2024-2025 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.

Book Cover of A Duet for Home

A Duet for Home

By Karina Yan Glaser

A triumphant tale of friendship, healing, and the power of believing in ourselves told from the perspective of biracial sixth-graders June and Tyrell, two children living in a homeless shelter. As their friendship grows over a shared love of classical music, June and Tyrell confront a new housing policy that puts homeless families in danger.

Book Cover of A Song Called Home

A Song Called Home

By Sara Zarr

Lou and her family don’t have much, but for Lou, it’s enough. Her sister, Casey. Their apartment in the city. Her best friend, Beth. It would be better if Dad could stop drinking and be there for her and Casey, if they didn’t have to worry about money all the time. But Lou doesn’t need better—she only needs enough.

What’s enough for Lou, however, is not enough for Mom. Steve, Mom’s boyfriend, isn’t a bad guy; he’s just…not what Lou is used to. And now, he and Mom are getting married, and that means moving. Packing up life as they’ve known it and storing it in Steve’s garage. Lou will be separated from everything in her small but predictable life, farther from Dad than ever.

Their last night in the city, Lou receives a mysterious birthday gift: a guitar, left for her by their front door. There’s nothing saying who left it, but it must be from Dad. And as she leaves the only place she’s ever known, she starts to believe that if she can’t learn how to play it, maybe she can bring a piece of him, and her old life, home.

This is a story of the small moments that show us who we are, and how family is not just something you’re a part of but something you make.

Book Cover of Attack of the Black Rectangles

Attack of the Black Rectangles

By Amy Sarig King

When Mac first opens his classroom copy of Jane Yolen's The Devil’s Arithmetic and finds some words blacked out, he thinks it must be a mistake. But then when he and his friends discover what the missing words are, he's outraged.

Someone in his school is trying to prevent kids from reading the full story.

But who?

Book Cover of Black Bird, Blue Road

Black Bird, Blue Road

By Sofiya Pasternack

Pesah has lived with leprosy for years, and the twins have spent most of that time working on a cure. Then Pesah has a vision: The Angel of Death will come for him on Rosh Hashanah, just one month away.

So Ziva takes her brother and runs away to find doctors who can cure him. But when they meet and accidentally free a half-demon boy, he suggests paying his debt by leading them to the fabled city of Luz, where no one ever dies--the one place Pesah will be safe.

They just need to run faster than The Angel of Death can fly...

Book Cover of Camp Famous

Camp Famous

By Jennifer Blecher

Eleven-year-old Abby Herman is beyond excited that her parents are letting her go to sleepover camp for the very first time ever. Maybe camp will be the place she’ll finally find what she’s always wanted: a best friend. But—surprise!—Abby’s not going to just any summer camp, she’s going to Camp Famous, the one exclusively for famous kids escaping the spotlight. Desperate to fit in with the pop stars, princesses, and geniuses, Abby creates a fake identity.

Everything goes even better than she could have dreamed…until it doesn't.

Book Cover of Dream, Annie, Dream

Dream, Annie, Dream

By Waka Takahashi Brown

In this empowering deconstruction of the so-called American Dream, a twelve-year-old Japanese American girl grapples with, and ultimately rises above, the racism and trials of middle school she experiences while chasing her dreams.

Book Cover of Ellen Outside the Lines

Ellen Outside the Lines

By A.J. Sass

Making new friends and letting go of old ones is never easy, but Ellen might just find a comfortable new place for herself if she can learn to embrace the fact that life doesn’t always stick to a planned itinerary.

Book Cover of Meet Me Halfway

Meet Me Halfway

By Anika Fajardo

When new classmates Mattie and Mercedes meet and realize they have the same Colombian dad, the two team up in a Parent Trap–inspired misadventure to meet him for the first time in this sharp and poignant middle grade novel about the bonds that make a family.

Book Cover of Playing Through the Turnaround

Playing Through the Turnaround

By Mylisa Larsen

Fifth period is hands down the best time of day in Connor U. Eubanks Middle School, because that’s when Mr. Lewis teaches Jazz Lab. So his students are devastated when their beloved teacher quits abruptly. Once they make a connection between budget cuts and Mr. Lewis’s disappearance, they hatch a plan: stop the cuts, save their class.

Soon, they become an unlikely band of crusaders, and their quest quickly snowballs into something much bigger—a movement involving the whole middle school. But the adults in charge seem determined to ignore their every protest. How can the kids make themselves heard?

Book Cover of Rain Rising

Rain Rising

By Courtne Comrie

An inspiring debut middle grade novel-in-verse about Rain, who must overcome sadness after her all-star brother is badly beaten up at a frat party.

Book Cover of Sweet and Sour

Sweet and Sour

By Debbie Michiko Florence

Revenge is sweet!

For as long as she can remember, Mai Hirano has spent every summer in Mystic, Connecticut visiting family friends. And hanging out with her best-friend-since-birth, Zach Koyama, was always the best part.

Then two summers ago everything changed. Zach humiliated Mai, proving he wasn’t a friend at all. So when Zach’s family moved to Japan, Mai felt relieved. No more summers together. No more heartache.

But this year, the Koyamas have returned and the family vacation is back on. And if Mai has to spend the summer around Zach, the least she can do is wipe away the memory of his betrayal…by coming up with the perfect plan for revenge!

