About the exhibition

Up All Night: A History of the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature- An Online Exhibition

Remember what it was like to be a kid, so immersed in a great book that you stayed up past your bedtime voraciously turning pages? Or perhaps you’re a young reader now, struggling to find a story that speaks to you and reflects your surroundings and experiences. Whether you want to revisit your favorite childhood reads or discover a title or author that is totally new to you, you’ve come to the right place.

The National Book Award in Children’s Literature was first presented to the Dutch-American author Meindert DeJong for Journey from Peppermint Street in 1969. Since then, the category has had many names and included several subcategories, from Nonfiction to Picture Book, and there were a number of years when the National Book Award wasn’t presented in this category at all.* It returned in 1996, however, and has been known ever since as Young People’s Literature―an umbrella that has covered everything from graphic novels to novels-in-verse.

To present the 229 titles that have won or been nominated for the National Book Award in this category, we enlisted the help of past National Book Award Winners and Finalists, winners of our Innovations in Reading Prize, students in BookUp, our after-school reading program for middle-schoolers, and others. To view their contributions, which range from interviews and videos to collages and other artworks, click the Contributors link above.

This exhibition is for everyone: grandparents, parents, children, teachers, librarians, writers, and, of course, readers. It’s also for all those self-professed non-readers out there. We guarantee there’s something in here even for you.

Thanks for visiting, and enjoy the exhibition!

*From 1950 through 1963, the National Book Award was presented only in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry. Additional categories, such as Arts and Letters, were introduced in 1964, but the Award for Children’s Books didn’t appear until 1969. It continued in various forms through 1983, when the Awards were again reduced to only three categories. The Award for children’s literature didn’t appear again until 1996, when its current iteration, Young People’s Literature, was introduced.


  • Image by Miguel Guerra and 7robots.com  

  • Exhibition design and layout by Meredith Andrews

  • Book and author information compiled by Amy Gall

  • Appreciations curated and edited by Rebecca Keith

  • Copywriting and editing by Katie McDonough