The Margaret A. Edwards Award, established in 1988, honors an author's lifetime achievement for writing books that have been popular with teenagers.
The annual award is administered by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) and sponsored by School Library Journal magazine. It recognizes an author's work in helping adolescents become aware of themselves and addressing questions about their role and importance in relationships, society, and in the world.
Nominations for the award may be submitted by young adult librarians and teenagers. A judging committee is responsible for the final selection. Criteria include literary quality, popularity with young adults and how well the books satisfy the curiosity of young adults and help them develop a philosophy of life.
The author must be living at the time of the nomination. In the case of co-authors, one must be living. The book or books honored must have been published in the U.S. no less than five years prior to nomination.
The award is named in honor of the late Margaret A. Edwards, an administrator of young adult programs at Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, MD for more than 30 years. Edwards brought young adult literature and library services to the attention of the library profession. She spent her professional life bringing books and young adults together, pioneering outreach services for teenagers and establishing a stringent training program designed especially for librarians beginning their work with adolescents.
Edwards is the author of The Fair Garden and the Swarm of Beasts: The Library and the Young Adult (Hawthorne, 1969; revised and expanded 1974, o.p.) which explains her philosophy for turning young adults into readers. The publication remains a source of inspiration and guidance for librarians who work with young adults in school and public libraries.