Printz Award Books

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The Michael L. Printz Award is an award for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature. For more information about the award and lists of previous winners and honor books, visit the American Library Association.

Printz Award Books 2021

In an autobiographical novel, middle-schooler Daniel, formerly Khosrou, tells his unimpressed and at times cruel classmates about his experience as an Iranian refugee.

Apple: Skin to the Core: A Memoir in Words and Pictures
by Eric L. Gansworth

Gansworth—an enrolled member of the Onandaga Nation—revisits his childhood and teen years spent on a Tuscarora reservation in this ambitious and searing memoir. Told in verse and accompanied by original art, Gansworth’s compelling coming of age story is a moving, illuminating exploration of otherness, intergenerational trauma, and resilience.

Dragon Hoops 
by Gene Luen Yang

Gene Luen Yang never would have guessed that he would be working on a graphic novel about a basketball team, but he found inspiration in the men’s varsity team at Bishop O’Dowd High School. The games are only a small portion of the story, though, as readers learn about the history of basketball as well as Yang’s personal journey.  

Every Body Looking
by Candice Iloh

In this novel in verse, Ada recounts her freshman year as a first generation student attending a Historically Black College, while simultaneously taking the reader through her younger life. Ada feels the pressure to make money from her major, but she ultimately realizes that dance is what connects, energizes, and sustains her.  



We Are Not Free
by Traci Chee

Just months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt issued the Civilian Exclusion Order, forcing the tight knit community of Japantown teens and their families to incarceration camps.  Author Traci Chee deftly manages fourteen narratives all with a unique voice and experience. The lives of these teens may have been forever changed, but as Chee writes, “We are not free. But we are not alone."


Printz Award Books 2020


by A.S. King

Five teenagers’ disparate lives weave together, unveiling long-buried secrets within a complex shared history. King’s surrealistic narrative confronts themes of white privilege and its dark legacies.


The Beast Player
By Nahoko Uehashi, translated by Cathy Hirano

Orphaned Elin learns to use her ability to communicate with animals as she navigates through political unrest. The beauty and power of the natural world are at the heart of this captivating, nimbly translated Japanese fantasy.


Laura Dean Keeps Breaking up with Me
By Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell

Freddy is enamored with the magnetic Laura Dean, but their on-again, off-again relationship is far from healthy. Through soft-hued illustrations and cinematic scope, this graphic novel captures the intoxication of teenage love and the search for identity.



Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir
By Nikki Grimes

Grimes’ verse memoir traces her development through a tumultuous childhood as she finds her voice as a powerful storyteller. Themes of family, belonging, and identity combine to tell a story of faith and resilience. 



Where the World Ends
By Geraldine McCaughrean

In 1727, a group of men and boys from St. Kilda sail to a remote sea stack on a fowling trip, only to find themselves stranded. McCaughrean’s exceptional tale evokes the harsh beauty of its setting and the warm humor of its characters. 



Printz Award Books 2019


The Poet X
Elizabeth Acevedo

Acevedo transforms everyday language into transcendent imagery in this novel-in-verse about Xiomara, who struggles to come into her own power amid (what she views) as her restrictive upbringing. Over the course of these lyrical, expressive, and honest poems, she grows from speaking with her fists to embracing her identity as the Poet X.


Elana K. Arnold

Ama has no memory of what comes before she wakes in Prince Emory’s arms, but she’s no ordinary damsel in distress. Using the language of classic fairy tales to shatter familiar tropes, Arnold asks readers to confront the ways systemic violence against women pervades cultural touchstones.


A Heart in a Body in the World
Deb Caletti

Struggling with PTSD in the wake of a terrifying tragedy, Annabelle decides to run across the country in a physically demanding journey that mirrors the circuitous path of her emotional recovery. Caletti insightfully explores trauma, loss, and guilt while illuminating the damaging expectations our culture places on teenage girls.