Introducing the Harvard Book Award


Each year, a select few students from 2,000 schools are awarded the Harvard Prize Book at the end of the school year. The prizes are presented by Harvard alumni in recognition of strong academic performance or good character. Rather than winning through some application process like you might see on a college application, prize books are awarded at the discretion of the alumni presenting them. While criteria vary by school, community work and athletic accomplishments do not impact the chances of winning the award. They are granted solely on academic achievement. 

Alumni can choose between one of three books to present the award. The Harvard Book is a collection of stories from various Harvard alumni through centuries of history. Over 100 stories of random accounts are recorded, from Holyoke’s account of a fire in the library in 1764 to a game of cricket against Yale in 1951. While an absolutely riveting concept, the official page for the Prize Book program at recommends that alumni choose one of the other options available instead of this book. Alumni may also choose to award Harvard A-Z by John T. Bethell. This book covers over 200 entries between Harvard alumni across 125 years. These entries offer insight into the various buildings and history of Harvard. The last available book to present is Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their Mind by Richard J. Light. In this book, Light provides answers to important questions about college, like how to deal with professors that leave a bad impression on you or how to accurately pick classes relevant to you. This book offers valuable and practical advice from the 10-year Professor of Teaching and Learning at Harvard.

While it is an extremely prestigious award, Harvard claims that it does not affect the chances of making it into Harvard. Despite this, the rare badge of merit certainly looks good on any application or resume. Congratulations to Elizabeth McElfresh, our first winner of this award, presented by our librarian, Mrs. Cooke.