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Jason Reynolds Wins 2023 Edwards Award for ‘When I was the Greatest,’ ‘The Boy in the Black Suit,’ ‘All American Boys,’ ‘Ghost” and “Long Way Down’

NEW ORLEANS — Jason Reynolds is the recipient of the 2023 Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring his significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens for “When I was the Greatest,” “The Boy in the Black Suit,” “All American Boys,” “Ghost” and “Long Way Down.” The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), announced the award today during the ALA’s LibLearnX: The Library Learning Experience held Jan. 27-30, in New Orleans. 

In his writing, Jason Reynolds presents teens with authentic mirrors and windows to the world.

“When I was the Greatest” depicts how Ali, Needles, and Noodles’ new friendship changes as they navigate their busy, vibrant Brooklyn neighborhood.

Matt is “The Boy in the Black Suit,” a teen whose job in a local funeral home helps him begin the healing process after his mother’s death.

“All American Boys,” coauthored by Brendan Kiely, addresses themes of police brutality and white privilege when Rashad is attacked by a police officer and Quinn has to decide whether or not to remain silent.

“Ghost,” newest member of the Defenders track team, learns how to stop running from his past and start running toward his future.

“Long Way Down” follows Will on his journey down an elevator while he considers avenging his brother’s death.

Each of Reynolds’ books creates opportunities for discussion and reflection among teens.

“Reynolds shows teens that life is full of choices. His immense respect for teens is obvious and many will feel “seen” in his stories,” said Edwards Committee Chair Dr. Joni Richards Bodart.

Jason Reynolds will be honored at the YALSA Edwards Award Luncheon at the YA Services Symposium and presented with a citation and cash prize of $2,000. The award is sponsored by School Library Journal.

The award is named in honor of the late Margaret A. Edwards, a pioneer in providing library services to young adults. Through her work at Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Edwards demonstrated that only through literature would young adults move beyond themselves into a larger world.

Members of the 2023 Edwards Committee are: Chair Joni Bodart, San Jose State University School of Information, Stockton, California; Sarah Carpenter, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Brook Park, Ohio; Candace Fox, Parma, Ohio; Susan Polos, Greenwich Country Day School, Connecticut; and Celeste Swanson, The Lane Libraries, Richmond, Indiana.

The mission of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) is networking, advocacy, and professional development. The Young Adult Library Services Association empowers all those involved in the profession to provide equitable, diverse, and inclusive teen services. For more information about YALSA or to access national guidelines and other resources drive to 

For information on the Margaret A. Edwards Award and other ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit


American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, ALA has been the trusted voice for libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit


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