Joan F. Kaywell Books Save Lives Award

The Kaywell Award, originally given by the Florida Council of Teachers of English (FCTE) and now part of the Hipple Collection of Young Adult Literature in Special Collections at the University of South Florida, is given to the book that best represents an adolescent’s overcoming a situation–not of his or her own making—in such a way to provide significant insight and hope to a reader. It was named in honor of Dr. Joan F. Kaywell, a professor of English Education at USF and long-time leader in the Council. Dr. Kaywell gave the inaugural awards to representative authors who write books that save lives to Laurie Halse Anderson & Chris Crutcher in 2012 and then to Ellen Hopkins & Walter Dean Myers in 2013. The first book to receive the award is Lesléa Newman’s October Mourning.

2019 Joan F. Kaywell Books Save Lives Award

  • How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringiyimana with Abigail Pesta
  • Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  • The Border by Steve Schafer


2018 Joan F. Kaywell Books Save Lives Award

  • Memory of Light by Francisco Stork
  • The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter
  • Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
highly illogical behavior cover
the first time she drowned cover
memory of light cover

2017 Joan F. Kaywell Books Save Lives Award

  • Positive by Paige Rawl with Ali Benjamin (HarperCollins)
  • Punch Like a Girl by Karen Krossing (Orca Book Publishers)
  • All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely (Atheneum/Simon & Schuster)
punch like a girl cover
positive cover
all american boys

2016 Joan F. Kaywell Books Save Lives Award

  • The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (Viking/Penguin)
  • The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu (Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan)
  • A List of Things That Didn’t Kill Me by Jason Schmidt (Farrar Straus Giroux/Macmillan)
impossible knife of memory cover
truth about alice cover
a list of things that didn't kill me cover

2015 Joan F. Kaywell Books Save Lives Award

  • Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina (Candlewick)
  • FreakBoy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark (Farrar Straus Giroux/Macmillan)
  • Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic)
yaqui delgado wants to kick your ass cover
freakboy cover
openly straight cover

2014 Joan F. Kaywell Books Save Lives Award

  • October Mourning by Lesléa Newman (Candlewick)
  • The Theory of Everything by J.J. Johnson (Peachtree)
  • Runaway Girl by Carissa Phelps (Viking/Penguin)
october mourning cover
theory of everything cover
runaway girl cover