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National Book Award for Young People's Literature facts for kids

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The 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 "by writers to writers". The panelists are five "writers who are known to be doing great work in their genre or field".

The category Young People's Literature was established in 1996. From 1969 to 1983, prior to the Foundation, there were some "Children's" categories.

The award recognizes one book written by a US citizen and published in the US from December 1 to November 30. The National Book Foundation accepts nominations from publishers until June 15, requires mailing nominated books to the panelists by August 1, and announces five finalists in October. The winner is announced on the day of the final ceremony in November. The award is $10,000 and a bronze sculpture; other finalists get $1000, a medal, and a citation written by the panel.

There were 230 books nominated for the 2010 award.


Children's Books, 1969 to 1979

Books for "children" were first recognized by the National Book Awards in 1969 (publication year 1968). Through 1979 there was a single award category called either "Children's Literature" or "Children's Books".

1979: Katherine Paterson, The Great Gilly Hopkins

1978: Judith and Herbert Kohl, The View From the Oak: The Private Worlds of Other Creatures (ethology)

  • Betty Sue Cummings, Hew Against the Grain
  • Ilse Koehn, Michling, Second Degree
  • David McCord, One at a Time (poetry)
  • William Steig, Caleb + Kate

1977: Katherine Paterson, The Master Puppeteer

  • Milton Meltzer, Never to Forget: The Jews of the Holocaust
  • John Ney, Ox Under Pressure
  • Mildred D. Taylor, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
  • Barbara Wersba, Tunes for a Small Harmonica

1976: Walter D. Edmonds, Bert Breen's Barn

  • Eleanor Cameron, To the Green Mountains
  • Norma Faber, As I Was Crossing Boston Common
  • Isabelle Holland, Of Love and Death and Other Journeys
  • David McCord, The Star in the Pail (poetry)
  • Nicolasa Mohr, El Bronx Remembered
  • Brenda Wilkinson, Ludell

1975: Virginia Hamilton, M. C. Higgins the Great

1974: Eleanor Cameron, The Court of the Stone Children

1973: Ursula K. Le Guin, The Farthest Shore

1972: Donald Barthelme, The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine or The Hithering Thithering Djinn

  • The National Book Foundation lists no other finalists.

1971: Lloyd Alexander, The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian

1970: Isaac Bashevis Singer, A Day of Pleasure: Stories of a Boy Growing up in Warsaw (autobiographical)

1969: Meindert DeJong, Journey from Peppermint Street

Children's Books, 1980 to 1983

In 1980 under the new name "The American Book Awards" (TABA), the number of literary award categories jumped to 28 including two for Children's Books, hardcover and paperback. (Some graphics awards were inaugurated, too.) In the next three years there were three, five, and five "Children's" award categories —thus fifteen in four years— before the program was revamped with only three annual awards and none for children's books.


James Cross Giblin, Chimney Sweeps

  • Linda Grant DePauw, Seafaring Women
  • Patricia Lauber, Journey to the Planets
  • John Nance, Lobo of the Tasaday
  • Judith St. George, The Brooklyn Bridge

Fiction, hardcover
Jean Fritz, Homesick: My Own Story (autobiographical)

Fiction, paperback (split award)
Paula Fox, A Place Apart (1980)
Joyce Carol Thomas, Marked by Fire (original)
  • Judy Blume, Tiger Eyes (1981)
  • Sue Ellen Bridgers, Notes for another Life (1981)
  • Lois Lowry, Anastasia Again! (1981)

Picture Books, hard (split award)
Barbara Cooney, Miss Rumphius
William Steig, Doctor De Soto

Picture Books, paper
Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrator Betty Fraser, A House is a House for Me (1978) (verse nonfiction)
  • Steven Kellogg, Pinkerton, Behave! (1979)
  • Illustrated by Peter Koeppen, A Swinger of Birches (poems by Robert Frost) (original)
  • Edward Marshall, Space Case (1980)
  • Ellen Shire, The Bungling Ballerinas (original)

Susan Bonners, A Penguin Year

  • Jean Fritz, Traitor: The Case of Benedict Arnold (about Benedict Arnold)
  • James Howe, The Hospital Book (Mal Warshaw, photos)
  • Patricia Lauber, Seeds: Pop, Stick and Glide (James Wexler, photos)
  • Melvin B. Zisfein, Flight: A Panorama of Aviation (Robert Parker, illus.)

