Posts Tagged diverse book lists

Diversity in MG Lit #38 July 2022

Diversity in MG Lit

Summer is typically a quieter time for book releases. The big surge of new books tends to come in the spring and fall. This is convenient for me this year as I’m going to be very busy with the revision of a new novel in August. My plan is to highlight July and August releases this month. If my revision proves particularly time consuming I will skip my usual mid-August post guilt free because I’ve already given you those titles now. However if time permits, I’ll do half of the September diverse releases in August and the rest in September.
Here are new middle grade diverse titles to get excited about.
Available in July:
book cover Children of the QuicksandsSet in a remote Nigerian village far from the jangle of cellphones and human noises, Children of the Quicksands by Efua Traoré, tells the story of a girl who defies her grandmother and gets lost in a parallel world. Plenty of thrills and chills memorably set in the culture and traditions of Nigeria and featuring Yoruban mythology. This is Traoré’s debut novel
Ravenous Things by Derrick Chow is on the surface the typical MG spooky story–a riff on the Pied Piper tale complete with evil rats and a haunted subway train and tunnels. It is also an examination of grief and the lengths the bereaved will go for one last moment with a loved one. In an era of unprecedented loss this book is likely to speak to more than the just thrill seekers. I recommend it for the older end of MG readers. This is Chow’s debut novelbook cover Ravenous Things
Sweet and Sour by Debbi Michiko Florence looks a little bit like a romance novel on the cover, but it’s really a friendship story about long time friends Mai and Zach who spend summers together in Mystic, Connetecut. A misunderstanding breaks their friendship but with the support of loving parents they learn to turn over a new leaf and try again.
book cover Last BeekeeperThe survival of bees has always been one of my environmental interests so I was glad to see The Last Beekeeper by Pablo Caraya a climate fiction tale that will thrill young climate activists. Yolanda Cicerón is a climate warrior who puts all her hopes on saving honey bees. Along with the thrills and action is a celebration of the determination and resilience of the Latinx community.
Available in August
Non Fiction
We Are Your Children Too: Black students, white supremacists and the battle for America’s schools in Prince Edward County Virginia by P O’Connell Pearson is the story of an often forgotten piece of the struggle to desegregate schools. It’s 1954. Brown v, Board of Education passed and rather than integrate a county in Virginia decided to close the public schools entirely.  This well-referenced and photo-illustrated book will be of interest to young activists and teachers looking to round out their knowledge of our nation’s education history.
Kid Trailblazers: true tales of childhood from change-makers and leaders words by Robin Stevenson, art by Allison Steinfeld, Here’s another in the True Tales of Childhood series: Chipper, illustrated stories about Benazir Bhutto, Kamala Harris, Stacy Abrams, Dorothy Pitman Hughes, John Lewis, Marley Diaz, Mari Copeny, Greta Thunberg, Ai Weiwei, Shonda Rhimes and Elliot Page among others.
The Antiracist Kid: a book about identity, justice and activism words by Tiffany Jewell, art by Nicole Miles is a handbook meant to help kids 8-12 understand the language and concepts underlying identity, social justice and activism. It contains lots of affirming strategies and dwells more on positive action than blame. A solid choice for families who need a conversation starter.
Graphic Novels
book cover InvisibleInvisible by Christina Gonzalez & Gabriela Epstein is a great friendship story about five kids who have nothing in common besides all of them speaking Spanish. They have community service hours to complete and forge an unlikely friendship in the process. The art is fun and vibrant and the considerable amount of Spanish dialog is translated into English for readers who can’t do that for themselves. It’s tricky to inclusively convey the experience of being bilingual in print but this graphic novel does it more successfully than most.
Chapter Books
book cover Surely SurelySurely Surely Marisol Rainey by Erin Entrada Kelly occupies that vital territory in what I think of as the Ramona Quimby/Encyclopedia Brown zone. This is where kids fall in love with reading for the first time, or don’t. Find themselves reflected in books for the first time, or don’t. I’m thrilled to see Filipino-American champion of kindness, Marisol Rainey back for book two in the series. I hope we see more sweetly-illustrated books about overcoming fears big and small. She joins some other notable diverse characters in the chapter book space. Mindy Kim by Lyla Lee
Ryan Hart by Reneé Watson
Jojo Makoons by Dawn Quigley
Yasmin by Saadia Faruqi
Juana and Lucas by Juana Medina
Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke
Punky Aloha by Shar Tuiasoa
I welcome them all but I do wish that more of them were about human boys. Just putting that thought out there, hoping that several brand new (hopefully diverse) Encyclopedia Browns or Nate the Greats come along.

