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Genres

Picture Books


Picture books can be both fiction and non-fiction, and many of them will fit into other genres. Hot Day on Abbott Avenue by Karen English; Illustrator: Javaka Steptoe

  • Age range ( f1): 3-6 (AD580L)
  • Synopsis (f2): It's the hottest, stickiest day of the summer. A fat-sun-in-the-sky day. An eating-ice-pops-on-the-porch day. And for Kishi and Renée, it's a best-friends-breakup day. Each girl sits on her own front porch, waiting for the other to apologize, even though they know they'll never speak to each other again, no matter how bored they get. But then the sounds of feet slapping the pavement and voices chanting double-dutch rhymes drift up the avenue, and neither one can resist going out in the street to play.This lyrical friendship story, the first collaboration of two outstanding artists, pairs a rhythmic text with distinctive collage illustrations. Its subtle message about sharing and forgiveness will resonate with anyone who has ever experienced the ups and downs of being, and having, a best friend.
  • Key words ( f3): Black American author ( f4)
Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns by Mehrdokht Amini; illustrated by Hena Khan
  • Age range: 3-6 (660L)
  • Synopsis: Magnificently capturing the colorful world of Islam for the youngest readers, this breathtaking and informative picture book celebrates Islam's beauty and traditions. From a red prayer rug to a blue hijab, everyday colors are given special meaning as young readers learn about clothing, food, and other important elements of Islamic culture, with a young Muslim girl as a guide. Sure to inspire questions and observations about world religions and cultures, Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns is equally at home in a classroom reading circle as it is being read to a child on a parent's lap.
  • Key words: Muslim author and protagonist; Pakistani-American Author
Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal
  • Age range: 4-8 (490L)
  • Synopsis: If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; José, the grandfather who was an artist; and other namesakes, too. As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all — and realizes that she will one day have her own story to tell. In her author-illustrator debut, Juana Martinez-Neal opens a treasure box of discovery for children who may be curious about their own origin stories or names.
  • Key words: Latinx American author/characters ( f5); Peruvian-American; Family History
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o; Illustrator: Vashti Harrison
  • Age range: 4-8 (AD580L)
  • Synopsis: Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything. In this stunning debut picture book, actress Lupita Nyong’o creates a whimsical and heartwarming story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty.
  • Key words: Body image ( f6); Kenyan-Mexican author
Just Ask: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor; Illustrator: Rafael López
  • Age range: 4-8
  • Synopsis:
Feeling different, especially as a kid, can be tough. But in the same way that different types of plants and flowers make a garden more beautiful and enjoyable, different types of people make our world more vibrant and wonderful. In Just Ask, United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor celebrates the different abilities kids (and people of all ages) have. Using her own experience as a child who was diagnosed with diabetes, Justice Sotomayor writes about children with all sorts of challenges–and looks at the special powers those kids have as well. As the kids work together to build a community garden, asking questions of each other along the way, this book encourages readers to do the same: When we come across someone who is different from us but we’re not sure why, all we have to do is Just Ask.
  • Key words: Author and characters with disabilities ( f7); Latinx American author/characters; Puerto Rican-American; Powerful Women
Bowwow Powwow by Brenda J. Child; Illustrator: Jonathan Thunder; Translator: Gordan Jourdain
  • Age range: 4-9
  • Synopsis:
Windy Girl is blessed with a vivid imagination. From Uncle she gathers stories of long-ago traditions, about dances and sharing and gratitude. Windy can tell such stories herself—about her dog, Itchy Boy, and the way he dances to request a treat and how he wriggles with joy in response to, well, just about everything. When Uncle and Windy Girl and Itchy Boy attend a powwow, Windy watches the dancers and listens to the singers. She eats tasty food and joins family and friends around the campfire. Later, Windy falls asleep under the stars. Now Uncle’s stories inspire other visions in her head: a bowwow powwow, where all the dancers are dogs. In these magical scenes, Windy sees veterans in a Grand Entry, and a visiting drum group, and traditional dancers, grass dancers, and jingle-dress dancers—all with telltale ears and paws and tails. All celebrating in song and dance. All attesting to the wonder of the powwow. This playful story by Brenda Child is accompanied by a companion retelling in Ojibwe by Gordon Jourdain and brought to life by Jonathan Thunder’s vibrant dreamscapes. The result is a powwow tale for the ages.
  • Key words: Indigenous author/characters ( f8); Ojibew; Native Language
Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say
  • Age range: 5-9 (650 L)
  • Synopsis:
A Japanese-American man recounts his father’s journey to America, which he later undertakes himself, and the feelings of being torn by a love for two different countries. Through compelling reminiscences of his grandfather’s life in America and Japan, Allen Say gives us a poignant account of a family’s unique cross-cultural experience. He warmly conveys his love for his two countries, and his strong and consistent desire to be in both places at once.
  • Key words: Japan; Japanese-American author/characters ( f9); Family History; Immigrant Experience
When We Love Someone, We Sing To Them (Cuando Amamos Cantamos) by Ernesto Javier Martínez; Illustrator: Maya Gonzalez
  • Age range: 7-10
  • Synopsis:
A reclamation of the Mexican serenata tradition, follow the story of a young boy who asks his father if there is a song for a boy who loves a boy.
  • Key words: LGBTQIAP+ author and characters; Latinx American author and characters ( f10); Mexican-American author; social justice
The Red Bicycle by Jude Isabella; Illustrator: Simone Shin
  • Age range: 8-10 (800L)
  • Synopsis:
In this unique nonfiction picture book, the main character is a bicycle that starts its life like so many bicycles in North America, being owned and ridden by a young boy. The boy, Leo, treasures his bicycle so much he gives it a name --- Big Red. But eventually Leo outgrows Big Red, and this is where the bicycle's story takes a turn from the everyday, because Leo decides to donate it to an organization that ships bicycles to Africa. Big Red is sent to Burkina Faso, in West Africa, where it finds a home with Alisetta, who uses it to gain quicker access to her family's sorghum field and to the market. Then, over time, it finds its way to a young woman named Haridata, who has a new purpose for the bicycle --- renamed Le Grand Rouge --- delivering medications and bringing sick people to the hospital. This book makes an excellent choice for cultural studies classes; author Jude Isabella has provided several terrific suggestions in the back of the book for projects large and small, while a map shows the distance the bicycle traveled across the Atlantic Ocean. Award-winning illustrator Simone Shin's digitally composed artwork includes evocative depictions of Alisetta's and Haridata's communities in rural Africa, creating vivid comparisons between Leo's life and their lives. Youngsters will learn how different the world is for those who rely on bicycles as a mode of transportation, and how one ordinary bicycle--and a child's desire to make a difference--can change lives across the world. This book also offers an excellent opportunity for expanding character education lessons on caring, compassion and empathy to include the wider world. Key words: Burkina Faso; African characters ( f11) The Memory Coat by Elvira Woodruff; Illustrator: Michael Dooling
  • Age range: 8-11 (AD860L)
  • Synopsis:
This moving story of a Jewish family’s immigration to America from Russia may be jeopardized by a young cousin’s bond with a worn-out coat. At the turn-of-the century, a Jewish family must leave Russia when the Cossacks raid the country. Grandma Bubba tries to convince Grisha, her grandson, to leave behind an old coat that might prevent him from being accepted at Ellis Island upon the family’s arrival in America. Grisha refuses since the coat is lined with wool from the coat of his deceased mother. The family begins their transatlantic journey, but when they arrive at Ellis Island, Grisha is threatened with deportation until his cousin Rachel comes up with a plan to save him. Woodruff’s historical detail is based on research she discovered at the Ellis Island museum.
  • Key words: Jewish characters ( f12); Jewish-American author; Russia; Immigrant Experience
Cicada by Shaun Tan
  • Age range: 9-13 (330L)
  • Synopsis:
Cicada works in an office, dutifully toiling day after day for unappreciative bosses and being bullied by his coworkers. But one day, cicada goes to the roof of the building, and something truly extraordinary happens ... A story for anyone who has ever felt unappreciated, overlooked or overworked, from Australia's most acclaimed picture book creator. This is Shaun Tan's first author-illustrator book in five years, and his most important and moving fable since The Arrival.
  • Key words: Australian author; social justice; bullying




