National Book Foundation
FoundedJuly 1989; 34 years ago (1989-07)
HeadquartersNew York City, New York, U.S.
ServicesCelebrating literary achievements
FieldsLiterary Prize
Key people
Ruth Dickey, Executive Director, David Steinberger, Chairman
8 staff, 18 board members

The National Book Foundation (NBF) is an American nonprofit organization established with the goal "to raise the cultural appreciation of great writing in America."[1] Established in 1989 by National Book Awards, Inc.,[2] the foundation is the administrator and sponsor of the National Book Awards, a set of literary awards inaugurated in 1936 and continuous from 1950. It also organizes and sponsors public and educational programs.[3]

The National Book Foundation's Board of Directors comprises representatives of American literary institutions and the book industry. 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.[4] In 2021, Ruth Dickey succeeded Lisa Lucas as the Foundation's fourth executive director.[5]


National Book Awards

Founded in 1950, The National Book Awards are a series of annual literary prizes awarded to recognize outstanding American literature. Although other categories have been recognized in the past, the Awards currently recognize the best Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People's Literature published each year. Non-citizens of the United States were ineligible for the National Book Award until 2018, when a petition process was introduced.[6]

The honored titles in each category are decided by an independent panel of writers, librarians, booksellers, and critics. These panels of five judges in each category select a Longlist of ten titles per category, which is then narrowed down to five Finalists. Winners are announced at the National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner in November.

Lifetime Achievement

In addition to the five National Book Awards presented each year, 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.[7][8]

5 Under 35

The 5 Under 35 program was started in 2005 in order to honor five debut fiction writers, all under the age of thirty-five. The honorees are all chosen by previous National Book Awards–honored writers or 5 Under 35 honorees.[9] Each award comes with a cash prize of $1,000.[10] The 5 Under 35 Ceremony has been hosted by Questlove, Carrie Brownstein, LeVar Burton[11] and others.

Innovations in Reading Prize

Each year, the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize awards $10,000 to an individual or organization that has developed an innovative project which creates and sustains a lifelong love of reading in the community they serve. In addition, the Foundation recognizes four projects to receive the designation of honorable mention.

Other programs

Education programs


BookUp, the National Book Foundation's flagship educational program, connects middle- and high-school students with local authors and runs free reading groups. Since its start in 2007, BookUp has given away over 35,000 free books. The program currently serves students at over 20 different sites in New York City, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Huntsville, TX, helping approximately 500 students to build their home libraries as well as their literacy skills each year.

Book Rich Environments

The Book Rich Environments initiative connects families living in public housing communities with reading-related resources including free, high-quality books, library activities, and educational programming. The program is conducted in 37 HUD-assisted communities nationwide.

NBF Teacher Fellowship

The National Book Foundation (NBF) Teacher Fellowship aims to support 6th-12th grade public school teachers "using innovative methods to make reading for pleasure a part of their students’ school day experience" through professional development, a book buying budget, and a small stipend.

Public programs

NBF Presents

NBF Presents programs bring National Book Awards honorees a to libraries, colleges, book festivals, and performance venues across the country for a series of readings and other literary events. The series is partially modeled after the long-running National Book Awards on Campus program, which began in 2005. National Book Awards on Campus brought National Book Award winners and finalists to college campuses at Sam Houston State University,[12] Concordia College,[13] Amherst College,[14] and Rollins College,[15] all of which continue to host NBF Presents events each year.

Literature for Justice

Literature for Justice (LFJ) is a campaign that seeks "to contextualize and humanize the experiences of incarcerated people in the United States" by selecting and promoting a list of five books, chosen annually by a group of authors and advocates for the incarcerated to the American reading public.

Past Programs

Recent past programs include Author in Focus; Eat, Drink & Be Literary; Innovations in Reading Prize; Notes from the Reading Life; Raising Readers; and Why Reading Matters.

See also


  1. ^ "Lisa Lucas Wants to Make Reading Fun Again". The New York Times. September 7, 2016.
  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. ^ Kellogg, Carolyn (May 27, 2016). "Lisa Lucas, head of the National Book Foundation, wants you to love reading". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ "National Book Foundation Names Two New Board Members".
  5. ^ "National Book Foundation Names Ruth Dickey as New Executive Director". February 10, 2021.
  6. ^ Stochl, Emily (November 2, 2020). "Citizenship is an Outdated Requirement for Literary Prize Eligibility". BOOK RIOT. Retrieved December 28, 2023.
  7. ^ "James Patterson Honored At National Book Awards". Michael Cavacini. November 19, 2015. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
  8. ^ "Robert Caro to receive honorary National Book Award medal".
  9. ^ Schaub, Michael (September 29, 2016). "Meet the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35". Los Angeles Times.
  10. ^ "Here Are The 2015 National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Honorees". BuzzFeed. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
  11. ^ "The National Book Foundation Reveals Its "5 Under 35" Honorees". Flavorwire. September 30, 2015. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
  12. ^ University, Sam Houston State. "National Book Awards Festival". SHSU Online.
  13. ^ "NBA History". Concordia College.
  14. ^ "The Common Literary Magazine - National Book Awards on Campus - Amherst College".
  15. ^ "Rollins College Partners with the National Book Awards - Arts & Culture - Rollins College 360 News".


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".