Monday, June 26, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR 06/26/17


It's Monday! What are you reading? was started by Sheila at Book Journey and was adapted for children's books from picture books through YA by Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers. You can visit either site for a round up of blogs sharing their weekly readings and thoughts or search Twitter for #IMWAYR.



Last Week's Posts

  • #DiverseKidLit: books with multiracial characters. Share a link or find the latest diverse book recommendations here.

Middle School



House Arrest (2015) by K.A. Holt. I love a good novel-in-verse, and this one did not disappoint. Timothy is forced to keep a court-ordered journal as part of his year-long stint under house arrest. He goes to school, he goes home, and he sometimes goes to see his probation officer and counselor. That's it. In between, he has plenty of time to vent his feelings in his journal, especially as things continue to keep feeling out of control with his baby brother's trach and continuing health issues. A real gut-punch of a book! (Click here for a whole listing of great novels in verse.)


The Gauntlet (2017) by Karuna Riazi, from the new Salaam Reads imprint. I liked this book, but I didn't love it. Which is too bad. Things I did love about the book: I loved the characters, I loved how Farah's Bangladeshi background permeated the story in so many ways, and I loved that this was an #ownvoices author. But I didn't find the plot particularly innovative, and the characters were a bit flat.

Full disclosure: in sixth grade I wrote a fantasy story surprisingly similar to the premise of The Gauntlet: a group of four kids discover a mysterious game, the youngest one gets somehow sucked into the game, and the older three have to try and rescue him. (Mine was a magic set gone awry and its "gauntlet" was more inspired by the movie Labyrinth, but still.) But when I went back to revisit this story I was so proud of at the time, it was clear to see that my story suffered from a lack of planning and plotting. I wrote whatever I could come up with and just kept plowing ahead. Unfortunately, for me, The Gauntlet felt quite the same. I had a tough time visualizing how the game itself fit together, the challenges seemed random and unrelated, and it wasn't really building to anything bigger or meaningful. I was waiting for the "aha moment" when loose pieces from everywhere would suddenly snap into place in a meaningful way, but I didn't find it. Would love to hear differing thoughts.

Happy Reading! (PS I am traveling right now and will get to comments when I get back.)

Monday, June 19, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR 06/19/17


It's Monday! What are you reading? was started by Sheila at Book Journey and was adapted for children's books from picture books through YA by Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers. You can visit either site for a round up of blogs sharing their weekly readings and thoughts or search Twitter for #IMWAYR.



Last Week's Posts

  • #DiverseKidLit: books with multiracial characters. Share a link or find the latest diverse book recommendations here.

Young Adult



When I Was the Greatest (2014) by Jason Reynolds [Coretta Scott King winner]. 15-year old Ali is just trying to lay low and hang out with his friend, Noodles, and his brother, Needles (who has Tourette syndrome), but sneaking into a grown up party gets them involved in some grown-up issues. This is a powerful story that takes many twists and turns you might not expect.  (I would consider putting this in our middle school library. Certainly in any high school library. There is violence, some language, and an almost sex scene.)

Adult



Between the World and Me (2015) by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I happened to be (re)reading this book for book club, and it made for a fascinating pairing with When I Was the Greatest. What both books do a great job of demonstrating is how quickly things can go wrong if you are an African-American boy (whether Ali at the party or Ta-Nehisi on the street corner near the group of boys). Your body is not your own, and you are placed in many situations where the continuity of your life is tenuous. Lots of important fodder for discussion and reflection here.

Happy Reading! (PS I am traveling right now and will get to comments when I get back.)

Monday, June 5, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR 06/05/17


It's Monday! What are you reading? was started by Sheila at Book Journey and was adapted for children's books from picture books through YA by Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers. You can visit either site for a round up of blogs sharing their weekly readings and thoughts or search Twitter for #IMWAYR.



Last Week's Posts

  • #DiverseKidLit: books with multiracial characters. Share a link or find the latest diverse book recommendations here.