Historical Fiction


Freedom on the Menu by Carole Boston Weatherford; Illustrator: Jerome Lagarrigue

  • Age range: 4-8 (AD660L; f1)
  • Synopsis ( f2):
There are signs all throughout town telling eight-year-old Connie where she can and cannot go. But when Connie sees four young men take a stand for equal rights at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, she realizes that things may soon change. This event sparks a movement throughout her town and region. And while Connie is too young to march or give a speech, she helps her brother and sister make signs for the cause. Changes are coming to Connie’s town, but Connie just wants to sit at the lunch counter and eat a banana split like everyone else.
  • Key words ( f3): Black American author and characters ( f4); social injustice
Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel; Illustrator: Melissa Sweet
  • Age range: 4-8 (AD760L)
  • Synopsis:
The true story of the young immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history. This picture book biography about Ukrainian immigrant Clara Lemlich tackles topics like activism and the U.S. garment industry. The art, by Caldecott Honor winner Melissa Sweet, beautifully incorporates stitching and fabric. A bibliography and an author's note on the garment industry are included. When Clara arrived in America, she couldn't speak English. She didn't know that young women had to go to work, that they traded an education for long hours of labor, that she was expected to grow up fast. But that didn't stop Clara. She went to night school, spent hours studying English, and helped support her family by sewing in a shirtwaist factory. Clara never quit, and she never accepted that girls should be treated poorly and paid little. Fed up with the mistreatment of her fellow laborers, Clara led the largest walkout of women workers the country had seen. From her short time in America, Clara learned that everyone deserved a fair chance. That you had to stand together and fight for what you wanted. And, most importantly, that you could do anything you put your mind to.
  • Key words: Ukranian-American characters; Powerful women; Activism; Social injustice; Immigrant experience
Players in Pigtails by Shana Corey; Illustrator: Rebecca Gibbon
  • Age range: 4-8 (350L)
  • Synopsis:
With many men serving in the military during World War II, Phillip Wrigley follows his daring plan to recruit women to play ball, despite public ridicule. On opening day, Katie Casey, a member of the Kenosha Comets, shows fans and the country that women have just as much talent as men when it comes to sports. Inspired by the hit movie A League of Their Own, this is a delightful tribute to the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, created during World War II. The story focuses in particular on Katie Casey, who preferred "sliding to sewing" and "batting to baking" and is mentioned as a "baseball-mad" girl in the song "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"! Determined Katie makes it all the way to the big leagues and finds a sisterhood of friends and players. This is a girl-power story like no other.
  • Key words: Powerful women; White American ( f14) author and characters
Fiona’s Lace by Patricia Pollaco
  • Age range: 4-8 (AD740L)
  • Synopsis:
An Irish family stays together with the help of Fiona's talent for making one-of-a-kind lace in this heartwarming immigration story from the "New York Times "bestselling creator of The Keeping Quilt. Many years ago, times were hard in all of Ireland, so when passage to America becomes available, Fiona and her family travel to Chicago. They find work in domestic service to pay back their passage, and at night Fiona turns tangles of thread into a fine, glorious lace. Then when the family is separated, it is the lace that Fiona's parents follow to find her and her sister and bring the family back together. And it is the lace that will always provide Fiona with memories of Ireland and of her mother's words: "In your heart your true home resides, and it will always be with you as long as you remember those you love." This generational story from the family of Patricia Polacco's Irish father brims with the same warmth and heart as the classic The Keeping Quilt and The Blessing Cup, which Kirkus Reviews called "deeply affecting" in a starred review, and embraces the comfort of family commitment and togetherness that Patricia Polacco's books are known for.
  • Key words: Irish American characters; Immigrant story; Family history
Molly, by Golly! The Legend of Molly Williams, American's First Female Firefighter by Dianne Ochiltree; Illustrator Kathleen Kemly
  • Age range: 5-7 (AD830L)
  • Synopsis:
This legendary tale introduces young readers to Molly Williams, an African American cook for New York City’s Fire Company 11, who is considered to be the first known female firefighter in U.S. history. One winter day in 1818, when many of the firefighting volunteers are sick with influenza and a small wooden house is ablaze, Molly jumps into action and helps stop the blaze, proudly earning the nickname Volunteer Number 11. Relying on historic records and pictures and working closely with firefighting experts, Dianne Ochiltree and artist Kathleen Kemly not only bring this spunky and little-known heroine to life but also show how fires were fought in early America.
