YALSA announces 2021 William C. Morris finalists

For Immediate Release
Wed, 12/09/2020


Anna Lam

Communications Specialist



CHICAGO – The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), selected five books as finalists for the 2021 William C. Morris Award, which honors the year’s best books written for young adults by a previously unpublished author.

YALSA will name the 2021 award winner virtually at the Youth Media Awards on January 25, 2021, during the American Library Association’s virtual Midwinter MeetingRegistration is open now through January 15, 2021. 

The 2021 finalists are:

  • “Black Girl Unlimited: The Remarkable Story of a Teenage Wizard,” written by Echo Brown published by Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt and Co. Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. 9781250309853.

  • “The Black Kids,” written by Christina Hammonds Reed, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing. 9781534462724. 

  • “If These Wings Could Fly,” written by Kyrie McCauley, published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. 9780062885029.

  • “It Sounded Better in My Head,” written by Nina Kenwood, published by Flatiron Books, Macmillan Publishers. 9781250219268.

  • “Woven in Moonlight,” written by Isabel Ibañez, published by Page Street Publishing. 9781624148019.

“The 2021 Morris Committee selected the finalists after hours of virtual deliberation. The quality and diversity of this year’s debut authors made narrowing our selections to five titles quite a challenge,” said Melissa Malanuk, chair of the 2021 William C. Morris Award Committee.  “Our finalists range from the magical realism of a young black woman’s wizarding journey of hope; a teen living in a house that magically conceals the acts of violence that take place; a historical but timely novel about a black teen awakening to social injustice during the 1992 L.A. riots; a teen whose surprise romance forces her to confront scars of her past; and a fantasy novel that celebrates Bolivian culture while highlighting the impact of colonization. Reader’s will be riveted by the diverse voices and a wide array of experiences captured in the selected titles.”

The Morris Award is named after William C. Morris, an influential innovator in the publishing world and an advocate for marketing books for children and young adults. William “Bill” Morris left an impressive mark on the field of children’s and young adult literature. He was beloved in the publishing field and the library profession for his generosity and marvelous enthusiasm for promoting literature for children and teens.

More information on the finalists and the award can be found on the Morris Award page. Publishers and library staff can purchase finalist seals to place on the finalist titles at www.ala.org/awardsgrants/seals . For more information on the Morris Award or YALSA’s other young adult literature awards, please visit www.ala.org/yalsa/booklists .

Members of the 2021 William C. Morris Award Committee are: chair Melissa Malanuk, Queens Borough Public Library, Jamaica, New York; Meaghan Darling, Sparta Public Library, Sparta, New Jersey; Laura Erwin, Bossard Memorial Library, Gallipolis, Ohio; Megan Garrett, Mid-Continent Public Library, Lee’s Summit, Missouri; Jamie M. Gregory, Christ Church Episcopal School, Moore, South Carolina; Lindsey Helfrich, Sacramento Public Library, Sacramento, California; Alicia Kalan, The Northwest School, Seattle, Washington; Carol Maples, Central High School, Pollok, Texas; and Ann Pechacek, Worthington Libraries, Worthington, Ohio.

The mission of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) is to support library staff in alleviating the challenges teens face and inputting all teens ‒ especially those with the greatest needs ‒ on the path to successful and fulfilling lives. For more information about YALSA or to access national guidelines and other resources go to www.ala.org/yalsa.