Look out for one another. Support those affected. Express to others that it's our differences that make us strong. Different doesn't mean inferior or less than.
And, once again, we think diversifying our bookshelves is one of the many steps we should be taking to open minds and build empathy.
Here are some of our recent favorites:
written by Joanna Ho
illustrated by Dung Ho
A young girl embraces the uniqueness of her eyes by way of celebrating the women in her life- her mom, her grandma, and her baby sister- as well the rich history and stories of their culture.
We hope that this beautiful book finds its way into as many hands as possible so in can be appreciated and fawned over in every corner of the world!
written by Christina Soontornvat
illustrated by Lauren Castillo
Fresh from her Newbery honor wins for her middle grade novel A Wish in the Dark- a Thai reimagining of Les Misérables by Victor Hugo- and nonfiction book All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team, Christina Soontornvat offers up a sweet story about siblings who learn they- and the house they live in- are perfect just the ramble shamble way they are. Lauren Castillo's illustrations are lovely!
written by Kat Zhang
illustrated by Charlene Chua
The titular character is back and this time she must draw from her Chinese culture to solve a problem that arises during a class craft project. Her dragon doesn’t look like the other dragons her classmates have made. With the help of her family and friends, she’ll make a dragon that she can be proud of! Also perfect to introduce eastern and western mythology as the backmatter features a little bit about dragons through these two lenses.
written by Phùng Nguyên Quang
illustrated by Huỳnh Kim Liên
Set in the Mekong Delta and featuring a Vietnamese boy, this is a universally relatable story about facing one’s fears and living through struggles in order to reach a better place- in this case, his school. The illustrations are gorgeous.
Great to pair with Jacqueline Woodson's The Day You Begin.
written by M. O. Yuksel
illustrated by Hatem Aly
This wonderfully inclusive picture book is a vibrant look into the world’s second largest religion. Readers are invited to learn about what happens inside these places of worship for Muslims which function as both sacred places to pray and centers to build community.
Great backmatter material is included.
by Linda Sue Park
This middle grade novel is perfect for fans of Little House in the Prairie, although it's about a biracial family who wouldn't have been welcomed in Wilder's World. This book will provide an opening for talking about the cultural limitations and biases in some classics. It offers a more inclusive and accurate portrayal of our diverse world within a historical context.
by Hena Khan
After finding her voice, Pakistani seventh grader Amina feels like no one is interested in what she has to say about her culture or herself. There's plenty of middle school drama that readers can relate with while getting to see things from a different perspective. Also of note is the difficulty in trying to maintain relationships with family members who live in a different country.
by Supriya Kelkar
This middle grade novel is an engaging read that features an earnest Indian American protagonist trying to fit in and balance two worlds. It addresses the dangers of over-assimilating when main character, Lekha, ends up looking down at a new girl in school- a Desi girl like herself who is not yet “accustomed” to the American way of life. This story reveals another form of bias that new immigrants may face when they first arrive. Newcomer students will possibly relate and hopefully other students will develop empathy for this experience.
by Daniel Nayeri
This is an Iranian autobiographical novel that merges two cultures together. It's about how when you leave one set of problems in one country, you may be gaining a whole new set in your new country. It's also about trying to fit into a new place, while simultaneously trying to not to let go of everything that makes you who you are from your previous place. And mostly it's about how stories shape our lives. The style and structure may not be standard but even that is integral to the story.
20 Stars Who Made America Amazing
written by Phil Amara and Oliver Chin
illustrated by Juan Calle
This much-needed biography collection is a wonderful way to get introduced to people who may not have had their contributions to various fields acknowledged. It includes a diverse set of groundbreakers including activists, athletes, chefs, politicians, astronomers and more.
The "comics" style illustrations really add to the appeal of the book.
written by Lily LaMotte
illustrated by Ann Xu
One of our favorite graphic novels this year! Main character, Cici, is such an earnest character who must deal with cultural misunderstandings as well as microaggressions as she tries to fit in after moving from Taiwan to Seattle with her family. She struggles to feel pride in her culture and find the courage to be herself. Students who love cooking and cooking competition shows will really get into this book as will those with nearby Seattle connections.