Middle School



Well, That Was Awkward (2017) by Rachel Vail. A modern Cyrano deBergerac but with 8th graders and texting. Super cute and pitch perfect for middle school, especially those who are eager for more "young adult" style books and relationships but without the language or sexual content of older YA books. [This book already got a student stamp of approval, as the student I handed it off to finished it that night and eagerly asked for more like it!]



The Boy in the Black Suit (2015) by Jason Reynolds. High school senior Matthew has just lost his mom and finds himself taking a job helping out at the funeral home. Another relationship-focused story but with minimal kissing. Some heavy issues (domestic violence, death) but in an appropriate-for-middle-school kind of way. Another one to add to my classroom library.


Young Adult



Eleanor & Park (2013) by Rainbow Rowell. Romance-centric realistic fiction novel about two high school outsiders (ish): Park is half-Korean and a quiet type, while Eleanor dresses wildly and tries to stay under the radar of her oft-drunk step-father. (Some kissing / making out, as well as a lot of strong language and threats of domestic abuse.) This one just really didn't draw me in and seemed to move fairly slow (until the end when suddenly everything happened rather fast).

Happy Reading!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

#DiverseKidLit: Multiracial Characters and Families

Our theme for this #DiverseKidLit is books featuring multiethnic families and/or biracial main characters. Sometimes a focus on diversity can feel like forcing people into boxes. Let's celebrate the diversity that can be found within a single person or household! (As always, the theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

What Is #DiverseKidLit?


Diverse Children's Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children's books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

DiverseKidLit

We hope this community serves as a resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, July 1st. We will only be hosting one linkup per month (on the first Saturday) for June, July, and August.

Upcoming Theme


Our theme for the current month is books featuring biracial and/or multiethnic characters. Themes are a suggestion only; all diverse book posts are welcome. If you're interested, you can start planning now ...
  • Our theme for July (1st) will be series. Series books are great for hooking readers, because there's another book after you finish the first one! Share your favorite book series featuring diverse characters?

Most Clicked Post from Last Time



The most-clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit was Raincity Librarian's #diversekidlit and roundup of great picture books about India. Learn about the monsoon, traditional transportation, saris, and more!

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:


Katie @ The Logonauts
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

Becky @ Franticmommmy
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

Carolina @ La Clase de Sra. DuFault
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

Gauri @ Kitaab World
an online bookstore for South Asian children's books, toys and games
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / PinterestInstagram

Gayle Swift, Author of ABC, Adoption & Me
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

Jane @ Rain City Librarian
Blog / Twitter / Instagram

Marjorie @ Mirrors Windows Doors
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

Mia @ Pragmatic Mom
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

Myra @ Gathering Books
Blog / Twitter / Facebook

Shoumi Sen, Author of Toddler Diaries
Blog / Twitter / Facebook


Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live?

Receive an email reminder for each new #diversekidlit linkup





Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact katie at thelogonauts.com.

(Never participated in a linkup before? Please click here for a more detailed step-by-step.)

Get #DiverseKidLit Recommendations on Pinterest!


Our Pinterest board highlights a wide range of amazing posts and resources for Diverse Children's Books. Please consider following the board for even more great books!


Share Your Link Below




Monday, May 29, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR 05/29/31


It's Monday! What are you reading? was started by Sheila at Book Journey and was adapted for children's books from picture books through YA by Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers. You can visit either site for a round up of blogs sharing their weekly readings and thoughts or search Twitter for #IMWAYR.



Last Week's Posts


Middle Grade



This Would Make a Good Story Someday (2017) by Dana Alison Levy. This companion novel to The Family Fletcher series (The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher and The Family Fletcher Take Rock Island) features the Johnston-Fischer family. Middle sister Sara is keeping a journal for the summer when her mother Mimi wins an opportunity for the whole family to take a month-long cross-country train trip for her newest book. Thus kicks off a classic road trip story, complete with sibling antics, enforced family time, and the paranoia that your mother is writing up the whole thing.

What I love about Dana Alison Levy's books is that she brings a classic family story vibe to a not-always-featured-in-classic-stories family. Whereas the family Fletcher features two dads and their four adopted sons (of various ethnicities), the Johnston-Fischer family features two moms, two biological daughters, and the irrepressible, adopted Ladybug Li. But rather than being stories about being a gay or lesbian family, the books are always about being a family. No clarification necessary. Readers will find a lot here to relate to with Sara's story - the angst of tween-dom, the pressures of social media on kids, and the fear of being forced to spend unending days with your family and friends! An enjoyable read.

