National Book Award for Young People's Literature

The National Book Award for Young People's Literature is presented each year in November to recognize the outstanding contribution to children's literature.  The award committee considers books of all genres written for children and young adults by U.S. writers with an emphasis on literary merit.  The Young People's category was added to the National Book Award in 1996.  A Children's Books category had previously existed in the National Book Award/American Book Awards program from 1969 to 1983. 

challenger deep

Neal Shusterman. Challenger Deep

A teenage boy struggles with schizophrenia.

Jacqueline Woodson. Brown Girl Dreaming

The author shares her childhood memories and reveals the first sparks that ignited her writing career in free-verse poems about growing up in the North and South.

Cynthia Kadohata. The Thing About Luck

Just when twelve-year-old Summer thinks nothing else can possibly go wrong in a year of bad luck, an emergency takes her parents to Japan, leaving Summer to care for her little brother while helping her grandmother cook and do laundry for harvest workers.

William Alexander. Goblin Secrets

Hoping to find his lost brother, Rownie escapes the home of the witch Graba and joins a troupe of goblins who perform in Zombay, a city where humans are forbidden to wear masks and act in plays.
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Thanhha Lai. Inside Out & Back Again

Through a series of poems, a young girl chronicles the life-changing year of 1975, when she, her mother, and her brothers leave Vietnam and resettle in Alabama.

Kathryn Erskine. Mockingbird

Ten-year-old Caitlin, who has Asperger's Syndrome, struggles to understand emotions, show empathy, and make friends at school, while at home she seeks closure by working on a project with her father.

Phillip Hoose. Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice

Based on extensive interviews with Claudette Colvin and many others, Phillip Hoose presents the first in-depth account of an important yet largely unknown civil rights figure, skillfully weaving her dramatic story into the fabric of the historic Montgomery bus boycott and court case that would change the course of American history.

Judy Blundell.  What I Saw and How I Lied

In 1947, with her jovial stepfather Joe back from the war and family life returning to normal, teenaged Evie, smitten by the handsome young ex-GI who seems to have a secret hold on Joe, finds herself caught in a complicated web of lies whose devastating outcome changes her life and that of her family forever.

Sherman Alexie.  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

M. T. Anderson.  The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. One:  The Pox Party 

Various diaries, letters, and other manuscripts chronicle the experiences of Octavian, a young African American, from birth to age sixteen, as he is brought up as part of a science experiment in the years leading up to and during the Revolutionary War.

Jeanne Birdsall.  The Penderwicks

While vacationing with their widowed father in the Berkshire Mountains, four lovable sisters, ages four through twelve, share adventures with a local boy, much to the dismay of his snobbish mother.

Pete Hautman.  Godless

When sixteen-year-old Jason Bock and his friends create their own religion to worship the town's water tower, what started out as a joke begins to take on a power of its own.

Polly Horvath.  The Canning Season

Thirteen-year-old Ratchet spends a summer in Maine with her eccentric great-aunts Tilly and Penpen, hearing strange stories from the past and encountering a variety of unusual and colorful characters.

Nancy Farmer.  The House of the Scorpion

Matteo Alacran was not Born; He was Harvested. His DNA came from El Patron, lord of a country called Opium -- a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and what was once called Mexico.  El Patron loves Matt as he loves himself, because Matt is himself. As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by a sinister cast of characters, including El Patron's power-hungry family, and he is surrounded by a dangerous army of bodyguards. Escape is the only chance Matt has to survive. But escape from the Alacran Estate is no guarantee of freedom, because Matt is marked by his difference in ways he doesn't even suspect.

Virginia Euwer Wolff.  True Believer

Living in the inner city amidst guns and poverty, fifteen-year-old LaVaughn learns from old and new friends, and inspiring mentors, that life is what you make it--an occasion to rise to.

Gloria Whelan.  Homeless Bird

When thirteen-year-old Koly enters into an ill-fated arranged marriage, she must either suffer a destiny dictated by India's tradition or find the courage to oppose it.

Kimberly Willis Holt.  When Zachary Beaver Came to Town

During the summer of 1971 in a small Texas town, thirteen-year-old Toby and his best friend Cal meet the star of a sideshow act, 600-pound Zachary, the fattest boy in the world.

Louis Sachar.  Holes

As further evidence of his family's bad fortune, which they attribute to a curse on a distant relative, Stanley Yelnats is sent to a hellish correctional camp in the Texas desert where he finds his first real friend, a treasure, and a new sense of himself.

Han Nolan.  Dancing on the Edge

A young girl from a dysfunctional family creates for herself an alternative world which nearly results in her death but which ultimately leads her to reality.

