This list is very late, and not as well laid out as I’ve done it in the past, but it’s finally here. I’ve linked out to the winners and honorees and, whenever possible, have also provided links to archived versions on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.
American Indian Youth Literature Award, 2020
The American Indian Youth Literature Awards have been presented every two years (on an even year) since 2006. They were presented last in 2018 and were presented in 2020; they will be presented again in 2022. They are intended to showcase and celebrate “the very best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians.” All winners, going back to 2006, can be found at the main link. 2020 winners are discussed in this press release as well as at the main link.
Arab American Book Award, 2021
The Arab-American Book Award has been presented yearly since 2007 to books celebrating the Arab-American experience. Reading guides are available for some titles. Celebrated titles include adult works (from the scholarly to the popular) as well as works for teens and little folks. Past award winners can be found through the links at the bottom of the main page.
Association of Jewish Libraries Literary Awards, 2021
I’ll break these out into smaller categories; as I have done for the past several years, the AJL’s Sydney Taylor Awards will have their own category.
AJL Jewish Fiction Award 2021
The AJL Jewish Fiction Award, included here for the third time, was established in 2017. It celebrates works published in English that (extensively) explore Judaism, Jewish identity, history, culture, and more. Press releases are available as pdfs.
2021 winners were announced in late January. They are available here from the WayBack Machine (so they won’t go anywhere when links change) and (until links change) from the AJL Jewish Fiction Award page.
AJL Judaica Reference & Bibliography Awards, 2020
Going by the list on the AJL’s website, the AJL Judaica Reference Awards appear to have been presented first in 1984, and then almot yearly since 1986 (hello, award that is basically my age). The Judaica Reference Award celebrates the best in Jewish reference works (which warms this librarian’s heart, obvs); the Judaica Bibliography Award, meanwhile, celebrates (and encourages) excellence in Jewish bibliography. Winners are listed on the same page, back to 1984. This is the third year I have included the AJL Judaica Reference & Bibliography Awards on this list.
Additional information, and all winners, are available for the Bibliography Award via press release (pdf) and chart. Press release and chart are available for the Reference Award are available as well. Neither appear to have been updated since 2020.
Bank Street College of Education Best Spanish Language Picture Books of the Year, 2020
The Bank Street College of Education’s Best Spanish Language Picture Book of the Year award was presented for the very first time in 2020, and was drawn from their booklist of best Spanish language picture books of the year. While the prize can include either books originally written or translated into Spanish, it does appear that this list is largely, if not entirely, comprised of translations. It will be biennial award and will next be presented in 2022.
Bank Street College of Education has several other booklists and book awards; while most are not diversity-focused, they are a great source of excellent children’s books.
The Mildred L. Batchelder Award has been presented yearly since 1968 to outstanding children’s books in English translation. All winners since 1968 can be found by searching this new database. This award emphasizes publishing houses, letting readers know who is supporting literature in translation and, by extension, a wider understanding of our world.
This press release (also available from ALA) includes the 2021 winner and honor book, while all historical Batchelder Award winners and honor books can be found through the new database. (Note that the database is a bit clunky, but can be filtered using year.)
Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) Book Award, 2021
The BCALA Book Awards celebrate excellence in literary works for adults by African-American authors. 2021 winners were announced in late January 2021. I still haven’t figured out how long these awards have been given; I will continue to search for more information.
- 2021 adult literature winners are listed here, and archived here.
- 2021 youth literature winners are listed here, and archived here.
- Booklists are available on BCALA’s website as well.
Américas Award (CLASP), 2021
The Américas Award has been presented yearly since 1993; the next award will be presented in 2022. It celebrates “quality children’s and young adult books that portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States.” All past winners are listed at Award Winners, and you can peruse this annotated bibliography of 2021 winners (it’s a pdf). Resources for teachers (also useful for librarians and parents!) are available. You can also follow the Américas Award on Facebook.
Amelia Bloomer List: see Rise: A Feminist Book Project for Ages 0-18, 2021
Reminder: the Amelia Bloomer List is now Rise: A Feminist Book Project! It’s just as fantastic and inclusive as ever, just with a name that better suits its anti-white-supremacy stance. Yay Rise!
Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, 2020-2021
The Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, aka the APALA Awards, have been presented yearly (in January) since 2003. They recognize excellence in literature about Asian/Pacific Americans. The APALA Awards celebrate works for both adults and youths. This year’s awards—the 2021-2022 APALA Awards—were presented in January.
The Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature has, since 2013 (or maybe earlier—that’s the earliest I found on their website), compiled a list of the very best in multicultural children’s literature, from picture books through books for teens. I’ve included it here since 2018. The list is presented the following year; because I am so late this year, both are available (and both will be listed). Submission guidelines are posted, and lists can be downloaded as pdfs as well (top of the page link for 2021, bottom of the page link for 2020). The original list includes considerably more information, including age ranges for materials included, so I suggest checking it out. The CSMCL is an amazing resource, and I totally suggest following it—through its website, its Facebook page, its Twitter feed, and its Pinterest. You won’t regret it.
Check them out, they’re rad.
Children’s Africana Book Award (CABA), 2021
The CABA Awards, out of Howard University’s Center for African Studies, have been presented yearly since 1992. They celebrate the best in literature about Africa for children. Past winners for young children are listed going back to ’92; past winners for middle graders and teens are available as well. The CABAs, starting in 2018, also celebrate adult works, generally those with a strong crossover appeal to young/new adults.
2021 ceremonies are also available—watch them on CABA’s YouTube channel!
Coretta Scott King Book Awards, 2021
The Coretta Scott King Book Awards, which commemorate Coretta Scott King and Dr. Martin Luther King, have been presented yearly since 1970. A complete list of past winners since ’70 is available. The awards honor outstanding work by African-American authors and illustrators, with special awards given for new talent, as well as a lifetime achievement award. The Award now maintains a blog.
Press releases for the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award and the Coretta Scott King Awards more generally are both available as well. (Links are archival.)
Freeman Book Award, 2020
The Freeman Book Award, on this list for the second time, appear to have been presented yearly since 2016 by the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA), the Committee on Teaching about Asia (CTA) of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS), and Asia for Educators (AFE) at Columbia University. They celebrate and honor children’s and young adult books that “contribute meaningfully to an understanding of East and Southeast Asia.” Awards are presented in January for the preceding year; despite my slowness this year, 2021 lists have not yet appeared.
The Freeman Book Awards also provide lists of recommended books, which include winners of the Freeman Awards; all prior award winners, honorable mentions, and books of note are available from the landing page.
2020 Freeman Book Award winners, honor books, and books of note are listed on the Award’s main page; it is not static, but this archival link is. Additionally, each award year—including 2020—has its own static page (which I have also archived), which includes clickable book covers with additional info.
The Translated YA Book Prize, joining us for the second time this year, was awarded for the first time in 2019. The award celebrates outstanding YA work published in a language other than English; in its early years, it will dip back at least three years in publication. This is affiliated with the American Library Association.
A note: I include translation prizes such as this one as we tend to see only literature from our small corners of the world; novels (and other literature) in translation allows us a window into a world beyond the one we know best.
Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award, 2022
The Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award, presented every other year by the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities, honor works that “authentically portray individuals with developmental disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities, and Down syndrome.”
The IGNYTE Awards from FIYAHCON / FIYAH
The IGNYTE Awards, joining our list for the first time, hail from FIYAH’s FIYAHCON. They seek to “celebrate the vibrancy and diversity of the current and future landscapes of science fiction, fantasy, and horror by recognizing incredible feats in storytelling and outstanding efforts toward inclusivity of the genre.” The 2020 awards were the first presented. 2021 votes are still being tallied as I add this, on January 14 of ’22.
IGNYTE Awards finalists are chosen by a juried panel; winners are selected by public vote. FIYAHCON offers extensive information on the voting process, which is quite transparent.
The IGNYTES include multiple categories, with detailed explanations for each. (And they’ve got youth awards! This makes my hard heart so happy.)
If you are interested in diverse speculative fiction, FIYAH is a great place to go—and their output is always stellar.
Check the FIYAHCON website for information on 2022 finalists and voting.
The International Latino Book Awards, 2021
The International Latino Book Awards have been presented yearly since 1998 as a joint venture of Latino Literacy Now, Las Compadres Para las Américas, and REFORMA (otherwise known as one of two professional memberships I maintain even when I have no money, the other being this one here.) They celebrate the best in Latinx literature, including works in Spanish, English, and Portuguese, as well as mixes and bilingual variants thereof. They are awarded yearly, in September, and have a website available here; a pdf of this year’s winners and honor books is also available. (The organizations also celebrate Latino Books into Movies—check those out, too!)
Note that the Awards’ home page isn’t that easy to navigate, but it is worth a look. The International Latino Book Awards themselves are pretty incredible: they cover the length and breadth of publishing, and draw not only from Usonian works but from works around the Latinx world, including Brazil. That’s great, but also can be frustrating: you’re definitely not going to find every one of these books at your favorite indie, and it’s definitely not going to be on Amazon, either. (If your favorite local indie happens to be the Seminary Co-Op or 57th Street Books, however, it might be there! You never know.)
The Jane Addams Children’s Book Award
In keeping with the spirit of the lady for whom they are named, the Jane Addams Book Awards, given yearly since 1953, honor “children’s books of literary and aesthetic excellence that effectively engage children in thinking about peace, social justice, global community, and equity for all people.” Prior award winners can be found via several access points, all linked off the award’s landing page.
