Taken from the Michael L. Printz Award page from the American Library Association website.
The award-winning book may be fiction, nonfiction, poetry or an anthology.
As many as four honor titles may be selected.
Books must have been published between January 1 and December 31 of the year preceding announcement of the award.
To be eligible, a title must have been designated by its publisher as being either a young adult book or one published for the age range that YALSA defines as “young adult,” i.e., 12 through 18. Adult books are not eligible.
Works of joint authorship or editorship are eligible.
The award may be given posthumously provided the other criteria are met.
Books previously published in another country are eligible (presuming an American edition has been published during the period of eligibility).
Titles that are self-published, published only in eBook format, and/or published from a publisher outside of the US will not be considered eligible until the first year the book is available in print or distributed through a US publishing house.
If no title is deemed sufficiently meritorious, no award will be given that year.
The chair is responsible for verifying the eligibility of all nominated titles.
The Printz Award does not require the attendance of the winning authors at the awards ceremonies. However, authors will be encouraged to attend.
What is quality? We know what it is not. We hope the award will have a wide AUDIENCE among readers from 12 to 18 but POPULARITY is not the criterion for this award. Nor is MESSAGE. In accordance with the Library Bill of Rights, CONTROVERSY is not something to avoid. In fact, we want a book that readers will talk about.
Librarianship focuses on individuals, in all their diversity, and that focus is a fundamental value of the Young Adult Library Services Association and its members. Diversity is, thus, honored in the Association and in the collections and services that libraries provide to young adults.
Having established what the award is not, it is far harder to formulate what it is. As every reader knows, a great book can redefine what we mean by quality. Criteria change with time. Therefore, flexibility and an avoidance of the too-rigid are essential components of these criteria (some examples of too-rigid criteria: A realistic hope – well, what about Robert Cormier’sChocolate War or Brock Coles’ The Facts Speak for Themselves? Avoiding complicated plot – what about Louis Sachar’sHoles? Originality – what about all the mythic themes that are continually re-worked? We can all think of other great books that don’t fit those criteria.)
What we are looking for, in short, is literary excellence.
All forms of writing—fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art, and any combination of these, including anthologies—are eligible.
The following criteria are only suggested guidelines and should in no way be considered as absolutes. They will always be open to change and adaptation. Depending on the book, one or more of these criteria will apply:
- Design (including format, organization, etc.)
For each book the questions and answers will be different, the weight of the various criteria will be different.
The ALA press release announcing the winner should stipulate why the title has been chosen for its literary excellence.