2016 Winner: young readers

AS BRAVE AS YOU by Jason Reynolds
Released: May 3, 2016

"This pitch-perfect contemporary novel gently explores the past's repercussions on the present. (Fiction. 9-12)"
Eleven-year-old Brooklynite Genie has "worry issues," so when he and his older brother, Ernie, are sent to Virginia to spend a month with their estranged grandparents while their parents "try to figure it all out," he goes into overdrive. Read full book review >
THUNDER BOY JR. by Sherman Alexie
Released: May 10, 2016

"An expertly crafted, soulful, and humorous work that tenderly explores identity, culture, and the bond between father and son. (Picture book. 4-7)"
Thunder Boy Smith Jr. hates his name. Read full book review >
FREEDOM OVER ME by Ashley  Bryan
Released: Sept. 13, 2016

"Bryan makes real and palpable what chattel slavery meant and how it affected those who were enslaved; every child who studies American slavery would benefit from experiencing this historically grounded web of narratives. (author's note) (Picture book/poetry. 6-10)"
Bryan gives voices to the voiceless and presents the dreams of slaves who went to the grave without living them. Read full book review >
THE READER by Traci Chee
Released: Sept. 13, 2016

"This cleverly layered fantasy leaves more questions than it answers, but fortunately, it's only the first of what promises to be an enchanting series. (Fantasy. 14 & up)"
In her debut for teens, Chee takes readers on a heart-racing adventure. Read full book review >
Released: May 3, 2016

"A thorough and accessible introduction to the Holocaust and the students who dared to take a stand against evil. (source notes, picture credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)"
In the heart of Germany, a student resistance movement called the White Rose took a courageous stand to denounce the Nazis. Read full book review >
BURN BABY BURN by Meg Medina
Released: March 8, 2016

"An important story of one of New York City's most dangerous times. (Historical fiction. 13-18)"
A Cuban-American girl comes of age in Flushing, Queens, in 1977, against the backdrop of the Son of Sam murder spree. Read full book review >


The Kirkus Prize is one of the richest literary awards in the world, with a prize of $50,000 bestowed annually to authors of fiction, nonfiction and young readers’ literature. It was created to celebrate the 85 years of discerning, thoughtful criticism Kirkus Reviews has contributed to both the publishing industry and readers at large. Books that earn the Kirkus Star with publication dates between Nov. 1, 2017 to Oct. 31, 2018 (see FAQ for exceptions), are automatically nominated for the 2018 Kirkus Prize. Six finalists in each of three categories will be announced on Tuesday, September 25, 2018. The Kirkus Prize judges will select three winners on Thursday, October 25, 2018.