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Books Honored by the National Book Awards

National Book Award Medals

The mission of the National Book Foundation and the National Book Awards is to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America. Since 1996, independent panels of five writers have chosen the National Book Award winners in four categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature.

The first African-American writer to win a National Book Award was Ralph Ellison for Invisible Man.  Since the Award’s inception many Black writers have been honored.  The National Book Awards have been supportive of AALBC.com and we are proud to showcase these authors as they represent the best of American literature. Thanks to Sherrie Young, the National Book Award’s Director of Marketing and Special Projects, for her support in compiling this information (more).

Our Coverage: 2016 – 201520142013


10 Books Honored by the National Book Awards in 2016


Winner - Young People’s Literature

Click for a larger image of March Book Three

March Book Three
by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, Illustrated by Nate Powell



Age Range:
Publication Date: Aug 02, 2016
List Price: $19.95
Format: Paperback
Classification: Nonfiction
Page Count: 256
ISBN13: 9781603094023
Imprint: Top Shelf Productions

Synopsis:

Welcome to the stunning conclusion of the award-winning and best-selling March trilogy (March Book One and March Book Two).

Congressman John Lewis, an American icon and one of the key figures of the civil rights movement, joins co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell to bring the lessons of history to vivid life for a new generation, urgently relevant for today’s world.

Large Image from March Book 3


Longlist - Young People’s Literature

Click for a larger image of Booked

Booked
by Kwame Alexander



Age Range:
Publication Date: Apr 05, 2016
List Price: $16.99
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Children’s
Page Count: 320
ISBN13: 9780544570986
Imprint: HMH Books for Young Readers

Synopsis:

Like lightning/you strike/fast and free/legs zoom/down field/eyes fixed/on the checkered ball/on the goal/ten yards to go/can’t nobody stop you/
can’t nobody cop you
In this follow-up to the Newbery-winning novel THE CROSSOVER, soccer, family, love, and friendship, take center stage as twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams.Helping him along are his best friend and sometimes teammate Coby, and The Mac, a rapping librarian who gives Nick inspiring books to read.
This electric and heartfelt novel-in-verse by poet Kwame Alexander bends and breaks as it captures all the thrills and setbacks, action and emotion of a World Cup match!


Finalist - Young People’s Literature

Click for a larger image of Ghost: Running for His Life or From It?

Ghost: Running for His Life or From It?
by Jason Reynolds



Age Range: 10 and Up
Publication Date: Aug 30, 2016
List Price: $16.99
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Children’s
Page Count: 192
ISBN13: 9781481450157
Imprint: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

Synopsis:

His new book Ghost is the start of a series for kids about an inner city track team and the different things they’re running from. It’s inspired by Black Lives Matter and his own childhood in DC:

Ghost wants to be the fastest sprinter on his elite middle school track team, but his past is slowing him down in this first electrifying novel of a brand-new series from Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award–winning author Jason Reynolds.

Ghost. Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team—a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves.

Ghost has a crazy natural talent, but no formal training. If he can stay on track, literally and figuratively, he could be the best sprinter in the city. But Ghost has been running for the wrong reasons—it all starting with running away from his father, who, when Ghost was a very little boy, chased him and his mother through their apartment, then down the street, with a loaded gun, aiming to kill. Since then, Ghost has been the one causing problems—and running away from them—until he meets Coach, an ex-Olympic Medalist who blew his own shot at success by using drugs, and who is determined to keep other kids from blowing their shots at life.

  • Castle Crenshaw, aka Ghost’s, life story actually happened to Jason’s best friend. He and his mother were chased by their father at gunpoint, and they had to hide in a 7-11 down the street. Lu, an albino African American character, is also based on a friend of Jason’s.
  • The coach is based on Jason’s own coach, a taxi driver who drove kids to practice in the back of his cab.
  • Like Ghost, Jason ran track as conditioning for the sport he REALLY cared about – basketball.
  • In communities of color, and low-income communities, kids are always running. From sirens, from guns, from their family, from their mom’s discipline. They’re in constant fear. Running isn’t something they’ve had to learn, they’ve just always done it.
  • Track is an “individual team” sport. Everyone is competing with themselves (their own scores/times), as well as being part of the team. This mirrors the black experience in the US—everyone has their own individual experiences, but is a part of the larger African American community that is fighting for justice. Truly, everything Jason writes is inspired by that experience and Black Lives Matter.


