Teen Press Conference

Where young readers meet and interview their literary heroes

One of the best school events I’ve ever attended.

—Robin Benway, National Book Award Winner

Attention students & teachers! The National Book Awards Teen Press Conference will be a virtual event—live, online, and accessible from your computers and classrooms. This year’s event will continue a decades-long tradition, bringing the excitement of the most prestigious literary award in the country to New York City’s middle and high school students.

School groups are invited to participate in a free, virtual literary event that is curated just for them with:

  • A live conversation with the Finalists for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature!
  • Exclusive access to info about Finalist books & authors!
  • Free copies of National Book Award Finalist books!

Live online event:
Wednesday November 10th
10:30am-11:30am ET

Registration is required.
Deadline: October 27

Full details on how to register for and participate in this event are included below.

Kwame Alexander. Photo credit: Portia Wiggins Photography

Hosted by: Kwame Alexander

Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, publisher, and New York Times Bestselling author of 35 books, including Swing, Becoming Muhammad Ali (co-authored with James Patterson), Booked, Rebound, The Undefeated, and The Crossover. Kwame’s books have been longlisted for the National Book Award, been shortlisted for the UK Carnegie Medal, and won the Caldecott Medal and the Newbery Medal, and he has been awarded with The Coretta Scott King Author Honor, three NAACP Image Award Nominations among other awards. He lives and writes from his home in London. When he’s not writing, Kwame’s playing softball with his soon-to-be six feet tall middle school daughter, walking around London listening to audio books, and traveling to schools and libraries across the globe (this year, on Zoom). He is also the writer and executive producer of the Disney Plus TV series based on his novel The Crossover.


How does a class participate? New York City middle and high school teachers are invited to register their class(es) via a simple online form. There is no cost to participate.

Teachers should plan to incorporate Teen Press Conference preparation and participation into their classroom activities; this year’s event is structured to be flexible, so that a class can participate as part of in-person learning, or as a remote learning assignment. Teachers who register will receive digital materials to help students prepare for the live event, the opportunity for students to submit questions in advance, and a link for the live event. A recording of the live event will be available after the broadcast.

What do I receive? In late October (following the announcement of the 2021 National Book Awards Finalists in Young People’s Literature) all registered teachers will receive a classroom set (30 copies) of a collection of the National Book Award Finalists in Young People’s Literature, along with digital materials, designed to help students prepare for the live event on November 10.

Everyone who registers will receive the following:

  • A complete set (6 copies of each title, 30 books total) of this year’s Finalists for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature (while supplies last; see details below)
  • A digital “Reporter’s Notebook,” with information about all of the Finalist and Longlist books for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature
  • Instructions on how to submit questions in advance
  • A link to join the live event on November 10.

What will the live event entail? For this year’s event, Kwame Alexander will host a live conversation with the Finalists for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature. Authors will read a brief excerpt from their book, followed by a Q&A. Students can submit questions for authors in advance.

Who can attend? The program is open to New York City middle and high school students. Additionally, students from around the country are invited to tune into the live event, including students from Miami-Dade County schools via National Book Foundation’s partnership with the Miami Book Fair.

What books will be featured? Here’s what makes the National Book Awards so exciting: we really don’t know in advance! The five Finalists are chosen by a closed panel of judges and announced on October 5 (you can see the long list here)—this will be narrowed down to five.

How do I receive my classroom set of books? All sets of books must be picked up in person at the National Book Foundation’s office at 90 Broad Street Suite 604 in New York City. All books must be picked up between Nov. 1 and Nov. 8 from 3:30pm 5:30pm.

As part of the registration form, we ask that you confirm the time that you are planning to pick up the books. If you have any questions about picking up your books, please write to Andy Donnelly at [email protected].

In order to best accommodate a virtual event, teachers will receive a collection of 30 books, 6 copies of each of the 5 Finalist titles. Depending on who is chosen as a Finalist for this year’s National Book Awards, these titles will likely be best suited for a range of ages.

Class sets will be reserved for registered classes & schools while supplies last, so get your Teen Press Conference registration in as soon as you can! Once we reach capacity, teachers are still welcome to register for the live event and access digital materials.

2016 National Book Awards Young People’s Literature Finalists Jason Reynolds, Nicola Yoon, Grace Lin, and Winner Nate Powell sign books for students attending the Teen Press Conference. Photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan

The Teen Press Conference brings the excitement and prestige of the National Book Awards to an audience of young people. Held at the 92nd Street Y in New York the day before the National Book Awards ceremony, every year 600 middle and high school students from NYC schools attend free-of-charge, receive free copies of the nominated titles, and have the unique opportunity to connect and interact with high-profile authors in what is often their first exposure to a literary arts event.

The Teen Press Conference is also presented annually at the Miami Book Fair.

For questions about the Teen Press Conference, please email Education Programs Manager, Andy Donnelly.

Watch the 2020 Teen Press Conference, hosted by Jason Reynolds:


Watch the 2019 Teen Press Conference, hosted by Angie Thomas:


Watch the 2018 Teen Press Conference, hosted by Jenny Han:


Watch the 2017 Teen Press Conference, hosted by Alvin Irby:


Watch the 2016 Teen Press Conference, hosted by Brendan Kiely:


Watch the 2015 Teen Press Conference,
hosted by Jacqueline Woodson with special guest LeVar Burton:

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