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Find more Notable Children's Books
This list was compiled by the Notable Children’s Books Committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). The committee, comprising librarians from throughout the U.S., selected the titles from the several thousand children’s books published during 2020. Included are books of fiction, information, poetry, and pictures—all of special interest and value to children through age 14. The winners of the 2021 ALSC Newbery, Caldecott, Sibert, Batchelder, children’s Belpré, and Geisel Awards and the Honor Books for those awards are automatically included on the list. Notable Children’s Books that were given 2021 Coretta Scott King Awards, Printz Awards, Sydney Taylor Awards, Asian/Pacific American Awards, Best Fiction for Young Adults, Top 10 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, and Rise: A Feminist Book Project Top 10 designations are noted below as well.
Above the Rim: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball. By Jen Bryant. Illus. by Frank Morrison. Abrams, $18.99 (9781419741081).
In the midst of the Black civil rights movement, NBA Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor made an impact on and off the basketball court during Jim Crow 1950s and ‘60s.
All Because You Matter. By Tami Charles. Illus. by Bryan Collier. Scholastic/Orchard, $17.99 (9781338574852).
In a beautiful ode to generations of Black sacrifice, happiness, and love, a family tells the story that brought a young boy into being and emphasizes his inherent worth.
The Bear in My Family. By Maya Tatsukawa. Illus. by the author. Dial, $17.99 (9780525555827).
Living with a loud, messy, and bossy bear seems impossible—but as it turns out, they can be the best part of the family. A 2021 Geisel Honor Book.
Black Is a Rainbow Color. By Angela Joy. Illus. by Ekua Holmes. Roaring Brook, $17.99 (9781626726314).
Black is a color, but it is also much more. In this stunning anthem, a girl meditates on the meaning of “black,” especially Black as identity, community, history, and rich cultural tradition.
The Camping Trip. By Jennifer K. Mann. Illus. by the author. Candlewick, $17.99 (9781536207361).
Ernestine goes on her first overnight camping trip. Hiking is tiring and swimming in the lake is scary, but Ernestine faces her fears and overcomes homesickness with her cousin’s help.
Cat Dog Dog: The Story of a Blended Family. By Nelly Buchet. Illus. by Andrea Zuill. Random/Schwartz & Wade (9781984848994).
Told through humorous illustrations and only the words “cat” and “dog,” two pets reluctantly accept a third pet into their family through their owners’ marriage.
The Cat Man of Aleppo. By Irene Latham and Karim Shamsi-Basha. Illus. by Yuko Shimizu. Putnam, $17.99 (9781984813787).
War-torn Aleppo is given hope by Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel’s humanitarian efforts to care for the deserted cats in the city. A 2021 Caldecott Honor Book.
Crossings: Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals. By Katy S. Duffield. Illus. By Mike Orodán. Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane, $18.99 (9781534465794).
This nonfiction picture book explores the variety of accommodations built around the world so that animals can safely access areas encroached upon by humans.
Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built. By Angela Burke Kunkel. Illus. by Paola Escobar. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (9781984892638).
José Alberto Gutiérrez, a garbageman in Bogotá, Colombia, collects books along his route and creates a library for children to read and borrow in his neighborhood on Saturdays.
Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away. By Meg Medina. Illus. by Sonia Sánchez. Candlewick, $17.99 (9781536207040).
In a tender picture book, simultaneously published in Spanish and English, that acknowledges loss and the power of friendship, two best friends spend one last afternoon playing together in their families’ apartments before Evelyn moves away.
Home Base: A Mother-Daughter Story. By Nikki Tate. Illus. by Katie Kath. Holiday, $18.99 (9780823436637).
In parallel narratives, a brown-skinned girl and her white mother work hard to achieve success in non-traditional roles as the girl tries out for the baseball team and the mother gets to work on a construction project.
Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera. By Candace Fleming. Illus. by Eric Rohmann. Holiday/Neal Porter, $18.99 (9780823442850).
