California Book Awards

Celebrating the best books written by California authors.

Every year since 1913, The Commonwealth Club’s California Book Awards have recognized the best books written by California authors. Many prominent writers have received this award, some of whom were famous at the time, and others who would become famous later in their careers.

Receiving a California Book Award is a high honor. The winners are selected by jurors who spend months reading hundreds of books, judging each one using criteria such as originality, timeliness, and appeal for a particular audience. After careful consideration, the jurors choose a small group of finalists and, from these, they award Gold and Silver medals in different book categories, including Young Adult Literature.

2021 is the 90th anniversary of the California Book Awards. To celebrate, we would like to invite you to participate! You do not have to live in California to do so—in fact, we’d love to hear from readers aged 13 and older all over the US.

Read one or more of the Young Adult Literature finalists.

Respond to the prompts. You can submit written work, videos, drawings or photographs, or audio recordings.

Share your response on this website.

Explore this site to see what other young people have to say. Even though the books were written by California authors, they include ideas and themes that people from anywhere can relate to. How did readers from different parts of the country respond?

The finalists in the Young Adult Literature category are:

The Black Kids, by Christina Hammonds Reed

Dragon Hoops, by Gene Luen Yang

Private Lessons, by Cynthia Salaysay

We Are Not Free, by Traci Chee

All of these books can be found in your local bookstore or library. You can also purchase them online from The Commonwealth Club or other online book sellers.

The Commonwealth Club has limited funds to provide books free of charge to individuals or organizations with financial need. Please contact for more information.

Located in San Francisco, The Commonwealth Club of California is the oldest and largest public affairs forum in the US. Each year, The Commonwealth Club hosts more than 500 programs, in person and online, about topics ranging from politics and social justice to entertainment, food, tech, education, and, of course, literature. Creating Citizens is The Club's K-12 civics education initiative designed to ensure that all students are able to participate in the democratic process as active, informed citizens. Recognizing that literacy is a core skill for civic participation, Creating Citizens and The Commonwealth Club are proud to invite young people to take part in the California Book Awards project.


If you have any questions, please email

This youth publishing site for the Young Adult Literature finalists of the Commonwealth Club's California Book Awards is part of the National Writing Project’s Writing Our Future initiative and created in partnership with The Commonwealth Book Club's Creating Citizens initiative.

Writing Our Future projects are designed by educators for educators and the young people they work with. Intended for use in schools, libraries, and other educational settings. All projects are COPPA compliant and educator-managed. NWP is committed to supporting young people’s writing and civic participation by providing a safe and supportive environment for youth writing, media creation, sharing, and publishing.