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.

2021 Joan F. Kaywell Books Save Lives Award

Winner:
  • The Last True Poets of the Sea
    by Julia Drake
Finalists:
  • With the Fire on High
    by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • Anger is a Gift
    by Mark Oshiro

2020 Joan F. Kaywell Books Save Lives Award

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

2019 Joan F. Kaywell Books Save Lives Award

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

2018 Joan F. Kaywell Books Save Lives Award

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

2017 Joan F. Kaywell Books Save Lives Award

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

2016 Joan F. Kaywell Books Save Lives Award

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

2015 Joan F. Kaywell Books Save Lives Award

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

2014 Joan F. Kaywell Books Save Lives Award

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