  • Key words: Black American characters; Powerful women
Lucky Beans by Becky Birtha; Illustrator: Nicole Tadgell
  • Age range: 5-8 (600L)
  • Synopsis:
Like so many people during the Great Depression of the 1930s, Marshall Loman's dad has lost his job. There's little money, but there are plenty of beans-in fact, Ma cooks them for supper every single night! Beans start looking better when Marshall sees the contest posted in the furniture store window. HOW MANY BEANS ARE IN THE JAR? WIN THIS BRAND NEW SEWING MACHINE! Ma needs that sewing machine-but how can Lomans possibly guess right? Then Marshall remembers something he learned in arithmetic class. Becky Birtha's engaging story, based on her grandmother's memories of Depression years in the African American community, is illustrated by Nicole Tadgell's expressive paintings.
  • Key words: Black author and characters; LGBTQIAP+ author ( f10); Family history
A Place Where Sunflowers Grow by Amy Lee-Tai; Illustrator: Felisha Hoshino
  • Age range: 8-9 (AD730L)​
  • Synopsis:
Mari and her family are interned in the Utah desert during World War II. Mari enrolls in an art class and plants sunflower seeds, but it seems impossible that anything beautiful could survive behind the barbed wire.
  • Key words: Japanese-American author and characters ( f9); injustice; social justice
More Than Anything Else by Marie Bradby; Illustrator: Chris K. Soentpiet
  • Age range: 5-11 (570L)
  • Synopsis:
A fictionalized story about the life of young Booker T. Washington. Living in a West Virginia settlement after emancipation, nine-year-old Booker travels by lantern light to the salt works, where he labors from dawn till dusk. Although his stomach rumbles, his real hunger is his intense desire to learn to read.
  • Key words: Black American author and characters; social injustice
Ellington Was Not A Street by Ntozake Shange; Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
  • Age range: 5-11 (NP)
  • Synopsis:
In a reflective tribute to the African-American community of old, noted poet Ntozake Shange recalls her childhood home and the close-knit group of innovators that often gathered there. These men of vision, brought to life in the majestic paintings of artist Kadir Nelson, lived at a time when the color of their skin dictated where they could live, what schools they could attend, and even where they could sit on a bus or in a movie theater. Yet in the face of this tremendous adversity, these dedicated souls and others like them not only demonstrated the importance of Black culture in America, but also helped issue in a movement that "changed the world." Their lives and their works inspire us to this day, and serve as a guide to how we approach the challenges of tomorrow.
  • Key words: Black American author and characters; social justice
The Cats in Krasinski Square by Karen Hesse; Illustrator: Wendy Watson
  • Age range: 7-10 (AD930L)
  • Synopsis:
When Newbery Medalist Karen Hesse came upon a short article about cats out-foxing the Gestapo at the train station in Warsaw during WWII, she couldn't get the story out of her mind. The result is this stirring account of a Jewish girl's involvement in the Resistance. At once terrifying and soulful, this fictional account, born of meticulous research, is a testament to history and to our passionate will to survive, as only Karen Hesse can write it. A young Jewish girl and her sister face the challenges of growing up in Poland during World War II. Having escaped the ghetto, they devise a plan to smuggle food to those still there with the help of the abandoned cats of Krasinski Square. Determined to help the handful of Jewish Resistance fighters feed others still inside the Ghetto, she comes up with a plan to distract the Gestapo and their dogs. Will their plan work, or will they be caught in the act?
  • Key words: Poland; Jewish author and characters ( f12); Social injustice
Ruby’s Wish by Shirin Yim Leos (formerly Bridges); Illustrator: Sophie Blackall
  • Age range: 8-12 (860L)
  • Synopsis:
Ruby is unlike most little girls in old China. Instead of aspiring to get married, Ruby is determined to attend university when she grows up, just like the boys in her family. Based upon the inspirational story of the author's grandmother and accompanied by richly detailed illustrations, Ruby's Wish is an engaging portrait of a young girl who strives for more and a family who rewards her hard work and courage.
  • Key words: Chinese characters; Chinese American and Indigenous Author; Suquamish Author ( f8)
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • Age range: 9-11 (950L)​
  • Synopsis
It's 1936, in Flint, Michigan. Ten-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy on the run, but he's on a mission. His momma never told him who his father was, but she left a clue: posters of Herman E. Calloway and his famous band, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression! Bud's got an idea that those posters will lead to his father. Once he decides to hit the road and find this mystery man, nothing can stop him. Bud, Not Buddy is full of laugh-out-loud humor and wonderful characters, hitting the high notes of jazz and sounding the deeper tones of the Great Depression.