Happy Reading!

Monday, May 22, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR 05/22/17


It's Monday! What are you reading? was started by Sheila at Book Journey and was adapted for children's books from picture books through YA by Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers. You can visit either site for a round up of blogs sharing their weekly readings and thoughts or search Twitter for #IMWAYR.



Last Week's Posts


      Middle Grade



      The Other Boy (2016) by M.G. Hennessey. My students are currently performing a diversity audit of our school and classroom library (post to come), and many students were disappointed by the lack of LGBTQIA representation. One student noted that while we have multiple books with male-to-female transgender characters (George, Lily and Dunkin, and Gracefully Grayson), she had yet to find a female-to-male book. The Other Boy arrived from my library hold list that same day.

      Shane had settled into life in his new town: star pitcher on the sixth-grade baseball team, solid best friend, and a newly-developing crush on a girl in his homeroom. But when an accidental conversation reveals the name of his previous school, a classmate discovers that Shane was born a girl. This book does a good job of balancing the real difficulties faced by transgender kids with the possibilities of supportive family members and friends. The ending is a bit quick and tidy.

      Do you have other great suggestions of LGBTQIA books for middle schoolers? I'm working on putting together a book display for our upcoming "Triangle Tuesday" day of support for the LGBTQIA community. Novels we already have in our library include Better Nate than Ever, Drama, The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher, The Marvels, among others.)

      Happy Reading!

      Saturday, May 20, 2017

      #DiverseKidLit goes global

      Our theme for this #DiverseKidLit is Global Books. Please share your favorite diverse books that take place in countries other than your own. (As always, the theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

      What Is #DiverseKidLit?


      Diverse Children's Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children's books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

      We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

      DiverseKidLit

      We hope this community serves as a resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, June 3rd. We will only be hosting one linkup per month (on the first Saturday) for June, July, and August.

      Upcoming Theme


      Our theme for the current month is global books. Themes are a suggestion only; all diverse book posts are welcome. If you're interested, you can start planning now ...
      • Our theme for June (3rd) will be books featuring multiethnic families and/or biracial main characters. Sometimes a focus on diversity can feel like forcing people into boxes. Let's celebrate the diversity that can be found within a single person or household!
      • Our theme for July (1st) will be series. Series books are great for hooking readers, because there's another book after you finish the first one! Share your favorite book series featuring diverse characters?

      Most Clicked Post from Last Time



      The most-clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit was Books for Teaching about Russia from Our Unschooling Journey through Life. This post includes links to 9 different books about Russia as well as an overview of some learning games to play with kids.

      #DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:


      Katie @ The Logonauts
      Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

      Becky @ Franticmommmy
      Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

      Carolina @ La Clase de Sra. DuFault
      Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

      Gauri @ Kitaab World
      an online bookstore for South Asian children's books, toys and games
      Blog / Twitter / Facebook / PinterestInstagram

      Gayle Swift, Author of ABC, Adoption & Me
      Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

      Jane @ Rain City Librarian
      Blog / Twitter / Instagram

      Marjorie @ Mirrors Windows Doors
      Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

      Mia @ Pragmatic Mom
      Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

      Myra @ Gathering Books
      Blog / Twitter / Facebook

      Shoumi Sen, Author of Toddler Diaries
      Blog / Twitter / Facebook


      Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live?

      Receive an email reminder for each new #diversekidlit linkup





      Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact katie at thelogonauts.com.

      (Never participated in a linkup before? Please click here for a more detailed step-by-step.)

      Get #DiverseKidLit Recommendations on Pinterest!


      Our Pinterest board highlights a wide range of amazing posts and resources for Diverse Children's Books. Please consider following the board for even more great books!


      Share Your Link Below




      Wednesday, May 17, 2017

      7th Grader Review: The Last Cherry Blossom


      My seventh graders recently each chose a book to read related to their study of China and Japan in Social Studies, and they were challenged to come up with a unique way to share their thoughts about the book with the class.

