Literature with “A Positive Approach to Life”

WaldenAwardIn response to those challengers of young adult fiction who ask “Why Can’t Teachers Assign Happy Books?”, the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award is given “for a book that exemplifies literary excellence, widespread appeal, and a positive approach to life in young adult literature.”  The award has beem presented annually since 2009 by ALAN, the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE.

This Monday, August 8, 2016, ALAN announced the winner and four finalists of its 2016 Amelia Elizabeth All American BoysWalden Award, an award  in honor of educator, YA author, and YA literature pioneer, Amelia Elizabeth Walden. The award goes to titles that meet the following criteria:

 “Per Walden’s request, honor and winning titles must be a work of fiction, ideally a novel (stand-alone or part of a series); be published within one year prior to the call for titles; be published in the United States but WaldenAwardFinalists2016may have been published elsewhere prior; and possess a positive approach to life, widespread teen appeal, and literary merit (please see this document for additional details about these criteria).”


Kellee Moye wrote on the Nerdy Book Club blog about her experience as chair of the Walden Award committee and her pride in the selections chosen to win the award,

“Through my four years serving, I have been so proud of the novels that have been chosen because I know that each of the books not only is beautifully written, but will be loved by teens and will influence their readers in such a positive way.”

In“Meeting the Standards: Criteria for Great YA Literature,” Teri Lesesne paraphrases from Ted Hipple’s criteria for evaluating YA literature:

• The book beats others at the common games: vocabulary, character development, and authorial moral concern.
• The book has classroom usefulness.
• The book reflects real life and has artistry in detail.

In this Voices from the Middle “Book Talk” column, Lesesne notes the biggest criteria for teachers to keep in mind when selecting classroom texts:



About Millie Davis

Millie Davis is Senior Developer for Affiliates, and Director of the Intellectual Freedom Center at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). In addition she works on NCTE’s communications efforts, particularly on social media. Millie's passion is working with literacy teachers across the country and beyond whose passion for their students and their students' learning is their reason for going to work each day.

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