2020-2021 SC Junior Book Award

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The South Carolina Junior Book Award nominees are appropriate for 6-8 grade levels. Visit SCASL's SC Junior Book Award page to learn more about past nominees and other materials.

A girl with a pink bookbag with a heart, ice cream, peace sign, feather shoe, star, daisy, and black fist patches.

A Good Kind of Trouble

By Lisa Moore Ramée

Strictly following the rules to pursue her junior-high ambitions, 12-year-old Shayla is forced to choose between her education and her identity when her sister joins the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of a powerful protest.

Girl wearing scuba gear in choppy ocean water.

Deep Water

By Watt Key

When a dive off the coast of Alabama goes horribly wrong, twelve-year-old Julie and one of her father's scuba clients struggle to survive after reaching an abandoned oil rig.

Anthropomorphic fennec fox and dog stand on a rock.

Endling: The Last

By Katherine Applegate

Believed to possess mythical powers as the youngest member of her doglike dairne pack, Byx fears she has become the last of her species when her family is hunted to near-extinction, forcing her to band together with a ragtag group of animals and humans who help put into motion events that could trigger war throughout their kingdom.

Two girls stand together surround by shiny gems against a blue background.

Every Shiny Thing

By Cordelia Jensen and Laurie Morrison

When Lauren begins stealing to raise money for autistic kids, like her brother, who don't have her family's resources, she convinces Sierra, a foster child, to help with the Robin Hood scheme, in a story told half in prose and half in verse.

Cordelia Jensen

Laurie Morrison


A red dragonfly over a patterned circle above two kids riding bikes.

Everything Else in the Universe

By Tracy Holczer

In 1971, twelve-year-old Lucy Rossi's dad returns from Vietnam after losing part of his arm, and her whole family must learn to adjust to a new dynamic, but Lucy's friend Milo unknowingly helps her navigate through this difficult time of fear and uncertainty to realize she is much tougher than she thought.

A girl answering the phone at the front desk.

Front Desk

By Kelly Yang

After emigrating from China, ten-year-old Mia Tang's parents take a job managing a rundown motel, despite the nasty owner, Mr. Yao, who exploits them, while she works the front desk and tries to cope with fitting in at her school.

A side profile of a black girl with three shades of brown swatches on her face.

Genesis Begins Again

By Alicia D. Williams

Thirteen-year-old Genesis tries again and again to lighten her black skin, thinking it is the root of her family's troubles, before discovering reasons to love herself as is.

A group of kids stand in the sunset with the Statue of Liberty in the background.

Harbor Me

By Jacqueline Woodson

When six students are chosen to participate in a weekly talk with no adults allowed, they discover that when they're together, it's safe to share the hopes and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world.

A person walks towards trees in the snow.

I Am Still Alive

By Kate Alice Marshall

Jess hadn’t seen her survivalist, off-the-grid dad in over a decade. But after a car crash killed her mother and left her injured, she was forced to move to his cabin in the remote Canadian wilderness. Just as Jess was beginning to get to know him, a secret from his past paid them a visit, leaving her father dead and Jess stranded.


A boy points at a plane from the lifeboat he is standing from behind the plane is a huge 12 in the sky.

Lifeboat 12

By Susan Hood

In 1940, a group of British children, their escorts, and some sailors struggle to survive in a lifeboat when the ship taking them to safety in Canada is torpedoed.

A signpost with Springfield PA pointed to the right while San Juan is pointed to the left.

Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish

By Pablo Cartaya

After a fight at school leaves Marcus facing suspension, Marcus's mother takes him and his younger brother, who has Down syndrome, to Puerto Rico to visit relatives they do not remember or have never met, and while there Marcus starts searching for his father, who left their family ten years ago and is somewhere on the island.

The title in red letters in white snow.

Not If I Save You First

By Ally Carter

After six years of no word from her best friend, Logan, he shows up on the doorstep of the remote Alaskan cabin Maddie and her father live in with an assailant in pursuit.

A girl on a boat under a storm in a mason jar.

Shouting at the Rain

By Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Delsie loves tracking the weather, living with her grandmother, and the support of friends and neighbors, but misses having a "regular family," especially after her best friend outgrows her.

A yellow school bus in front of a field with a lot of scarecrows.

Small Spaces

By Katherine Arden

After eleven-year-old Ollie's school bus mysteriously breaks down on a field trip, she has to take a trip through scary woods and must use all of her wits to survive. She must stick to small spaces.

Silhouette of a girl walking above a large blue and purple octopus.

The Benefits of Being an Octopus

By Ann Braden

Seventh-grader Zoey Albro focuses on caring for three younger siblings and avoiding rich classmates at school until her fascination with octopuses gets her on the debate team, and she begins to speak out.

Different jigsaw pieces against a coral pink background.

The Jigsaw Jungle

By Kristin Levine

Claudia Dalton, twelve, embarks on an unexpected treasure hunt that she hopes will bring her missing father home and heal whatever is wrong with her family. Told through notes, emails, audio, and video transcripts, and more from Claudia's scrapbook.

Pieces of notebook paper against an orange background with yellow lightning bolts, a start, and math equations.

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl

By Stacy McAnulty

Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. She doesn't remember it, but it changed her life forever. The zap gave her genius-level math skills, and ever since, Lucy has been homeschooled. Now, at 12 years old, she's technically ready for college. She just has to pass 1 more test--middle school!

Hands in long blue sleeves reach out to each other in the night sky.

The Night Diary

By Veera Hiranandani

Shy twelve-year-old Nisha, forced to flee her home with her Hindu family during the 1947 partition of India, tries to find her voice and make sense of the world falling apart around her by writing to her deceased Muslim mother in the pages of her diary.

A girl and her grey and white cat sit on top of a yellow school bus.

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise

By Dan Gemeinhart

Twelve-year-old Coyote and her father rush to Poplin Springs, Washington, in their old school bus to save a memory box buried in a park that will soon be demolished.

A green frog sitting on top of a desk roasting marshmallows over a flaming trashcan.

The Unteachables

By Gordon Korman

The Unteachables never thought they’d find a teacher who had a worse attitude than they did. And Mr. Kermit never thought he would actually care about teaching again. Over the course of a school year, though, room 117 will experience mayhem, destruction—and maybe even a shot at redemption.