It is the time of the year when the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) division of the American Library Association (ALA) announces their award winning books for the previous year. These titles are chosen after a full year of reading and debating about the best of the eligible books in individual committees. Check them out!
The Michael L. Printz Award is awarded to the book that "exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature."
The Printz Award is the longest running and most prestigious award given by YALSA.
356 p. (gr. 6-12) In an autobiographical novel set in Oklahoma, middle-schooler Daniel, formerly Khosrou, tells his unimpressed and at times cruel classmates about his experience as an Iranian refugee.
In addition to the winning novel, you can check out these terrific Printz Honor books:
Gansworth, an enrolled member of the Onandaga Nation, revisits his childhood and teen years spent on a Tuscarora reservation in this ambitious and searing memoir. Told in verse and accompanied by original art, Gansworth's compelling coming of age story is a moving, illuminating exploration of otherness, intergenerational trauma, and resilience.
Gene Luen Yang never would have guessed that he would be working on a graphic novel about a basketball team, but he found inspiration in the men's varsity team at Bishop O'Dowd High School. The games are only a small portion of the story though, as readers learn about the history of basketball as well as Yang's personal journey.
In this novel in verse, Ada recounts her freshman year as a first generation student attending a Historically Black College, while simultaneously taking the reader through her younger life. Ada feels pressure to make money from her major, but she ultimately realizes that dance is what connects, energizes, and sustains her.
Just months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt issued the Civilian Exclusion Order, forcing the tight knit community of Japantown teens and their families to incarceration camps. Author Traci Chee deftly manages fourteen narratives all with a unique voice and experience. The lives of these teens may have been forever changed, but as Chee writes, "We are not free. But we are not alone."
The William C. Morris Award is given to "impressive new voices in young adult literature."
383 p. (gr. 8-12) Living in a house that magically conceals the damage inflicted by her volatile father’s rampages, Leighton Barnes finds nothing strange in the thousands of crows descending on her town. As tensions mount in town and at home, she struggles with simultaneously wanting to escape and to protect her mother and younger sisters. Through haunting, lyrical prose McCauley builds a devastatingly authentic tale of intergenerational trauma and violence and society’s “blind eye” that perpetuates it.
The Alex Awards are given to ten books that are "written for adults that have special appeal for young adults."
2021 Alex Award Winner: A diverse group of priests, sailors, and travelers converge in the holy city of Tova in preparation for the annual winter solstice celebration, which coincides with a solar eclipse in this epic fantasy adventure. Great writing and world building transport the reader to a civilization inspired by pre-Columbian mythology.
2021 Alex Award Winner: Buttoned-up and by-the-book Linus is sent to investigate a classified orphanage on a strange island by Extremely Upper Management. Forced out of his comfort zone, he is surprised to find love and family in this magically joyful tale.
2021 Alex Award Winner: Mindset expert Colin O’Brady recounts his experience as the first to traverse Antarctica solo and unassisted. Drawing strength from prior successes, failures, and his support system, he endures whiteouts, subzero temperatures, and starvation while pulling a 365-pound supply sled.
2021 Alex Award Winner: In 1970 the Ohio National Guard opened fire on Kent State students protesting the Vietnam War, killing four and wounding nine. This chilling graphic novel follows the lives of the students, politicians, guardsmen, and law enforcement in simple black and white, revealing a volatile situation ending in heartbreaking tragedy.