Project Description

for National Book Festival Colorado Great Reads from Great Places

Submissions are open to the Colorado Book Awards!

We are accepting entries for books published in 2021 from September 15, 2021 and through a closing postmark date of January 7, 2022.

To be eligible for submission, a primary contributor to the book must be a current Colorado resident engaged in ongoing literary work in the state, or with a personal history, identity, and literary work that reflect a strong Colorado influence. Books must have been published for the first time in 2021. Exceptions are made for books published in October, November, or December 2020. Reprinted editions or books previously published in another form do not qualify. Independently published work is welcome, provided it has an ISBN number. We highly recommend hiring a professional editor.




Colorado Humanities & Center for the Book’s Book Awards Advisory Committee assigns volunteer selectors and judges to panels of diverse readers (e.g., scholars, librarians, booksellers, teachers, and writers) from across the state. The Book Awards judging process has two parts. Selection of finalists begins November 2021 and is completed by the end of February 2022. Judging of finalists begins March 1, 2022 and is completed by April 1, 2022.

Selectors help choose three finalist books in a given Colorado Book Award category and then Judges help choose a Colorado Book Award winner from the three finalists. If you are interested in volunteering to select or judge for the 2021 Colorado Book Awards, please fill out and submit your application. If you have previously applied, please update your application to make sure we have the correct contact information. Please do not submit to select or judge in a category you may be entering or participated in the year before.

View the 30th annual Colorado Book Awards Winners Celebration live broadcast from Saturday, June 26 on Facebook and YouTube.

All finalist and winners books are available for order online at BookBar.

Print the program, download a checklist to keep track of your favorite titles and try these recipes from BookBar and The Aspen Cookbook!

Finalists and Winners

Lifetime Achievement Award

Charles F. Wilkinson

This year we are delighted to present Charles F. Wilkinson the Lifetime Achievement Award in History for his contributions to the Colorado and national literary and legal communities. Writer, advocate, and distinguished university professor emeritus, Charles is the author of numerous articles, chapters, and books, including Messages from Frank’s Landing and Blood Struggle—the Rise of Modern Indian Nations, winners of the 2000 and 2005 Colorado Book Awards.


Kevin J. Anderson

Stories That Need to Be Told 2020: A Tulip Tree Anthology
edited by Jennifer Top (TulipTree Publishing)
Wild: Uncivilized Tales from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers
edited by Rachel Delaney Craft and Natasha Watts (RMFW Press)
Monsters, Movies & Mayhem
edited by Kevin J. Anderson (WordFire Press)


David A. Varel

Chasing Excellence: The Remarkable Life and Inspiring Vigilosophy of Coach Joe I. Vigil
by Pat Melgares (Soulstice Publishing)
Heartbreak Kennel: The True Story of Max and His Breeder
by Cary Unkelbach (Walden Resources Press)
The Scholar and the Struggle: Lawrence Reddick’s Crusade for Black History and Black Power
by David A. Varel (University of North Carolina Press)

Children’s Literature

Gregory Barrington

Cow Boy Is NOT a Cowboy
by Gregory Barrington (HarperCollins)
Flibbertigibbety Words: Young Shakespeare Chases Inspiration
written by Donna Guthrie, illustrated by Åsa Gilland (Page Street Publishing)
I Will Dance
written by Nancy Bo Flood, illustrated by Julianna Swaney (Simon & Schuster)
written by Kimberlee Gard, illustrated by Vivian Mineker (Families)

Creative Nonfiction

Kelsey and Tess Freeman

The Unreality of Memory and Other Essays
by Elisa Gabbert (Farrar Straus & Giroux)
Edge of the Map: The Mountain Life of Christine Boskoff
by Johanna Garton (Mountaineers Books)
No Option But North: The Migrant World and the Perilous Path Across the Border
written by Kelsey Freeman, photography by Tess Freeman (IG Publishing)
Bridging Worlds: A Sherpa’s Story
by Pemba Sherpa and Jim McVey (Sherpa Publishing)

General Fiction

R.L. Maizes

Wesley Yorstead Goes Outside
by Stephanie Harper (Propertius Press)
Memories in the Drift: A Novel
by Melissa Payne (Lake Union Publishing)
Other People’s Pets: A Novel
by R.L. Maizes (Celadon Books)

General Nonfiction

Sasha Geffen

Lean & Strong: Eating Skills, Psychology, and Workouts
by Josh Hillis (On Target Publications)
Caregiving Done Differently: A Commonsense Approach for Families, Caregivers, and Seniors
by Loretta J. Gilbert and Nancy E. Walker (The Common Sense Approach)
Glitter Up the Dark: How Pop Music Broke the Binary
by Sasha Geffen (The University of Texas Press)

Historical Fiction

Molly Tanzer

Creatures of Charm and Hunger
by Molly Tanzer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Fierce Dreamer: A Novel
by Linda Lafferty (Linda Lafferty)
Across the Winding River
by Aimie K. Runyan (Lake Union)


