February 8, 2021

2021 ALA Book Awards

Jactionary 2021 ALA Book Awards

The American Library Association recently announced their annual youth media awards (for authors, illustrators, and audiobooks). This includes the highly anticipated announcements of the Newbery, Caldecott, and Coretta Scott King Awards, among many others. I enjoy looking over these lists each year and seeing which books I've read and which ones I need to add to my to-read list. It's fun to see familiar names and titles but also to widen my awareness of key creators and books in the field. All credit to ALA for this content and language.

Which of these books have you read? Are there ones that you'll be adding to your TBR pile?

John Newbery Medal

Most outstanding contribution to children's literature

When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

Honor Books

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat

BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford

Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly

A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat

Randolph Caldecott Medal

Most distinguished American picture book for children

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illus. by Michaela Goade

Honor Books

A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart by Zetta Elliott, illus. by Noa Denmon

The Cat Man of Aleppo by Irene Latham & Karim Shamsi-Basha, illus. by Yuko Shimizu

Me & Mama by Cozbi A. Cabrera

Outside In by Deborah Underwood, illus. by Cindy Derby

Coretta Scott King Book Awards

African American creator of outstanding books for children and young adults

Author Book Award

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

Author Honor Books

All the Days Past, All the Days to Come by Mildred D. Taylor

King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender

Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box by Evette Dionne

Illustrator Book Award

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul by Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by Frank Morrison

Illustrator Honor Books

Magnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration by Samara Cole Doyon, illus. by Kaylani Juanita

Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade, illus. by Cozbi A. Cabrera

Me & Mama by Cozbi A. Cabrera

New Talent Author Award

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Schneider Family Book Award

Books embodying artistic expression of the disability experience

Young Children (ages 0-10)

I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott, illus. by Sydney Smith

Honor Books for Young Children

All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything by Annette Bay Pimentel, illus. by Nabi H. Ali

Itzhak: A Boy who Loved the Violin by Tracy Newman, illus. by Abigail Halpin

Middle Grades (ages 11-13)

Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte

Honor Books for Middle Grades

Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen! by Sarah Kapit

When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, illus. by Victoria Jamieson, color by Iman Geddy

Young Adult (ages 13-18)

This Is My Brain in Love by I.W. Gregorio

Margaret A. Edwards Award 

Lifetime achievement in writing for young adults

Kekla Magoon

Children’s Literature Legacy Award

Creator of substantial, lasting contribution to children’s literature through demonstrating integrity and respect for all children’s experiences

Mildred D. Taylor

Michael L. Printz Award

Excellence in literature for young adults

Everything Sad Is Untrue (a true story) by Daniel Nayeri

Honor Books

Apple (Skin to the Core) by Eric Gansworth

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang, color by Lark Pien

Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

Alex Awards

10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

The Impossible First: From Fire to Ice—Crossing Antarctica Alone by Colin O’Brady

Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio by Derf Backderf

The Kids Are Gonna Ask by Gretchen Anthony

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Plain Bad Heroines by emily m. danforth

Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi

Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh

We Ride Upon Sticks: A Novel by Quan Barry

Pura Belpré Awards

Latinx creators whose children's books best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience

Illustrator Award

¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat by Raúl Gonzalez

Honor Book

Sharuko: El Arqueólogo Peruano/Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello by Monica Brown, illus. by Elisa Chavarri

Children’s Author Award

Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros

Honor Books

The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez by Adrianna Cuevas

Lupe Wong Won’t Dance by Donna Barba Higuera

Young Adult Author Award

Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

Honor Books

Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera

We Are Not from Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature

Picture Book

Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist by Julie Leung, illus. by Chris Sasaki


Danbi Leads the School Parade by Anna Kim

Children’s Literature

When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller


Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park

Youth Literature

This Light Between Us by Andrew Fukuda


Displacement by Kiku Hughes

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award

Most distinguished beginning reader book

See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog by David LaRochelle, illus. by Mike Wohnoutka

Honor Books

The Bear in My Family by Maya Tatsukawa

Ty’s Travels: Zip, Zoom! by Kelly Starling Lyons, illus. by Nina Mata

What About Worms!? by Ryan T. Higgins

Where’s Baby? by Anne Hunter

Mildred L. Batchelder Award

Outstanding children’s book originally published in a foreign language outside the U.S. and subsequently translated for publication in the U.S.

Telephone Tales by Gianni Rodari, illus. by Valerio Vidali, trans. from Italian by Antony Shugaar

Honor Book

Catherine’s War by Julia Billet, illus. by Claire Fauvel, and trans. from French by Ivanka Hahnenberger

Odyssey Award

Best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults available in English in the U.S.

Kent State by Deborah Wiles, narrated by Christopher Gebauer, Lauren Ezzo, Christina Delaine, Johnny Heller, Roger Wayne, Korey Jackson, and David de Vries

Honor Audiobooks

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo, narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo and Melania-Luisa Marte

Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, narrated by Bahni Turpin

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, narrated by Jason Reynolds

When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, narrated by Faysal Ahmed, Barkhad Abdi and a full cast

Sydney Taylor Book Award

Outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience

Picture Book Gold Medalist

Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail by Lesléa Newman, illus. by Susan Gal

Picture Book Silver Medalists

I Am the Tree of Life: My Jewish Yoga Book by Mychal Copeland, illus. by André Ceolin

Miriam at the River by Jane Yolen, illus. by Khoa Le

Middle Grade Gold Medalist

Turtle Boy by M. Evan Wolkenstein

Middle Grade Silver Medalists

No Vacancy by Tziporah Cohen

Anya and the Nightingale by Sofiya Pasternack

The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman

Young Adult Gold Medalist

Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder

Young Adult Silver Medalist

They Went Left by Monica Hesse

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults

The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh by Candace Fleming


All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat

The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival by Amra Sabic-El-Rayess with Laura L. Sullivan

How We Got to the Moon: The People, Technology, and Daring Feats of Science Behind Humanity's Greatest Adventure by John Rocco

You Call This Democracy?: How to Fix Our Democracy and Deliver Power to the People by Elizabeth Rusch

William C. Morris Award

Debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens

If These Wings Could Fly written by Kyrie McCauley


Black Girl Unlimited: The Remarkable Story of a Teenage Wizard by Echo Brown

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds

It Sounded Better in My Head by Nina Kenwood

Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez

Stonewall Book Award

Children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the LGBT experience

We Are Little Feminists: Families by Archaa Shrivastav, designed by Lindsey Blakely

Honor Books

Beetle & The Hollowbones by Aliza Layne

Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award

Most distinguished informational book for children

Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera by Candace Fleming, illus. by Eric Rohmann

Honor Books

How We Got to the Moon by John Rocco

Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade, illus. by Cozbi A. Cabrera

All Thirteen by Christina Soontornvat

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