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.

2021 Joan F. Kaywell Books Save Lives Award

  • The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

2020 Joan F. Kaywell Books Save Lives Award

  • Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather
  • Losers Bracket by Chris Crutcher
  • PoetX by Elizabeth Acevedo

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

2017 Joan F. Kaywell Books Save Lives Award

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

2016 Joan F. Kaywell Books Save Lives Award

impossible knife of memory cover
  • The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (Viking/Penguin)
a list of things that didn't kill me cover truth about alice cover
  • 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)

2015 Joan F. Kaywell Books Save Lives Award

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

2014 Joan F. Kaywell Books Save Lives Award

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