The Millikin Medal for Excellence in Young Adult Literature 

Millikin Medal seal imageThe Millikin Medal for Excellence in Young Adult Literature was founded in the fall of 2015 by professors Mike Cook (English), Amanda Pippitt (Staley Library), and Rachel Bicicchi (Staley Library). The purpose of the project is to bring together future educators, writers, historians, librarians, and parents to establish and facilitate a sustainable literary award. In their post-graduation lives, students may teach award-winning literature, serve on award committees, encourage overall literacy, or simply help their children find outstanding literature. Students on the Millikin Medal committee experience first-hand how award committees determine their award criteria, create a list of nominees, choose their winner, and handle the public relations that follow.

The inaugural, 2015-16 committee of Millikin students and faculty established the following mission and criteria for the Millikin Medal:

The Millikin Medal for Excellence in Young Adult Literature is awarded each spring to a work of fiction, published in the previous year, of outstanding literary merit that inspires a love of reading in a young adult audience. The judging panel for the Millikin Medal consists of current Millikin students and faculty.

  • A "young adult" audience is defined as high school through college age
  • Book inspires and encourages young adult literacy through inclusion of plots, characters, and themes young adults can connect with
  • Books must be a stand-alone narrative
  • Books considered are limited to print fiction, but do not exclude genre fiction and may vary in form and literary style
  • Published in the year since the previous award cycle's finalist list was created
  • Literary merit includes the following aspects:
    • The author creates a unique, realistic voice that informs the way the story is told,
    • The book includes diverse characters in terms of disability, ethnicity, race, gender, nationality, religion, sexuality, or socioeconomic status. Removal of the character(s) from the plot would significantly affect the plot,
    • The book does not promote stereotypes,
    • The book does not suffer from formulaic or overused plots, characters, or themes.

2018 Millikin Medal

Nominate a book for the 2018 Millikin Medal!

Join the Millikin Medal award committee! If you are a Millikin student interested in joining the 2017-18 committee, please email Amanda Pippitt at:

2017 Finalists

The 11 titles selected as long list finalists for the 2017 Millikin Medal are (in no particular order):

  • The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
  • Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina
  • Read Me Like a Book by Liz Kessler
  • Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
  • The Way Back from Broken by Amber J. Keyser
  • See No Color by Shannon Gibney
  • Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
  • Playing for the Devil's Fire by Phillippe Diederich
  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston
  • Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
  • The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork
The five short list finalists for the 2017 Millikin Medal have now been chosen!
  • The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork
  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston
  • Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
  • Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
  • The Way Back from Broken by Amber J. Keyser

2017 winners will be announced at our Celebration of Scholarship presentation on Friday, April 28th at 2pm (Shilling 320)!

2016 Millikin Medal Winner

Book cover: Eleanor & Park Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park, set in 1986, is the love story of two misfits who find strength and belonging with each other. Eleanor is bullied. She's from a poor family, wears the "wrong" clothes, and struggles to deal with her abusive stepfather. Park is half-Korean in mostly white Omaha. His love of comics and alternative music sets him apart from his peers and his sports-loving family. This is a story of the importance of first love, even if that love is ultimately left behind.
Comments from the committee: "The perspectives of both Eleanor and Park felt beyond authentic." "Rainbow Rowell was able to perfectly encapsulate the emotion and thought processes behind her characters in a wholly genuine fashion." "The result was a novel that hurt in a nostalgic fashion- forcing the reader to relate to her characters by digging through their own psyche." "Instead of providing token characters that could fill the quota for a 'diverse' novel, Rowell created actual humans that were not tethered to a specific aspect of their lives." "The entirety of the plot, including the rather 'open ended' finale, never felt as if it were forced or formulaic. In fact, it felt as if the entire story was a snapshot taken from the lives of actual adolescents."

2016 Millikin Medal Honor Book

Book Cover: Girls Like Us Girls Like Us by Gail Giles

Girls Like Us is told by the voices of Biddy and Quincy, two "speddie" (special education) graduates paired up to live together after high school. Biddy is shy and gentle. Quincy is combative and closed off. Though they don't always get along and experience many frustrations and challenges in their new life, they ultimately build a true friendship and support system together.
Comments from the committee: "The voices in the story were authentic and originated from the characters who actually lived with disabilities. Not many books do this, and those that do, often do not do it well." "This book also does not promote stereotypes and actually breaks several often seen in other literature (e.g., those with disabilities cannot speak for themselves, every disability has the same manifestation in each individual, and so forth)." "The setting (life after high school) makes a bigger connection to young adult readers who are preparing for, are currently in, or have just recently experienced the transition from high school to the next step in their lives." "The plot is not a stereotype, but rather an effort at awareness- something desperately needed today." "This book needed to be written and I'm so glad it was."


Members of the 2016 Millikin Medal Committee were: Rachel Bicicchi, Mike Cook, Matthew Gremo, Mikayla Mendenhall, Sam Miller, Ryan Morgan, and Amanda Pippitt

For more information view the related news story.