Coretta Scott King Award

The Coretta Scott King Award celebrates excellence in children’s and young adult literature produced by African American authors and illustrators. The American Library Association founded the award in 1969 in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King. This Collection of Study Guides highlights many middle grade and young adult titles, both past award winners and honorees.

Publication year 2020Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Relationships: Fathers, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Relationships: FriendshipTags Realistic Fiction, Sports, Relationships, American Literature

Publication year 2002Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Literature, Identity: Race, Self Discovery, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: ArtTags Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, African American Literature

Bronx Masquerade is a young adult novel written by New York Times bestselling author Nikki Grimes. It was published in 2002. Bronx Masquerade chronicles an academic year in the lives of high school students in Mr. Ward’s English class. It includes the ways they relate to each other and their classwork, which prominently features Harlem Renaissance writers, as well as their hopes and dreams. The novel is written in both prose and poetry, with each... Read Bronx Masquerade Summary

Publication year 2014Genre Novel/Book in Verse, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Race / Racism, Narrative / Epic Poem, Auto/Biographical Fiction, Children's Literature

Brown Girl Dreaming (2014) is a memoir in verse by Jacqueline Woodson, a children’s and young adult fiction writer. Published by Nancy Paulsen Books, a division of the Penguin Group, the memoir won the National Book Award, the Newberry Honor Book Award, and the Coretta Scott King Award.Plot SummaryBrown Girl Dreaming covers Woodson’s childhood, detailing her family history and her beginnings as a writer. Woodson was born in Columbus, Ohio, on February 12, 1963, the... Read Brown Girl Dreaming Summary

Publication year 2006Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Good & Evil

Copper Sun is a historical fiction novel about fifteen-year-old Amari, a young woman from Ziavi, Ghana. Amari loves her community (the Ewe people), her family, and her soon-to-be husband, Besa. One day, unannounced, a group of pale-faced strangers arrive, led there by a neighbouring tribe, the Ashanti. Amari’s people prepare a celebration to welcome the guests, not knowing the grave danger they will soon face. After a meal, gift exchange, storytelling, and dancing, the white... Read Copper Sun Summary

Publication year 2005Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Historical Fiction, Children's Literature

Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue is a young adult book of historical fiction written by Julius Lester and published in 2005. It was the 2006 winner of the Coretta Scott King Award as well as numerous other YA awards. The book concerns the largest slave auction in American history, which took place on March 2 and 3, 1859, in Savannah, Georgia. Plantation owner Pierce Butler sells more than 400 persons to repay his... Read Day of Tears Summary

Publication year 2007Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Relationships: FamilyTags Historical Fiction, Children's Literature

Elijah of Buxton is a 2007 middle grade novel by American writer Christopher Paul Curtis. Set in the 1850s, it follows 11-year-old Elijah Freeman, the first freeborn child of Buxton, a Canadian settlement of escaped slaves, as he makes a dangerous journey into the United States. The novel was a Newbery Honor Book and won the Coretta Scott King Award. Plot SummaryThe story opens as Elijah investigates strange animal tracks with his friend Cooter. A local... Read Elijah of Buxton Summary

Publication year 1988Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: War, Identity: Mental Health, Relationships: FriendshipTags Military / War, Historical Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Vietnam War

Prolific children’s author Walter Dean Myers published his novel Fallen Angels in 1988. The young adult novel tells the story of a 17-year-old African American teenager from Harlem named Richie Perry who enlists in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. The novel follows Perry as he faces the realities of war with his fellow soldiers and transitions into adulthood on the battlefield. The novel contemplates racial and socio-economic issues in the US, the... Read Fallen Angels Summary

Publication year 2022Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Society: Community, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Self Discovery, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / PerseveranceTags Historical Fiction, Action / Adventure, African American Literature, Race / Racism

Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Society: Class, Relationships: FamilyTags Realistic Fiction, Race / Racism, Poverty, Addiction / Substance Abuse

Genesis Begins Again is a contemporary middle grade novel published in 2019 by Alicia Williams, a teacher and an author of children’s fiction and young adult books. Genesis Begins Again, Williams’s debut novel, was met with critical praise for exploring and adapting complex emotional themes such as colorism, addiction, and bullying for a younger audience. Genesis Begins Again was a finalist for the 2019 Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature and the recipient of the... Read Genesis Begins Again Summary

