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Home | 2021 Best Books for Kids from the American Library Association

2021 Best Books for Kids from the American Library Association

ALA Youth Award winners 2021 collage of book covers

The beginning of the new year marks the start of another awards season, with familiar names like the Golden Globes and the Oscars. But did you know it was awards season for kids' books, too? The American Library Association (ALA) announced the winners of its annual Youth Media Awards for 2021, including the prestigious Newbery and Caldecott medals for children's books.

Since 1922, the John Newbery Medal has been awarded to the author of the most distinguished American children's book by the Association for Library Service for Children (ALSC), a division of the ALA. This year, the Newbury Medal goes to When You Trap a Tiger, written by Tae Keller and published by Random House Children's Books. In When You Trap a Tiger Lily, her sister Sam, and their mother move in with her sick grandmother, Halmoni and Lily traps a tiger and makes a deal with him to heal Halmoni. Find it at a local Marin library here.

The 2021 runner-up Newbery Honor Books are All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team, written by Christina Soontornvat; BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom, written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Michele Wood; Fighting Words, written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley; We Dream of Space, written by Erin Entrada Kelly and illustrated by Erin Entrada Kelly and Celia Krampien;  and A Wish in the Dark, written by Christina Soontornvat.

The ALSC began awarding the Caldecott Medal, named after 19th-century British illustrator Randolph Caldecott, to the artist of the most distinguished children's picture book in 1938. This year's medal winner is We Are Water Protectors, illustrated by Michaela Goade and written by Carole Lindstrom. Find it at the library.

The runner-up Caledecott Honor Books for this year are A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart, illustrated by Noa Denmon and written by Zetta Elliott; The Cat Man of Aleppo, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu and written by Irene Latham & Karim Shamsi-Basha; Me & Mama, illustrated and written by Cozbi A. Cabrera; and Outside In, illustrated by Cindy Derby and written by Deborah Underwood. 

Find our more about the ALSC 2021 youth media awards and see a complete list of winners at