Kekla Magoon wins 2021 Edwards Award for 'X: A Novel'; 'How It Went Down'; 'The Rock and the River'; and 'Fire in the Streets'

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/25/2021


Macey Morales

Deputy Director

Communications and Marketing

American Library Association

(312) 280-4393

CHICAGO – Kekla Magoon is the recipient of the 2021 Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring her significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens for “X: A Novel.” co-written by Ilyasah Shabazz and published by Candlewick Press; “How It Went Down,” published by Henry Holt and Co. Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group; “The Rock and the River”; and “Fire in the Streets,” both published by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.  The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), announced the award today at 8 a.m. at the ALA Midwinter Virtual, held Jan. 22 – 26.

Kekla Magoon’s powerful prose and complex characters enrich literature for young adults by bearing witness to the trauma and triumph of the American Civil Rights Movement. In “X,” co-authored by Malcolm X’s daughter Ilyasah Shabazz, Magoon depicts Malcolm Little’s struggle to overcome unfavorable circumstances to transform into legendary Civil Rights leader, Malcolm X. In “The Rock and the River” and its companion novel, “Fire in the Streets,” two Black teens, Sam and Maxie, lose faith in peaceful protest and civil disobedience and embrace more aggressive action. “How it Went Down,” the story of a senseless shooting of an African American teen by a white man, illustrates the persistence of racial violence in America. Magoon’s books inspire teen readers and future authors to seek truth and reminds readers of their moral duty to confront racism, white supremacy, and injustice.

“Magoon’s powerful, relevant, and heartfelt stories with their beautifully crafted characters, celebrate underrepresented voices and reveal to teens new insight into the world,” said Edwards Committee Chair Rebecca Baldwin.

Kekla Magoon will be honored at YALSA’s 2021 YA Services Symposium, which is to take place Nov. 3-5, 2021 in Reno, Nevada, where she will be presented with a citation and cash prize of $2,000. The award is sponsored by School Library Journal.

The Edwards Award is named in honor of the late Margaret A. Edwards, a pioneer in providing library services to young adults. Through her work at Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Edwards demonstrated that only through literature would young adults move beyond themselves into a larger world. For information on the Margaret A. Edwards Award and other ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit

Members of the 2021 Edwards Committee are: Chair Rebecca Baldwin, Cuyahoga County Public Library, North Royalton, Ohio; Colette Drouillard, PhD, Valdosta State University, Georgia; Joanna Goldfarb, Ramapo Catskill Library System, Middletown, New York; Dakota Hall, Bartholomew County Public Library, Columbus, Indiana; and Emma K. McNamara, University of the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C.

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