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MARGARET A. EDWARDS AWARD FOR
OUTSTANDING LITERATURE
FOR YOUNG ADULTS

 

The Margaret A. Edwards Award for Outstanding Literature For Young Adults is awarded by the Young Adult Library Services Association of the American Library Association. It is given to an author for lifetime achievement in writing for teenager, whose work helps teenagers to better understand themselves and their world. Click on the author’s name or titles to view the Library's online catalog.

View all Teens Booklists.

 
2008 - Orson Scott Card
Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow both published by Tor Books, present a future where a global government trains gifted young children from around the world in the art of interstellar warfare, hoping to find a leader whose skills can prevent a second attack upon humanity by the insect-like aliens descriptively nicknamed "buggers." Young Andrew "Ender" Wiggin may be the savior they seek. He is not alone, as seen in the companion tale, Ender's Shadow, where orphaned Bean relates his own Battle School experiences. Just as the stories of Ender and Bean are paralleled in the novels, their experiences echo those of teens, beginning as children navigating in an adult world and growing into a state of greater awareness of themselves, their communities and the larger universe.
 
2007 -- Lowis Lowry

Lois Lowry's "The Giver," published by Walter Lorraine Books/Houghton Mifflin Company, explores a future where differences have been erased and strict rules govern society. The novel tells the story of Jonas, a young man designated as the new Receiver of Memory for his community. Little by little, Lowry reveals what is absent from Jonas’ life: color, pain, love. Readers, along with Jonas, discover that lack of freedom is too heavy a price to pay for security.

 
2006 -- Jacqueline Woodson
Jacqueline Woodson’s sensitive and lyrical books reveal and give a voice to outsiders often invisible to mainstream America. " I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This,” and its sequel, “Lena,” tell a story of interracial friendship with no pat solutions to the problems of race, class, abandonment and abuse, while a compassionate community offers hope and support. A young boy records his fears that his mother’s new lesbian relationship will change their family bond in “From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun.” First love, tender and fragile, flowers for Ellie and Jeremiah, even as the pressure and prejudice of society work against them in “If You Come Softly.” Preserving family is at the heart of “Miracle’s Boys,” as three very different brothers struggle to move beyond grief and loss to forge a bond strong enough to prevail against poverty, anger and the lure of the streets.
 