The life cycle of a worker honeybee, including the many roles she plays within her colony, unfold alongside detailed, close-up illustrations. The 2021 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award winner.
I Am Every Good Thing. By Derrick Barnes. Illus. by Gordon C. James. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen, $17.99 (9780525518778).
This first-person affirmation celebrates Black boys and validates their right to be proud of themselves and their existence as humans deserving of respect, love, and joy.
I Talk like a River. By Jordan Scott. Illus. by Sydney Smith. Holiday/Neal Porter, $18.99 (9780823445592).
A young white boy with a stutter feels isolated. His father helps him understand that his speech moves like the ebb and flow of the river, giving him a new understanding of his way of speaking. A 2021 Schneider Family Book Award Young Children Winner.
If You Take Away the Otter. By Susannah Buhrman-Deever. Illus. by Matthew Trueman. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763689346).
What happens to an entire habitat when a single element is depleted by hunters? The role of sea otters over time in the Pacific Coast of North America is explored in detail through striking illustrations.
Julián at the Wedding. By Jessica Love. Illus. by the author. Candlewick, $16.99 (9781536212389).
Julián’s artistic flair for fashion and innovation saves the day at a wedding when his friend Marisol ruins her dress. This celebration of individuality and love welcomes all.
Khalil and Mr. Hagerty and the Backyard Treasures. By Tricia Springstubb. Illus. by Elaheh Taherian. Candlewick, $16.99 (9781536203066).
When neighbors Khalil and Mr. Hagerty search for buried treasure in the yard and garden one hot day, they find nothing. The next day, each friend secretly hides something for the other to find.
Lift. By Minh Lê. Illus. by Dan Santat. Little, Brown Books, $17.99 (9781368036924).
Iris loves to push the elevator buttons. When she takes a discarded button home, she discovers it opens doors to new worlds that she shares with her brother.
Me & Mama. By Cozbi A. Cabrera. Illus. by the author. Simon & Schuster/Denene Millner, $17.99 (9781534454217).
Lyrical prose and captivating paintings chronicle a day in the life of a mother and daughter and celebrate their special bond. A 2021 Caldecott Honor Book and a 2021 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book.
The Most Beautiful Thing. By Kao Kalia Yang. Illus. by Khoa Le. Carolrhoda, $17.99 (9781541561915).
In a story infused with familial love and respect, a Hmong girl reflects on childhood with her grandmother. Kalia helps care for her, and over the years her grandmother offers reassurance, stories, and love.
Nana Akua Goes to School. By Tricia Elam Walker. Illus. by April Harrison. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (9780525581130).
Zura’s grandmother is her favorite person, but Zura is concerned that on Grandparent’s Day her classmates will laugh at the traditional Adinkra marks on her grandmother’s face. Nana Akua paves the way for understanding when she shares the stories of her culture.
‘Ohana Means Family. By Ilima Loomis. Illus. by Kenard Pak. Holiday/Neal Porter, $18.99 (9780823443260).
Told in the cadence of “The House that Jack Built,” this book follows growth on a taro farm through the lens of Hawaiian culture, then concludes with the sharing of a pot of poi at a Hawaiian ‘ohana’s lūʻau.
The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read. By Rita Lorraine Hubbard. Illus. by Oge Mora. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (9781524768287).
Mary Walker was born into slavery in 1848. After a lifetime of hard work, and as the remaining survivor of her family, she realized a goal of learning to read at 116 years of age.
One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey. By Henry Cole. Illus. by the author. Scholastic, $18.99 (9781338359978).
This wordless picture book follows a paper lunch bag and the boy who carries it to school. Black-and-white illustrations, in which the bag is the only spot of color, give the story a wonderful flow.
Our Friend Hedgehog: The Story of Us. By Lauren Castillo. Illus. by the author. Knopf, $16.99 (9781524766719).
The friendship of two animals is challenged when a storm separates them. Hedgehog must find her friend Mutty, a stuffed dog, with the help of compassionate forest creatures.
