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December 4, 2023

A Teacher’s Guide to Award-Winning Children’s and Young Adult Books in 2023

Page-Turners of the Year: A Teacher’s Guide to Award-Winning Children’s and Young Adult Books in 2023

Step into the enchanting world of literature with our carefully curated list of award-winning children’s and young adult books for 2023! These captivating tales have not only won the hearts of young readers but have also earned accolades for their exceptional storytelling and meaningful themes. From magical realms to poignant coming-of-age stories, each book on this list is waiting to spark students’ curiosity and love of reading!

While the Caldecott and Newbery Medals, presented annually by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), are well-known, this collection might introduce you to fresh sources of literary gems! Below, we’ve spotlighted a range of awards that feature books reflecting the identities and experiences of students, enriching your classroom library with diverse voices. To make exploration easily accessible, we’ve provided links to Bookshop.org for each title. 

Get ready to inspire and be inspired as you explore these outstanding works that have earned the stamp of approval from literary experts. Let the pages turn and imaginations soar as you and your students discover the joy of reading together!

Book AwardFocus of Award2023 Winner
Alex AwardsThe Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. (ala.org)Young Adult (Age 12+)
The 10 Alex Award Winners for 2023
Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature“The goal of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature is to honor and recognize individual work about Asian/Pacific Americans and their heritage, based on literary and artistic merit.” (Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association)PreK-3

From the Tops of the Trees, written by Kao Kalia Yang and illustrated by Rachel Wada (Picture Book winner)

Nana, Nenek & Nina, written and illustrated by Liza Ferneyhough(Picture Book Honor title)

Middle Grades

Maizy Chen’s Last Chance written by Lisa Yee (Children’s Literature winner)

Troublemaker written by John Cho (Children Literature Honor)

Young Adult (Age 12+)

Himawari House, by Harmony Becker (Young Adult Winner)

The Silence that Binds Us written by Joanna Ho (Young Adult Honor)
Coretta Scott King Book AwardThe awards “encourage the artistic expression of the African American experience via literature and the graphic arts; promote an understanding and appreciation of the Black culture and experience, and commemorate the life and legacy of Mrs. Coretta Scott King for her courage and determination in supporting the work of her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for peace and world brotherhood.” (Ala.org) Grade 5+

Freewater, written by Amina Luqman-Dawson (Author Winner)

Grades 1-4

Standing in the Need of Prayer: A Modern Retelling of the Classic Spiritual,” written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Frank Morrison (Illustrator Winner)
2023 Author Honor Titles
2023 Illustrator Honor Titles
John Newbery Award“The most distinguished contributions to American literature for children.” (Ala.org)Middle Grades

Freewater, written by Amina Luqman-Dawson (Winner)
2023 Newbery Honor List 
John Steptoe Award for New TalentThe award, “affirms new talent and offers visibility for excellence in writing and/or illustration at the beginning of a career as a published African American creator of children’s books.” (Ala.org)Young Adult (Ages 14-18)

We Deserve Monuments, by Jas Hammonds (Author Winner)

Middle Grades

Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement, by Angela Joy, illustrated by Janelle Washington (illustrator winner)
National Book Award for Young People’s LiteratureThe National Book Award for Young People’s Literature is one of five annual National Book Awards, which are given by the National Book Foundation (NBF) to recognize outstanding literary work by US citizens. They are awards given “by writers to writers.” (Wikipedia)Middle Grades

A First Time for Everything, by Dan Santat
2023 Finalists
Pura Belpré AwardThe Belpré Award “honors a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose works best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.” (ala.org)Young Adult (Ages 14-18)

Burn Down, Rise Up, by Vincent Tirado(Young Adult author winner)
Young Adult Author Honor Books

Middle Grades

Frizzy, by Claribel Ortega (Children’s author winner)
Children’s Author Honor Books

PreK-3

Where Wonder Grows, Illustrated by Adriana M. GarciaWritten by Xelena González (Youth illustrator winner)
Youth Illustrator Honor Books
Randolph Caldecott MedalAwarded to the illustrator of the “most distinguished American picture book for children.”PreK-3

Hot Dog, by Doug Salati
2023 Caldecott Honor Books
Schneider Family Book AwardBooks that “embody an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.” (ala.org)PreK-3

Listen: How Evelyn Glennie, a Deaf Girl, Changed Percussion, written by Shannon Stocker, illustrated by Devon Holzwarth (Young Children Winner)

Middle Grades

Wildoak, written by C.C. Harrington (Middle Grades)

Young Adult (Ages 12+)

The Words We Keep, by Erin Stewart (Teen Winner)
Sydney Taylor Book AwardPresented by the Association of Jewish Libraries to, “outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience.” (AJL)PreK-3

The Tower of Life: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories and Photographs by Chana Stiefel, illustrated by Susan Gal (Picture Book Winner)

Middle Grades

Aviva vs. the Dybbuk, by Mari Lowe (Middle Grade)

Young Adult (Ages 12+)

When the Angels Left the Old Country, by Sacha Lamb (Young Adult)
Stonewall Book Awards-Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award The Stonewall Book Awards are presented to English language books that have exceptional merit relating to the LGBTQIA+ experience. (Ala.org)PreK-3

Love, Violet by Charlotte Sullivan Wilde and illustrated by Charlene Chua

Young Adult (Ages 12+)
When the Angels Left the Old Country, by Sacha Lamb (Young Adult) 
Walter Dean Myers Awards for Outstanding Children’s LiteratureThe Walter Dean Myers Awards for Outstanding Children’s Literature “recognize diverse authors whose works feature diverse main characters and address diversity in a meaningful way.”Middle Grades

Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement, by Angela Joy, illustrated by Janelle Washington (Younger Readers Category)

Young Adult (Ages 12+)

Man Made Monsters by Andrea L. Rogers and illustrated by Jeff Edwards (Teen Category)
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