1. I love this, Penny! I have been thinking about the books I plan to buy this summer to reflect more diversity. It’s a little trickier since I buy Spanish books (and not just translations, but books written for language learners), but there are some incredible options emerging, especially books about the realities of Afrolatinos, like the book Poet X.

    I am going to check out WNDB now and see if there are any Spanish titles there. Thanks for the great tips and thanks for your commitment to posting about racism in America.

  2. This was such a great post. I only live about 40 minutes from where I grew up. I live in the most segregated state in the United States with some of the worst outcomes for black people. I think there were only 3 black kids in my high school (in a wealthy suburb). We had the standard American curricula. And it’s hard to not live in that environment without being racist. Not an indoctrinated hate-spewing-race-war racist. But I grew up in a society where there were social boundaries between black and white and it’s hard to unlearn all of that conditioning as an adult. We live in the city now. A mostly white city. But my kids have so many more different races and ethnicities than I did in the ‘burbs. And they’ve read some of these books and encouraged me to read them too.

    There’s this passage in the Bible about the wolf and the lamb and some holy mountain and them being led by a child. And you know, they’re talking about Jesus. But I often think about that passage when it comes to race. I watch how children think about race, before they’ve gotten fully racially programmed, and have them lead our family towards a better direction. It gives me a little hope for the future.

  3. We just got our last order from Scholastic’s We Need Diverse Books! (It came over Spring Break, so we got it curbside on clean-out day.) I like that they don’t just have deep and meaningful award winning titles (which is all white kids are generally exposed to if they’re exposed at all), but they also have fun slice of life, fantasy, and mystery titles with diverse protagonists. Both kinds, I think, are important for readers.

    Favs this time around: Rick Riordin has a thing with Scholastic in which he highlights diverse authors of fantasy who are writing about modern kids within ancient mythologies (so, similar to the extended Percy Jackson universe). That is SO MUCH BETTER than him trying to culturally appropriate other Gods and religious systems.

  4. Thanks for sharing! Some of these were already on my TBR list, but now I’ll have some more to add!

    I used to teach 7th grade, and during my student teaching, I particularly remember one Native American girl who rarely spoke—my mentor teacher said she had literally heard her speak maybe 3 words the entire school year, and we were in January by that point. I had a lot of students of color in that class and from diverse backgrounds, and I started mixing in examples and stories from all sorts of different cultures, including the Native American culture the one student was from. It’s not like she became a chatterbox or anything, but I immediately noticed her perk up and start to respond, and I thought how I would feel if this had been the first time in my school year that my culture and my heritage had been acknowledged and celebrated. I know I wasn’t a perfect teacher, but I definitely did try to make sure ALL kids had a chance to see themselves in what we were reading. I haven’t taught now for four years, but I’d like to think if I ever went back, that I would still change even more how I taught.

  5. As a 30-something, I’m a little outside the middle-grade/YA age group, but did I ever add some of those books to my TBR pile. They all sound excellent. Thank you for the recommendations!

  6. Julie

    You do amazing work. Thank you for these recommendations. One way I’m dealing with sheltering in place and working from home is reading YA books…and I look forward adding to my shelf.

    I’m pregnant with my first child and have thinking about books for younger children that show more representation and also approach the difficult topics of racism and inequality in an age appropriate way.

  7. I’m not the target audience at all for these books, but some of those recommendations sound amazing. Definitely added a few to my TBR (especially All American Boys!)

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