Outside In. By Deborah Underwood. Illus. by Cindy Derby. HMH, $17.99 (9781328866820).
This picture book explores the ever-present lure of the outdoors as it appears at our windows and tempts us with sounds and fragrances, even as we spend most of our time inside. A 2021 Caldecott Honor Book.
Overground Railroad. By Lesa Cline-Ransome. Illus. by James E. Ransome. Holiday, $18.99 (9780823438730).
Told in verse and set during the Great Migration, this picture book follows a family who journeys north and experiences changing societal differences that are mirrored in the changing landscape outside the train’s window.
A Polar Bear in the Snow. By Mac Barnett. Illus. by Shawn Harris. Candlewick, $17.99 (9781536203967).
A polar bear slowly emerges from the pages of this book. He’s on the move, but where is he going? Minimal words over mostly monochromatic illustrations make a beautiful, compelling story.
Prairie Days. By Patricia MacLachlan. Illus. By Micha Archer. Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry, $17.99 (9781442441910).
An ode to the amazing sights only the prairie can provide, this simple, quiet story is an accurate reflection of life outside the city limits.
Ruth Objects: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. By Doreen Rappaport. Illus. by Eric Velasquez. Little, Brown, $18.99 (9781484747179).
From her lace collars to her incredible work ethic, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life is chronicled this picture-book biography, which documents the dedication she needed to become a Supreme Court Justice. A 2021 Rise: A Feminist Book Project Top 10.
Salma the Syrian Chef. By Danny Ramadan. Illus. by Anna Bron. Annick, $18.95 (9781773213750).
Salma misses her mother’s smile and laughter and hopes that making her favorite Syrian dish will bring them back. When preparing the dish doesn’t go as planned, Salma’s community comes together to help finish the dish and celebrate her success.
See the Cat: Three Stories about a Dog. By David LaRochelle. Illus. by Mike Wohnoutka. Candlewick, $8.99 (9781536204278).
In a laugh-out-loud story that keeps instructing readers to “see the cat,” Max the Dog must interact with the text to prove to the narrator and a cast of zany characters that he is indeed a canine. The 2021 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner.
Snail Crossing. By Corey R. Tabor. Illus. by the author. Harper/Balzer+Bray, $17.99 (9780062878007).
The reciprocal story of a snail and a group of ants as they attempt to cross a busy street.
Southwest Sunrise. By Nikki Grimes. Illus. by Wendell Minor. Bloomsbury, $18.99 (9781547600823).
Unhappy about moving from New York City to New Mexico, a young boy explores his new home and marvels at the beauty of the desert landscape.
Sugar in Milk. By Thrity Umrigar. Illus. by Khoa Le. Running Press Kids, $17.99 (9780762495191).
This clever picture book reaches back to an ancient Persian legend to help a young immigrant girl find the courage to make friends in her new country.
Swashby and the Sea. By Beth Ferry. Illus. by Juana Martinez-Neal. HMH, $17.99 (9780544707375).
Swashby has retired to a quiet life by his beloved sea. When a girl and her granny move in nearby, his lifestyle changes—for the better.
Telephone Tales. By Gianni Rodari. Illus. by Valerio Vidali. Tr. by Antony Shugaar. Enchanted Lion, $27.95 (9781592702848).
In this classic from Italy, a travelling salesman calls his daughter nightly to share a whimsical story. Sixty-seven playful tales humorously recount ice cream palaces, educational candy, and roads paved with chocolate. The 2021 Mildred L. Batchelder Award winner.
The Three Billy Goats Buenos. By Susan Middleton Elya. Illus. by Miguel Ordóñez. Putnam, $16.99 (9780399547393).
This twisted fairytale skillfully weaves Spanish vocabulary through an empathetic retelling of a classic story.
Ty’s Travels: Zip, Zoom! By Kelly Starling Lyons. Illus. by Nina Mata. Harper, $4.99 (9780062951090).