Only Zach isn’t the boy he used to be, and Mai’s memories of their last fateful summer aren’t the whole truth of what happened between them. But how can she forgive Zach for a betrayal she’ll never forget?

Book Cover of The Bluest Sky

The Bluest Sky

By Christina Diaz Gonzalez

A boy and his family must decide whether to remain in Cuba under a repressive government or risk everything for the chance of a new beginning.

Book Cover of The Last Mapmaker

The Last Mapmaker

By Christina Soontornvat

A young woman’s struggle to unburden herself of the past and chart her own destiny in a world of secrets. As assistant to Mangkon’s most celebrated mapmaker, twelve-year-old Sai plays the part of a well-bred young lady with a glittering future. In reality, her father is a conman—and in a kingdom where the status of one’s ancestors dictates their social position, the truth could ruin her. Sai seizes the chance to join an expedition to chart the southern seas, but she isn’t the only one aboard with secrets. When Sai learns that the ship might be heading for the fabled Sunderlands—a land of dragons, dangers, and riches beyond imagining—she must weigh the cost of her dreams.  

Book Cover of The Whispering Fog

The Whispering Fog

By Landra Jennings

For twelve-year-old Neve, it’s always been she and her older sister against the world, their lives entwined just like sisters in a fairy tale. So, if Rose loves tennis, Neve will play it too—even if secretly she’d rather be home turning cardboard boxes into offbeat art projects. Not even being moved to the piney woods outside Etters, South Carolina, can change what they are to each other—until a mysterious fog seems to swallow up Rose before Neve’s eyes.

Book Cover of Those Kids from Fawn Creek

Those Kids from Fawn Creek

By Erin Entrada Kelly

Small-town life for the 12 seventh graders of Fawn Creek, Louisiana, gets turned upside down.

When new student Orchid Mason arrives—a rare occurrence in a town that hardly ever sees change—her stories of living in Paris and New York City seem too good to be true. Painfully shy Dorothy and her best friend, Greyson, who doesn’t fit his father’s gender expectations, are enraptured by Orchid’s stories of the world, which give them hope for something better than life in a place where Gimmerton Chemical is the main employer. But not everyone is as welcoming, and Janie, the queen of the social scene, plots to put the new girl in her place. 

Book Cover of We Were the Fire: Birmingham 1963

We Were the Fire: Birmingham 1963

By Shelia P. Moses

Rufus Jackson Jones is from Birmingham, the place Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called the most segregated place in the country. A place that in 1963 is full of civil rights activists including Dr. King. The adults are trying to get more attention to their cause--to show that separate is not equal. Rufus’s dad works at the local steel factory, and his mom is a cook at the mill. If they participate in marches, their bosses will fire them. So that’s where the kids decide they will come in. Nobody can fire them. So on a bright May morning in 1963, Rufus and his buddies join thousands of other students to peacefully protest in a local park. There they are met with policemen and firemen who turn their powerful hoses on them, and that’s where Rufus realizes that they are the fire. And they will not be put out. 

Book Cover of What Happened to Rachel Riley

What Happened to Rachel Riley

By Claire Swinarski

Anna Hunt may be the new girl at East Middle School, but she can already tell there’s something off about her eighth-grade class. Rachel Riley, who just last year was one of the most popular girls in school, has become a social pariah. But no one, including Rachel herself, will tell Anna why.

As a die-hard podcast enthusiast, Anna knows there’s always more to a story than meets the eye. So she decides to put her fact-seeking skills to the test and create her own podcast around the question that won’t stop running through her head: What happened to Rachel Riley?

With the entire eighth grade working against her, Anna dives headfirst into the evidence. Clue after clue, the mystery widens, painting an even more complex story than Anna could have anticipated. But there’s one thing she’s certain of: If you’re going to ask a complicated question, you better be prepared for the fallout that may come with the answer.

Book Cover of Where the Sky Lives

Where the Sky Lives

By Margaret Dilloway

Where The Sky Lives follows Tuesday Beals, a twelve-year-old girl who lives in Zion National Park where her mother works as an archaeologist. She is coping with the death of her Uncle Ezra, her mother's brother, who had been an astronomer and had basically been like a father to her. After finding out that developers have purchased Hedges, a privately-owned land preserve next to the park, and that their construction there will not only destroy the pristine land currently kept in Hedges but also deteriorate the quality of the park, she decides to take action by trying to find something that will force them to stop construction.


Book Cover of Yonder


By Ali Standish

Danny Timmons has looked up to Jack Bailey ever since Jack saved two small children from drowning during the Great Flood of 1940. Now, with his father away fighting in World War II and his mother about to have a new baby, Danny relies on Jack’s friendship and guidance more than ever.

So when Jack goes missing without a trace from their small Appalachian town, Danny is determined to find him. He wonders if Jack’s abusive father could be behind his disappearance, or if it has anything to do with Yonder—a hidden magical town Jack once spoke of, where flocks of rainbow birds fly through the sky and they’ve never heard of war. As answers elude him, Danny begins to fear that he didn’t know Jack as well as he thought.

Ultimately, Danny’s investigation forces him to reckon with even larger questions: What is America fighting for in this war? What role do each of us play in stopping injustices, big and small? And is there such thing as a true hero?