The 2020 National Book Awards Longlist for Young People’s Literature Announced

This week, The New Yorker will be announcing the longlists for the 2020 National Book Awards. Just yesterday, the publication released the longlist for Young People’s Literature. All of the authors on this year’s longlist for Young People’s Literature are first-time nominees. Check out the full list of nominees below!



Kacen Callender, King and the Dragonflies

“In a small but turbulent Louisiana town, one boy’s grief takes him beyond the bayous of his backyard, to learn that there is no right way to be yourself.” Following the death of his brother, twelve-year old Kingston James is convinced that his brother has turned into a dragonfly. When Kingston’s best friend attempts to escape from his abusive father, Kingston helps him build their own paradise down by the bayou among the dragonflies.


king and the dragonflies book cover

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Traci Chee, We Are Not Free

“All around me, my friends are talking, joking, laughing. Outside is the camp, the barbed wire, the guard towers, the city, the country that hates us. We are not free. But we are not alone.” This novel follows fourteen teens who form a community as their lives are turned upside down when over 100,000 people of Japanese descent are removed from their homes and forced into desolate incarceration camps.


we are not free book cover

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Evette Dionne, Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box

“For African American women, the fight for the right to vote was only one battle.” This book tells the overlooked story of black women as an important force in the suffrage movement, even when fellow suffragists did not accept them.


lifting as we climb book cover

image via amazon



Eric Gansworth, Apple (Skin to the Core)

In this book, Eric Gansworth shatters the Native slur “apple”, which is to mean someone who is supposedly “red on the outside, white on the inside.” This is the story of Gansworth’s family, of Onondaga among Tuscaroras, of Native folks everywhere.


apple (skin to the core) book cover

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Candice Iloh, Every Body Looking

Candice Iloh tells the story of the sometimes “toxic and heavy expectations set on the backs of first-generation children, the pressures woven into the family dynamic, culturally and socially.” This is the story of a young girl and the key moments in her life – “her mother’s descent into addiction, her father’s attempts to create a home for his American daughter more like the one he knew in Nigeria, and her first year at a historically black college.”


book cover of every body looking

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Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, When Stars Are Scattered

“Heartbreak and hope exist together in this remarkable graphic novel about growing up in a refugee camp, as told by a Somali refugee to the Newbery Honor-winning creator of Roller Girl.” This graphic novel tells the story of Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, and their lives in a refugee camp in Kenya. When Omar gets the opportunity to go to school, he grapples with the possibility of a better future for him and his brother and the difficult reality of having to leave his family in order to do so.


when the stars are scattered book cover

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Marcella Pixley, Trowbridge Road

“In a stunning novel set in the 1980s, a girl with heavy secrets awakens her sleepy street to the complexities of love and courage.” This story follows June Bug Jordan, who struggles to deal with her mother’s extreme phobias following the death of her father and her growing connection to the outside world.


Trowbridge road book cover

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John Rocco, How We Got to the Moon: The People, Technology, and Daring Feats of Science Behind Humanity’s Greatest Adventure

“This beautifully illustrated, oversized guide to the people and technology of the moon landing by award-winning author/illustrator John Rocco is a must-have for space fans, classrooms, and tech geeks.” This book tells the stories of the 400,000 heroes that were instrumental in accomplishing the incredible feat of landing on the moon.


how we got to the moon book cover

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Gavriel Savit, The Way Back

“Perfect for readers of Neil Gaiman and Philip Pullman, a sweeping historical fantasy that follows two teens on a journey through the Far Country, a Jewish land of spirits and demons.” This story follows two young teens who are sent on a journey through the Far Country after the Angel of Death comes strolling through the little shtetl of Tupik one night.


the way back book cover

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Aiden Thomas, Cemetery Boys

“A trans boy, determined to prove his gender to his traditional Lantinx family, summons a ghost who refuses to leave in Aiden Thomas’s paranormal YA debut.” When Yadriel summons a ghost in order to prove himself to his traditional Latinx family, he ends up summoning Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy who is not about to go quietly into death. Yadriel and Julian help each get what they both want and grow closer throughout their quest.


cemetery boys book cover

image via amazon



This year’s judges for the Young People’s Literature category are Randy Ribay, author of Patron Saints of Nothing, which was a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award; Neal Shusterman, author of more than thirty novels, including Challenger Deep, which won the 2015 National Book Award; Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, a professor at the University of Pennslyvania’s Graduate School of Education; Colleen AF Venable, whose graphic novel Kiss Number 8 was longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award; and bookseller and writer, Joan Trygg. Congrats to all of this year’s nominees!


Featured Image via The New Yorker