This has been a year in which we’ve all — adults and children — needed books desperately. We also really missed having the wisdom of librarians and book-store clerks to guide us in choosing the next favorite, unputdownable, read-to-me-every-night book for our very bored, stuck-at-home kids. Well, we have that wisdom now, in the form of the annual American Library Association (ALA) 2021 Youth Media Awards.
Those diligent librarians were reading just as much as ever in 2020, and they’ve selected the highly respected Newberry and Caldecott medals, along with the Coretta Scott King Book Awards and several other honors for books written for young readers. There are awards for the best depiction of Latinx people, Asian Americans, Jewish people, those with disability, and more. While we’re sure the writers of these books are extremely happy to receive those awards (and shiny, embossed designs on their covers), they mean something even more important for parents, teachers, and kids. When faced with that long daunting list or those big, shelves packed with books, it’s very helpful to have some hints about what to buy or check out next.
Among this year’s ALA awards, you’ll find magic in books like When You Trap a Tiger, about a girl trying to bargain with a tiger for her grandmother’s health. And you’ll find music, in biographies like R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. Stir up hunger with ¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat or bring out tears with Before the Ever After.
With this list, we’ve only scratched the surface of the great books for children and teens the ALA awarded this year, so be sure to visit their website for more recommendations. And prepare yourself for the strange absence of “Mooooom, I’m so borrrred” groans.
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