Finalist - Young People’s Literature

Click for a larger image of The Sun Is Also a Star

The Sun Is Also a Star
by Nicola Yoon



Age Range: 12 and up
Publication Date: Nov 01, 2016
List Price: $18.99
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Fiction
Page Count: 384
ISBN13: 9780553496680
Imprint: Delacorte Press

Synopsis:

Natasha: Im a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. Im definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him wont be my story.

Daniel: Ive always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in storefor both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true? 


Finalist - Poetry

Click for a larger image of Collected Poems: 1974–2004

Collected Poems: 1974–2004
by Rita Dove



Age Range:
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
List Price: $0.00
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Poetry
Page Count: 448
ISBN13: 9780393285949
Imprint: W. W. Norton & Company

Synopsis:

Three decades of powerful lyric poetry from a virtuoso of the English language in one unabridged volume.Rita Dove’s Collected Poems 1974–2004 showcases the wide-ranging diversity that earned her a Pulitzer Prize, the position of U.S. poet laureate, a National Humanities Medal, and a National Medal of Art. Gathering thirty years and seven books, this volume compiles Dove’s fresh reflections on adolescence in The Yellow House on the Corner and her irreverent musings in Museum. She sets the moving love story of Thomas and Beulah against the backdrop of war, industrialization, and the civil right struggles. The multifaceted gems of Grace Notes, the exquisite reinvention of Greek myth in the sonnets of Mother Love, the troubling rapids of recent history in On the Bus with Rosa Parks, and the homage to America’s kaleidoscopic cultural heritage in American Smooth all celebrate Dove’s mastery of narrative context with lyrical finesse. With the “precise, singing lines” for which the Washington Post praised her, Dove “has created fresh configurations of the traditional and the experimental” —Poetry magazine.

In the video below Dove reads the poem “Canary” which is contained in this collection


Longlist - Poetry

Click for a larger image of Blue Laws: Selected and Uncollected Poems, 1995-2015

Blue Laws: Selected and Uncollected Poems, 1995-2015
by Kevin Young



Age Range:
Publication Date: Feb 02, 2016
List Price: $30.00
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Poetry
Page Count: 608
ISBN13: 9780385351508
Imprint: Knopf

Synopsis:

A rich and lively gathering of highlights from the first twenty years of an extraordinary career, interspersed with “B sides” and “bonus tracks” from this prolific and widely acclaimed poet.

Blue Laws gathers poems written over the past two decades, drawing from all nine of Kevin Young’s previously published books of poetry and including a number of uncollected, often unpublished, poems. From his stunning lyric debut (Most Way Home, 1995) and the amazing “double album” life of Jean-Michel Basquiat (2001, “remixed” for Knopf in 2005), through his brokenhearted Jelly Roll: A Blues (2003) and his recent forays into adult grief and the joys of birth in Dear Darkness (2008) and Book of Hours (2014), this collection provides a grand tour of a poet whose personal poems and political poems are equally riveting. Together with wonderful outtakes and previously unseen blues, the profoundly felt poems here of family, Southern food, and loss are of a piece with the depth of personal sensibility and humanity found in his Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels or bold sequences such as “The Ballad of Jim Crow” and a new “Homage to Phillis Wheatley.”


Winner - Nonfiction

Click for a larger image of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
by Ibram X. Kendi



Age Range:
Publication Date: Apr 12, 2016
List Price: $32.99
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Nonfiction
Page Count: 592
ISBN13: 9781568584638
Imprint: Nation Books

Synopsis:

Some Americans cling desperately to the myth that we are living in a post-racial society, that the election of the first Black president spelled the doom of racism. In fact, racist thought is alive and well in America - more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues in Stamped from the Beginning, if we have any hope of grappling with this stark reality, we must first understand how racist ideas were developed, disseminated, and enshrined in American society.

In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-Black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. Stamped from the Beginning uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to offer a window into the contentious debates between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and antiracists. From Puritan minister Cotton Mather to Thomas Jefferson, from fiery abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to brilliant scholar W.E.B. Du Bois to legendary anti-prison activist Angela Davis, Kendi shows how and why some of our leading proslavery and pro-civil rights thinkers have challenged or helped cement racist ideas in America.

Contrary to popular conceptions, racist ideas did not arise from ignorance or hatred. Instead, they were devised and honed by some of the most brilliant minds of each era. These intellectuals used their brilliance to justify and rationalize deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and the nation’s racial disparities in everything from wealth to health. And while racist ideas are easily produced and easily consumed, they can also be discredited. In shedding much-needed light on the murky history of racist ideas, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose them—and in the process, gives us reason to hope.


