BCALA, SLJ Reveal Winners of the 2024 Children & Youth Literary Awards

The Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Inc. and School Library Journal announce the 2024 Children & Youth Literary Awards, which celebrate the diversity of the Black experience.

Covers of the four BCALA-winning titles


The Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Inc. (BCALA) and School Library Journal (SLJ) announce the winners of the 2024 Children & Youth Literary Awards. The awards celebrate the diversity of the Black experience, and recognize authors and books that provide windows, mirrors, and sliding doors for children to feel and be seen in their schools, libraries, and broader communities. The recipients will receive their awards at the National Conference of African American Librarians (NCAAL XII) in New Orleans, LA, on July 27, 2024.



Marquis, Krystal. The Davenports. Dial. ISBN 9780593463338.

In this captivating debut YA novel, the allure of Edwardian Age intrigue intertwines with the exploration of Black interclass relationships. The Davenport siblings, descendants of a once-enslaved man who rose to prominence through his own entrepreneurial endeavors, enjoy a life of opulence within Chicago's esteemed Black elite. As the siblings step into their debut season, they find themselves entangled in a web of intricate romantic affairs. Simultaneously, encounters with individuals beyond their social sphere prompt them to question the predetermined paths set by their parents and assert their autonomy. Set against the backdrop of Chicago's vibrant elite society, this novel delves into themes of love, ambition, and self-discovery as the Davenport siblings navigate the complexities of their privileged yet constrained world.

Allen, Autumn. All You Have to Do. Penguin/Kokila. ISBN 9780593619049.

A powerful and thought-provoking portrayal of resilience, highlighting the profound impact of racism on individuals striving to carve out their paths in academic environments that often fail to acknowledge their worth. Despite the differing eras, both Kevin and Gibran grapple with similar forms of discrimination that threaten to undermine their hard-earned opportunities. As they confront societal expectations and familial pressures, they embark on a journey of self-discovery, moving closer to defining their identities on their own terms.



Brooks, Nick. Promise Boys. Holt. ISBN 9781250866974.

Brooks skillfully crafts a narrative filled with suspense and intrigue, compelling readers to unravel the mysteries and corruption concealed within the school's halls. As J.B., Ramón, and Trey race against time to uncover the truth, they confront the unsettling possibility that the real killer may be closer than they ever imagined. In this engrossing story of friendship, betrayal, and redemption, Brooks captures the essence of resilience in the face of adversity. A testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of unity in the pursuit of justice.

Johnson, Kim. Invisible Son. Random. ISBN 9780593482100.

In this gripping young adult novel, themes of vindication and self-discovery take center stage as seventeen-year-old Andre navigates the challenges of rebuilding his life after being wrongfully incarcerated. Set against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, Andre returns to his old neighborhood determined to uncover the truth behind his friend's disappearance. As he delves deeper into the mysteries surrounding him, Andre confronts a tangled web of secrets and deception that not only sheds light on the issues plaguing his community, but also offers him a chance at redemption. With each revelation, Andre inches closer to clearing his name and reclaiming his rightful place in the world. A taut and stirring narrative, this novel captivates readers with its exploration of resilience, justice, and the power of perseverance in the face of adversity.



Tate, Don. Jerry Changed the Game. illus. by Cherise Harris. S. & S./Paula Wiseman. ISBN 9781665919081.

This picture book biography chronicles the remarkable journey of Jerry Lawson, a visionary inventor whose groundbreaking work revolutionized the world of video gaming. Recognized for his creation of a video game console that introduced the concept of interchangeable game cartridges, Lawson's innovative contributions paved the way for modern gaming technology. Moreover, as the founder of Video-Soft, Inc., Lawson made history as the first African American to establish a video game company in the United States. Through vivid storytelling and captivating illustrations, this book celebrates Lawson's pioneering spirit and enduring legacy in the gaming industry.

Lee, Chiquita Mullins & Carmella Van Vleet. You Gotta Meet Mr. Pierce!: The Storied Life of Folk Artist Elijah Pierce. illus. by Jennifer Mack-Watkins. Penguin/Kokila. ISBN 9780593406502.

Drawing inspiration from the real-life experiences of artist Elijah Pierce and his neighborhood barbershop, this picture book biography offers a captivating glimpse into a lesser-known figure in Black art history. With vibrant illustrations and compelling storytelling, readers are transported into Pierce's world, where creativity thrives amid a community gathering place's everyday hustle and bustle. Through this engaging narrative, readers are introduced to Pierce's remarkable contributions and the profound impact of his artistry within his community and beyond.


Graphic Novel

Miller, Sharee. Curlfriends: New In Town. illus. by author. Little, Brown Ink. ISBN 9780316591478.

In this heartwarming middle-grade novel, Charlie finds herself facing the daunting challenge of fitting into her father's beloved hometown as the new kid in town. Overwhelmed by the pressure of living up to her father's reputation, Charlie concocts a scheme involving magazine-inspired outfits and a facade of confidence. However, when her plan unravels, Charlie is forced to confront her insecurities and reveal her true self. As she navigates the ups and downs of friendship, readers are taken on a journey of self-discovery, resilience, and the importance of authenticity. Will Charlie find acceptance and genuine connections in her new community?

Bell, Darrin. The Talk. illus. by author. Holt. ISBN 9781250349958.

In this poignant graphic novel, Bell explores the profound impact of "The Talk" on both personal and societal levels. Through evocative illustrations and sharp wit, he recounts his experiences growing up in Los Angeles, grappling with the pervasive fear and vulnerability faced by African Americans. From childhood to parenthood, Bell reflects on the pressing question of whether to have "The Talk" with his own son, shedding light on the ongoing struggle for justice and equality. With candor and compassion, Bell invites readers to join him on a journey of reflection and empowerment in the face of systemic racism and violence.


As the new awards cycle commences, BCALA eagerly anticipates discovering and reviewing books released in 2024. Publishers are invited to submit their latest works for consideration. BCALA aims to showcase this cycle's winning titles in upcoming reading guides. These guides will serve as invaluable resources for educators, school librarians, public librarians, parents, and community members alike. Through discussions facilitated by these guides, readers can delve into the rich narratives and diverse characters depicted in these works. Readers are encouraged to explore how they relate to and resonate with the stories portrayed, fostering a deeper understanding of themselves and others within the pages.

Members of the BCALA Youth Literary Awards Committee are:

Tamela Chambers, Chicago Public Library
Donna Gray, New York City School Library System
Karen Lemmons
Mariel Matthews, Long Beach Public Library
Cherese McKnight, District of Columbia Public Schools
Stacey Nunn, Baltimore County Public Schools.


The Black Caucus of the American Library Association serves as an advocate for the development, promotion, and improvement of library services and resources to the nation’s African American community and provides leadership for the recruitment and professional development of African American librarians.

School Library Journal is the premier publication for librarians and information specialists who work with children and teens. A source of quality journalism and reviews for more than 60 years, SLJ produces award-winning features and news coverage on literacy, best practices, technology, and other issues of interest to the school library and the greater educator community.

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