      Ananya read Kathleen Burkinshaw's The Last Cherry Blossom, which she loved and finished up with a lot of time to spare for her presentation. She come up with the idea of presenting some of the major points from the book through the perspective of the main character, Yuriko, using Instagram.

      ** Warning: some spoilers follow!  **  (Although, to moderate the spoiler effect, some character names have been changed around to intentionally confuse you, should you choose to read the book.)

      The full poster book review with the book cover on the "cell phone"


      The Last Cherry Blossom


      (You can click on any of the images below to make them larger.)


       

       

       

       


      I loved this idea! Have you ever had students use Instagram or other social media apps to share about books?

      Monday, May 15, 2017

      It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR 05/15/17


      It's Monday! What are you reading? was started by Sheila at Book Journey and was adapted for children's books from picture books through YA by Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers. You can visit either site for a round up of blogs sharing their weekly readings and thoughts or search Twitter for #IMWAYR.



      Last 2 Week's Posts

      • Great Diverse Middle Grade Books. Round-up of some of my favorite books for middle grade readers, including contemporary fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction.

        Middle School



        Braced (2017) by Alyson Gerber. Rachel is ready to face all the regular challenges and excitement that comes with seventh grade ... until she gets the news that her scoliosis has progressed and that she will need to wear a back brace - 23 hours a day. This is a very relatable book about middle school, friend drama, soccer, and the pressures of conformity.


        Red Scarf Girl: a memoir of the Cultural Revolution (1997) by Ji-Li Jiang. This memoir covers Ji-Li's life from ages 12 to 14 at the start of the Cultural Revolution (1966) in China, as her world collapses around her, due to her landlord grandfather and her father. I am looking forward to the deep discussions and conversations we will be having in seventh grade around this story and its implications for our own personal views and actions.

        Young Adult



        The Distance Between Us: young readers edition (2017) by Reyna Grande. This heartbreaking memoir chronicles the impact that Mexico-US illegal immigration has on families, both those children left behind and those children that eventually join their parent(s) in the US. There are some very difficult situations in the book including parental abandonment and domestic abuse. A powerful read that will make you think. (The original version of this memoir was published for adults.)

        Adult



        The Best We Could Do: an illustrated memoir (2017) by Thi Bui. Rounding off the memoirs for now is this deeply affecting memoir by Thi Bui about re-discovering her family story of life in Vietnam and their eventual immigration to the United States. Although this book could probably be tackled by a young adult reader, the focus is clearly an older audience - especially parents - with a focus on family line, life, and legacy (as well as a fairly graphic beginning with the birth of her son).

        Happy Reading!

        Wednesday, May 10, 2017

        Great Diverse Books for Younger Readers!

        This is my third in a series of posts about great diverse books by age / grade level. The first post shared some of my favorites for middle school, and the second contains my favorite middle grade books (think grades 4-6th). This post focuses on younger readers (1st-3rd grade). I love giving books as gifts and hope this serves as a useful resource!

