Readers, get excited! The 2021 ALA youth media awards have been announced, and it’s time to update our reading lists! In case you’re not fully in the book-nerd world like me, that means our 2021 Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta Scott King awards and more have been announced!

So many of these books are ones that we’ve highlighted this year in our best books of 2020 roundup, so we’re extra excited to see them get some much-deserved recognition this year. Add all of these to your library list, if not your to-buy list this year!

These are some highlights from their complete awards, so be sure to read their announcement to see every honor book and runner up too!

Note that we’ve offered links to buy from both Amazon and Indiebound’s web shop, but you can also buy locally and support your local bookstores as well as your community’s library.

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Related: 5 fabulous new books about Black women leaders and activists, all written by Black women

The 2021 ALA Award Winners

The 2021 Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta Scott King and the youth media award winners!

The 2021 Newbery Medal winner

The winner for outstanding contribution to children’s literature: When You Trap a Tiger¬†(Amazon, Indiebound) by Tae Keller is an uplifting reimagining of Korean folklore. (This also won the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature.)

The 2021 Caldecott Medal winner

The winner for the most distinguished American picture book: We Are Water Protectors¬†(Amazon, Indiebound) illustrated by Michaela Goade and written by Carole Lindstrom celebrates the heroic Indigenous movements to safeguard Earth’s water.

The 2021 Coretta Scott King Book Award and Illustrator Award

The winner for outstanding African American authors/ illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values:¬†Jacqueline Woodson’s¬†Before the Ever After¬†(Amazon, Indiebound), a novel in verse about a former football player’s struggle with CTE, told from his son’s perspective.

For illustrators, the award goes to R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (Amazon, Indiebound) by Frank Morrison (written by Carole Boston Weatherford) celebrates our ultimate diva.

Related: All the best children’s books and award winners of 2020, all in one place


The 2021 Printz Award

The winner for excellence in literature written for young adults: Everything Sad is Untrue¬†(Amazon, Indiebound) by Daniel Nayeri. I’m currently reading this spunky memoir about a young Iranian refugee who lands in Oklahoma, and it is so, so good.

The Schneider Family Book Award

The winner for books that embody an artistic expression of disability: I Talk Like a River (Amazon, Indiebound) by Jordan Scott beautifully explores the experience of stuttering.

Related: The best children’s books of 2020: All the award winners to read with your kids in 2021

The Pura Belpré illustrator Qward

The winner for a book that celebrates the Latino experience: ¬°Vamos! Let’s Go Eat¬†(Amazon, Indiebound) by Ra√ļl (The Third III) Gonzalez takes readers on a tour of food trucks in a bustling border town.

The Stonewall Book Award

The winner for a book about the LGBTQIA+ experience: We Are Little Feminists: Families (Amazon, Indiebound) by Archaa Shrivastav and Lindsey Blakely, which celebrates all types of families. (At least, those who believe in empowering women.)

The Asian/Pacific American Award

The winner for a book about Asian/Pacific Americans and their heritage, based on literary and artistic merit.: Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist (Amazon) by Julie Leung and Chris Sasaki tells the inspiring story of the immigrant who brought Bambi to life.

The Sydney Taylor Book Award

The winner for books that authentically portray the Jewish experience: Dancing at the Pity Party (Amazon, Indiebound) by Tyler Feder is a poignant graphic novel growing up without a mom (after her mother passed away from cancer).