Starting in 2020, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award has shaken up their process: they will list finalists in November before presenting the award in January of the coming year.
Lambda Literary Awards (the Lammies), 2021
The Lambda Literary Awards have been awarded yearly since 1989 for excellence in LGBTQ literature. They include a plethora of categories (although, in my opinion, they need more categories in youth and young adult: there are a LOT more LGBTQIA+ youth books out there and deserving of your time than the Lammys are able to acknowledge).
All winners can be searched and located via this searchable database.
2021 finalists are available forever thanks to the WayBack Machine. (you rock, Internet Archive!)
Museum of African American History Stone Book Award
The MAAH Stone Award, which honors and encourages scholarship in African American history, appears to have been presented for the first time in 2018; this is the second year I’ve included it. Full lists—including longlists—are available on the website.
NAACP Image Awards, 2021
The NAACP Image Awards have been presented yearly since 1967. The winners and nominees linked below are from the 51st Annual Image Awards Ceremony.
National Jewish Book Awards, 2020
The National Jewish Book Awards, awarded yearly since 1949, celebrate and encourage “outstanding literature in the field” and continued literary production on themes of interest to the Jewish community.” The Jewish Book Council maintains a list of all prior winners. (And since it disappeared once on me, I’ve saved an archival link, too.)
2021 award winners have, for the most part, yet to be announced, even though I’m running late this year.
I am thrilled to note that as of the 2020 award, the National Jewish Book Awards have moved into middle grade literature too.
Middle East Book Award, 2021
The Middle Eastern Book Award, which joined this list in 2018, honors children’s and young adult books that “contribute meaningfully to understanding of the Middle East” (and check their page for the full definition of what constitutes “Middle East” for this award) and has been presented yearly since 1999 by the Middle East Outreach Council. Three of its sister awards—the Américas Award, the CABA, and the South Asia Book Award—have been on this list since the first year I did it, while I’ve added the Freeman Book Awards this year; you’ll find them all these sister awards here as well. A list of all winners can be downloaded as a pdf from the site.
There are generally three categories: picture books, youth literature, and youth non-fiction. Youth books often (though not always) appear to tilt toward the middle-grade side of things.
New Voices Book Award for Authors of Color, Lee & Low, 2020
The New Voices Award is presented in January for the previous year. (Despite moving slowly, I’m ahead of the announcement for 2021.) Information on the award is available. Publishing house and award-giver Lee & Low specialize in diverse materials and are an excellent choice to follow for those interested in representative works. This press release (archived here) includes information on the winner and runner-up’s projects and more.
Notable Books for a Global Society, 2021
Notable Books for a Global Society is an offshoot of the Children’s Literature & Reading Special Interest Group of the International Literacy Association. It honors books which encourage understanding of the world’s people and cultures. All winners, including prior years, are available through this landing page. Lists are in pdf format. All lists include annotations for each included book.
The Otherwise Award (formerly the James Tiptree, Jr. Award), 2020
The Otherwise Award, formerly the James Tiptree, Jr. Award and renamed in 2019, is presented to speculative fiction that “explore[s] and expand[s] gender.” It has been awarded yearly since 1995, when it was founded at a feminist sci-fi convention.
2021 award winners will be announced in spring 2022. Meander over to the Award database for historical winners, from multiple award years. See everything suggested for the award with the Recommended list, which includes rationale. (Note that books can be recommended by anyone.) The awards page includes information about each book, as well as a discussion of why it was chosen. And there is even a list of all jurors involved with selection.
Pura Belpré Award, 2021
The Pura Belpré Awards are named for the trailblazing Puerto Rican American librarian Pura Belpré, who was the first Latina to serve as a librarian in New York City. (Note that the picture book about her life, available in both English and Spanish, has now won several awards.) The award which honors her “is presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.” Past winners of the award, biennial from 1996-2008 and annual since 2009, are accessible via ALA-ALSC’s new awards database, and are available as a download from the main page of the Award. (It’s a pdf or word doc, take your pick.) The Award has also published an anthology in celebration of its twenty-year anniversary, available here from the publisher.
Rainbow Booklist, 2021
The Rainbow Book List, compiled by the Rainbow Book List Committee of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Roundtable of the American Library Association, provides a list of “quality books with significant and authentic GLBTQ content.” Booklists since 2008 (the first year the list was compiled) are available. I have never known these booklists to disappear (thanks, GLBT Roundtable!!), but I’m going to provide archival links anyway, for the sake of safety and consistency.
