This collection, edited by the cofounder of the We Need Diverse Books movement, gathers stories from some of my favorite authors. In these stories characters who were rarely seen in American stories for youth, or only as sidekicks, are the stars. These realistic stories tackle a diverse range of subjects and tones from serious to light-hearted. But they all give you a glimpse into someone's life. Great for fans of realistic fiction looking for more diverse stories.
Fresh Ink: An Anthology edited by Lamar Giles Erica's Picks 7th & 8th tags: contemporary fiction, issues fiction, LGBTQ, People of Color, short stories, social justice
First impressions can be deceiving. When Zuri first met the wealthy family that moved into the new mini-mansion across the street in her gentrifying neighborhood, she instantly hated the stuck-up Darius. Her sisters and mother fell all over themselves swooning over the handsome boys, but she knew they were nothing but trouble that her family and her neighborhood did not need. But when fate throws them together Zuri starts to question if she judged Darius fairly.
Even if you've never heard of Pride and Prejudice, you can enjoy this modern romance that tackles issues of identity, authenticity, and gentrification. But if you are an Austen fan, there's even more to delight in. The parallels Zoboi creates makes me appreciate both even more and she adds such rich details to this new setting while deftly weaving in more modern issues alongside the timeless themes. Strongly recommended.
Pride by Ibi Zoboi Erica's Picks 7th & 8th grade Tags:
After three years of traveling in a wagon, Hanna is excited when they pull up to the frontier town of LaForge. She hopes that she and her father can finally settle down and open a dress shop. She even dares to dream that she can fulfill her mother's dying wish of graduating from school. But when she shows up to the one-room school house, the town is scandalized. Most of them have never met an Asian person before and don't want their children going to school with one. Will Hanna's dreams finally come true? Or will she never find a place that will accept her?
This novel is Park's answer to Little House on the Prairie and set in the same time and place. Fans of the series will recognize much and think about the series in a new light. I particularly enjoyed reading about Hanna's dress-making and designing. Hanna is a strong heroine and easy to root for with her sense of humor and determination to fight for what is right.
Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park 5th - 7th grades tags: character driven, family life, historical fiction, People of Color, SEL, social justice
Muiriel was left at the John Muir Medical Center as a baby. She has taken her namesake as a role model and has spent her life bouncing from one foster home to another, only feeling truly at home when she can go for a walk outside. She is prepared to age out of the foster system without any attachments, until she moves to a small island in Washington for her Senior year. There she meets people who seem to truly understand her and she starts to break her rules and open her heart to them. But her eighteenth birthday is fast approaching and she knows that soon she'll be on her own. What will happen when she has to leave the island, and everyone on it, behind?
This book was inspired by the author's daughter who lived in three different foster homes before being adopted. It works hard to portray a balanced picture even as it points out the inequities inherit in the system. Seeing how foster care as affected Muir is heartbreaking but watching her slowly come out of her shell and bloom warms your heart back up and puts it together again.
What I Carry by Jennifer Longo 7th & 8th grades tags: character driven, contemporary fiction, friendship, issues fiction, romance, school stories, SEL, social justice, tear jerker
Miles Morales is done being Spider-Man. His spidey sense has gone haywire and got him in trouble at school. He has enough to worry about with a confederacy-obsessed history teacher who has it out for him and the nightmares about his uncle that have been plaguing Miles ever since his death. His best friend thinks he should just use his powers to pull stunts and make money. But when people from his neighborhood start disappearing, he discovers a supernatural conspiracy designed to keep Miles and his family down. Miles knows he has to don the suit once more and fight for what's right.
I love how this story has a solid grounding in real-life issues that teens can relate to. As an educator, I hated every moment reading about Miles's awful history teacher obsessed with teaching the lost-cause propaganda of the civil war. Unfortunately, teachers like that do exist and I love how Miles and his fellow students stand up to him. I love all the supporting characters from Miles's mom to his best friend Ganke. A great mix of real-world social justice and super hero justice.
Miles Morales Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds Erica's Picks 5th - 8th Tags: adventure, family life, friendship, issues fiction, people of color, school stories, social justice, supernatural
Regina has lived all her life on a reservation in Oregon with her friends and family. Everything changes one day when the federal government terminates her tribe. Her family moves to Los Angeles to start over. Life in LA is very different from life back home with the Umpqua tribe. She meets people with different traditions and cultures, and it's hard to adapt, but she soon makes friends. Just when it looks like her luck is changing, something happens that shakes her family to its core.
This book is based on the author's own life and the the effects of the US government's tribal termination policy. Regina struggles with her identity as her friends tell her that she doesn't act like a "real Indian" based on the stereotypes they've learned from cowboy shows and movies. Even though the book is set in the late 50's the issues Regina faces are ones that continue to this day. A great book for discussion and gaining empathy.
Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis and Traci Sorell Erica's picks 4th - 7th grade Tags: character driven, family life, historical fiction, issues fiction, people of color, social justice
While not a sports fan, I loved this book including the fast paced basketball action. The main character Adam was adopted in Poland when he was 11 and immigrated to American with his new mom, a U.S. citizen. Adam is not very communicative with any one but his mom and good buddy Barry as he is embarrassed about his English proficiency. His voice is so well written, I can hear his accent and foreign phrasing. This attracts the attention of Kase whose bullying and ridicule trigger Adam’s anger management issues. When his basketballs skills attract the attention of star player Carli and her coach father, things begin to look up for Adam. All the side characters are well crafted and interesting. When Adam makes some insensitive racial comments, these are fully worked out in a realistic manner that he accepts and learns from. This quote sums it up for me: "I know I will fight injustice, and sometimes that means a protest and a battle....but I think many times that means just being a good, kind person in the world." You will be a better person for seeing into the lives of these engaging characters. And entertained…sports, romance, interpersonal relationships, humor, identity woven into a brilliant book. Tessa's Picks, 7-8th grade, Character driven, Contemporary fiction, Issues fiction, Romance, Sports, Social justice
1890s Atlanta is not an easy place for Chinese Americans. Jo, abandoned at birth, lives with her adopted father in an abandoned hideout left over from the underground railroad. She grew up listening to the conversations in the newspaper offices above. When she hears that they are struggling, she anonymously submits articles for a new advice column. “Miss Sweetie” becomes wildly popular and controversial. As Jo tries to keep her identity a secret, she tries to uncover who her parents were. But some secrets are best left alone and these ones put her in the crosshairs of a notorious criminal.
I loved this historical fiction. It transported me back in time and kept me turning pages with the hint of mystery and romance.
Erica's Picks The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee
6th - 8th Tags: Character Driven, Historical Fiction, Issues Fiction, Mystery, People of Color, Romance, Social Justice
As part of a growing nationwide movement to bring Ethnic Studies into K–12 classrooms, Rethinking Ethnic Studies brings together many of the leading teachers, activists, and scholars in this movement to offer examples of Ethnic Studies frameworks, classroom practices, and organizing at the school, district, and statewide levels. Built around core themes of indigeneity, colonization, anti-racism, and activism, Rethinking Ethnic Studies offers vital resources for educators committed to the ongoing struggle for racial justice in our schools.
Teaching for Black Lives Matter
Teaching for Black Lives grows directly out of the movement for Black lives. We recognize that anti-Black racism constructs Black people, and Blackness generally, as not counting as human life. Throughout this book, we provide resources and demonstrate how teachers connect curriculum to young people's lives and root their concerns and daily experiences in what is taught and how classrooms are set up. We also highlight the hope and beauty of student activism and collective action.
A People's History for the Classroom
These exemplary teaching articles and lesson plans -- drawn from an assortment of Rethinking Schools publications -- emphasize the role of working people, women, people of color, and organized social movements in shaping history, and raise important questions about patterns of wealth and power throughout U.S. history. A People's History for the Classroom was produced in cooperation with Teaching for Change, as part of the Zinn Education Project.
Rethinking Elementary Education
The indispensable resource for social justice elementary educators in six parts: Part 1: Building Classroom Community Part 2: Reading and Writing Toward a More Just World Part 3: Minding Media Part 4: Math is More than Numbers Part 5: Laboratory for Justice: Science Across the Curriculum Part 6: The Classroom, The School, The World
Tessa"s Picks. Social Justice, People of Color, Global Perspectives, History
iNelle has lived in Monroeville, Alabama her whole life, so she knows how people there expect her to behave. But she's never felt comfortable in the frills and dresses other girls wear and would much rather climb trees or play with her slingshot than stay clean indoors. Tru is staying with relatives when he comes to town. With his fancy, big city fashions and high voice he is instantly marked as an outsider. The impeccably dressed boy and tom-boy find something in common in their love of Sherlock Holmes. Before long their pretend game of Sherlock and Watson turns into a real investigation when someone is falsely accused of a crime.
This book, based on the real-life friendship of Truman Capote and Harper Lee, contains so many gems that it's hard for a brief description to do it justice. Tru and Nelle (as they were called as children) instantly bond over their outsider status. They investigate cases while pretending to be Sherlock and Watson, hang out at the court house, write stories, and put on a memorable Halloween party. The book doesn't gloss over anything and racial prejudices, the Klan, depression, and abuse are all mentioned. These details help create an authentic sense of place. The book takes its structure from Capote and consists of a novel with a set of related short stories afterwards. Even those unfamiliar with Capote and Lee will be drawn into this story and find them easy to relate to as outsiders.
Tue & Nelle by G. Neri
Erica's Picks 4th & up Tags: biography, character driven, family life, friendship, historical fiction, issues fiction, LGBTQ, mystery, social justice, summer vacation