Jeffrey B. Miller

Colorado’s Highest: The History of Naming the 14,000-Foot Peaks
written by Jeri Norgren, photography by John Fielder (John Fielder Publishing)
Yanks Behind the Lines: How the Commission for Relief in Belgium Saved Millions from Starvation during World War I
by Jeffrey B. Miller (Rowman & Littlefield)
The Bad Old Days of Colorado: Untold Stories of the Wild West
by Randi Samuelson-Brown (Two Dot/Rowman & Littlefield)

Juvenile Literature

Fleur Bradley

Born Curious: 20 Girls Who Grew Up to Be Awesome Scientists
written by Martha Freeman, illustrated by Katy Wu (Simon & Schuster)
When You Know What I Know
by Sonja K. Solter (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Midnight at the Barclay Hotel
written by Fleur Bradley, illustrated by Xavier Bonet (Viking/Penguin Random House)

Literary Fiction

Dylan Fisher

St. Christopher on Pluto
by Nancy McKinley (West Virginia University Press)
The Gringa: A Novel
by Andrew Altschul (Melville House Press)
The Loneliest Band in France: A Novella
by Dylan Fisher (Texas Review Press)


M.E. Browning

Death of a Car Salesman
by Collin Brantmeyer (Ready Demolition Books)
Shadow Ridge: A Jo Wyatt Mystery
by M.E. Browning (Crooked Lane Books/The Quick Brown Fox & Company)
Gone to Darkness
by Barbara Nickless (Thomas & Mercer)


Thomas Brent Smith and J.R. Henneman

The Aspen Cookbook: 100+ favorite recipes from local chefs and restaurants
edited by Amanda Rae Busch, illustrated by Julia Bridgforth (Aspen Board of Realtors)
Chicana Activists of Colorado: Powerful Women Paper Dolls and Their Stories
by Deborah Martinez Martinez, illustrated by Robert W. Pacheco (Vanishing Horizons)
The American West in Art
edited by Thomas Brent Smith and Jennifer R. Henneman (5 Continents Edition)


Linda Hogan

A History of Kindness
by Linda Hogan (Torrey House Press)
This Way to the Grand As-Is: New and Selected Poems
by Aaron Anstett (Sagging Meniscus)
by Khadijah Queen (Tin House)


Bronwyn Long Borne

A Cowboy State of Mind: A Creedence Horse Rescue Novel
by Jennie Marts (Sourcebooks Casablanca)
Shall We Dance?
by Shelley Shepard Gray (Blackstone Publishing)
Custodian of the Spirits
by Bronwyn Long Borne (The Wild Rose Press)

Science Fiction/Fantasy

Catherine Wallace Hope

Tower of the Four: The Champions Academy Episodes 1-3
by Todd Fahnestock (F4 Publishing)
White Trash Warlock
by David R. Slayton (Blackstone Publishing)
Once Again: A Novel
by Catherine Wallace Hope
(Alcove Press/Crooked Lane Books)


Sue Hinkin

The Burn Patient: A Vega and Middleton Novel
by Sue Hinkin (Literary Wanderlust)
Winter Counts: A Novel
by David Heska Wanbli Weiden (Ecco/HarperCollins)
Her Perfect Life: A Novel
by Rebecca Taylor (Sourcebooks Landmark)

Young Adult Literature

Sandhya Menon

10 Things I Hate about Pinky
by Sandhya Menon (Simon & Schuster)
Turtle under Ice
by Juleah del Rosario (Simon & Schuster)
by Donna Cooner (Point/Scholastic)

The Colorado Book Awards annually celebrates the accomplishments of Colorado’s outstanding authors, editors, illustrators, and photographers. Winners will be announced at a celebration event June 26, 2021. This year there were 190 entries in 17 categories: anthology, biography, children’s literature, creative nonfiction, general nonfiction, general fiction, history, historical fiction, juvenile literature, literary fiction, mystery, pictorial, poetry, romance, science fiction/fantasy, thriller, and young adult literature. About 70 volunteer selectors and judges read submissions to choose finalists and winners.

To learn more, partner, or sponsor the Colorado Book Awards, contact Program Director Josephine Jones at, 303.894.7951 x14

Our Finalist Readings with live Q&As recent recordings may be viewed on our Facebook or YouTube channels anytime.


Colorado Book Awards


Volunteer to Be a Colorado Book Award Selector or Judge

Be the first to read what leading members of Colorado’s book community are creating by participating as a selector or judge for the Colorado Book Awards. Colorado Humanities and Center for the Book seeks applications from a diverse mix of Colorado readers (e.g., scholars, librarians, booksellers, teachers, writers, reviewers, and avid readers) from across the state each year. To learn more or volunteer, visit

Submit to the Colorado Book Awards

Submissions for the Colorado Book Awards open  September 15 and the postmark due date is  January 7, 2022.

Follow us for updates on events and calls to submit!

Winners and Finalists

Congratulations to our winners and finalists! Click the buttons below to view our current and past award recipients.

Children’s Literature
Creative Nonfiction
General Fiction
General Nonfiction
Genre Fiction
Historical Fiction
Juvenile Literature
Literary Fiction
Science Fiction/Fantasy
Young Adult
Lifetime Award

Special thanks to our sponsors

Upcoming Events

Join Colorado Humanities in our upcoming events

Submissions Open for Colorado Book Awards

September 15, 2021 - January 7, 2022


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