About the Morris Award
The William C. Morris YA Debut Award, first given in 2009, honors a book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature. The winner is announced annually at the ALA Youth Media Awards, with a shortlist of up to five titles named the first week of December. The award's namesake is William C. Morris, an influential innovator in the publishing world and an advocate for marketing books for children and young adults. 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.
Individuals who wish to buy small quantities of seals can find them in the ALA Online Store. Publishers wishing to buy bulk seals or license seal images can find more information by consulting YALSA's Award Seals Usage Guidelines and ALA's Seals Sales & Permissions page.
If you'd like to license the winner or finalist seal, please learn more here.
Visit YALSA's Teen Book Finder Database, a one-stop shop for finding selected lists and award winners. Users can search this free resource by award, list name, year, author, genre and more, as well as print customizable lists.
Sign up for the webinar, 6pm CT on February 25th, to hear from the winner and finalists.
If These Wings Could Fly written by Kyrie McCauley, published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. 9780062885029.
Living in a house that magically conceals the damage inflicted by her volatile father’s rampages, Leighton Barnes finds nothing strange in the thousands of crows descending on her town. As tensions mount in town and at home, she struggles with simultaneously wanting to escape and to protect her mother and younger sisters. Through haunting, lyrical prose McCauley builds a devastatingly authentic tale of intergenerational trauma and violence and society’s “blind eye” that perpetuates it.
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.
In this beautifully written, unflinching tale, Brown relays her wizarding journey of hope and self-awareness as a young Black woman growing up on Cleveland’s East Side. Using magical realism, Brown explores the intersection of racism, poverty, sexual assault, and intergenerational trauma, as well as the strength and power that women wield as they navigate these challenges.
The Black Kids written by Christina Hammonds Reed published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.
Set against the LA riots in 1992, this historical yet timely novel follows Ashley through her senior year at her predominantly white, privileged school and wealthy neighborhood. Pulling away from her white friends, she gravitates towards the group of black students and identifies how racial bias, microaggressions, and her own complicity shape her relationships at home and school. Hammonds Reed’s honest, vivid descriptions of a city in chaos mirror Ashley’s own journey as her detached tone begins to crumble on her path toward growth and awakening.
It Sounded Better in My Head written by Nina Kenwood, published by Flatiron Books, Macmillan Publishers. 9781250219268.
Devastating acne during her adolescence left Natalie with low self-esteem. Now, as if the news of her parents’ divorce isn’t enough, Natalie feels like a third wheel with her best friends, is anxious about an unknown future after high school, and is confused by romantic feelings for her best friend's brother. A surprising romance begins, challenging Natalie to examine the kind of person her acne has formed her into versus who she really is. Told with snarky humor and vulnerability, Kenwood examines the often confusing yet empowering transition into adulthood.
Woven in Moonlight written by Isabel Ibañez, published by Page Street Publishing. 9781624148019
After the Indigenous Llacsans rebel and overthrow Illustrian rule, Ximena’s people are forced into exile. When the Llacsan king demands Illustrian Condesa’s hand in marriage, Ximena takes her place, intending to spy for the Illustrians and relay information to them through beautifully woven tapestries made from moonlight. This lush and descriptive story celebrates Bolivian culture and history while highlighting the impact of colonization.
Members of the 2021 William C. Morris Award Committee are: Patty Ramirez (Chair), Kit Ballenger, Rebecca Caufman, Michelle Cheng, Beth Davis, Kara Hunter, Beth Kirchenberg, Marina Welmers, Ellen Wickham, Emily Townsend (Liason)
Looking for more ways to promote the Morris finalists? Below are book talks and shelf talkers for each finalist.
View a complete list of previous Morris Award winners and finalists.