What GREAT lists of diverse reads for anyone, period.
Interesting list. I liked Junot Diaz’s Drown and highly recommend his work, but I’m on the whole “It’s kind of a Rated R” thing (but, then again, I’m never sure what to recommend to anyone under the age of 18, since once a reader is past 13, they end up reading everything, and hey, just read, kids; what do I care what kids read these days, so long as they read?). I also have Sherman Alexie on my perpetually long to-read list, along with recently adding Helen Oyeymi and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to that list. I’m not even in high school and I’m amazed by how there is so much to read and not enough time to do it… except when you’re in school to do all that reading. Do it! — ssw15
Definitely, some books might be more appropriate for certain readers and not appropriate for others; it all depends on the reading level and maturity of the reader. Since many of our students are from similar backgrounds like the characters in Diaz’s books and many unfortunately end up dealing with “adult problems” at an earlier age, they might be able to really relate to the stories in Diaz’s novels (despite the mature subject matter).
These authors deserve all the support they can get, but are there free PDF copies of these books for ppl on limited incomes?
if not, thanks anyway. This is such an important resource!
I’m not sure about free PDFs, but as others have suggested, there are libraries (though I know this might not be a feasible option for everyone) and sites that sell copies for much cheaper than Amazon like thriftbooks.com.
Unsurprisingly, we’re a fan of disabled representation—and it’s important to us that this representation is not limited to only straight and white characters. We’d like to highlight some books that break this mold.
Six MG/YA novels featuring disabled Black protagonists:
Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth
The Other Half of my Heart by Sundee T. Frazier
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
Pinned by Sharon G. Flake
Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan
Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
We have not yet reviewed any of these books at Disability in Kidlit—though we’d like to!—so we’d love to find out more about how well the characters are portrayed. Have you read any of these? What did you think? Share your thoughts!
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K-12 Reading List
Back in May, a group of diverse authors made a public call to action in order to directly address the absence of diversity in children’s literature and the lack of action to fix the issue. They created the #weneeddiversebooks campaign. On May 1st, they asked people to post photos of themselves holding signs about how diverse books have enriched their lives and how the lack of diversity has affected them, on May 2nd they asked people to share their thoughts about diverse books via a twitter chat, and on May 3rd, they asked people to make the effort to diversify their shelves. The movement became a sensation, and has inspired even more people to make an effort to invest in diverse content that accurately reflects our population.
Behind the Book is elated that this movement exists. We’ve always championed the need for diverse books since we serve communities that are predominantly of color. Studies show that for kids, the lack of diversity in books is detrimental to their development, but seeing themselves reflected in protagonists raises their self-esteem and solidifies their sense of self in society. We also think it’s empowering for kids to see authors and illustrators that look like them as they’re responsible for creating the content the students love. This shows them that they too can become the authors of their own stories.
Now is the perfect time to diversify your reading material if you haven’t already. Whether you’re going on a plane to visit relatives, stuck on the train going to Coney Island, or bored at home, get lost in these fabulous stories of courage, love and family. Here’s our epic list of books that reflect the diversity of our wonderful city.
Harlem’s Little Black Bird by Renee Watson, a Behind the Book author
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke
Brush of the Gods by Lenore Look
Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales
Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown
Giant Steps to Change the World by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee
Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan
Bravo, Chico Canta! Bravo! by Pat Mora
One Love by Cedella Marley
This Jazz Man by Karen Ehrhardt
Bessie Smith and the Night Riders by Sue Stauffacher
Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules
For descriptions, click behind the read more!
(Use the following links to be directed to the (early) Elementary, Middle Grade and High School lists)
Elementary Reading List
Back in May, the #weneeddiversebooks campaign lit a fire to fulfill the desperate need for diverse books in children’s literature. Behind the Book has always championed efforts to find diverse authors and protagonists that will appeal to students since we serve communities of color. For your enjoyment (and enrichment), we’ve created an epic list of diverse books to reflect the diversity in our city; here’s our list for early elementary school students.
A Place Where Hurricanes Happen by Renee Watson, a Behind the Book author
Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin by Duncan Tonatiuh
Ellington Was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange
Pitching in For Eubie by Jerdine Nolen
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, a Behind the Book author
Ruby and the Booker Boys #1: Brand New School, Brave New Ruby by Derrick Barnes
Goblinheart by Brett Axel
Bird by Zetta Elliot
Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore
Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown
Crossing Bok Chitto by Tim Tingle
Soccer Star by Mina Javaherbin
Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell
For descriptions, click the read more!
(Click the following links to be directed to the Kindergarten, Middle Grade and High School lists)
You guys know about vampires? … You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, “Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist?” And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.
14 Books for Children & Teens About the Freedom Summer of 1964
The “Freedom Summer” of 1964 was a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark year in American history. Here is a list of 14 children’s books that deal specifically with the remarkable events of 1964 – and 3 additional books specifically for teachers and librarians. Thank you to the following for their invaluable input:
Picture Books for Young Readers
Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Summer
By Deborah Wiles
Illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue
Aladdin / Simon & Schuster
Ages 4 - 8
Friendship defies racism for two boys in this stirring story of the “Freedom Summer” that followed the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Now in a 50th Anniversary Edition with a refreshed cover and a new introduction.
Freedom School, Yes!
By Amy Littlesugar
Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Philomel / Penguin
Ages 4 - 8
In this triumphant story based on the 1964 Mississippi Freedom School Summer Project, that celebrates the strength of a people as well as the bravery of one young girl who didn’t let being scared get in her way.
The Other Side
By Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrated by E. B. Lewis
Putnam Juvenile / Penguin
Though not specifically about the 1964 Freedom Summer, this award-winning book also deals with the themes of segregation, friendship, and fairness.