2005 -- Francesca Lia Block
Francesca Lia Block encourages teens to celebrate their own true selves, helping them discover what time they are upon and where they do belong. Her books, Weetzie Bat (1989), Witch Baby (1991), Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys (1992), Missing Angel Juan (1993), and Baby Be-Bop (1996), deal with the complex issues such as blended families, the many types of love, and the sometimes heartbreaking real world challenges teenagers face.
2004 -- Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin is perhaps best known for the young adult fantasy series Earthsea: A Wizard of Earthsea, originally published in 1968, The Tombs of Autuan (1971), The Farthest Shore (1972) and Tehanu (1990). "In her writing, as in her life, Ms. LeGuin takes on issues arising from the effort to live humanely in the natural world, exploring the tension between individuality and social norms," said [Edwards] Award Committee Chair Francisca Goldsmith. "In the Earthsea fantasy series, young protagonists mature not only physically, but also spiritually, as Ms. LeGuin's real world readers must in order to navigate young adulthood."
2003 -- Nancy Garden
Nancy Garden has made numerous contributions to young adult literature during her career. Her book Annie on My Mind is the bittersweet story of two young women who fall in love and was the book recognized by the Margaret A. Edwards Award committee. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Garden spent her childhood moving frequently with her family. These experiences led to her interest in reading and storytelling. Garden's books are cited for their ability to help students feel more at ease with difficult and sometimes controversial issues.
2002 -- Paul Zindel
Paul Zindel is a best-selling author of young adult works who has pioneered the genre’s break with romanticism toward a more realistic mode. Zindel’s characters are often desperately unhappy. His stories do not have tidy endings or shallow platitudes about a perfect world. Quite the contrary: Zindel deals honestly with loneliness, eccentricity, escapism, sexual tension, and drug and alcohol abuse. As Theodore W. Hipple puts it in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, the author has produced “a steady stream of novels that explore teenagers’ lives in realistic ways.” In Elementary English, Beverly A. Haley and Kenneth L. Donelson note that Zindel “looks at the world through the eyes of adolescents, many kinds of adolescents, all trying to find some meaning in a world apparently gone mad, all concerned with man’s cruelty and ‘matters of consequence.’”
2001 -- Robert Lipsyte
Lipsyte’s publications for young adults have been praised as unsentimental books featuring characters who experience a transformation through a combination of hard work and adherence to ethics. Not surprisingly, the majority of the author’s books also involve aspects of athletics and, because of his experience as a sportswriter, Lipsyte is considered an authority in the field of children’s sports stories. As a sportswriter, Lipsyte was an integral part of this subculture he has christened “SportsWorld,” and his disillusionment with certain athletic conventions has thus been deemed noteworthy. In his work SportsWorld: An American Dreamland, Lipsyte recapitulates his career as a sportswriter, using encounters with athletes in baseball, football, basketball, boxing, and tennis to give examples of and validate his philosophy.
2000 -- Chris Crutcher
“Writing with vitality and authority that stems from personal experience in Running Loose, Stotan!, and The Crazy Horse Electric Game, Chris Crutcher gives readers the inside story on young men, sports, and growing up,” writes Christine McDonnell in Horn Book magazine. “His heroes--sensitive, reflective young men, far from stereotypic jocks--use sports as an arena to test personal limits; to prove stamina, integrity and identity; and to experience loyalty and cooperation as well as competition.”
1999 -- Anne McCaffrey
Science-fiction’s much-heralded “Dragon Lady,” Anne McCaffrey, resides in Ireland in a home called Dragonhold, where she produces, among her other novels, the fantastic tales of the dragonriders of Pern. A planet protected from deadly spores by fire-breathing dragons and their human partners, Pern is a former colony of Earth which has lost much of its knowledge of science and history. In such novels as Dragonflight, Dragonquest: Being the Further Adventures of the Dragonriders of Pern, and The White Dragon, McCaffrey presents Pern as a land in which “social structure, tensions, legends, and traditions are all based on the fundamental ecological battle [against the ‘Thread’ spores] and on the empathetic kinship between dragon and rider,” Debra Rae Cohen comments in Crawdaddy.
1998 -- Madeleine L’Engle
Madeleine L’Engle is a writer who resists easy classification. She has successfully published plays, poems, essays, autobiography, and novels for both children and adults. She is probably best known for her “Time Fantasy” series of children’s books: A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters. These novels combine elements of science fiction and fantasy with L’Engle’s constant themes of Christian faith, family love, and moral responsibility.
1997 -- Gary Paulsen
Now a prolific author of coming-of-age stories, novels, and how-to books aimed at a younger audience, Paulsen has also written nonfiction works on such topics as hunting, trapping, farming, animals, medicine, sports, and outdoor life. Paulsen trapped and hunted as a youth and ran the Iditarod (a 1200-mile Alaska dogsled race) in 1983, and the subjects of most of his books reflect this experience with the wilderness. Tracker, for instance, tells the story of a thirteen- year-old boy who must hunt alone for the first time to put meat on the table. Paulsen describes the spiritual relationship that develops between the hunter and his prey and how the deer’s acceptance of death helps the boy come to terms with his grandfather’s imminent death. Dogsong is a story of a boy’s coming of age on the northern tundra. Eugene J. Lineham in Best Sellers praises Paulsen’s writing style, noting: “There is poetic majesty in the descriptions without a touch of condescension to the young.”
1996 -- Judy Blume
