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Recommended Reading

The American Library Association names its best books of the year!
Posted 02/04/2019 08:53PM

Michael L. Printz Award
for excellence in literature written for young adults:

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Acevedo transforms everyday language into transcendent imagery in this novel-in-verse about Xiomara, who struggles to come into her own power amid her restrictive upbringing. Over the course of these lyrical, expressive, and honest poems, she grows from speaking with her fists to embracing her identity as the Poet X.

Honor Books

Damsel by Elana K. Arnold
Ama has no memory of what comes before she wakes in Prince Emory's arms, but she's no ordinary damsel in distress. Using the language of classic fairy tales to shatter familiar tropes, Arnold asks readers to confront the ways systemic violence against women pervades cultural touchstones.

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti
Struggling with PTSD in the wake of a terrifying tragedy, Annabelle decides to run across the country in a physically demanding journey that mirrors the circuitous path of her emotional recovery. Caletti insightfully explores trauma, loss, and guilt while illuminating the damaging expectations our culture places on teenage girls.

I, Claudia by Mary McCoy
In this political thriller set in a privileged high school, underestimated and unreliable narrator Claudia chronicles her rise to power. Sharp, biting humor pervades McCoy's novel about vicious high school students embroiled in an explosive struggle for control.

John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature:

Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
Using humor and grace, Merci, a charming and plucky protagonist, cycles through life's challenges with the support of her intergenerational family. This richly nuanced novel tackles the complexity of navigating a multicultural identity amidst changing family dynamics.

Honor Books

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
Following introspective Nisha and her family as they flee their homeland for an uncertain future, Hiranandani illuminates the 1947 partition of India with unprecedented balance and sensitivity. Through spare evocative diary entries addressed to her late mother, Nisha discovers the complex beauty of her Hindu-Muslim identity.

The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
From Murdock's first line, readers are swept into an epic quest across Europe in 1350 with Boy and a mysterious pilgrim, adventuring to recover seven relics of St. Peter. Layered characters from goats to nuns, lyrical language, and multiple reveals combine to create this powerful story of redemption.

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizing an African-American author of outstanding books for children and young adults:

A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 by Claire Hartfield
[This] is a meticulously researched exposition of the socio-economic landscape and racial tensions that led to the death of a black teen who wanted to swim, and the violent clash that resulted. In twenty chapters, Hartfield's balanced, eye-opening account contextualizes a range of social justice issues that persist to this day.

Honor Books

Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome
After his mother's death, lonely Langston and his emotionally distant father migrate from rural Alabama to Chicago, where he finds solace in the poetry of his namesake.

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
Issues of race, bullying, and identity are interwoven in this buried-treasure mystery that spans multiple decades as tween Candice unravels a series of puzzles in her community.

The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon
Despite their father's attempts to keep them safe in small town Indiana, brothers Caleb and Bobby Gene go on a wild adventure with new neighbor Styx Malone as they attempt the fabled "Escalator Trade."

Click here for the full list of ALA awards.

*All book descriptions from

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