Best Books 2021

Best Books 2021

After months of deliberation, the editors and our insightful reviewer committee members have selected 139 exemplary titles as the best books for children and teens published this year.


22 Titles for Native American Heritage Month

SLJ Staff, Nov 10, 2021
November is Native American Heritage Month. As we celebrate and honor Native and Indigenous peoples and nations, here are 22 titles to share with children and teens.

O Canada! Smaller Presses Showcase Big Voices in Books that Benefit U.S. Collections | Great Books

Cathy Camper, Nov 09, 2021
It’s easy to forget when choosing picture books that country borders are just lines on a map, and sometimes the ideal title for U.S. collections is Canadian! Fill out the shelves with these recently published gems.

School Libraries 2021: Librarians Face Coordinated Efforts to Remove Books

Kara Yorio, Nov 03, 2021
Librarians are responding to a rise in book challenges as parents target titles that deal with race, racism, or social justice in even the most tangential way, as well as books that have LGBTQ+ characters and themes.

Authors Share the Emotions, Impact When Their Books Are Banned

Kara Yorio, Nov 16, 2021
Authors Jerry Craft, Grace Lin, and others discuss the personal and professional impact of having parents call to remove their books from schools and libraries.

Melanie Kletter, Jun 06, 2021
Librarians are paying more attention to unconscious racial bias, inclusion, and diversity issues when culling titles and considering collection development, according to School Library Journal's recent survey.

Melanie Kletter, May 04, 2021
Educators are using audiobooks in new ways to teach material and help students build literacy skills. Plus: 15 classroom-ready podcasts.

Kathy Ishizuka, Jun 06, 2021
Deaccessioning is a fact of librarian life. Share photos of your best/worst weeds and tag us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook—#weededbooks.

Dakota Kim, May 18, 2021
Educators have used targeted intervention and innovative tech approaches and offered social-emotional support.

One in four kids tuned in to a podcast in 2020, drawn to stories and discussions about the coronavirus, money, activism, racial justice, and other topics.

SLJ Staff, Feb 28, 2020
The discussions in the spring set of free, one-hour professional development programs will tackle serving striving readers, information inequity, and news literacy.


SLJ Staff, Jan 31, 2019
On the Diverse Books Survey page, users can access related content, newly updated, as well as our Diverse Books Survey report.

Kara Yorio, Oct 24, 2018
While in the minority, the SLJ Diverse Books Survey reveals some librarians are declining to purchase books with diverse characters to avoid a challenge.

Marva Hinton, Jun 01, 2021
Book clubs focused on Black authors and characters have helped readers find community during the pandemic and given writers and their work some extra attention.

SLJ Staff, Jul 01, 2021
From biographies of Olympians to fictional mysteries and romance, get young readers excited for the Tokyo Games competition and drama with these titles.

SLJ Staff, May 25, 2021
17 titles to keep tween mystery fans turning pages well into the summer.

Cicely Lewis, May 12, 2021
Reading has the power to open eyes, minds, and hearts, and together, we can help #StopAsianHate, says Cicely Lewis.

SLJ Reviews, May 25, 2021
Newly proficient readers in the longer form are always delighted to be in on the jokes. Here are 15 titles to get them started.

SLJ Reviews, May 19, 2021
Twelve adventure and survival fiction titles to keep summer reading fresh and exciting.

SLJ Reviews, May 06, 2021
May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and these titles, which include YA and middle grade fiction, picture books, and nonfiction, are perfect to recommend to readers both this month and year-round.

Amanda MacGregor, Jan 04, 2021
Some educators abandon teaching the Bard's work, while others update and enhance Shakespeare curricula.

Amanda MacGregor, Jan 04, 2021
From a choose-your-own-path Romeo and Juliet to a Macbeth retelling that channels #MeToo, there's something here for all teen readers and fans of the Bard. 

SLJ Reviews, Jun 15, 2021
From intimate memoirs to gripping accounts of history to fantastical tales that take teens out of this world, these graphic novels will mesmerize readers.

SLJ Reviews, Jun 08, 2021
How to tempt those readers who have moved beyond picture books but aren't quite ready for middle grade novels? These chapter book graphic novels will do the trick. With humor and heart, these eye-catching books take on everything friendship, mystery, adventure, and even a bit of metafiction (from none other than Dav Pilkey).

Brigid Alverson, May 25, 2021
Geared for teen and tween girls, here are recommended new titles in shoujo manga, with interesting twists on the standard tropes.

Lori Henderson, Jul 05, 2021
Check out this week's list of new comics, manga, and graphic novels featuring Paige Proves It from Aladdin Books and Paranorthern and the Chaos Bunny A-Hop-_Calypse from Etch.

The post Paige Proves It | This Week’s Comics appeared first on Good Comics for Kids.

Brigid Alverson, Jan 18, 2021
Guest writer Martha Cornog offers a varied list of graphic novels with Black protagonists

The post Graphic Novels with Black Protagonists appeared first on Good Comics for Kids.

SLJ Reviews, Jun 22, 2021
Highly recommended graphic novels for young readers, tweens, and teens to enjoy all summer long. 

Moni Barrette, Jan 06, 2021
The term graphic medicine was coined by Dr. Ian Williams—comics artist, physician, and editor of—to “denote the role that comics can play in the study and delivery of healthcare.”

The post Graphic Medicine for Kids & Teens appeared first on Good Comics for Kids.

Oct 01, 2020
SLJ Staff, Jun 18, 2021
Author and teacher Torrey Maldonado asked friends and fellow authors, "What does Juneteenth mean to you?"

Kathy Ishizuka, Jun 28, 2021
With COVID abating, the mood is palpably lighter. Not so for Asian Americans, who fear a return to school and work—just 18 percent of Asian eighth graders returned to in-person classrooms this spring. Schools and employers must take specific action to protect AAPIs from hate, say advocates, with alternatives to more policing.

Ibi Zoboi, Jun 02, 2021
Magoon spoke with best-selling author Ibi Zoboi about the book that’s closest to her heart, forming her identity while reckoning with history, and being a writer ahead of her time.

K.C. Boyd, Apr 28, 2021
K.C. Boyd describes how her positive mindset in the face of adversity is rooted in ongoing work, including advocacy for school libraries at the national level.

Amanda MacGregor, Jul 06, 2021
For me, like the characters in WHERE IT ALL LANDS, music is the one constant throughout my life that has comforted me and helped me find meaning in the face of tragedy.

The post The Music that Heals Us, a guest post by Jennie Wexler appeared first on Teen Librarian Toolbox.

Amanda MacGregor, Jun 29, 2021
When my daughters entered their tween years, friendship struggles started to emerge. This reminded me of my struggles and the experiences of so many. As a social scientist, this piqued my curiosity. What is it about adolescence that intensifies social struggles, especially for girls?

The post Why Girls’ Social Struggles Intensify During Adolescence and The Inspiration Behind BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends), a guest post by Jessica Speer appeared first on Teen Librarian Toolbox.

Kathy Ishizuka, Jun 01, 2021
On learning, being—and reading—in community.

Amanda MacGregor, Dec 03, 2020
Pinguicha urges readers to question history, ask who wrote the stories, and present and amplify the narratives that have been ignored, hidden, and distorted.

The post Questioning Your History Lessons, a guest post by Diana Pinguicha appeared first on Teen Librarian Toolbox.


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