In the nearly thirty years since she published her first book, Judy Blume has become one of the most popular and controversial authors for children writing today. Her accessible, humorous style and direct, sometimes explicit treatment of youthful concerns have won her many fans--as well as critics who sometimes seek to censor her work. Nevertheless, Blume has continued to produce works that are both entertaining and thought-provoking. “Judy Blume has a knack for knowing what children think about and an honest, highly amusing way of writing about it,” Jean Van Leeuwen states in the New York Times Book Review. Newsweek likewise reports that Angeline Moscatt, head librarian of the Children’s Room of the New York Library, believes Blume “has a way of portraying human foibles in a way kids can relate to. In twenty years, I’ve never seen such a popular children’s author.”
1995 -- Cynthia Voigt
Since her first young-adult novel, Homecoming, appeared in 1981, Cynthia Voigt has had more than a dozen books published and has received the prestigious Newbery Medal for Homecoming’s sequel, Dicey’s Song. In a Voigt novel, notes Washington Post Book World contributing critic Alice Digilio, the author “never takes sides in the war of generations. Instead she promotes understanding between adults and children, and she values the efforts of children, as well as those of adults, to appreciate the other’s point of view.”
1994 -- Walter Dean Myers
Walter Dean Myers is commonly recognized as one of modern literature’s premier authors of fiction for young African-American and black people. Two of his novels for teens, The Young Landlords and Motown and Didi: A Love Story, have won the prestigious Coretta Scott King Award, and his text for the picture book Where Does the Day Go? received the Council on Interracial Books for Children Award in 1969. As Carmen Subryan notes in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, “Whether he is writing about the ghettos of New York, the remote countries of Africa, or social institutions, Myers captures the essence of the developing experiences of youth.”
1993 -- M.E. Kerr (Marijane Meaker)
Marijane Meaker explains in an essay for Something About the Author Autobiography Series that it was the combination of reading Paul Zindel and teaching writing classes at Commercial Manhattan Central High School that prompted her to try writing for the young adult audience. Until then, Meaker had been spending most of her time writing suspense stories under the pseudonym Vin Packer and nonfiction under her own name and the pseudonym Ann Aldrich. In her autobiographical essay, Meaker discusses the publication of her first young adult novel, Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack!: “Since I love pseudonyms,” says Meaker, “I decided to call myself M. E. Kerr, a play on my last name, Meaker.” When the book was actually successful, Meaker decided to take a second look at the category of young adult fiction.
1992 -- Lois Duncan
Lois Duncan’s young adult novels of suspense and the supernatural have made her a favorite of adult critics and young readers alike. According to Times Literary Supplement reviewer Jennifer Moody, Duncan is “popular ... not only with the soft underbelly of the literary world, the children’s book reviewers, but with its most hardened carapace, the teenage library book borrower.” “Duncan understands the teenage world and its passionate concerns with matters as diverse as dress, death, romance, school, self-image, sex and problem parents,” Times Literary Supplement contributor Sarah Hayes notes. But while other writers for young adults show life in a humorous, optimistic light, the critic explains, “Duncan suggests that life is neither as prosaic nor as straightforward as it seems at first.” As a result, Leigh Dean comments in the Children’s Book Review Service, Duncan’s readers look for “unconventional characters, and situations steeped in danger, magic, and intrigue.”
1991 -- Robert Cormier
Robert Cormier is widely acclaimed for his powerful and disturbing novels for young adult readers, though his realistic subject matter--including murder, sex, and terminal illness--has at times made his work controversial. His novels, which include The Chocolate War and I Am the Cheese, often involve teenage protagonists faced with difficult, uncompromising situations. “A lot of people underestimate that intelligent teenager out there,” Cormier noted in an interview for Authors and Artists for Young Adults. “These kids today, I’m talking about the sensitive, intelligent kid, are really far ahead of a lot of adults. They have been exposed to so much. Anybody who writes down to these people is making a mistake.”
1990 -- Richard Peck
Richard Peck’s books on such important teen-age problems as suicide, unwanted pregnancy, death of a loved one, and rape have won critical acclaim for their realism and emotional power. Peck has written over a dozen very popular books for young adults, books that assist young readers in the development of self-confidence. He has also written adult novels that show a commitment to eliminating sexual stereotypes. When writing for young adults, he told Roger Sutton in a School Library Journal interview, he tries to keep his reader in mind: “As I’m typing I’m trying to look out over the typewriter and see faces. I don’t certainly want to ְwrite for myself’ because I’m trying to write across a generation gap.” In books for both age groups, Peck told Jean F. Mercier in Publishers Weekly, he tries to “give readers leading characters they can look up to and reasons to believe that problems can be solved.” The excellence of his work has been recognized by Author Achievement Award in 1990.
1989 -- No Award
1988 -- S.E. Hinton
Novelist S. E. Hinton is credited with revolutionizing the young adult genre by portraying teenagers realistically rather than formulaically and by creating characters, settings, and dialogue that are representative of teenage life in America. Her classic, The Outsiders (published in 1967 when she was seventeen years old), was the first in her short but impressive list of books to feature troubled but sensitive male adolescents as protagonists. Hinton’s subjects include social-class rivalry, poverty, alcoholism, drug addiction, and the cruelty teenagers often inflict on each other and on themselves. Film rights to all five of her novels have been acquired, and four have been adapted as major motion pictures.
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