Diversity in Juvenile Fiction

Posted on April 13, 2017

by Katie M

April is Celebrate Diversity Month, and the Toledo Lucas County Public Library (TLCPL) plans to participate by promoting a variety of books that reflect the diverse lives of children.

It’s important that kids are able to empathize with and understand the experiences of children from all walks of life, and a good first step is reading a book about a character whose lifestyle is unfamiliar. Below we’ve highlighted various stories, ranging from the quest of a young girl with Aspberger’s Syndrome to find her beloved dog amidst a horrible storm, to the experiences of a transgendered third grader who is determined to play the lead role in the school play, despite what classmates may think.

These books will also provide children from varied backgrounds an opportunity to see themselves mirrored in strong, fun, and lovable characters. For more book suggestions and more information about diversity in children’s literature, visit:  http://weneeddiversebooks.org.

El Deafo by Cece Bell Print | eBook

Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful–and very awkward–hearing aid.

Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth Print | eBook

When his mother takes in a twelve-year-old foster boy, Jarrett is forced to share his room and his friends with the new boy.

Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper Print | Audiobook | eBook | eAudiobook

When a burning cross set by the Klan causes panic and fear in 1932 Bumblebee, North Carolina, fifth-grader Stella must face prejudice and find the strength to demand change in her segregated town.

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine Print | Audiobook | eBook | eAudiobook

Ten-year-old Caitlin, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, struggles to understand emotions, show empathy, and make friends at school. At home she seeks closure by working on a project with her father.

My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer by Jennifer Gennari Print | eBook

Twelve-year-old June Farrell spends the summer at her Vermont home getting used to the woman her mother is planning to marry and practicing her pie-baking skills, as she hopes to win the blue ribbon at the fair.

George by Alex Gino Print | Pocket Audiobook | eBook | eAudiobook

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But knows she’s a girl. When her teacher announces the class play is Charlotte’s Web, George REALLY wants to play Charlotte. With the help of her best friend Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton Print

In 1969 twelve-year-old Mimi and her family move to an all-white town in Vermont, where Mimi’s mixed-race background and interest in “boyish” topics like astronomy make her feel like an outsider.

The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata Print

Just when twelve-year-old Summer thinks nothing else can possibly go wrong in a year of bad luck, an emergency takes her parents to Japan, leaving Summer to care for her little brother while helping her grandmother cook and do laundry for harvest workers.

Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan Print

A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family’s vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community.

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai Print | eBook | eAudiobook

Through a series of poems, a young girl chronicles the life-changing year of 1975, when she, her mother, and her brothers leave Vietnam and resettle in Alabama.

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin Print | Audiobook | eBook

Struggling with Asperger’s, Rose shares a bond with her beloved dog, but when the dog goes missing during a storm, Rose is forced to confront the limits of her comfort levels, even if it means leaving her routines in order to search for her pet.

The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye Print | Audiobook | eBook | eAudiobook

When Aref, a third-grader who lives in Muscat, Oman, refuses to pack his suitcase and prepare to move to Michigan, his mother asks for help from his grandfather, his Siddi, who takes Aref around the country, storing up memories he can carry with him to a new home.

Flying Lessons & Other Stories Edited by Ellen Oh Print | Audiobook | eBook | eAudiobook

From basketball dreams and family fiascos to first crushes and new neighborhoods, this anthology, written by award-winning children’s authors, celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park Print | Audiobook | eBook | eAudiobook

When the Sudanese civil war reaches his village, eleven-year-old Salva becomes separated from his family and must walk with other Dinka tribe members through southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya in search of safe haven. Based on the life of Salva Dut, who, after emigrating to America in 1996, began a project to dig water wells in Sudan.

As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds Print | eBook | eAudiobook

When Genie and his older brother spend their summer in the country with their grandparents, he learns a secret about his grandfather and what it means to be brave.

Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban Print

Near the start of World War II, young Manami, her parents, and Grandfather are evacuated from their home and sent to Manzanar, an ugly, dreary internment camp in the desert for Japanese-American citizens.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia Print | eBook | eAudiobook

In the summer of 1968, after traveling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.

Crow by Barbara Wright Print | eBook | eAudiobook

In 1898, Moses Thomas’s summer vacation does not go exactly as planned as he contends with family problems and the ever-changing alliances among his friends at the same time as he is exposed to the escalating tension between the African-American and white communities of Wilmington, North Carolina.

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier Print | eBook

Catrina and her family have moved to the coast of Northern California for the sake of her little sister, Maya, who has cystic fibrosis–and Cat is even less happy about the move when she is told that her new town is inhabited by ghosts, and Maya sets her heart on meeting one.

The Garden of My Imaan by Farhana Zia Print

The arrival of new student Marwa, a fellow sixth-grader who is a strict Muslim, helps Aliya come to terms with her own lukewarm practice of the faith and her embarrassment over others’ reactions to their beliefs.

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