BCALA and School Library Journal Announce the 2021 Children and Youth Literary Awards Winners

For release on:
July 25, 2021

The Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Inc. (BCALA) and School Library Journal proclaim the 2021 Children and Youth Literary Awards winners. This is the inaugural set of awards honoring phenomenal works of fiction and nonfiction by Black authors. The awards highlight the diversity of the Black experience and recognize authors and books that provide windows, mirrors, and sliding doors for our children to feel and be seen in their schools, libraries, and broader communities. The recipients will receive their awards during the National Conference of African American Librarians in 2021.

The first novelist category winner is A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins. Moore Ramée tells the story of a Shayla who wants to do the right thing but is afraid of making the wrong choices in middle school. We see the Black Lives Matter movement from the perspective of a child. She is also figuring out where she fits in that space, in her school, and with her friends. Lisa Moore Ramée wrote Something to Say in 2020 and has another book coming out in 2022. She now lives in Northern California with her family. 

The fiction category winner is Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins.  Lamar Giles takes us on a journey with teenage Del, the self-proclaimed “nice guy” trying to do everything and anything possible to go out with Kiera, his kindergarten crush. Throughout the book and during all of Del’s attempts, he is faced with toxic masculinity, religion, sexuality, and friendship. Giles deftly weaves in humor and drama to keep the reader engaged. Lamar is a well-published author and a founding member of We Need Diverse Books. He resides in Virginia with his wife.

The nonfiction category winner is The Talk: Conversations about Race, Love & Truth by Wade Hudson, Cheryl Willis Hudson Yearling/Penguin Random House. Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson have gathered stories that invite us to come to the table and begin to have candid conversations about race, racism, and identity. The Talk opens the door and allows us to walk in together, knowing these discussions won’t be easy, but the essays, stories, poems, and letters within these pages will help guide the way. Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson live in New Jersey. They run Just Us Books, a publishing company. They founded Just Us Books to provide Black children with positive images of themselves in literature. 

The graphic novel category winner is Twins by Varian Johnson and Shannon Wright Scholastic/Graphix. Johnson and Wright craft a dynamic duo in Maureen and Francine Carter. A middle-school coming of age story where the twins attempt to find their own footing as individuals shakily at first. Filled with the anxiety around crushes, insecurities, and disagreements, the Carter twins decide if sisterhood and friendships are forever or if everything really does change once you enter middle school. Varian lives outside of Austin, TX, with his family. Shannon Wright is an illustrator and cartoonist based out of Richmond, Virginia.

Four additional authors/editors are listed as honor recipients whose works the committee believes deserve to be recognized for their accomplishments and impact on the literary landscape.  

BCALA Children & Young Adult Literary Award Honor Books
First Novelist Honor Hands Up!, Breanna J. McDaniel, Shane W. Evans Puffin Books 
Fiction Honor I Am Every Good Thing, Derrick Barnes, Gordon C. James Nancy Paulsen Books 
Nonfiction Honor Brave. Black. First.: 50+ African American Women Who Changed the World Cheryl Hudson, Erin K. Robinson Crown Books for Young Readers 
Graphic Novel Honor Nubia L. L. McKinney, Robyn Smith DC Comics
Members of the BCALA Children and Youth Literary Awards Committee are K.C. Boyd, District of Columbia Public Schools; Tamela Chambers, Chicago Public Library; Donna Gray, New York City School Library System; Karen Lemmons, Detroit Public Schools; Mariel Matthews, New York Public Library; Cherese McKnight, District of Columbia Public Schools; Stacey Nunn, Baltimore County Public Schools. 


The Black Caucus of the American Library Association serves as an advocate for the development, promotion, and improvement of library services and resources to the nation’s African American community; and provides leadership for the recruitment and professional development of African American librarians.

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