Publication year 2021Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Identity: Race, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: Mothers, Self Discovery, Society: Immigration, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Magical Realism, Fantasy, Realistic Fiction

Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Identity: Sexuality, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags LGBTQ, Realistic Fiction, Magical Realism

Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: MothersTags Fantasy, Romance, LGBTQ, Race / Racism, Gender / Feminism

Publication year 1981Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Identity: Race, Relationships: Siblings, Society: Class, Society: Economics, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: EqualityTags Historical Fiction, Race / Racism, Great Depression

Let the Circle Be Unbroken (1981) is part of the Logan Family Saga by author Mildred D. Taylor. The series follows the fortunes of a Black farming family, the Logans, through more than one generation as they experience the tribulations of life in the South before the Civil Rights era. The saga consists of 10 novels and novellas. The award-winning novels include The Land (2001), Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1976), and The Road... Read Let The Circle Be Unbroken Summary

Publication year 2003Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Identity: Race, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Natural World: Animals, Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Mothers, Relationships: Siblings, Self Discovery, Society: Class, Society: Community, Society: Education, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Trust & DoubtTags Realistic Fiction, African American Literature

Locomotion, Jacqueline Woodson’s 2003 novel in verse, follows the perspective of Lonnie Collins Motion, nicknamed Locomotion. After his parents die in a fire and his sister is adopted, Lonnie grieves and navigates life, first in a group home and then with Miss Edna, his foster mother. Through poetry, he slowly finds joy in life again, highlighting the themes of The Search for Identity and Belonging, The Healing Power of Writing, and The Enduring Support of... Read Locomotion Summary

Publication year 2017Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionTags Realistic Fiction

Long Way Down (2017) by Jason Reynolds is a young adult novel in free verse about Will Holloman, a young black boy struggling to make a decision after his brother Shawn is shot dead in the street. Will plans to seek revenge, but before he can leave the elevator of his building, he is greeted by a series of ghosts who confuse and complicate his perspective on Shawn’s death and the idea of revenge killing... Read Long Way Down Summary

Publication year 2016Genre Graphic Memoir , NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: EqualityTags Civil Rights / Jim Crow, History: U.S., Race / Racism, Social Justice

Publication year 2018Genre Novel, FictionTags Mystery / Crime Fiction

Monday’s Not Coming (2018) is a young adult novel by Tiffany D. Jackson. She employs a nonlinear narrative to explore issues of race, mental illness, and media bias. Claudia Coleman narrates the story of how her best friend, Monday Charles, disappeared for a year, and no one but Claudia seemed to notice or care. Published by Harper Collins, Monday’s Not Coming earned Jackson the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe award for new talent. It was also... Read Monday's Not Coming Summary

Publication year 2001Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Society: Class, Relationships: FriendshipTags Realistic Fiction, Poverty, African American Literature

Money Hungry is a 2001 middle-grade novel by American author Sharon G. Flake published by Little, Brown and Company. A Coretta Scott King Honor book, Money Hungry is the first book in Flake’s Raspberry Hill series. It explores 13-year-old Raspberry Hill’s hunger for money and the lengths to which she will go to acquire it. Stemming from a period of homelessness in her childhood, Raspberry will do almost anything to earn enough money to move... Read Money Hungry Summary

Publication year 1999Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Race / Racism

Monster, a YA novel about a Black New York teenager accused of murder, quickly became one of Walter Dean Myers's most acclaimed works when it was published in 1999, winning the Coretta Scott King Award, receiving the Prime Excellence Award of the American Library Association, named a National Book Award Finalist. The completion and release of the novel occurred during the arc of the conviction and eventual exoneration of the Central Park 5, Black teenagers... Read Monster Summary

Publication year 2010Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Daughters & SonsTags Historical Fiction

One Crazy Summer, a Coretta Scott King Book Award winner and National Book Award nominee, is a historical novel for children that was published in 2009 by Rita Williams-Garcia. This guide is based on the 2009 Amistad/HarperCollins Kindle edition. Set in 1968, the novel describes what happens when Delphine Gaither and her two younger sisters, Vonetta and Afua "Fern" Gaither, spend a month in Oakland, California, with Cecile Johnson, the mother who abandoned them almost... Read One Crazy Summer Summary

Publication year 1996Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Teams, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Society: CommunityTags Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Sports

Publication year 2014Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionTags Narrative / Epic Poem, Sports, Children's Literature

