October 16


What Sets Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Awards Apart by Kellee Moye

As a teacher I am constantly looking for recommendations of books I should read and share with my students. I look to my PLN on Twitter, Facebook, and through blogs; I attend conferences yearly; I browse Scholastic book orders; I listen to my students; and I look at awards lists to guide me. However, with so many awards out there, I never knew which awards would be the best to look at for my students. That was until 2010 when I attended the Assembly of Literature for Adolescents workshop and Fire by Kristin Cashore was honored as the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award winner. During the speech, the chair of the award committee shared that the Walden Book Award was an award that took more into account than just the literary merit of a book.

walden seal

The Walden Award was established in 2008 and named after Amelia Elizabeth Walden, a pioneer in YA who began publishing books for teens as early as 1946. She said she wrote for teens because “I respond to young people because I remember my own adolescence so vividly – and fondly. It was a period of total involvement, of enjoying life to the hilt,” so it makes complete sense that an award named after her honors books that not only have strong literary merit, but also a positive approach to life and widespread appeal. These criteria are what makes this award special. The books that meet this criteria are the books I want kids to read. The books that kids NEED to read.

In 2011, I applied to be part of the Walden committee, and I was lucky to serve with some brilliant teachers, professors, and librarians for the next two years at which time I became the chair of the committee. I ended my time on the committee this August as the past chair. 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 reader in such a positive way.


walden winners

2014 Walden Award Authors and Committee



Per Walden’s request

The selected title ‘MUST:[1]

  1. be a work of fiction, ideally a novel (stand-alone or part of a series);
  2. be published within one year prior to the call for titles;
  3. be published in the United States but may have been published elsewhere prior; and
  4. possess a positive approach to life, widespread teen appeal, and literary merit (please see below for additional guidance).

A Positive Approach to Life [1]

Submitted titles should:

  • treat teen readers as capable and thoughtful young people
  • offer hope and optimism, even when describing difficult circumstances
  • have a credible and appropriate resolution
  • portray characters involved in shaping their lives in a positive way, even as they struggle with the harsh realities of life

Widespread Teen Appeal [1]

Submitted titles should:

  • be intended expressly for readers aged 12–18
  • have universal themes that transcend time and place
  • have themes that resonate with a wide variety of readers, regardless of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation
  • provide readers with a window to the world and/or reflect their own experiences

Literary Merit [1]

Submitted titles should:

  • contain well-developed characters
  • employ well-constructed forms suitable to function
  • include language and literary devices that enhance the narrative
  • suggest cogent and richly-realized themes
  • present an authentic voice


Winners and finalists


Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King (Winner)

Diamond Boy by Michael Williams

Gabby, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Revolution (The Sixties Trilogy) by Deborah Wiles



Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (Winner)

Jumped In by Patrick Flores-Scott

The Milk of Birds by Sylvia Whitman

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Winger by Andrew Smith



The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Winner)

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secretes of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Ask the Passengers by A. S. King

Endangered by Eliot Shrefer



Shine by Lauren Myracle (Winner)

The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall



The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork (Winner)

After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick

I Will Save You by Matt de la Peña

Sorta Like a Rockstar by Matthew Quick

Wolves, Boys, & Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler



Fire by Kristin Cashore (Winner)

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

The Sweetheart of Prosper County by Jill S. Alexander



My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins & Fenway Park by Steven Kluger (Winner)

After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Me, the Missing, and the Dead by Jenny Valentine


If you are at the National Council Teachers of English conference in November, you should definitely stay for the ALAN workshop on Monday and Tuesday and specifically stay for the Walden panel on Monday afternoon. You will not regret attending!!!


To learn more about my time on the committee please visit: http://www.unleashingreaders.com/?p=4361

To learn more about the Walden Award visit: http://www.alan-ya.org/awards/walden-award/

To learn more about ALAN visit: http://www.alan-ya.org/


Kellee Moye is currently in her 10th year of teaching at Hunter’s Creek Middle School in Orlando, FL. She has taught language arts, intensive reading, ELL developmental language arts, journalism/yearbook, and advanced reading in her time there. She prides herself in her voracious classroom library, helping students find the perfect book, and continually growing as an educator. She blogs at http://www.unleashingreaders.com with another past Walden chair. You can also find her on Twitter @kelleemoye. She misses being on the Walden committee tremendously and cannot wait for the ALAN workshop in November.