National Book Foundation

National Book Foundation
Founded 1989
Type Non-profit
Headquarters New York City, USA
Services Celebrating literary achievements
Fields Literary Prize
Key people
Lisa Lucas, Executive Director (March 2016)
7 staff, 21 board members

The National Book Foundation is an American nonprofit organization established "to raise the cultural appreciation of great writing in America".[1] Established 1989 by National Book Awards, Inc.,[2] the foundation is the administrator and sponsor of the National Book Awards, a changing set of literary awards inaugurated 1936 and continuous from 1950. It also organizes and sponsors public and educational programs.

The National Book Foundation's Board of Directors comprises representatives of American literary institutions and the book industry. For example, in 2009 the Board included the President of the New York Public Library, the Chief Merchandising Officer of Barnes & Noble, the President/Publisher of Grove/Atlantic, Inc., and others.[3] In 2016, Lisa Lucas became the Foundation's third Executive Director.[4]

The National Book Foundation states the mission "to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America."[1]


The original task of the National Book Foundation was to award the National Book Award. The Award was given without the foundation from 1950 until it was replaced with The American Book Awards in 1980, with 16 different categories. In 1987, the National Book Award was reestablished. The award split into 4 categories in 1996: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People's Literature. The winner in each category is decided by an independent panel of writers, librarians, booksellers, and critics.[5]

In addition to four National Book Awards to authors for particular books, the Foundation presents two lifetime achievement awards: the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters and the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.[6]

The Foundation annually awards the Innovations in Reading Prize ($10,000) to "individuals and institutions—or partnerships between the two—that have developed innovative means of creating and sustaining a lifelong love of reading."[7]


Book Up

Book Up is an after school program for middle school students to foster a lifelong love of reading. The program is designed in a way meant to show kids how enjoyable reading can be, and to improve their confidence in their reading abilities. Middle School students are chosen as studies have shown that this is the age that students are the most likely to stop reading.

The Program is typically run by authors with experience in teaching. Sessions last for at least 24 weeks, over which students share their reading interests and previous experiences with reading. Since BookUp began, the program has given out more than 30,000 free books to students. The program started in 2007 in New York City and has expanded to Hunstville, TX, Detroit, MI, and created BookUp LGBTQ for LGBTQ youth.[8]

5 Under 35

The 5 Under 35 program was started in 2005 in order to honor 5 young writers, all under the age of 35. The winners are all chosen by previous Finalists of the National Book Award. In 2015, the winners were chosen by previous 5 Under 35 honorees. Each award comes with a cash prize of $1,000.[9] The 5 Under 35 Ceremony has been hosted by Questlove, Carrie Brownstein, LeVar Burton[10] and others.

Teen Press Conference

The Teen Press Conference invites middle and high school students in New York City to interview the five Young People's Literature Finalists the day before the National Book Awards. Students are provided copies of the Finalists' books. In 2015, the Teen Press Conference took place at the 92nd Street Y with host Jacqueline Woodson, a National Book Award Winner, as well as in Miami as part of the Miami Book Festival.[11]

National Book Awards on Campus

National Book Awards on Campus is a program that brings National Book Award winners and finalists to college campuses. In 2015, for its 11th season, NBA on Campus took place at Sam Houston State University, Concordia College, Amherst College, and Rollins College.[12]

Eat, Drink & Be Literary

Eat, Drink & Be Literary is the National Book Foundation's partnership with BAM[13] to create an intimate evening of food and literary conversation.

See also


  1. 1 2 National Book Foundation: "History of the National Book Foundation".
  2. Edwin McDowell. "Book Notes: 'The Joy Luck Club' is to be in paperback ... The National Book Awards' new foundation". The New York Times, July 5, 1989, page C19.
  3. National Book Foundation: "Board of Directors".
  4. Williams, John. "Lisa Lucas Named Executive Director of National Book Foundation". ArtsBeat. Retrieved 2016-05-17.
  5. Lynn Neary. "National Book Awards Look to Raise Profile". NPR books. September 16, 2013. National Public Radio. Retrieved 2014-12-06.
  6. "James Patterson Honored At National Book Awards". Michael Cavacini. 2015-11-19. Retrieved 2016-05-17.
  7. Baker, Jennifer. "National Book Foundation Celebrates Innovators Of Reading Encouraging Philanthropy For More Literacy". Forbes. Retrieved 2016-05-17.
  8. "BookUp LGBTQ Launches at the Hetrick-Martin Institute". Lambda Literary. 2016-01-30. Retrieved 2016-05-17.
  9. "Here Are The 2015 National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Honorees". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 2016-05-17.
  10. "The National Book Foundation Reveals Its "5 Under 35" Honorees". Flavorwire. 2015-09-30. Retrieved 2016-05-17.
  11. "Upcoming Events – National Book Foundation presents the Teen Press Conference – Miami Book Fair". Retrieved 2016-05-17.
  12. "NBA on Campus, 2016 - National Book Foundation, Presenter of National Book Awards". Retrieved 2016-05-17.
  13. "Eat, Drink & Be Literary 2016". Retrieved 2016-05-17.
National Book Foundation: Presenter of the National Book Awards. This home page retrieved 2014-12-06 carries the internal title "2014 National Book Award Winners".
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