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YALSA announces 2020 William C. Morris Award finalists

CHICAGO – The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), has selected five books as finalists for the 2020 William C. Morris Award, which honors the year’s best book written for young adults by a previously unpublished author.

YALSA will name the 2020 award winner at the Youth Media Awards at 8 a.m. E.T., on Monday, January 27, 2020 in Philadelphia, during the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits. 

The 2020 finalists are:

  • “The Candle and the Flame” written by Nafiza Azad, published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic
  • “The Field Guide to the North American Teenager” written by Ben Philippe, published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
  • “Frankly in Love” written by David Yoon, published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House
  • “Genesis Begins Again” written by Alicia D. Williams, published by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
  • “There Will Come a Darkness” written by Katy Rose Pool, published by Henry Holt, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

The 2020 Morris Committee selected the finalists after hours of online discussions and video conferencing. The quality of this year’s submitted titles made deciding on the five finalists both a personal challenge and professional responsibility,” said Terry Young, chair of the 2020 William C. Morris Award committee. “The selected titles include book one of a fantasy trilogy featuring five distinct voices and a secret prophecy; a standalone fantasy where there is power in names; a contemporary look at colorism and its affects in middle school; a romance where the main character reconsiders everything about relationships, identity, and race; and a fictional field guide to American high school life as told by a black French Canadian.  A plethora of genres were represented in the submitted titles. The selected finalists will captivate and enthrall readers all the way through with a diversity of characters that readers will want to connect with.”

The Morris Award is named after William C. Morris, an influential innovator in the publishing world and an advocate for marketing books for children and young adults. William “Bill” Morris left an impressive mark on the field of children’s and young adult literature. He was beloved in the publishing field and the library profession for his generosity and marvelous enthusiasm for promoting literature for children and teens.

More information on the finalists and the award can be found on the Morris Award page. Publishers and library staff can purchase finalist seals to place on the finalist titles at . For more information on the Morris Award or YALSA’s other young adult literature awards, please visit .

YALSA will host a reception honoring the finalists and the winner, as well as YALSA’s Nonfiction Award finalists and winner, at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting and Exhibits on January 27 from 10:30 a.m. to noon in the Grand Ballroom E/F at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. Tickets to the reception can be purchased in advance for $25. See a full list of YALSA’s events and programs at the Midwinter Meeting on YALSA’s Midwinter wiki page.

Members of the 2020 William C. Morris Award Committee are: chair Terry Young, School Libraries Work, New Orleans; Diane Fuller, Gilman School, Baltimore; Diana Tixier Herald, Mesa (Colo.) County Libraries; Carrie Kausch, Falls Church (Va.) High School; Kristen Kwisnek, Severn School, Severna Park, Md.; Katrina Ortega, New York Public Library; Anjelica Rufus-Barnes, Prospect Heights (Ill.) Public Library District; Elizabeth Saxton; and Rachel Zuffa, J.I. Case High School, Racine, Wis. 

The mission of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) is to support library staff in alleviating the challenges teens face, and in putting all teens ‒ especially those with the greatest needs ‒ on the path to successful and fulfilling lives. For more information about YALSA or to access national guidelines and other resources go to, or contact Macey Morales, deputy director, ALA Communications and Marketing Office.

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