2023 Youth Media Awards Debrief

Congratulations to the 2023 Stonewall Book Award winners and honors! We didn’t quite keep up with posting this year (again) but we wanted to take a moment to spotlight this year’s real slate of winners. Since there can never be too many LGBTQIA+ books celebrated, here’s a link to the 2023 Rainbow Book List too. Stonewall and Rainbow List are decided by completely different committees but help give a picture of all the noteworthy books this year.

Children’s Winner: Love, Violet by Charlotte Sullivan Wild, illustrated by Charlene Chua

Young Adult Winner: When the Angels Left the Old Country by Sacha Lamb

Children’s Honors: In the Key of Us by Mariama J. Lockington; Kapaemahu by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson, illus. Daniel Sousa; The Real Riley Mayes by Rachel Elliot; and, Strong by Rob Kearney & Eric Rosswood, illus. Nidhi Chanani

Young Adult Honors: I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston; Kings of B’more by R. Eric Thomas; Man o’ War by Cory McCarthy; and, The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson

This year, all are first-time winners. Given the award’s recent split into two, permanent categories, this is also the longest slate of winners and honors ever (10!). We love seeing the variety of LGBTQIA+ perspectives covered by this shelf (!) of books and would like to call out a few noteworthy observations:

  • Kapaemahu marks the first time the youth awards have affirmed two-spirit identities (specifically, mahu).
  • Love, Violet is the first picture book to feature a girl-girl crush.
  • Kapaemahu and The Summer of Bitter and Sweet are the first Indigenous books to be recognized by the Stonewall Book Award committee.
  • The Summer of Bitter and Sweet also has ace, bi & demi representation–identities which have historically been left out of major awards. It was also a Morris finalist. (Seriously, this book is amazing!)
  • Lastly, as author and LGBTQ Reads blogger Dahlia Adler shared on Twitter, When the Angels Left the Old Country is the first book to win both Syndey Taylor and Stonewall. It was also a Printz honor. In a time where antisemitism has been rising yet again, the fact that a book with queer and Jewish representation so clearly rose to the top for three separate awards feels significant.

Here are a few author & illustrator reactions from Twitter:

As tradition states, we must also share LGBTQIA+ books that got honored in other YMA categories:

  • We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds (Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award)
  • Scout’s Honor by Lily Anderson (Printz Honor)
  • Icebreaker by A.L. Graziadei (Printz Honor)
  • Queer Ducks by Eliot Schrefer (Printz Honor)
  • Chef’s Kiss by Jarrett Melendez, illus. Danica Brine (Alex Award)
  • True Biz by Sara Nović (Alex Award)
  • Wash Day Diaries by Jamila Rowser & Robyn Smith (Alex Award)
  • The Honeys by Ryan La Sala (Odyssey Award)
  • Burn Down, Rise Up by Vincent Tirado (Pura Belpré Young Adult Winner)
  • The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes (Pura Belpré Young Adult Honor, Morris Finalist)
  • Hell Followed with Us by Andrew Joseph White (Morris Finalist)
  • Wake the Bones by Elizabeth Kilcoyne (Morris Finalist)
  • Ellen Outside the Lines by A.J. Sass (Syndey Taylor Silver Medalist)

Writing this post just made us realize that, for the first time ever, all four Printz honors are queer. Queer lit truly is everywhere and we are here for it! Thanks for joining us.


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