  • Key words: Black American author and characters; Social injustice
The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
  • Age range: 9-13 (610 L)
  • Synopsis:
The letter waits in a book, in a box, in an attic, in an old house in Lambert, South Carolina. It's waiting for Candice Miller. When Candice finds the letter, she isn't sure she should read it. It's addressed to her grandmother, who left Lambert in shame. But the letter describes a young woman. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery enfolding the letter-writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle. So with the help of Brandon Jones, the quiet boy across the street, she begins to decipher the clues. The challenge will lead them deep into Lambert's history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and one great love; and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets. Can they find the fortune and fulfill the letter's promise before the answers slip into the past yet again?
  • Key words: Black American author and characters; LGBTQIAP+ characters; Bullying; Social injustice
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
  • Age range: 10-14 (920L)
  • Synopsis:
Set in Mississippi at the height of the Depression, this is the story of one family’s struggle to maintain their integrity, pride, and independence in the face of racism and social injustice. And it is also Cassie’s story—Cassie Logan, an independent girl who discovers over the course of an important year why having land of their own is so crucial to the Logan family, even as she learns to draw strength from her own sense of dignity and self-respect.
  • Key words: Black author and characters; social injustice
Paperboy by Vince Vawter
  • Age range: 10-14 (940L)
  • Synopsis:
An 11-year-old boy living in Memphis in 1959 throws the meanest fastball in town, but talking is a whole different ball game. He can barely say a word without stuttering, not even his own name. So when he takes over his best friend’s paper route for the month of July, he knows he’ll be forced to communicate with the different customers, including a housewife who drinks too much and a retired merchant marine who seems to know just about everything. The newspaper route poses challenges, but it’s a run-in with the neighborhood junkman, a bully and thief, that stirs up real trouble–and puts the boy’s life, as well as that of his family’s devoted housekeeper, in danger.
  • Key words: Author and characters with disabilities ( f7); Bullying; Social injustice
The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • Age range: 11-14 (920L)
  • Synopsis:
Enter the world of ten-year-old Kenny and his family, the Weird Watsons of Flint, Michigan. When Momma and Dad decide it's time for a visit to Grandma, Dad comes home with the amazing Ultra-Glide, and the Watsons head South to Birmingham, Alabama... toward one of the darkest moments in America's history. A hilarious, touching, and tragic novel about civil rights and the impact of violence on one African American family.
  • Key words: Black American author and characters; Social injustice
Jazz Owls by Margarita Engle (also verse)
  • Age range: 12-17 (1300L)
  • Synopsis:
Thousands of young Navy sailors are pouring into Los Angeles on their way to the front lines of World War II. They are teenagers, scared, longing to feel alive before they have to face the horrors of battle. Hot jazz music spiced with cool salsa rhythms beckons them to dance with the local Mexican American girls, who jitterbug all night before working all day in the canneries. Proud to do their part for the war effort, these Jazz Owl girls are happy to dance with the sailors—until the blazing summer night when racial violence leads to murder. Suddenly the young white sailors are attacking the girls’ brothers and boyfriends. The cool, loose zoot suits they wear are supposedly the reason for the violence—when in reality the boys are viciously beaten and arrested simply because of the color of their skin.
  • Key words: Latinx American author and characters ( f5); Social injustice
Call Me Ahab: A Short Story Collection by Anne Finger
  • Age range: Young adult
  • Synopsis:
Imagine a Hollywood encounter between Helen Keller and Frida Kahlo, “two female icons of disability.” Or the story of “Moby Dick, or, The Leg,” told from Ahab’s perspective. What if Vincent Van Gogh resided in a twentieth-century New York hotel, surviving on food stamps and direct communications with God? Or if the dwarf pictured in a seventeenth-century painting by Velazquez should tell her story? And, finally, imagine the encounter between David and Goliath from the Philistine’s point of view. These are the characters who people history and myth as counterpoints to the “normal.” And they are also the characters who populate Anne Finger’s remarkable short stories. Affecting but never sentimental, ironic but never cynical, these wonderfully rich and comic tales reimagine life beyond the margins of “normality.”
  • Key words: Author and characters with disabilities