Longlist - Nonfiction

Click for a larger image of The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice

The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice
by Patricia Bell-Scott



Age Range:
Publication Date: Feb 02, 2016
List Price: $30.00
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Nonfiction
Page Count: 480
ISBN13: 9780679446521
Imprint: Alfred A. Knopf

Synopsis:

A groundbreaking book—two decades in the works—that tells the story of how a brilliant writer-turned-activist, granddaughter of a mulatto slave, and the first lady of the United States, whose ancestry gave her membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution, forged an enduring friendship that changed each of their lives and helped to alter the course of race and racism in America.

Pauli Murray first saw Eleanor Roosevelt in 1933, at the height of the Depression, at a government-sponsored, two-hundred-acre camp for unemployed women where Murray was living, something the first lady had pushed her husband to set up in her effort to do what she could for working women and the poor. The first lady appeared one day unannounced, behind the wheel of her car, her secretary and a Secret Service agent her passengers. To Murray, then aged twenty-three, Roosevelt’s self-assurance was a symbol of women’s independence, a symbol that endured throughout Murray’s life.

Five years later, Pauli Murray, a twenty-eight-year-old aspiring writer, wrote a letter to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt protesting racial segregation in the South. The president’s staff forwarded Murray’s letter to the federal Office of Education. The first lady wrote back.

Murray’s letter was prompted by a speech the president had given at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, praising the school for its commitment to social progress. Pauli Murray had been denied admission to the Chapel Hill graduate school because of her race.

She wrote in her letter of 1938:

“Does it mean that Negro students in the South will be allowed to sit down with white students and study a problem which is fundamental and mutual to both groups? Does it mean that the University of North Carolina is ready to open its doors to Negro students . . . ? Or does it mean, that everything you said has no meaning for us as Negroes, that again we are to be set aside and passed over . . . ?”

Eleanor Roosevelt wrote to Murray: “I have read the copy of the letter you sent me and I understand perfectly, but great changes come slowly . . . The South is changing, but don’t push too fast.”

So began a friendship between Pauli Murray (poet, intellectual rebel, principal strategist in the fight to preserve Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, cofounder of the National Organization for Women, and the first African American female Episcopal priest) and Eleanor Roosevelt (first lady of the United States, later first chair of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and chair of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women) that would last for a quarter of a century.

Drawing on letters, journals, diaries, published and unpublished manuscripts, and interviews, Patricia Bell-Scott gives us the first close-up portrait of this evolving friendship and how it was sustained over time, what each gave to the other, and how their friendship changed the cause of American social justice.


Finalist - Fiction

Click for a larger image of Another Brooklyn: A Novel

Another Brooklyn: A Novel
by Jacqueline Woodson



Age Range:
Publication Date: Aug 09, 2016
List Price: $22.99
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Fiction
Page Count: 192
ISBN13: 9780062359988
Imprint: Amistad

Synopsis:
The acclaimed New York Times bestselling and National Book Awardwinning author of Brown Girl Dreaming delivers her first adult novel in twenty years.Running into a long-ago friend sets memory from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything—until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant—a part of a future that belonged to them.But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion. Like Louise Meriwether’s Daddy Was a Number Runner and Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina, Jacqueline Woodson’s Another Brooklyn heartbreakingly illuminates the formative time when childhood gives way to adulthood—the promise and peril of growing up—and exquisitely renders a powerful, indelible, and fleeting friendship that united four young lives.


Winner - Fiction

Click for a larger image of The Underground Railroad: A Novel

The Underground Railroad: A Novel
by Colson Whitehead



Age Range:
Publication Date: Aug 02, 2016
List Price: $26.95
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Fiction
Page Count: 320
ISBN13: 9780385542364
Imprint: Doubleday

Synopsis:

“Every now and then a book comes along that reaches the marrow of your bones, settles in, and stays forever. This is one. It’s a tour de force, and I don’t say that lightly.” —Oprah Winfrey says, Oprah’s Book Club 2016 Selection

From prize-winning, bestselling author Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

Like the protagonist of AGulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey—hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroadis at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.


On March 16, 1950, publishers, editors, writers, and critics gathered at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City to celebrate the first annual National Book Awards, an award given to writers by writers. The American Book Publisher’s Council, The Book Manufacturers’ Institute, and The American Booksellers’ Association jointly sponsored the Awards, bringing together the American literary community for the first time to honor the year’s best work in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. As the Boston Herald reported the following day, “literary history was indeed in the making.”



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