Each year in January, the American Library Association announces the Youth Media Awards, honoring outstanding materials for kids and teens. The official announcements will take place on January 22 at 8am. But while we’re waiting, let’s take a look at some of the books I think are on the radar for winning awards.
ALA gives out a total of 18 youth awards each year; you can find the full list here. For this post, I’m going to focus on three of the most popular: The John Newbery Medal, the Randolph Caldecott Medal, and the Michael L. Printz Award.
John Newbery Medal
Awarded by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), this award is given to the author of the most distinguished children’s book of the year. Here are some of the books I think will be contenders this year:
The Lost Year: A middle-grade survival story that traces a family secret back to the Holodomor, a terrible famine that devastated Soviet Ukraine in the 1930s.
Simon Sort of Says: A breathtaking testament to the lasting echoes of trauma, the redemptive power of humor, and the courage it takes to move forward without forgetting the past.
A First Time for Everything: A middle grade graphic memoir based on bestselling author and Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat's awkward middle school years and the trip to Europe that changed his life.
The Manifestor Prophecy: Angie Thomas makes her middle grade debut with the launch of an inventive, hilarious, and suspenseful new contemporary fantasy trilogy inspired by African American history and folklore.
Remember Us: Jacqueline Woodson brings readers a powerful story that delves deeply into life’s burning questions about time and memory and what we take with us into the future.
Randolph Caldecott Medal
Also award by the ALSC, this award is given to the artist of the most distinguished picture book of the year. Here are some of the books I think will be contenders this year:
An American Story: A powerful picture book that tells the story of American slavery through the voice of a teacher struggling to help her students understand its harrowing history.
Big: This deeply moving story shares valuable lessons about fitting in, standing out, and the beauty of joyful acceptance.
There Was A Party for Langston: Jason Reynolds’s debut picture book is a snappy, joyous ode to Word King, literary genius, and glass-ceiling smasher Langston Hughes and the luminaries he inspired.
Remember: Joy Harjo's iconic poem Remember, illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Michaela Goade, invites young readers to pause and reflect on the wonder of the world around them, and to remember the importance of their place in it.
The Skull: Jon Klassen's retelling of a traditional Tyrolean folktale.
Michael L. Printz Award
Presented by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), this award is given to the most outstanding book published for teens. Here are some of the books I think will be contenders this year:
The Blood Years: From Michael L. Printz honoree & National Book Award finalist Elana K. Arnold comes the harrowing story of a young girl's struggle to survive the Holocaust in Romania.
Saints of the Household: A haunting contemporary YA about an act of violence in a small-town--beautifully told by a debut Indigenous Costa Rican-American writer--that will take your breath away.
Gather: A resourceful teenager in rural Vermont struggles to hold on to the family home while his mom recovers from addiction in this striking debut novel.
Only This Beautiful Moment: From the Stonewall Honor–winning author of Like a Love Story comes a sweeping story of three generations of boys in the same Iranian family.
Into the Light: A ripped-from-the-headlines story with Oshiro's signature mix of raw emotions and visceral prose―but with a startling twist you’ll have to read to believe.