The 2017 National Book Awards have just been announced, in time for those crisp autumn nights cuddling up with a good book. And while you should check out all the finalists in the fiction and nonfiction categories, we’re sharing the Young People’s Literature finalists for those of you with tweens and teens looking for some great new reads.
Or for you. Because let’s face it, YA novels are some of our own favorites.
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2017 National Book Awards Young People’s Literature Finalists
What Girls Are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold
This is an honest look at the struggle of being a teenage girl in today’s world. Spoiler: It’s not all sugar and spice. Arnold takes on the good, the bad and the ugly, and the result is a real and raw book that older teens may really love.
Related: 8 must-read summer reading books for tweens and teens who want to stay woke
Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
Benway’s winning novel is a story about the strength and love of unconventional families. Reviews compare this novel for teens to the popular show This is Us, so expect tears. Lots.
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
This story of an outspoken, strong-willed Mexican-American teenage girl faced with sudden loss does have some funny parts, but it does address tough subjects, making this book better suited to more mature teens and YA fans.
Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia
The Coretta Scott King winner for Gone Crazy in Alabama and its predecessor, One Crazy Summer, is out with yet another amazing novel dealing with deep issues in a thoughtful way. It’s a story about a young boy dealing with the loss of his grandfather and how their shared love of music helps him get through the difficult time. The book is geared toward kids ages 8 – 12, which gives some of our younger readers a chance to read something really special as well.
Related: 9 outstanding books for Black History Month for kids of all ages — and for all months.
American Street by Ibi Zoboi
With immigrant stories particularly timely and relevant right now, this is a perfect time to introduce your older teens to Zoboi’s much-lauded book about a young Haitian-American teenager faced with the detention and deportation of her mother. Rita Williams-Garcia has even lauded it with the highest praise, calling her a “spellbinding voice of the next generation.
5 longlisted books that teens may love too:
All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry
A love story set in a post-apocalyptic, environmental disaster America, Mabry’s just-released novel is full of twists and turns that will appeal to teens who spark to gritty dystopian novels.
Related: 9 lovely children’s books about the immigrant experience to help encourage more kindness and empathy.
You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins
This tale of Bengali-American sisters who arrive in the United States in the 1970 is told in alternating teen voices across three generations, making it conceptual and compelling. It’s a lovely novel for older tweens and teens that explores sisterhood, love, friendship, culture, and family.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
We featured this excellent and timely novel in our roundup of books for tweens and teens who want to stay woke, and it’s been lauded by so many incredible authors and critics, from John Green to Jason Reynolds, that I’m not surprised at all to see it make this list. Thomas has created an important, gut-wrenching story of police brutality in the Black community and the emotional effects it takes, all through the eyes of its 16-year-old heroine.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
From best-selling author Jason Reynolds, this powerful novel is written entirely in staccato verse. What’s more, the entire story takes place over the course of just 60 seconds—the time it takes a 15-year-old boy to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the man who killed his brother. Its release date is coming up later this month and definitely seems worth a pre-order.
Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder
Rick Riordan gives props to this thoughtful, compelling coming-of-age story for younger teens and tweens, about orphan children living happily on a mysterious island until changes happen that make them rethink their utopian world.