With the help of a new friend, Ty overcomes the temptation to give up and masters the use of his brand-new scooter. A 2021 Geisel Honor Book.
¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat. By Raúl the Third. Illus. by Raúl the Third and Elaine Bay. HMH/Versify, $14.99 (9781328557049).
Little Lobo and his sidekick Bernabé fetch lunch for El Toro y sus amigos ahead of the Lucha Libre 5000 amid a vibrant community of food truck vendors. The 2021 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner.
A Way with Wild Things. By Larissa Theule. Illus. by Sara Palacios. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (9781681190396).
Shy Poppy loves nature and prefers it to people. But when she spots a dragonfly at a party, people notice it—and her, too.
We Are Water Protectors. By Carole Lindstrom. Illus. by Michaela Goade. Roaring Brook, $17.99 (9781250203557).
An Indigenous girl explains why water is sacred and that the “Black Snake” (pipelines) will destroy the earth. Along with her people, she takes up a rallying cry in defense of water and the planet. The 2021 Caldecott Medal winner.
What about Worms!? By Ryan T. Higgins. Illus. by the author. Disney/Hyperion, $9.99 (9781368045735).
Tiger is big, brave, and not afraid of anything—except worms. And the worms are just as afraid of him, until they come across a book and learn more about tigers! A 2021 Geisel Honor Book.
Where’s Baby? By Anne Hunter. Illus. by the author. Tundra, $17.99 (9780735264984).
Can you find baby fox? Readers will enjoy following the father’s journey as he looks over, under, around, and into things, discovering all sorts of other animals, until he finally gets a hint from mother fox. A 2021 Geisel Honor Book.
Becoming Muhammad Ali. By James Patterson and Kwame Alexander. Illus. by Dawud Anyabwile. Little, Brown/JIMMY Patterson Books, $16.99 (9780316498166).
Alternating verse and prose narratives depict Cassius Clay and his friend Lucky, creating a portrait of the confident child determined to become a boxing champion during the Jim Crow era.
Black Brother, Black Brother. By Jewell Parker Rhodes. Little, Brown, $16.99 (9780316493802).
Dark-skinned Donte experiences more racism than his lighter-skinned brother at their private middle school. He finds empowerment through fencing at the local Boys and Girls Club and faces off against a racist bully.
The Blackbird Girls. By Anne Blankman. Viking, $16.99 (9781984837356).
After the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, two girls from Pripyat must set aside prejudices when they are forced to live together away from home and family. A 2021 Sydney Taylor Silver Medalist.
Catherine’s War. By Julia Billet. Illus. by Claire Fauvel. Tr. by Ivanka Hahnenberger. HarperAlley, $21.99 (9780062915603).
This graphic novel tells the story of Rachel, a Jewish girl forced to change her identity during WWII. As Catherine, she uses a camera to document her experiences, vividly capturing moments of terror, exhilaration, and joy. A 2021 Batchelder Honor Book.
Echo Mountain. By Lauren Wolk. Dutton, $17.99 (9780525555568).
Having lost everything in the Great Depression, Ellie’s family moves to the mountain. When her father is left comatose after a tragic accident, they embrace neighbors and nature in order to survive and revive him.
Efrén Divided. By Ernesto Cisneros. Harper/Quill Tree, $16.99 (9780062881687).
When his mother is deported to Mexico, seventh-grader Efrén is the only one who can cross the border to bring her home. The 2021 Pura Belpré Children’s Author Award winner.
From the Desk of Zoe Washington. By Janae Marks. Illus. by Mirelle Ortega. Harper/Katherine Tegen, $16.99 (9780062875853).
Zoe Washington shows her bravery and determination through a summer bakery internship, a fight with her best friend, and a new relationship with her wrongfully incarcerated father.
King and the Dragonflies. By Kacen Callender. Scholastic, $17.99 (9781338129335).
Black tween King deals with the death of his brother, Khalid, who he’s sure has been reincarnated as a dragonfly. At the same time, he questions both his and his white best friend Sandy’s sexualities. A 2021 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book and a 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults.