Rise: A Feminist Book Project for Ages 0-18, 2021
Rise: A Feminist Book Project for Ages 0-18, formerly known as the Amelia Bloomer List, curates an annual list of the very best in feminist literature for young folks. Information is available on nominating books, if you’ve got a great feminist resource for youth that you’d like to be taken into consideration. The lists provide extensive info and are a great resource all around.
Rise has recently gotten a new website. The old website remains up for now; the new one will be used henceforth.
Tómas Rivera Book Award, 2021
The Tomás Rivera Book Award has been awarded yearly since 1995. It honors the “authors and illustrators who create literature that depicts the Mexican-American experience.” All award winners (beginning in 1995) are available as a list; they can also be downloaded as a Microsoft Word document. Awards are given for younger readers, older readers: middle grade category, and older readers: young adult; this year, there are winners listed only for middle grade and younger readers.
Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, 2021
The Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature has been awarded yearly since 2006 by the Jewish Book Council. It celebrates the importance of contemporary literature in the “transmission and examination of the Jewish experience.” A list of all winners is available, as are lists of Choice Award winners and finalists. As of 2020, the Sami Rohr Prize has its own dedicated website—which is awesome, but also totes a pain, since my links on prior iterations of this list are now dead.
No Choice Award was presented, in either 2020 or 2021.
Choice Awards are listed here, although none have been presented since 2019.
The Schneider Family Book Award, 2021
The Schneider Family Book Awards, which “honor an author or illustrator for for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences,” have been awarded yearly since 2004. Due to changes at the American Library Association, it is no longer quite as easy to find previous winners; however, at least some can be accessed through this new database tool (this one might even take you right there, although the ALA’s links do not, alas, always work). The award further maintains a “Select Bibliography of Children’s Books About the Disability Experience,” available at the link as a downloadable pdf. Schneider Family Book Award winner and honor books are on the ALSC database. (As I have discussed previously, and will discuss again, I am dyslexic from a long line of dyslexics; this award is very personally important to me.)
The Scholastic Asian Book Award does not appear to have been awarded since 2018.
Skipping Stones Honor Award, 2021
The books on the Skipping Stones Honors List have won Skipping Stones’ honor award; selected books encourage a better understanding of the world’s people, cultures, and places. Given the focus of this list, I have traditionally included only the Multicultural and International Books.
South Asia Book Award, 2021
The South Asia Book Award seeks to recognize quality children’s and young adult literature about South East Asians. The award has been presented yearly by the South Asia National Outreach Consortium since 2012; it’s based out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A list of past award winners is available.
Stonewall Book Awards, 2021
The Stonewall Book Awards, which celebrate “hallmark works in GLBT publishing,” have been awarded yearly since 1971; all honored books since 1971 are listed on this massive page (you can sort it, kinda). They are awarded by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association. They have wildly insufficient youth representation, but at least there’s the Rainbow List.
Sydney Taylor Book Award, 2021
The Sydney Taylor Book Award has been presented yearly since 1968 by the Association of Jewish Libraries. It honors “quality Judaic literature” for young folks. It is rather a thorough kind of award; past winners are listed on downloadable pdfs, linked from the main page. (This site is most fond of pdfs, as you’ll see.)
The VLA Graphic Novel Diversity Award appears on my list for the third time this year. It’s a remarkable award, one focusing entirely on graphic works—and how I wish that there were more awards like this one, because graphic works are sorely underappreciated and underutilized. The award, which was first presented in 2015, celebrates diversity in graphic novels; for more information, including an extensive and thoughtful discussion of diversity in the context of the award, check out their page.
A quick note: Virginia is dealing with some atrocious (albeit potentially less-publicized) attacks on freedom of speech and the freedom to read. Virginia teachers and librarians need your support.
Walter Awards, 2021
The Walter Awards are named for the prolific, multiple-award-winning writer Walter Dean Myers and run by the We Need Diverse Books initiative. For those interested in nominations and what qualifies a book to be a Walter contender, check out WNDB’s Walter Award FAQ, on the Walter Award page.
There is also a Walter Grant, which isn’t the Awards, but seems worth mentioning. Pass it on, if you know someone who qualifies.
Carter G. Woodson Book Award
The Carter G. Woodson Book Awards have been presented annually by the National Council for the Social Studies since 1974. The awards celebrate excellence in United States young people’s literature depicting ethnicity.
A list of all winners and honor books is available, and archived.
- Resources from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin Madison:
- Diversity in Children’s Books Infographic by David Huyck & Sarah Park Dahlen (2019)
- Lee & Low Infographic series
- From Publishers Weekly: PW Publishing Industry Salary Survey, 2019 (2020 not yet available)
- The Ripped Bodice’s The State of Racial Diversity in Romance Publishing Report
- School Library Journal‘s SLJ Diverse Books Survey (2018) and tools
Very Selected Resources
Note bene, here: there are so many MORE resources out there.