The Alex Awards were first given annually beginning in 1998. The titles were
selected by the YALSA Adult Books for Young Adults Task Force from the previous
year's publishing and were part of the Adult Books for Young Adults Project,
which explored the role of adult books in the reading lives of teenagers and was
funded by the Margaret Alexander Edwards Trust. Edwards was a young adult
specialist for many years at the Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore. Her work is
described in her book Fair Garden and the Swarm of Beasts, and over the years
she has served as an inspiration to librarians who serve young adults. With the
approval of the Trust, the task force appointed to develop and implement the
project named the awards the Alex Awards after Edwards, who was called
“Alex” by her friends.
The task force decided to select
ten titles annually, and also decided to select a top ten list rather than a
single title or a long list because of the popularity of the concept and because
it parallels the Top Ten titles selected by the Best Books for Young Adults and
Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers committees. The task force members
also believed that selecting more than one book provided a greater variety of
titles, whereas a longer list would be less selective than desired. A top ten
list also allows for a more balanced list—fiction and nonfiction, as well as
various genres. The task force also wanted to make diversity a priority in the
In 2002 the Alex Awards were approved as
an official ALA award, and the Task Force was superseded by the Alex Awards
The charge of this committee is to select from the previous year’s
publications ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young
adults, ages 12 through 18. If ten suitable candidates cannot be selected in a
given year, the number of awards can be less than ten.
- Published in the calendar year
prior to the announcement.
- Must come from a publisher’s
- Works of joint authorship and
editorship will be eligible.
- Books published in another
country in English or in the United States in translation are eligible.
- Selected from genres that have
special appeal to young adults.
- Are potentially appealing to
- Are well written and very