        Diverse Young Reader Books



        • Ling & Ting series by Grace Lin. Asian-Americans Ling and Ting may be twins, but they are not the same! This book geared at early readers captures both the fun and the difficulties of twin life.
        • Anna Hibiscus series by Atinuke. These stories about plucky Anna Hibiscus are set in West Africa (the author is Nigerian) and feature a series of individual stories for each chapter, as Anna goes about her daily life, gets into trouble, and deals with her siblings. (Look for these at your library, as they seem to be out of print.)
        • Juana & Lucas (2016) by Juana Medina [Pura Belpré Author Award winner]. Juana is a young girl who lives in Colombia with her family and dog, Lucas. She has a best friend, gets in trouble at school, and cannot figure out why she needs to learn the tricky English language. Only when Abuelo reveals a motivating reason, does she dig in with earnest. I found this a charming story and one that I think many kids learning Spanish would relate to. Language learning is hard work!
        • The Tia Lola series by Julia Alvarez. Miguel and Juanita move with their mother to Vermont after their parents' divorce, and their Tia Lola comes up from the Dominican Republic to help out. Though geared towards younger students, these books tackle some of the big issues around immigration, family, and fitting in.
        • Emma on the Air series by Ida Siegal. This charming series features third grader Emma who has decided that a TV reporter is a perfect job for her to become famous! With the help of her dad (a "boring" newspaper reporter), Emma breaks her first story about a mysterious worm-burger, which sets her off on a detective-style search for the truth. Emma's dad is from the Dominican Republic, and there are a variety of Spanish phrases thrown into the story too. I can imagine this series inspiring quite a few citizen journalists. The series currently has four books.
        • Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer (2015) by Kelly Jones and illustrated by Katie Kath. This is a delightfully humorous and spunky book told entirely through letters written by main character Sophie. After her family inherits her Great Uncle Jim's farm, Sophie begins to slowly discover some of the farms secrets, including the fact that there should have been chickens! Mystery, intrigue, and chicken superpowers, this book has it all, as well as a diverse main character (her mother is Mexican-American and her father's family hails from Norway) and some hilarious illustrations. 
        • Pack-n-Go Girls is a book series aimed at 6-9 year olds that features strong girl characters from many countries and ancestries. "Pack-n-Go Girls® specializes in creating innovative stories and toys for girls that deliver positive messages around independence, adventure, and global awareness." The books take place in countries around the world including Austria, Brazil, Mexico, and Thailand (with more on the way). Each country series features two girl characters, one a knowledgeable local and the other a diverse girl from the US. This linkage allows the books to share a lot of great inside insights into each country, while also promoting cross-cultural friendships.

        What are YOUR favorite diverse books for young readers?

        Saturday, May 6, 2017

        #DiverseKidLit for May

        Welcome to #DiverseKidLit! Please scroll down to share a favorite  #diversekidlit post or to find amazing diverse resources.

        What Is #DiverseKidLit?


        Diverse Children's Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children's books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

        We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

        DiverseKidLit

        We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, May 20th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

        Upcoming Themes


        Themes are a suggestion only; all diverse book posts are welcome. But if you're interested, you can start planning now ...
        • Our next hop will take place on May 20th, and the optional theme will be socioeconomic diversity. Consider sharing some of your favorite books that feature characters across a range of socioeconomic situations.
        • Out of respect for everyone's increased summer busyness, we will only have one hop each month for June (3rd), July (1st), and August (5th). We will return to twice-monthly hops in September. 
        • Our theme for the June hop (3rd) will be global books. Please share your favorite diverse books that take place in countries other than your own. Let's travel the world this summer! 

        Most Clicked Post from Last Time



        The most-clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit was Patricia's review of the new book, Where Will I Live? by Rosemary McCarney. This timely picture book includes photographs from the UN High Commission for Refugees and proceeds from the book will help support programs for refugees.

        #DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:


        Katie @ The Logonauts
        Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

        Becky @ Franticmommmy
        Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

        Carolina @ La Clase de Sra. DuFault
        Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

        Gauri @ Kitaab World
        an online bookstore for South Asian children's books, toys and games
        Blog / Twitter / Facebook / PinterestInstagram

        Gayle Swift, Author of ABC, Adoption & Me
        Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

        Jane @ Rain City Librarian
        Blog / Twitter / Instagram

        Marjorie @ Mirrors Windows Doors
        Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

        Mia @ Pragmatic Mom
        Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

        Myra @ Gathering Books
        Blog / Twitter / Facebook

        Shoumi Sen, Author of Toddler Diaries
        Blog / Twitter / Facebook


        Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live?

        Receive an email reminder for each new #diversekidlit linkup





        Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact katie at thelogonauts.com.

        (Never participated in a linkup before? Please click here for a more detailed step-by-step.)

        Get #DiverseKidLit Recommendations on Pinterest!


        Our Pinterest board highlights a wide range of amazing posts and resources for Diverse Children's Books. Please consider following the board for even more great books!


        Share Your Link Below




        Wednesday, May 3, 2017

        Great Middle Grade Diverse Books!

        This is my second in a series of posts about great diverse books by age / grade level. The first post shared some of my favorites for middle school, and this post contains my favorite middle grade books (think grades 4-6th). I love giving books as gifts and hope this serves as a useful resource!