WNDMG Wednesday – Celebrating Juneteenth

We Need Diverse MG
We Need Diverse MG Logo hands holding reading globe with stars and spirals floating around

Illustration by: Aixa Perez-Prado 

Celebrating Juneteenth

School is out for most students around the nation, which means that for many, learning about and celebrating Juneteenth won’t happen as organically as, say, Martin Luther King Day does.  But for families and educators committed to embracing the fulness of our history and the holidays that mark it, we’ve put together some resources for teaching and talking about Juneteenth.

image of the juneteenth flag- blue and red with star in the middle

About Juneteenth Independence Day

Juneteenth just became a national holiday in 2021, but Black Texans have been celebrating it since 1866. The holiday gets its name from the day enslaved Texans learned of their freedom – June 19, 1865 – more than two months after the April 9 end of the Civil War freed all enslaved people. At first, the holiday was confined mostly to Texas. But as families moved to other states, they took their traditions with them, highlighting the day with picnics, music festivals, and family gatherings.

Today it remains a celebration not just of emancipation but of Black culture and tradition. Juneteenth is the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Day was recognized in 1983.

crossed flags - US and Juneteenth

Reasons to Study Juneteenth

In addition to celebrating emancipation, Juneteenth is an opportunity for all Americans to learn about the twin legacies of slavery and segregation, as well as the construction of institutional racism. While the story of racism and bias in this country is painful, it is an intrinsic part of who we are as a country. We can empower future generations by teaching them the truth about where we started and urging them to do better than we did, to imagine a better future. We tell our children to make good choices when it comes to behavior, school, and morality, it seems reasonable that we could encourage them to make better choices to create a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable world.

Juneteenth Resources:

If you’re interested in guiding your middle-grade readers to learn what Juneteenth is all about and what the day symbolizes for our country, take a look at these booklists and lesson plans.

Booklists

The New York Public Library

Feminist Books for Kids (Blog)

Harper Collins Publishers

Teaching for Change (multiple booklists arranged by category)

From the Mixed-Up Files …of Middle-Grade Authors

Lesson Plans

The National Museum of African-American History and Culture

Brave Writer (Blog)

We Are Teachers

Care.com

 

text Juneteenth in red black and green with flying birds graphic underneath

KIDLIT UNITES AGAINST BOOK BANNING

We Need Diverse MG Logo hands holding reading globe with stars and spirals floating around

Kidlit Unites Against Book Banning

More than 13,000 MG and YA authors and illustrators have signed a letter condemning the current wave of book banning. The letter, written by Newbery Honor author Christina Soontornvat,  calls on Congress, state leaders, and school boards to act now to protect students and their right to access a diverse selection of books.

“This current wave of book suppression follows hard-won gains made by authors whose voices
have long been underrepresented in publishing.” (From Soontornvat letter)

Demonstrating the resonance of this message with children’s book creators, most of the thousands of signatures on this letter were gathered in under 48 hours. The letter is now posted on diversebooks.org and includes signatures from a handful of contributors from our blog here at From the Mixed-Up Files … of Middle-Grade Authors.

 

badge logo for We Need Diverse Books - text with pink brush marks at top and botto

“When books are removed or flagged as inappropriate, it sends the message that the people in
them are somehow inappropriate. It is a dehumanizing form of erasure …. At a time when our country is experiencing an alarming rise in hate crimes, we should be searching for ways to increase empathy and
compassion at every turn.” (From Soontornvat letter)

We Need Diverse MG Logo hands holding reading globe with stars and spirals floating around

Illustration by: Aixa Perez-Prado

On May 18, Soontornvat sent the signed letter to the House Oversight Subcommittee on Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, which is investigating book banning in schools. On Thursday, the subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over civil rights and equal protection laws, held its second hearing on the subject and formally introduced the letter into its record.

((Interested in reading more on the fight against book banning? Click here.))

((Want a list of banned books you can support? Click here.))