Letters from Cuba. By Ruth Behar. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen, $17.99 (9780525516477).
In a series of letters, young Jewish refugee Esther describes life in 1930s Cuba as she helps her father earn money by sewing dresses so their family can join them and escape persecution in Poland.
Lupe Wong Won’t Dance. By Donna Barba Higuera. Levine Querido, $17.99 (9781646140039).
When a dance threatens her chance to meet pitching idol and fellow Mexinese/Chinacan Fu Li Hernandez, Lupe takes up the cause against square dancing in gym, which proves both challenging and enlightening. A 2021 Pura Belpré Children’s Author Honor Book.
Mañanaland. By Pam Muñoz Ryan. Scholastic, $18.99 (9781338157864).
Max loves fútbol, but he must set aside his hopes of joining a team when he begins working with his dad and eventually discovers that his family are secret guardians, who take on refugees and deliver them to “Mañanaland.”
Once upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices. Ed. by S. K. Ali and Aisha Saeed. Illus. by Sara Alfageeh. Abrams/Amulet, $17.99 (9781419740831).
This #OwnVoices collection depicts fictional Eid celebrations throughout the Muslim world.
The Only Black Girls in Town. By Brandy Colbert. Little, Brown, $16.99 (9780316456388).
Alberta is sure she will be friends with new girl Edie, but she soon realizes they are from two different worlds. Alberta struggles to voice how her family and race dynamics make her feel, but the two Black girls come together to discover a collection of hidden journals that reveal a secret to the past.
Prairie Lotus. By Linda Sue Park. Clarion, $16.99 (9781328781505).
Hanna, a biracial Chinese American, and her white father move to the Dakota Territory in the 1880s to start over after her mother’s death. Hanna struggles to find her own strengths and voice within an unwelcoming community. A 2021 Asian/Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature Honor title.
Santiago’s Road Home. By Alexandra Diaz. Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman, $17.99 (9781534446236).
Santiago overcomes many dangerous obstacles to cross the border from Mexico into the U.S., only to be detained by ICE. Though Santiago is used to going it alone, the brutal conditions of the youth detention center are not what he expected to find.
Sharuko: El arqueólogo peruano Julio C. Tello / Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello. By Monica Brown. Illus. by Elisa Chavarri. Tr. by Adriana Domínguez. Lee & Low/Children’s Book, $19.95 (9780892394234).
This bilingual biography traces the life of Julio C. Tello from a curious young boy to an accomplished archaeologist who elevated Peru’s Indigenous history. A 2021 Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book.
Show Me a Sign. By Ann Clare LeZotte. Scholastic, $18.99 (9781338255812).
Set in the actual Deaf community that existed on Martha’s Vineyard during the 1800s, this historical novel is narrated by 11-year-old Mary, who lives a singularly typical life. Never considering the deafness she is born with to be a disability until a prejudiced scientist arrives, Mary finds herself the focus of a study against her will. The 2021 Schneider Family Book Award Middle Grade winner.
Three Keys (A Front Desk Novel). By Kelly Yang. Scholastic, $17.99 (9781338591385).
Mia Tang and her family work to save the hotel they recently bought in the face of a looming immigration law that threatens the safety of Mia’s friends and, if passed, could send her and her family back to China.
The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez. By Adrianna Cuevas. Farrar, $16.99 (9780374313609).
When animals begin disappearing and his abuela starts acting suspicious, Nestor must use his secret ability to communicate with animals to save his town from a tule vieja—a witch that transforms into animals. A 2021 Pura Belpré Children’s Author Honor Book.
We Dream of Space. By Erin Entrada Kelly. Illus. by Erin Entrada Kelly and Celia Krampien. Greenwillow, $16.99 (9780062747303).
In the days before the Challenger space shuttle disaster, the Thomas siblings navigate the dangerous space of middle school and the fractured constellation of their family. A 2021 Newbery Honor Book.
