Coming soon… and I can’t wait! The 2021 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

I love book awards!

There are so many great books out there that sometimes it can be tricky to decide which ones you should prioritize, and seeing that something has been nominated, short-listed, or received a prize or award can make it easier to look through my massive TBR list and choose what book to read next. Coming up soon are the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, opens a new window, and here are just some of the superb books in the running to win each of the different categories.

Picture Books

Picture books are a wonderful way for adults and children to spend time together, discover the magical power of books, and explore the world around them. Picture books aren't just for preschoolers, and this year's nominated picture books will have readers of all ages thinking about some of the big issues in the world today, such as kaitiakitanga/ guardianship of the environment around us, and remembering our nation's ANZAC past.

Read what a seven year old thinks about this year's picture book finalists.

Catalogue record for Hare & RuruCatalogue record for Hound the detectiveCatalogue record for Kōwhai and the giantsCatalogue record for The hug blanketCatalogue record for This is where I stand

Find more virtual storytimes of the awards finalists.


The Russell Clark Award for Illustration recognises how important role of picture book illustrations is, and this year's nominees use light, colour, and shape in ways that really do add to the whole reading experience.

Read our interview with Melinda Szymanik about her book, Moon & Sun.

Catalogue record for Hare & RuruCatalogue record for I am the UniverseCatalogue record for Moon & SunCatalogue record for Kōwhai and the giantsCatalogue record for Te Uruuru Whenua o Ngātoroirangi

Chapter Books

Once children are a little older, a whole world of chapter books opens up for them. Many of this the books nominated for this year's Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction have a conservation theme to them, so teachers, parents, and kids alike can use these stories as tools to think about the way their actions impact on the world. If your tamariki are more into 'doing' than reflecting though, don't worry - there is plenty of action in these books too.

Catalogue record for Across the risen seaCatalogue record for Charlie Tangaroa and the creature from the seaCatalogue record for Red edgeCatalogue record for The Inkberg enigmaCatalogue record for The tunnel of dreams

Young Adult Books

I am a huge fan of Young Adult literature, and will happily admit to being one of those adults who reads just as many books written for teenagers as books for adults. YA stories tend to deal with different social and personal issues, and with book topics ranging from friendship and loyalty to poverty and cultural identity there will be something for everyone in the Young Adults Fiction category.

Catalogue record for Draw me a heroCatalogue record for Fire's caressCatalogue record for Spycraft: Katipo JoeCatalogue record for The King's nightingaleCatalogue record for The pōrangi boy

Non-Fiction Books

What I love about this year's Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction is how diverse the nominations are - from a cookbook to a joke book to the follow-up, to the part-graphic novel, part-memoir, part-poem that was last year's Book of the Year. Such variety... and those aren't even all the books in that category!

Catalogue record for Egg & SpoonCatalogue record for Mophead Tu: The queen's poemCatalogue record for New Zealand disastersCatalogue record for North & South

Te Reo Māori Books

As someone who is constantly trying to improve their knowledge of te reo Māori, it is really great to see more and more books being published in the Māori language, and covering a greater range of topics. A couple to look out for in the Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for Te Reo Māori category this year include the legend around the formation of Wellington harbour, and a book that will step you through creating your own mihi that you can use to introduce yourself.

Catalogue record for Aroha te whai oraCatalogue record for MihiCatalogue record for Pīpī KiwiCatalogue record for Ngake me whātaitaiCatalogue record for Te Uruuru Whenua o Ngātoroirangi

New Authors

Finally, one of the most exciting things about book awards, specifically the Best First Book Award, is that it introduces me to new authors that I can keep an eye on. I really enjoyed reading Shilo Kino's The Pōrangi Boy earlier this year, and am excited to see which other new authors are going to become household names in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Catalogue record for The pōrangi boyCatalogue record for Hare & RuruCatalogue record for Kōwhai and the giantsCatalogue record for The Inkberg enigmaCatalogue record for The midnight adventures of Ruru and Kiwi

You can enjoy virtual storytimes for some of this year's finalists, or find some of the previous winners, opens a new window in your local library, and get ready for the evening of August 11 to find out who the winners will be.