chair is to facilitate the work of the Committee, the Chair will have the right to participate in all Committee activities.

Committee Organization

The first order of Committee business will be determining the number of lists it will produce and selecting the genres, topics or themes to be considered (no more than five). Once the possible themes are created, the Chair will submit the topics to the Chair of the Selection and Award Oversight Committee for committee approval before reading begins.  The Committee may operate as a committee of the whole, collectively discussing as many as five topics and producing an equal number of lists, or, if it chooses to address more than one, it may wish to subdivide so that each of its subcommittees deals with only one genre, topic or theme (again, there may be no more than five subcommittees) and produces its own list of at least ten and no more than twenty-five recommended paperback titles. 

Selection Criteria

Titles must be in print and available in paperback.

  1. Both young adult and adult titles may be considered.
  2. Popularity is more important than literary quality.
  3. Both fiction and non-fiction may be considered.
  4. Copyright dates are not a consideration.
  5. A book which has appeared on a previous Popular Paperbacks list can be selected after 5 years have passed since it last appeared on the list.
  6. Nominations from authors or publishers for their own titles are not eligible for the list.
  7. Each committee will have the latitude to select its own topics that meet the latest teen needs and interests, subject to prior approval by the Selection and Award Committees Oversight Committee (this will ensure the inclusion of timely topics, current trends, and emerging teen audiences/populations), but as a matter of course certain perennially popular genres, topics or themes should be considered. Some examples are adventure, autobiography/biography/diaries, fantasy, historical fiction, horror, humor, music, mystery, new voices, romance, science fiction, short stories, sports, suspense, and thrillers.   Another focus for themes that each committee should explore are titles aimed at a particular underserved or emerging teen audiences.  Each committee should also seek out opportunities to tie their committee’s work to relevant YALSA initiatives, especially ones with annual themes that could be supported by PPYA, such as the YA Services Symposium and Teen Read Week™. 
  8. Standard selection criteria consistent with the ALA Library Bill of Rights shall be applied.
  9. Librarianship focuses on individuals, in all their diversity, and that focus is a fundamental value of the Young Adult Library Services Association and its members. Diversity is, thus, honored in the Association and in the collections and services that libraries provide to young adults.

Suggested Selection Procedures

  1. After topics have been selected and approved, members will begin identifying, reading and evaluating titles. 
  2. The name of each list must be clear and easily understood.  Clarity over cuteness or creativity is always a priority. 
  3. Titles available or soon available can be located by reading the paperback section of “Forecasts” in Publishers Weekly and Kliatt, and by exploring the paperback shelves of bookstores at regular intervals. To assemble a discussion list prior to Annual, members will submit nominations to the Chair by May1. The nominations shall include author, title, publisher, year of publication, price and a brief annotation specifying those qualities the member finds noteworthy. The Chair will merge the nominations into the form of a ballot for distribution to the Committee by May 15. Completed ballots must be returned to the Chair no later than June 1. Only titles receiving "yes" votes from a majority of Committee members will remain on the list for discussion at Annual. The discussion list will be distributed to Committee members no later than June 15. Committee members are expected to familiarize themselves with nominated titles to ensure a productive discussion at Annual. Members should seek copies of nominated titles in their local libraries and bookstores. The Chair may also arrange for routing of copies among Committee members. Publishers may be contacted directly by the chair only to request review copies for committee members.
  4. At least two discussion meetings at the Annual Conference will be scheduled by the Chair. At the final meeting a ballot will be taken and titles not receiving the required number of votes (typically a simple majority--see "Suggested Voting Procedures" below) will be eliminated from the working list.
  5. The period from Annual to November 1 will be used by the Committee members for further reading and evaluation. Additional nominations must be submitted to the Chair no later than November 1. Again, the Chair will merge these nominations into a ballot for distribution to the Committee by December 1. Completed ballots must be returned to the Chair no later than December 15. The resulting discussion list will be distributed to Committee members no later than the end of the first week in January.
  6. Three discussion meetings will be scheduled for Midwinter by the Chair. A final list (or lists) will be assembled by ballot at the conclusion of the third meeting. Comments from observers are welcome.

Suggested Voting Procedures

The Committee will determine its own voting procedures (most such Committees require a simple or two-thirds majority for their final vote).


After titles have been selected, the Committee will prepare a list (or lists) with necessary bibliographic information and brief annotations which should be written in a style that will capture the interest of the target audience -- young adults aged twelve to eighteen. YALSA's "Procedures for Writing and Publishing Annotations and Bibliographies" should be used for guidance. The Committee Chair will be responsible for editing the final list(s) and ensuring its/their availability to YALSA staff in hard copy and disk form no later than the final day of each Midwinter Meeting.

Comments from Observers

All Committee meetings will be open to ALA members and persons with guest badges. Persons with guest badges may speak if recognized by the chair.

Guidelines for observers are:

  1. Before the committee discusses each suggested title, an opportunity will be given to observers to make short comments, 2 minutes or less per observer, about the books but the Chair reserves the right to cut short the discussion if necessary.
  2. Publisher's representatives are requested to refrain from participating in discussion or asking for comments about their own books.

Availability of Lists for General Distribution

The list of nominations will be updated monthly. The cumulative list will be available electronically on YALSA-BK. The final list of nominations will be available after November 1.

The final list of selected titles will be available, as a press release, from the ALA Public Information Office the morning following the committee’s last meeting. The press release will be posted on YALSA-BK. The list is also available on the YALSA web site at http://www.ala.org/yalsa/popular-paperbacks-young-adults.

Approved by the YALSA Board, June 1995, October 8, 2002, June 2010.