Book List

Award-Winning YA Books to Check Out

October 14, 2021

Looking for some books to start off your fall reading? We have a whole list of award-winning YA novels to get you started. Check them out below! 

Award-Winning YA Books to Check Out

1. Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley 

Winner of the 2012 Michael L. Printz and William C. Morris Awards, this poignant and hilarious story of loss and redemption “explores the process of grief, second chances, and even the meaning of life” (Kirkus Reviews). 

2. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer 

Winner of the National Book Award as well as Newbery and Printz Honors. This modern classic takes on an iron-fisted drug lord, clones bred for their organs, and what it means to be human. 

3. The First Part Last by Angela Johnson 

Winner of the 2004 Michael L. Printz Award and Margaret A. Edwards Award.

This little thing with the perfect face and hands doing nothing but counting on me. And me wanting nothing else but to run crying into my own mom’s room and have her do the whole thing. It’s not going to happen…


4. A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti 

A Printz Honor BookEach step in Annabelle’s 2,700-mile cross-country run brings her closer to facing a trauma from her past in National Book Award finalist Deb Caletti’s novel about the heart, all the ways it breaks, and its journey to healing. Because sometimes against our will, against all odds, we go forward. 

5. Scythe by Neal Shusterman 

Time Best YA Book of All Time (2021)Two teens must learn the “art of killing” in this Printz Honor–winning book, the first in a chilling new series from Neal Shusterman, author of the New York Times bestselling Unwind dystology. 

6. Copper Sun by Sharon M. Draper 

In this “searing work of historical fiction” (Booklist)Coretta Scott King Award-winning author Sharon M. Draper tells the epic story of a young girl torn from her African village, sold into slavery, and stripped of everything she has ever known—except hope.

7. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

A 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor book, and recipient of the Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature.

In this New York Times bestselling novel, two teens—one black, one white—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.

8. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz 

Time Best YA Book of All Time (2021)This Printz Honor Book is a “tender, honest exploration of identity” (Publishers Weekly) that distills lyrical truths about family and friendship. 

9. The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed 

A William C. Morris Award Finalist.

Perfect for fans of The Hate U Give, this unforgettable coming-of-age debut novel explores issues of race, class, and violence through the eyes of a wealthy black teenager whose family gets caught in the vortex of the 1992 Rodney King Riots. 

10. Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali 

Saints and Misfits—a William C. Morris Award finalist and an Entertainment Weekly Best YA Book of the Year—is a “timely and authentic” (School Library Journal, starred review) debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen. 

11. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds 

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

A Newbery Honor, Printz Honor, and Coretta Scott King Honor–winning novel, and an ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds’s electrifying novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother. 

12. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn 

Winner of the Coretta Scott King – John Steptoe for New Talent Author Award. 
Filled with mystery and an intriguingly rich magic system, Tracy Deonn’s YA contemporary fantasy Legendborn offers the dark allure of City of Bones with a modern-day twist on a classic legend and a lot of Southern Black Girl Magic. 

13. KiraKira by Cynthia Kadohata 

Winner of an ALA Newbery Medal.

kira-kira (kee ra kee ra): glittering; shining

Glittering. That’s how Katie Takeshima’s sister, Lynn, makes everything seem. The sky is kira-kira because its color is deep but see-through at the same time. The sea is kira-kira for the same reason. And so are people’s eyes. When Katie and her family move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia, it’s Lynn who explains to her why people stop on the street to stare.

14. Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman 

A William C. Morris Award Finalist.
A half-Japanese teen grapples with social anxiety and her narcissist mother in the wake of a crushing rejection from art school in this “stunningly beautiful, highly nuanced debut” (Booklist, starred review). 

15. The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds 

A 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book

Just when seventeen-year-old Matt thinks he can’t handle one more piece of terrible news, he meets a girl who’s dealt with a lot more—and who just might be able to clue him in on how to rise up when life keeps knocking him down—in this “vivid, satisfying, and ultimately upbeat tale of grief, redemption, and grace” (Kirkus Reviews) from Jason Reynolds.

16. Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti 

A summer romance headed for heartbreak turns into a mother-daughter road trip in the name of true love in this story of love, loss, and redemption from Printz Honor medal winner and National Book Award finalist Deb Caletti. 

17. Godless by Pete Hautman 

A National Book Award Winner.

“Why mess around with Catholicism when you can have your own customized religion?”
Fed up with his parents’ boring old religion, agnostic-going-on-atheist Jason Bock invents a new god — the town’s water tower. He recruits an unlikely group of worshippers: his snail-farming best friend, Shin, cute-as-a-button (whatever that means) Magda Price, and the violent and unpredictable Henry Stagg. As their religion grows, it takes on a life of its own.

18. Tell Me Something Real by Calla Devlin 

Three sisters struggle with the bonds that hold their family together as they face a darkness settling over their lives in this “one of a kind” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) debut novel that was a finalist for the William C. Morris Award. 

19. Enchanted Air by Margarita Engle 

In this poetic memoir, which won the Pura Belpré Author Award and was named a Walter Dean Myers Award Honoree, acclaimed author Margarita Engle tells of growing up as a child of two cultures during the Cold War. 

20. When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds 

Winner of the Coretta Scott King – John Steptoe for New Talent Author Award. 

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds, a “funny and rewarding” (Publishers Weekly) coming-of-age novel about friendship and loyalty across neighborhood lines and the hardship of life for an urban teen. 

21. Inexcusable by Chris Lynch 

National Book Award Finalist.

Date rape—from the accused’s point of view—is the subject of this “finely crafted and thought-provoking page-turner” (SLJ), a National Book Award Finalist from Printz Honor–winning author Chris Lynch. 

22. The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon 

Winner of the Margaret A. Edwards Award and Coretta Scott King – John Steptoe Award.

In this “taut, eloquent first novel” (Booklist, starred review), a young Black boy wrestles with conflicting notions of revolution and family loyalty as he becomes involved with the Black Panthers in 1968 Chicago. 

23. Tears of a Tiger by Sharon M. Draper 

Winner of the Margaret A. Edwards Award  and the Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe for New Talent Author Award.

Andy tackles his guilt and grief in the first book of Sharon M. Draper’s award-winning Hazelwood High trilogy.

24. Noggin by John Corey Whaley 

2014 National Book Award Finalist 
Time Best YA Book of All Time (2021) 
Travis Coates has a good head…on someone else’s shoulders. A touching, hilarious “tour de force of imagination and empathy” (Booklist, starred review) from John Corey Whaley, author of the Printz and Morris Award–winning Where Things Come Back. 


Don’t stop there! Check out these bestselling books. 

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