ALSC 2021 Notable Children’s Books – Older Readers

The 2021 Notable Children’s Books list has been announced by ALSC (Association of Library Service to Children). The list is broken into age categories. Here are the books selected for Older Readers, grades 6-8 and ages 11-14. I’ve also included the All Ages category at the end of the post.

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team. By Christina Soontornvat. 

Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir. By Robin Ha.

Before the Ever After. By Jacqueline Woodson.

Brother’s Keeper. By Julie Lee.

Dragon Hoops. By Gene Luen Yang.

Elatsoe. By Darcie Little Badger. Illus. by Rovina Cai.

Fighting Words. By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. 

Go with the Flow. By Karen Schneemann & Lily Williams. 

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

Land of the Cranes. By Aida Salazar.

The Magic Fish. By Trung Le Nguyen.

Poisoned Water: How the Citizens of Flint Michigan Fought for Their Lives and Warned the Nation. By Candy J. Cooper and Marc Aronson.

Raybearer. By Jordan Ifueko.

Snapdragon. By Kat Leyh.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning. By Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi.

Superman Smashes the Klan. By Gene Luen Yang. Illus. by Gurihiru.

This Light Between Us: A Novel of World War II. By Andrew Fukuda. 


BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom. By Carole Boston Weatherford. Illus. by Michele Wood.

 Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks. By Suzanne Slade. Illus. by Cozbi A. Cabrera.

A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart. By Zetta Elliott. Illus. by Noa Denmon.

The Star Outside My Window by Onjali Q. Rauf

Cover image

The Star Outside My Window by Onjali Q. Rauf (9780593302279)

Aniyah and her brother are new in the foster-care system. At ten-years-old, Aniyah grew up in a family where they worked hard to placate her father’s temper and eventually hid from him with her mother and little brother. Now her mother is gone, but Aniyah knows she isn’t gone forever. When Aniyah hears that a new star has been found in the sky, she knows that it is her mother transformed. But the international contest to name the star will get it wrong! Aniyah, her brother and two of the other foster kids in the house set out on a wild Halloween-night journey to London and the Royal Observatory to make sure that the star is named after Aniyah’s mother after all.

This is the second book by the author of the award-winning The Boy at the Back of the Class. It is a story of familial abuse and terror, but told through the eyes of a ten-year-old whose mother tried to shelter her from what was actually happening. Aniyah has stories built around all of the noises she heard, from “moving furniture” to “playing hide and seek.” It makes the truth of the matter all the more haunting for readers who will understand what happened to Aniyah’s mother long before the character does.

It creates a deep tenderness between the reader and the main protagonist. Aniyah and her little brother are voices of pure innocence in the book, accompanied by other children who have been warned not to reveal the truth to her. Their lengthy experience in foster care contrasts profoundly with Aniyah’s demonstrating to the reader how special their foster mother is and how traumatic many of the children’s lives are.

A fine weaving of grief, innocence and trauma. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy provided by Delacorte Books for Young Readers.