Just took a look at the list of finalists for the 2016 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, and was delighted to find these books on the list. They are great books to consider for your middle school sons!

“Booked” by Kwame Alexander (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt):  This novel-in-verse tells the story of 12 year old Nick, a soccer-loving middle schooler who wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. This is the latest work from poet Kwame Alexander, author of the Newberry Award winner “The Crossover”.  Check out the publisher’s interview with Alexander here; Alexander seems like a really interesting guy as well as a very talented author.  My sons are well beyond middle school but I’ve gotta read this book! Recommended for grades 5-7.


March: Book Three” by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell: This is the third and last book of the award-winning “March” trilogy, the graphic novels about Congressman Lewis’ work in the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement. This book begins with the Birmingham church bombing and takes us through the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Our sons will be engaged and inspired while reading this gripping historical narrative in comic book form. Recommended for grades 8 and above.

“Ghost” by Jason Reynolds: Castle Crenshaw, better known as “Ghost”, first knew he was a runner the night his drunk dad chased him and his mom out of the house with a gun. Ghost has been running from a lot of things ever since. If his middle school track team coach has his way, Ghost and his teammates will be heading to the Junior Olympics. But Ghost has been causing problems–and running from them–for some time. Can he stay on track, literally and figuratively? This is the first book of a new series from author Jason Reynolds, who wrote the award-winning young adult books “The Boy in the Black Suit” and “All American Boys” and the highly acclaimed middle school novel “As Brave As You”. Check out his cool website here. “Ghost” is recommended for ages 10 and up.

The Son is Also A Star” by Nicola Yoon: This new novel from the best-selling author of “Everything, Everything” is set for release on November 1, 2016, and is available now for pre-order. Yoon, who grew up in Jamaica and Brooklyn, has written a love story between a science-oriented Jamaican student who prides herself on her practicality and a first generation Korean-American with the soul of a poet. Is it fate or chance that brings people together? For ages 12 and up.

Here are the other finalists:

“Burn Baby Burn” by Meg Medina
Candlewick Press

“Pax” by Sara Pennypacker and Jon Klassen (Illustrator)
Balzer & Bray / HarperCollins

“Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story” by Caren Stelson,
Carolrhoda Books / Lerner Publishing Group

“Raymie Nightingale” by Kate DiCamillo,
Candlewick Press

“When the Sea Turned to Silver” by Grace Lin
Little, Brown

“When the Moon Was Ours” by Anna-Marie McLemore,
Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin’s Press

Why don’t you and your sons read some of these together? Happy Reading! Let GCP know what you think!