What Stars Are Made Of. By Sarah Allen. Farrar, $16.99 (9780374313197).
Libby, a young girl with Turner’s Syndrome who is fascinated by science, sets out to win a science contest and support her pregnant sister’s family with the prize money.
When Stars Are Scattered. By Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed. Illus. by Victoria Jamieson. Dial, $20.99 (9780525553915).
Omar, along with his younger brother, Hassan, recounts the stories of growing up as orphan refugees at a displacement camp in Kenya in this graphic memoir. A 2021 Schneider Family Book Award Middle Grade Honor title.
When You Trap a Tiger. By Tae Keller. Random, $16.99 (9781524715700).
Lily bargains with a magical tiger to return stolen stories in order to save her sick grandmother. The 2021 Asian/Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature winner and the 2021 Newbery Medal winner.
Wink: Surviving Middle School with One Eye Open. By Rob Harrell. Illus. by the author. Dial, $16.99 (9781984815149).
Here is the humorous journey of Ross, who is navigating middle school after a cancer diagnosis.
A Wish in the Dark. By Christina Soontornvat. Candlewick, $17.99 (9781536204940).
Pong, born in a prison, longs to be free and escapes. Nok, the disgraced warden’s daughter, looks to capture Pong again. Both discover how the world unfairly brings light only for the rich. A 2021 Newbery Honor Book.
Your Place in the Universe. By Jason Chin. Illus. by the author. Holiday/Neal Porter, $18.99 (9780823446230).
This exploration of scale, size, and distance ranges from an eight-year-old child to the widest reaches of the observable universe.
All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team. By Christina Soontornvat. Candlewick, $24.99 (9781536209457).
With superb narrative nonfiction writing, Soontornvat skillfully describes the dramatic real-life rescue of the Thai Boys’ soccer team in 2018. A 2021 Newbery Honor Book, a 2021 Sibert Honor Book, and 2021 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction finalist.
Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir. By Robin Ha. Illus. by the author. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray, $22.99 (9780062685100).
Ha shares her experience of a surprise move from South Korea to Alabama with her single mom. Feeling out of place in her new stepfamily and high school, she acclimates with the help of a comics-making class. A 2021 Top 10 Great Graphic Novels for Teens.
Before the Ever After. By Jacqueline Woodson. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen, $17.99 (9780399545436).
In this novel in verse, 12-year-old ZJ leans on his community for support as his football-star father experiences alarming medical symptoms and dramatic changes as a result of the sport (later revealed to be CTE). The 2021 Coretta Scott King Author Award winner and a 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults.
Brother’s Keeper. By Julie Lee. Holiday, $17.99 (9780823444946).
Sora and her family flee Communist North Korea during the Korean War in 1950. When the family becomes separated, Sora fights for her brother’s survival as they travel south.
Dragon Hoops. By Gene Luen Yang. Illus. by Gene Luen Yang and Lark Pien. First Second, $24.99 (9781626720794).
This graphic novel intertwines the history of basketball with the triumphs and tribulations of the athletes on the champion team at the high school where Yang teaches. A 2021 Printz Honor Book.
Elatsoe. By Darcie Little Badger. Illus. by Rovina Cai. Levine Querido, $18.99 (9781646140053).
When her cousin is killed, Ellie must delve into the town’s evil past and use her Lipan Apache family’s ability to call spirits back to life in order to identify and bring the murderer to justice. A 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults and a 2021 Top 10 Rainbow List selection for Teens.
Fighting Words. By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Dial, $17.99 (9781984815682).
Sisters Della and Suki rely on each other to move forward after years of abuse from their mother’s boyfriend. They find their own voices beyond the trauma through resilience and the bond of sisterhood. A 2021 Newbery Honor Book.
Go with the Flow. By Karen Schneemann and Lily Williams. Illus. by Lily Williams. First Second, $14.99 (9781250143174).
A group of high-school friends band together for a revolution to destigmatize menstruation. The red color palette is the perfect choice to accompany this much-needed “period manifesto.” A Top 10 Great Graphic Novels for Teens.