Fiction, hardcover
Lloyd Alexander, Westmark

Fiction, paperback
Ouida Sebestyen, Words by Heart (1979)

Picture Books, hard
Maurice Sendak, Outside Over There

Picture Books, paper
Peter Spier, Noah's Ark (1977)

Alison Cragin Herzig and Jane Lawrence Mali, Oh, Boy! Babies

  • Jean Fritz, Where Do You Think You're Going, Christopher Columbus?
  • William Jaspersohn, The Ballpark
  • Milton Meltzer, All Time, All Peoples: A World History of Slavery
  • Peter Spier, People

Fiction, hardcover
Betsy Byars, The Night Swimmers

Fiction, paperback
Beverly Cleary, Ramona and Her Mother (1979)

Joan Blos, A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal, 1830–82 (fiction)

Madeleine L'Engle, A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1978)

Young People's Literature, 1996 to date

The winner is listed first followed by the four other finalists.

2020: Kacen Callender, King and the Dragonflies

  • Traci Chee, We Are Not Free
  • Candice Iloh, Every Body Looking
  • Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, When Stars Are Scattered
  • Gavriel Savit, The Way Back

2019: Martin W. Sandler, 1919 The Year That Changed America

  • Akwaeke Emezi, Pet
  • Jason Reynolds, Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks
  • Randy Ribay, Patron Saints of Nothing
  • Laura Ruby, Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All

2018: Elizabeth Acevedo, The Poet X

2017: Robin Benway, Far from the Tree

  • Elana K. Arnold, What Girls Are Made Of
  • Erika L. Sánchez, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
  • Rita Williams-Garcia, Clayton Byrd Goes Underground
  • Ibi Zoboi, American Street

2016: John Lewis, Nate Powell, and Andrew Aydin, March: Book Three

2015: Neal Shusterman, Challenger Deep

2014: Jacqueline Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming

2013: Cynthia Kadohata, The Thing About Luck

  • Kathi Appelt, The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp
  • Tom McNeal, Far Far Away
  • Meg Rosoff, Picture Me Gone
  • Gene Luen Yang, Boxers & Saints

2012: William Alexander, Goblin Secrets

  • Carrie Arcos, Out of Reach
  • Patricia McCormick, Never Fall Down
  • Eliot Schrefer, Endangered
  • Steve Sheinkin, Bomb: The Race to Build―and Steal―the World's Most Dangerous Weapon

2011: Thanhha Lai, Inside Out & Back Again

2010: Kathryn Erskine, Mockingbird

2009: Phillip Hoose, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice (about Claudette Colvin)

2008: Judy Blundell, What I Saw and How I Lied

2007: Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (fiction)

2006: M. T. Anderson, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party

2005: Jeanne Birdsall, The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy

2004: Pete Hautman, Godless

2003: Polly Horvath, The Canning Season

  • Paul Fleischman, Breakout
  • Jim Murphy, An American Plague: The Time and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 (about Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793)
  • Richard Peck, The River Between Us
  • Jacqueline Woodson, Locomotion

2002: Nancy Farmer, The House of the Scorpion

  • M. T. Anderson, Feed
  • Naomi Shihab Nye, 19 varieties of gazelle: poems of the Middle East
  • Elizabeth Partridge, This Land Was Made for You and Me: The Life and Songs of Woody Guthrie (about Woody Guthrie)
  • Jacqueline Woodson, Hush

2001: Virginia Euwer Wolff, True Believer

2000: Gloria Whelan, Homeless Bird

  • Adam Bagdasarian, Forgotten Fire
  • Michael Cadnum, The Book of the Lion
  • Carolyn Coman, Many Stones
  • Jerry Stanley, Hurry Freedom: African Americans in Gold Rush California

1999: Kimberly Willis Holt, When Zachary Beaver Came to Town

1998: Louis Sachar, Holes

1997: Han Nolan, Dancing on the Edge

1996: Victor Martinez, Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida ("my life", fiction)

  • Carolyn Coman, What Jamie Saw
  • Nancy Farmer, A Girl Named Disaster
  • Helen Kim, The Long Season of Rain
  • Han Nolan, Send Me Down a Miracle

1984 to 1995: no awards

Authors with two awards

See Winners of multiple U.S. National Book Awards

Two authors have won two Children's or Young People's awards twice.

  • Lloyd Alexander won for The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian (1971) and Westmark (1982), among six titles that were finalists.
  • Katherine Paterson won for The Master Puppeteer (1977) and The Great Gilly Hopkins (1979), among three titles that were finalists.

Isaac Bashevis Singer won the Children's Literature award in 1970 for A Day of Pleasure: Stories of a Boy Growing up in Warsaw and shared the Fiction award in 1974 for A Crown of Feathers and Other Stories.

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