Golden Globes. Oscars. Grammys. Awards season is upon us, folks!
While I love seeing celebrities walk the red carpet and discussing the best movies and music of the year with friends, family, and co-workers, the awards ceremony that I most look forward to is the Youth Media Awards at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Conference.
The YMAs include the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, and Morris awards, just to name a few. Each award seeks to highlight the best in books published for children and young adults during the previous year. The full list of honored titles can be found here, but I wanted to share some of my favorites from what I’ve read over the past year.
Doll Bones by Holly Black, a Newbery Honor book, is the story of a group of kids who love to act out stories of pirates and mermaids–even though some consider the twelve-year-olds too old for that sort of imaginative play. A delightful story is a fun family read-aloud, parents will enjoy it just as much as their kids. I also highly recommend the audio version, which is narrated by Nick Podehl.
Another award-winning middle grade book that is fantastic on audio is Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool (who previously won the Newbery for Moon over Manifest). In Navigating Early, a young Kansan boy moves to a boarding school after his mother passes away. Set just after World War II, it’s a story about making unexpected friends, adventure, black bears, and the number Pi.
If you haven’t read Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, perhaps now that it’s garnered a Printz Honor, it’s time. It’s a bittersweet love story set in the 80s with a side of comic books and mix tapes.
I’m currently reading another Printz Honor winner, The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susan Cockal. It’s a dark, literary fantasy set in medieval Scandinavia. If you think George R. R. Martin writes about disturbing drama in royal families…this kingdom might surprise you.
Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn won the Morris Award for best debut, and it’s a suspenseful book that explores how people cope with trauma. Told in chapters that alternate between “matter” and “anti-matter”, past and present, this certainly isn’t the typical boarding school young adult novel.
Each year YALSA recognizes a young adult author with a lifetime achievement award in writing for young adults, and this year honored Markus Zusak. If you’re already on the hold list for The Book Thief, the WWII story narrated by death that was recently made into a movie, consider checking out Underdogs or I am the Messenger.
There are dozens more fantastic books for kids of all ages on the ALA’s award lists, so check them out!