How We Got to the Moon: The People, Technology, and Daring Feats of Science behind Humanity’s Greatest Adventure. By John Rocco. Illus. by the author. Crown, $32.99 (9780525647423).
This ambitious nonfiction book chronicles one of the most exciting and miraculous accomplishments in American history—the 1969 lunar landing. A 2021 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction finalist and a 2021 Sibert Honor Book.
The Land of the Cranes. By Aida Salazar. Illus. by Quang & Lien. Scholastic, $17.99 (9781338343809).
Despite being detained in a cruel and inhuman deportation camp with her pregnant mother and separated from her deported papi, Betita survives by remembering she will return home like a crane in the Aztec legends her papi told her.
The Magic Fish. By Trung Le Nguyen. Illus. by the author. Random/RH Graphic, $23.99 (9780593125298)
In this graphic novel, Tien and his mother struggle to communicate, but find a way to share their truths through the telling of fairy tales both old and new. A 2021 Top 10 Great Graphic Novels for Teens and a 2021 Top 10 Rainbow List selection for Younger Readers.
Poisoned Water: How the Citizens of Flint, Michigan, Fought for Their Lives and Warned the Nation. By Candy J. Cooper and Marc Aronson. Bloomsbury, $18.99 (9781547602322).
This striking account of the Flint, Michigan water crisis shows how systemic racism disproportionately impacts the health of marginalized citizens.
Raybearer. By Jordan Ifueko. Abrams/Amulet, $18.99 (9781419739828).
At Tarisai’s birth, her mother makes a wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey—kill the emperor’s son. Tarisai must learn to resist the command when she becomes part of the prince’s council and his best friend. A 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults.
Snapdragon. By Kat Leyh. Illus. by the author. First Second, $12.99 (9781250171115).
Snap’s town has a witch. At least, that’s the rumor. Full of acceptance, love, and relatable characters, this graphic novel shows the connection between loving yourself and magic. A 2021 Top 10 Great Graphic Novels for Teens, a 2021 Top 10 Rainbow List selection for Younger Readers, and a 2021 Top 10 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You. By Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. Little, Brown, $18.99 (9780316453691).
This exploration of racism in the U.S. through the past 400 hundred years is presented with humanity and wit.
Superman Smashes the Klan. By Gene Luen Yang. Illus. by Gurihiru. DC Comics, $16.99 (9781779504210).
Superman helps young Chinese American Roberta Lee fight racism in Metropolis while dealing with his own issues with assimilation. A 2021 Top 10 Great Graphic Novels for Teens.
This Light between Us: A Novel of World War II. By Andrew Fukuda. Tor Teen, $17.99 (9781250192387).
Pen pals for 10 years, Japanese American Alex Maki and French Jewish girl Charlie Lévy share a coming-of-age story and fantastical romance amid historically accurate—and heartbreaking—injustice. The 2021 Asian/Pacific American Award for Young Adult Literature winner.
BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom. By Carole Boston Weatherford. Illus. by Michele Wood. Candlewick, $17.99 (9780763691561).
The true story of Henry “Box” Brown, who shipped himself to freedom in a box, is told in 51 emotionally intense poems that have implications for the present day. A 2021 Newbery Honor Book.
Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks. By Suzanne Slade. Illus. by Cozbi A. Cabrera. Abrams, $17.99 (9781419734113).
This biography of Pulitzer-winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks reveals her childhood dreams and inspirations; her challenges with race, gender, and poverty; and her desires to share stories through poetry. A 2021 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book and a 2021 Sibert Honor Book.
A Place inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart. By Zetta Elliott. Illus. by Noa Denmon. Farrar, $17.99 (9780374307417).
This powerful poem captures a Black child’s wide range of emotions over the passage of a year—from joy, to sorrow and anger when he learns of a shooting, and, subsequently, to hope and love. A 2021 Caldecott Honor Book.
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