The PEN/Phyllis Naylor Grant for Children’s and Young Adult Novelists is offered annually to an author of children’s or young adult fiction for a novel-in-progress. Previously called the PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship, the award was developed to help writers whose work is of high literary caliber and assist a writer at a crucial moment in their career to complete their novel. The author of the winning manuscript, selected blindly by judges unaware of nominees’ names, will receive an award of $5,000.

The Grant is made possible by a substantial contribution from PEN America Member Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, the prolific author of more than 140 books, including Now I’ll Tell You Everything, the 28th and final book in the acclaimed Alice series, as well as Faith, Hope, and Ivy June and Shiloh, the first novel in a quartet, which won the 1992 Newbery Medal.

On establishing the grant, Mrs. Naylor said: “We truly work ‘blind,’ with no assurance whatsoever that anyone will be interested in our final product. It takes enormous stamina and resolve and optimism to live with our characters for a year or more—and it’s my hope that the grant, modest as it is, will let the author know that an expert panel of PEN judges has faith in the writer, admires his work, and trusts that he will be able to bring to paper what he sees in his head.”

Submissions for the 2021 cycle are open from April 1 – August 1, 2020. 


Featured Works


PEN America has awarded 20 winning projects to date. You can view the full list of recipients below.

2020 Recipient

Tiffany Parks for Saving Caravaggio
Judges: Karlan Sick and Christine Taylor-Butler

This manuscript is not under contract. To request a manuscript excerpt, please contact [email protected].

From the judge’s citation: “Tiffany Parks’ Saving Caravaggio is a rich blend of historical and speculative fiction. Set in Rome in the late 1500’s, the story follows 15-year-old Olimpia, a headstrong teen with a passion for science and Nardo, the son of an apothecary left orphaned and impoverished after a flood. Their worlds collide when they encounter the mysterious Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, whose paintings may be more than what they seem. Parks’ meticulous research and flawless world-building weaves a tale of magic and political suspense that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Saving Caravaggio was the unanimous choice of the judges.”

Published Manuscripts

2014 Linda Oatman High, One Amazing Elephant (HarperCollins, 2017)

2012 Sarah Dooley, Free Verse (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2016)

2011 Lucy Frank, Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling (Schwartz & Wade Books/Random House, 2014)

2010 Pat Schmatz, Bluefish (Candlewick Press, 2011)

2009 Carol Lynch Williams, A Glimpse Is All I Can Stand (Published as Glimpse, Simon and Schuster, 2011)

2008 Theresa Nelson Julia Delany, The American Version (Published as The Year We Sailed the Sun, Atheneum Books/Simon and Schuster, 2015)

2007 Diane Les Becquets, Genesis (Published as Season of Ice, Bloomsbury, 2008)

2006 Barbara Shoup, Everything You Want (Flux, 2008)

2005 A.M. Jenkins, Night Road (Harper Teen/Harper Collins, 2008)

2002 Lori Aurelia Williams, Broken China (Simon Pulse/Simon and Schuster, 2006)

2001 Graham McNamee, Sparks (Wendy Lamb Books/Random House, 2002)




Submissions for the 2021 cycle are open from April 1 – August 1, 2020. 

Who is Eligible
  • A candidate is a writer of children’s or young adult fiction.
  • Candidates must have published one or more novels for children or young adults that have been warmly received by literary critics, but have not generated significant sales.
  • The writer’s previously published book(s) must be published by a U.S. trade publisher. Self-published works are ineligible.
  • The submitted work must be a novel-in-progress.
  • Judges will be looking for candidates whose work has not yet attracted a broad readership.
  • Please note: At this time, graphic novels and picture books are not eligible for the grant. 
How to Submit

Please note that the application process is entirely online; hard copy applications will not be accepted. Writers may apply themselves or a fellow writer online here.

The online submission form requires the following:

  • Cover letter: A 1-2 page letter including a brief (1-3 sentence) summary of the project, a description of how the candidate meets the criteria for the grant, and a list of the candidate’s published novel(s) for children and/or young adults.
  • One professional review: Copies of or links to 1-3 reviews of the candidate’s novel(s) from professional publications.
  • Letter of recommendation: A 1-2 page letter of support from an editor or fellow writer.
  • Project outline: A brief (2-4 page) outline of the novel-in-progress being submitted. The candidate’s name should not appear anywhere on the outline to ensure anonymity, as only the outline, letter of utility, and manuscript will be given to the judges for consideration.
  • Letter of Utility: A brief description (1-2 pages) of how the funds will be used to complete the project. What will the candidate be able to accomplish with this funding that they could not do otherwise? Book sales, earnings, or other relevant information may be included here. The candidate’s name should not appear anywhere on the letter of utility to ensure anonymity, as only the outline, letter of utility, and manuscript will be given to the judges for consideration.
  • Manuscript sample: 50–75 pages of the text. The candidate’s name should not appear anywhere on the manuscript sample, in order to ensure anonymity for the judging process. Only the outline, letter of utility, and manuscript sample will be given to the judges for consideration.
  • Please upload the Project Outline, Letter of Utility, and Manuscript sample as one anonymous PDF file to the online application. Please upload the Cover Letter, Professional Review(s), and Letter of Recommendation as a separate PDF file to the online application