        Diverse Middle Grade Books


        Contemporary realistic fiction




        • Ghost by Jason Reynolds [National Book Award finalist]. Ghost is the first in a new middle grade series from talented author Jason Reynolds. The main character, who has nicknamed himself Ghost, finds himself perplexed by a track practice in progress and ends up showing off and earning a spot on the team. Ghost is struggling to find out who he is and where he fits, especially as he hides his traumatic secret from others. This is a powerful story (and quick read), and I am looking forward to the rest of the series.
        • Pickle: the (formerly) anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School by Kim Baker and illustrated by Tim Probert. Though Ben started it all with his first prank, he realizes that he really needs a dedicated team to continue to up the ante. This diverse group of talents (and backgrounds) decide to hide behind the sham of a "League of Pickle Makers" club to get official school sponsorship. But as the pranks start to escalate, Ben and his friends need to decide what is really important and what they really want to stand for. 
        • El Deafo by Cece Bell. This sensitive autobiographical graphic novel memoir focuses on the author's experience growing up and losing her hearing at age 4, as well as her later trials and tribulations with her gigantic Phonic Ear. I think the graphic novel format (and rabbits for characters) makes this book accessible to a wide-range of readers. A great book for talking about differences and how to treat others. [Yes, this is a graphic novel with bunnies as characters, but everything that happens still fits contemporary realistic fiction for me.]
        • The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy. I fell in love with the Fletchers nearly immediately. Four very unique boys with four different voices plus their two fathers, a crotchety neighbor, Zeus the cat, and Sir Puggleton (the pug, naturally) fill out this wonderfully enjoyable realistic fiction story, reminiscent of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. I really appreciated that this was a story about a very diverse family that did not make their diversity the center of the story. Instead, it is a story about finding your place, about learning who you are, and about how to throw the best Halloween party the neighborhood has ever seen! This one is a must have. (Plus there's now a sequel: The Family Fletcher Take Rock Island!)
        • Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan. This is a story built around the power of differences and a celebration of one’s own culture. The co-author two-voice structure lends additional realism as does the fact that it is an author writing about her own culture and assimilation experiences. I did find it interesting (and even refreshing) that the bully in the story was also Indian-American, albeit not a recent immigrant like Ravi. It set up additional tensions and quirks to the story. The alternating narration worked to give a sense of both characters and to see, as the reader, how each misjudged the other.
        • Rules (2006) by Cynthia Lord [Newbery Honor Book and Schneider Family Book Award Winner]. This story is told from the perspective of the older sister who creates different rules and coping strategies to try and help her younger brother who has severe autism. This is a lovely (and entertaining) family story, as well as an informative look at what it means to have a sibling with a disability.
        • Out of My Mind (2010) by Sharon Draper, p. 295 is told from the perspective of the main character, Melody, who has cerebal palsy. Initially diagnosed as non-verbal, she undergoes a giant transformation through the book as she finally finds a way to successfully communicate. This is a powerful story about facing down challenges - but without falling back on a simplistic "happy ending." A great one for empathy and facilitating discussions.


        Fantasy


         

        • The Jumbies (2015) by Tracy Baptiste. The story is based around Trinidadian folklore about jumbies (various forest creatures). Corinne accidentally gets the attention of the main jumbie, Severine, who realizes that Corinne is her niece. This leads to a showdown between humans and jumbies for the fate of the island. Lots of suspense, adventure, and "ghost story" elements.



        History and historical fiction




        • Bud Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis is set during the Great Depression: 1930s Michigan. Bud is on a mission to find his father, despite only slim leads, one suitcase, and a pocketful of determination. This is a charming and heartwarming book, well deserving of its many awards [Newbery winner, Coretta Scott King winner, etc.].
        • Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan [Pura Belpré Award Winner]. Also set during the Great Depression, Esperanza must leave her home in Mexico and venture north to the United States after a tragedy. This book provides great insights into the trials and tribulations of immigrant life in California during the Depression as well as the lengths that one will go through for family.

        What are YOUR favorite diverse books for middle grades?