Books have power. We know this. It’s no wonder that they are under attack. It’s no wonder that access to these mind-blowing, world-expanding, truth-telling, and life-giving receptacles of knowledge and ideas is being obstructed. But books have power. And though books, especially those featuring characters from marginalized backgrounds, face bans and other challenges, the y will persevere. Our belief in the importance of literature is paramount as we present our Best Books list.

After months of deliberation, the editors and our insigh tful reviewer committee members have selected 139 titles addressing topics—such as climate change, racism, and history—that are more relevant than ever. They also include a balance of fantasy, historical and realistic fiction, and, for the first time in years, a breakout list of poetry. There’s a nice sprinkle of story time picks and slice-of-life tales. We hope that these will be helpful resources to meet the needs (and wants) of the children in your libraries and classrooms. And though we know that many of these texts may also come under fire in the future, we’re deeply committed, more than ever, to uplifting the books that shine a light on injustice and let children know they’re not alone, and that spur readers on to create a better world. After all, books have power.

Download the List

 SLJ's December Best Books 2021 "stars" cover.
Illustration by Duncan Tonatiuh

SLJ’s Best Books: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017


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