THUMBS UP! AWARD

The Thumbs Up! Award recognizes and promotes an outstanding contribution to teen literature that has both literary quality and teen appeal for those 13 to 18 years of age. The award was established in 1986 by the Teen Services Division of the Michigan Library Association. Since 2001, the selection process has also included a teen vote.

Thumbs Up! Award Guidelines (pdf)

Submit a nomination for the 2022 Thumbs Up! Award using the online form:

2022 Thumbs Up! Award Nomination Form

Thumbs Up! Award seal - image of hand giving thumbs up sign

Award Seals

Download the Thumbs Up! Award seals to use at your library! Winner, Honor Book and Top Ten Title award seals are available for download here: MLA Thumbs Up Award Seals 2020.pdf

We also have graphics and handouts and we welcome and encourage you to use these in your library or on your library's website!

2021 Thumbs Up! Award

The 2021 work group, chaired by Tracy Bedford, Rochester Hills Public Library, considered 82 titles, reading, evaluating, reviewing and deliberating for more than 4,000 hours to select the top titles for teens aged 13-18 published in 2020.

2021 Thumbs Up! Award Work Group

  • Chair: Tracy Bedford, Rochester Hills Public Library
  • Vice-Chair: Kristen Jayska, Livonia Public Library
  • Kayla Dies, Paw Paw District Library
  • Shanni Kerr, Ionia Community Library 
  • Becky Mangini, Chesterfield Public Library 
  • Amanda Shepard, Herrick District Library 
  • Sarah Swiderski, Salem-South Lyon District Library
  • Sarah Welch, Big Rapids Community Library

2021 Thumbs Up! Award Winner

The winner of the 2020 Thumbs Up! Award is Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam, published by Balzer and Bray (Harper Collins).

In Punching the Air, Amal, sixteen years old, is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. He is tempted to succumb to his rage and despair, until his art, and his words, give him a purpose.  He knows this shouldn’t be his story and he will use his talents to change it.

Writing this book, Ibi Zoboi worked with prison-reform activist Yusef Salaam, one of the Central Park Five, wrongly convicted and eventually proven innocent only after spending years imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Their collaboration lends a true voice to Amal’s story and makes for a gripping read of this novel in verse.

"Punching the Air is a gripping story set in a prison, which is a setting not often found in YA literature," said 2021 Work Group Chair Tracy Bedford, Rochester Hills Public Library. "The design of the book, with verse and black and white illustration make the setting something the reader could almost feel. The fact that the author collaborated with one of the Central Park Five lends to the accuracy of the story and made this a truly special book."

The winners and honor books of the 2021 Youth Literary Awards were announced on March 12, 2021, at Spring Institute for Youth Services 2021 during the Literary Awards Lunch Break. Watch the video announcement:

2021 Thumbs Up! Award Honor Books

The 2020 Thumbs Up! Award Honor books include Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson, Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles,The Snow Fell Three Graves Deep by Allan Wolf, and A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown.

2021 Thumbs Up! Award Teen Choice

Teens aged 13 to 18 from throughout Michigan voted online for their favorite book from the Top Ten Titles to determine the 2021 Thumbs Up! Teen Choice. The winner of the 2020 Teen Choice is Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds, Ibram X. Kendi.

2021 Thumbs Up! Award Top Ten Titles

Thumbs Up Award Top Ten Title Book covers of Burn by Patrick Ness  Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo  Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender  Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson  Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles  Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam  The Snow Fell Three Graves Deep by Allan Wolf  A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown  Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds, Ibram X. Kendi

  • Burn by Patrick NessThumbs Up! Award seal with cartoon image of a hand giving a thumbs up sign.
  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
  • Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson
  • Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles
  • Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam
  • The Snow Fell Three Graves Deep by Allan Wolf
  • A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds, Ibram X. Kendi
  • What I Carry by Jennifer Longo

Download the Thumbs Up! Top Ten Titles Teen Vote flyer(pdf) and share it with your teen patrons!

Past Thumbs Up! Award Winners and Honor Books

2013 | 2014 | 201520162017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 2021

Thumbs Up! Award Winners and Honor Books (pdf).

Thumbs Up! Home

 


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