Librarians Announce Best YA & Kids' Books Of 2016
by Emma Oulton

The verdicts are in: the American Library Association have announced the best kid lit of 2016 at their annual awards ceremony. The books honored this year are an amazing and diverse group — and exactly what we want today's youth generation to be reading. The youth media award winners were announced on Monday at the ALA's Midwinter Meeting in Georgia.

The ALA youth media prizes include some of the most well-respected awards in the publishing industry, including the Caldecott, Morris, Newbery and Printz awards. So it's a serious honor to be recognized — and every book on this list is more than deserving of the credit.

You won't be surprised to see March: Book Three on the list; this book has already raced to the top of bestseller lists and scooped a number of awards along the way, and on Monday morning it added an impressive four more awards to that list. You'll also find familiar faces like Nicola Yoon, whose The Sun Is Also A Star has won the hearts of teenage book-lovers across the country. But it's also wonderful to learn about some children's and young adult books that you might not have heard of before — but that are making outstanding contributions to the field. Here are 14 of the very best.


'The Girl Who Drank The Moon' by Kelly Barnhill

The Newbery Medal winner of 2017 is this middle-grade coming-of-age fairy tale about a baby girl, Luna, who is sacrificed to a witch — but the witch turns out to be good and gentle, and raises her with magic powers of her own.

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'Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat' by Javaka Steptoe

This strikingly beautiful biography of the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat won both the Randolph Caldecott and the Coretta Scott King award for best illustrator this year.

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'March: Book Three' by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

The phenomenal March: Book Three, a graphic novel about the power young people hold to change the world, won a massive four awards this year: the Michael L. Printz, the Coretta Scott King, the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award, and the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction.

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'The Sun Is Also A Star' by Nicola Yoon

Nicola Yoon's debut novel, Everything Everything, is currently being turned into a highly anticipated movie starring Amandla Stenberg — and her second book is getting even more buzz. The Sun Is Also A Star was honored this year with the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award.

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'Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille' by Jen Bryant and Boris Kulikov

This inspiring picture-book biography received the Schneider Family Book Award for young children, an award established to reward books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience.

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'As Brave As You' by Jason Reynolds

As Brave As You is about two brothers, Ernie and Genie, spending the summer with their blind grandfather — and trying to prove that they can be as brave as him. But as the summer goes on, the two boys are about to learn that bravery isn't what they thought. This book was honored with the Schneider Family Book Award for middle-grade readers.

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'When We Collided' by Emery Lord

When We Collided won the Schneider Family Book Award for teenage readers, with its moving depiction of bipolar disorder.

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'Cry, Heart, But Never Break' by Glenn Ringtved

The Mildred L. Batchelder Award is awarded to a book originally published in a language other than English, in a country other than the United States. Cry, Heart, But Never Break was originally published in Danish in 2001, but was translated for its U.S. release in 2016.

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'Lowriders to the Center of the Earth,' illustrated by Raúl Gonzalez

Raúl Gonzalez scooped the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award for his stunning illustrations in Cathy Camper's Lowriders to the Centre of the Earth, a graphic novel that combines science, Aztec lore, and a Spanish glossary.

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'Juana & Lucas' by Juana Medina

The Pura Belpré Author Award went to Juana and Lucas, which was written and illustrated by Juana Medina, and tells the story of a Colombian girl's journey learning to speak English.

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'The Hammer of Thor' by Rick Riordan

The Hammer of Thor is this year's winner of the Stonewall Children's Book Award, for its inclusion of a gender-fluid, trans love interest for the main character.

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'If I Was Your Girl' by Meredith Russo

Trans author Meredith Russo won the Stonewall Young Adult Book Award for If I Was Your Girl, a YA love story about a trans girl and a high school romance.

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'The Serpent King' by Jeff Zentner

The William C. Morris Award goes to a first-time author writing for teens, and this year the award went to Jeff Zentner for his debut The Serpent King, which tackles religion, bullies, family, and friendship.

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'We Are Growing!' by Laurie Keller

The winner of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, which is annually given to the most distinguished beginning reader book, was We Are Growing, which teaches young readers about superlatives via a conversation between eight leaves of grass.

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Honorable mentions

MiBut as well as the 14 prize-winners, there were so many wonderful runners-up that deserve mention here, too.

Newbery Medal

Randolph Caldecott

Coretta Scott King (Author)

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator)

Michael L. Printz

Mildred L. Batchelder

Pura Belpré (Illustrator)

Pura Belpré (Author)

Robert Sibert


Theodor Seuss Geisel

William C. Morris