Victor Martinez.  Parrot in the Oven:  Mi Vida

Manny relates his coming of age experiences as a member of a poor Mexican American family in which the alcoholic father only adds to everyone's struggle.

American Book Awards

1983--Hardcover Fiction
Jean Fritz.  Homesick:  My Story

The author's fictionalized version, though all the events are true, of her childhood in China in the 1920's.


1983--Paperback Fiction
Joyce Carol Thomas.  Marked by Fire


James Cross Giblin.  Chimney Sweeps

Traces the history and folklore of the chimney -sweeping profession from the fifteenth century to the present day, emphasizing the plight of the often abused climbing boys of past centuries.

1983--Hardcover Picture Book
William Steig.  Doctor De Soto

Dr. De Soto, a mouse dentist, copes with the toothaches of various animals except those with a taste for mice, until the day a fox comes to him in great pain.

1983--Hardcover Picture Book
Barbara Cooney.  Miss Rumphius

As a child Great-aunt Alice Rumphius resolved that when she grew up she would go to faraway places, live by the sea in her old age, and do something to make the world more beautiful--and she does all those things, the last being the most difficult of all.

1983--Paperback Picture Book
Mary Ann Hoberman.  A House Is a House for Me

Lists in rhyme the dwellings of various animals and things.

1982--Hardcover Fiction
Lloyd Alexander.  Westmark

A boy fleeing from criminal charges falls in with a charlatan, his dwarf attendant, and an urchin girl, travels with them about the kingdom of Westmark, and ultimately arrives at the palace where the king is grieving over the loss of his daughter.


1982--Paperback Fiction
Ouida Sebestyen.  Words by Heart

A young black girl struggles to fulfill her papa's dream of a better future for their family in the southwestern town where, in 1910, they are the only blacks.


Susan Bonners.  A Penguin Year

An introduction to the physical characteristics, habits, and natural environment of the Adelie penguins of Antarctica.

1982--Hardcover Picture Book
Maurice Sendak.  Outside Over There

With Papa off to sea and Mama despondent, Ida must go outside over there to rescue her baby sister from goblins who steal her to be a goblin's bride.

1982--Paperback Picture Book
Peter Spier.  Noah's Ark

Retells in pictures how a pair of every manner of creature climbed on board Noah's ark and thereby survived the Flood.


1981--Hardcover Fiction
Betsy Byars.  The Night Swimmers

With their mother dead and their father working nights, Retta tries to be mother to her two younger brothers but somehow things just don't seem to be working right.

1981--Paperback Fiction
Beverly Clearly.  Ramona and Her Mother

Ramona at 7 1/2 sometimes feels discriminated against by being the youngest in the family.


Alison Cragin Herzig & Jane Lawrence Mali.  Oh, Boy!  Babies

A photo essay of a class in infant care given to fifth and sixth grade boys with the help of mothers and real babies.

National Book Award

Katherine Paterson.  The Great Gilly Hopkins

An eleven-year-old foster child tries to cope with her longings and fears as she schemes against everyone who tries to be friendly.


Judith & Herbert Kohl.  The View from the Oak

Attempts to enable us to view the world of ticks, flies, birds, jelly fish, and other animals through their senses, not our own.

Katherine Paterson.  The Master Puppeteer

A thirteen-year-old boy describes the poverty and discontent of eighteenth century Osaka and the world of puppeteers in which he lives.


Walter D. Edmonds.  Bert Breen's Barn

A young man attempts to claim ownership to an old barn rumored to contain a hidden treasure.

Virginia Hamilton.  M. C. Higgins, the Great

As a slag heap, the result of strip mining, creeps closer to his house in the Ohio hills, fifteen-year-old M.C. is torn between trying to get his family away and fighting for the home they love.

Eleanor Cameron.  The Court of the Stone Children

Aided by the journal of a young woman who lived in nineteenth-century France, Nina solves a murder mystery dormant since the time of Napoleon.

Ursula Le Guin.  The Farthest Shore

A young prince joins forces with a master wizard on a journey to discover a cause and remedy for the loss of magic in Earthsea.


Donald Barthelme.  The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine

Lloyd Alexander.  The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian

When he loses his place as fourth fiddler in a noble household, Sebastian sets out into the world to seek his fortune.

Isaac Bashevis Singer.  A Day of Pleasure:  Stories of a Boy Growing Up in Warsaw  

Nineteen autobiographical stories about the author's childhood in Poland from 1908 to 1918.


Meindert DeJong.  Journey from Peppermint Street