The 2011 National Book Award Recognizes Young People's Literature

Thanhha Lai's 'Inside Out & Back Again' just won the 2011 National Book Award for Young People's Literature. Both this novel and the award's other finalists, which are described here, are an excellent place to look for the latest in powerful and engaging stories for children and teens.

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2011 National Book Award winner

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Inside Out & Back Again tell the story of Ha, a 10-year-old Vietnamese girl who delights in her Saigon home. Yet when the Vietnam War shatters her paradise, her family must flee to America. In Alabama, she must adjust to a painfully foreign world. The book, which is based on the author's personal experiences, is written in short free-verse poems.

Franny Billingsley Chime

Chime by Franny Billingsley

Franny Billingsley's Chime follows Briony, a young woman who carries her family's hardships on her shoulders, as well as her personal secret of being a witch. She finds solace in a nearby swamp, where she tells stories to the spirits haunting the region. Yet she fears discovery of her secret because witches are put to death in her village. The arrival of Eldric portends a brighter future, though, and she begins to hope for the best.

Edwardson My Name is Not Easy

My Name Is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson

This is the story of Luke, a Native American from Alaska, and his classmates at Sacred Heart School. While the school's Eskimo, Indian and white students segregate themselves, the priests and nuns who are in charge stifle native culture and language. Five narrators tell the story, which explores teen rebellion, native stereotypes and painful homesickness.

Marrin Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire

Flesh & Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy by Albert Marrin

This National Book Award Finalist tells the true story of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which killed 146 people, most of them women. Marrin goes beyond the tragedy, in which the doors were locked to keep workers inside, to explore who the people were who ended up working in the garment industry. It's the story of poor immigrants finding their way in America, and after the fire, it becomes the story of reform, as the nation responds to what would be one of the most deadly workplace fires until September 11, 2001.

Gary Schmidt Ok for now

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

Okay for Now tells the story of 14-year-old Doug Swieteck. New in town and without friends, Doug must grapple with suspicious police, an abusive father and his traumatized brother's return from Vietnam. Things look brighter when Doug befriends Lil, a young woman who helps him find positive things in life; these comes from sources as diverse as the open-once-per-week library and plates of John James Audobon's bird drawings.

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