The Crossover, by award-winning children’s book author and poet Kwame Alexander, was published in 2014 and won the 2015 Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award Honor for children’s literature. Rebound, a prequel to The Crossover, was published in 2018. 12-year-old African American Josh Bell narrates The Crossover in verse; his stories and rhymes dribble down the page in much the same way he and his twin brother, Jordan, dribble the ball down the basketball... Read The Crossover Summary

Publication year 2018Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: ForgivenessTags Mystery / Crime Fiction

Originally published in 2018, The Parker Inheritance is a fast-paced mystery novel with messages about identity and society. Varian Johnson presents a dynamic young protagonist, Candice, who teams up with her new friend Brandon to uncover the truth behind a mysterious letter that reveals the hidden history of Lambert, South Carolina.The Parker Inheritance is the recipient of a number of awards: it was named a 2019 Coretta Scott King Honor Book, a Publishers Weekly Best... Read The Parker Inheritance Summary

Publication year 1985Genre Short Story Collection, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Equality, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Emotions/Behavior: Joy, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Natural World: Animals, Natural World: Environment, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Natural World: Food, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Fate, Identity: Race, Identity: Language, Emotions/Behavior: Regret, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Relationships: Mothers, Relationships: TeamsTags Fairy Tale / Folklore, Allegory / Fable / Parable, History: U.S., African American Literature, Race / Racism

Publication year 2009Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Historical Fiction, Civil Rights / Jim Crow, Race / Racism

The Rock and the River is a young adult historical fiction work that earned author Kekla Magoon the Coretta Scott King John Steptoe New Talent Award upon its publication in 2009. Set in the 1960s Civil Rights era, the story’s protagonist, Samuel Childs, is the son of a famous activist who worked alongside Dr. King and the brother of a teenager involved with a local Black Panther group. The tensions between the historical “passive resistance”... Read The Rock and The River Summary

Publication year 2018Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Values/Ideas: Trust & DoubtTags Action / Adventure, African American Literature, Children's Literature

The Season of Styx Malone (2018) is a contemporary realistic middle grade novel written by Kekla Magoon. Caleb Franklin, 10, seeks a summer of unique adventures to prove he is the opposite of ordinary, despite his father’s insistence that Caleb and his brother Bobby Gene never stray beyond the town limits. Then Caleb meets Styx Malone, a cool, daring 16-year-old boy in the foster care system who shows the Franklin brothers a quick way to... Read The Season of Styx Malone Summary

Publication year 1998Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Self Discovery, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Relationships: Family, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Realistic Fiction, Bullying, Race / Racism

Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionTags Realistic Fiction, Afro-Caribbean Literature

Published in 2016, Nicola Yoon’s The Sun Is Also a Star is a young-adult novel and National Book Award Finalist. Told from multiple character perspectives, the novel tells the story of the romance that transpires over one day between two young people, Natasha Katherine Kingsley and Daniel Jae Ho Bae, and the impact they have on the people around them. Natasha and Daniel come from different racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. Natasha is an undocumented... Read The Sun Is Also a Star Summary

Publication year 1979Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Identity: Race, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: Fathers, Society: Class, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman

Walter Dean Myers first published his middle grade novel, The Young Landlords, in 1979. Like most of the 100 books Myers penned before his death in 2014, the story centers on Black youth. The Young Landlords is particularly personal to Myers, however, because he writes about the neighborhood in Harlem, New York, where he grew up, describing the sort of activities and individuals he encountered as a youth. The main character, 15-year-old Paul Williams, pays... Read The Young Landlords Summary

Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Identity: Race, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / PerseveranceTags Fantasy, Fairy Tale / Folklore, Children's Literature, History: African , Race / Racism, African American Literature, Action / Adventure

Publication year 2022Genre Graphic Memoir , NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: FamilyTags Sports, History: U.S., Race / Racism, Social Justice, African American Literature

Publication year 2010Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Self Discovery, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Historical Fiction, Mystery / Crime Fiction

Zora and Me (2010) is a middle grade novel by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon. Both authors held a strong interest in 20th-century Black American writer Zora Neale Hurston, and they wanted to introduce her to younger readers. Bond has an MFA in poetry, while Simon has an MA in anthropology; Hurston was both a writer and an anthropologist. Inspired by real details from Hurston’s childhood as illustrated in her short stories, Bond and Simon... Read Zora and Me Summary