Looking to mix up your children's reading? Look no further than these recent award-winning books.
Every year, the American Library Association announces their awards for children's literature. There are a number of awards for the best literature, illustrations, and books celebrating different cultures and experiences. These are the premier children's literature awards, honoring the best of the best.
Below are some of the award-winning books. From board books to picture books to middle-grade novels, there's something for kids of all ages.
When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller
2021 Newbery Medal winner for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature
2021 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature winner
This middle-grade book won the most coveted book award of the year: the Newbery Medal! This novel is a fantasy story based on Korean folklore. A young girl named Lily moves with her family to her sick grandmother's house and soon a magical tiger reveals itself, insisting that Lily's grandmother returns something she once stole from the tigers. Lily is tempted to make a deal with the tiger but is wary of its trickster ways. This book is great for upper elementary readers.
We Are Water Protectors, illustrated by Michaela Goade
2021 Caldecott Medal winner for the best picture book illustrations
The history of Indigenous activism to protect the environment inspired this book, especially the fight for clean water. In this children's book, a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth and poison the water, so one young girl must stand up and protect the water. This is a great book for little readers, ages 3-6.
Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson
2021 Coretta Scott King Award winner recognizing an African-American author's outstanding book
This novel-in-verse is perfect for kids in 5th or 6th grade. It’s about a boy whose father is a retired professional football player. He’s suffering from memory loss and irritability, likely caused by head injuries during his football career. The boy must navigate this new reality with his dad while trying to hold onto the memories their family shares, even as his father is beginning to forget them.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, illustrated by Frank Morrison
2021 Coretta Scott King Award winner recognizing an African-American illustrator's outstanding book.
It’s no surprise this book won an award for illustrations. The art in this book is incredible! It tells the story of Aretha Franklin, beginning in childhood and following her rise to superstardom. It also highlights her work on racial justice. It’s a great introduction to a musical legend and perfect to read alongside preschoolers or as an independent read through third grade.
¡Vamos! Let's Go Eat by Raúl Gonzalez
2021 Pure Belpré Award winner honoring a Latinx writer and illustrator's outstanding book
This book is part of a series starring Little Lobo, a fox who lives in a town near the border of Mexico and the United States. This book highlights the delicious foods served at food trucks around town. These books are bilingual and a great introduction to Spanish vocabulary for English readers. It’s a great book for kids in kindergarten through third grade.
Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera by Candace Fleming
2021 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award winner for the best non-fiction children's book
This book is an excellent example of children’s non-fiction because it pairs beautiful illustrations with just the right amount of information. Readers will follow the life of a honeybee as it grows, builds honeycombs, and flies around in search of nectar. This book is perfect for learners in grades 1-4.
We Are Little Feminists: Families by Aliza Layne
2021 Stonewall Book Award winner for the best children's book relating to the LGBTQ community
This book is part of a board book series highlighting the many different kinds of families. It features families of all types, including LGBT partners, interracial families, and multigenerational families. The book uses real photographs, making it a great choice for young readers who love to see real faces.
See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog by David LaRochelle
2021 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner for the best beginning reader book
This silly book subverts the traditional “easy reader” by giving readers something to laugh about. The book keeps saying “see the cat,” despite the story being about Max the dog! It’s sure to become a favorite. This book is perfect for emerging readers ages 4-8.
2021 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature winner for the best picture book relating to Asian/Pacific cultureReaders will definitely connect to the story of a Chinese immigrant who would grow up to illustrate the backgrounds in the Disney movie, Bambi. Tyrus Wong was only a boy when his family left China for Sacramento, California. He worked hard to become an artist and was able to attend art school by working as a janitor at night. He would eventually use his unique style to bring the woods of Bambi to life. This picture book is perfect for reading together with younger kids or as an independent read through third grade.