Award of the Week – National Book Award for Young People’s Literature


Each year the National Book Foundation recognizes outstanding literary work by a US citizen through four awards for Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature. The awards are touted as awards by writers to writers as the panel of judges is comprised of authors. Below are this year’s finalists. The winner will be announced at ceremony in New York City on November 15, 2017.


Clayton Byrd Goes Underground
By: Rita Williams-Garcia

Clayton can’t wait be just like his grandfather and join his band of Bluesmen but when Cool Papa Byrd dies Clayton is forbidden from doing the one thing that seems right, playing the blues. With his grandfather’s hat and a harmonica Clayton runs from home in hopes of joining the Bluesmen on the road. Ages 8-12

Orphan Island
By: Laurel Snyder

On each perfect day on the perfect island, nine children go to sleep in their cabins with full stomachs and joyful hearts knowing that one day each year a boat will appear to take away the eldest child and leave a new young child. Jinny’s best friend has been taken away leaving her the eldest with the responsibility to teach young Ess everything she needs to know about the island. Ages 8-12

What Girls Are Made Of
By: Elana K. Arnold

Sixteen-year-old Nina Faye navigates the difficult world of teenage relationships and dysfunctional family dynamics. Ages 14 and up

You Bring the Distant Near
By: Mitali Perkins

From 1965 through the present, an Indian American family adjusts to life in New York City, alternately fending off and welcoming challenges to their own traditions. Ages 14 and up

The Hate U Give
By: Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life. Ages 14 and up

American Street
By: Ibi Aanu Zoboi

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie — a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s West Side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own. Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream? Ages 14 and up

Far From the Tree
By: Robin Benway

After Grace puts up her own baby for adoption she heads out in search of her biological family which includes a loudmouthed younger sister and a stoic older brother. Long-buried secrets and family problems make Grace question where exactly she belongs. Ages 14 and up

All the Wind in the World
By: Samantha Mabry

Working in the maguey fields of the Southwest, Sarah Jac and James are in love but forced to start over on a ranch that is possibly cursed where the delicate balance in their relationship begins to give way. Ages 14 and up

Long Way Down
By: Jason Reynolds

As Will, fifteen, sets out to avenge his brother Shawn’s fatal shooting, seven ghosts who knew Shawn board the elevator and reveal truths Will needs to know. Ages 13 and up

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
By: Erika L. Sanchez

Julia was meant to move out her parents’ house and go away to college, not what you would expect from a perfect Mexican daughter. But her sister Olga was willing to play that perfect role. But Julia is left behind to hold her family together after a tragic accident leaves Olga dead. Now Julia is broken and unable to meet her mother’s high standards, but Julia realizes that Olga may not have been the perfect daughter either. Ages 14 and up


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