Biography


Biographies should be non-fiction, otherwise they generally fit into the historical fiction genre. However, when certain details are unknown, authors may embelish or invent them. This is called creative nonfiction. The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter

  • Age range: 4-7 (AD460L; f1)
  • Synopsis ( f2):
Alia Muhammad Baker is the real-life librarian of Basra. As the war in Iraq approaches her city, she wonders what will happen to the library's thirty thousand books. Will they be destroyed, or can she find a way to save them?
  • Key words ( f3): Iraqi characters; Religion; White American author ( f14)
How to Build a Hug: Temple Grandin and Her Amazing Squeeze Machine by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourvilee; Illustrator: Giselle Potter
  • Age range: 4-8 (AD770L)
  • Synopsis:
As a young girl, Temple Grandin loved folding paper kites, making obstacle courses, and building lean-tos. But she really didn’t like hugs. Temple wanted to be held—but to her, hugs felt like being stuffed inside the scratchiest sock in the world; like a tidal wave of dentist drills, sandpaper, and awful cologne, coming at her all at once. Would she ever get to enjoy the comfort of a hug? Then one day, Temple had an idea. If she couldn’t receive a hug, she would make one…she would build a hug machine!
  • Key words: Characters with disabilities ( f7); White American author and characters
Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille by Jen Bryant; Illustrated by Boris Kulikov
  • Age range: 4-8 (590L)
  • Synopsis:
Louis Braille was just five years old when he lost his sight. He was a clever boy, determined to live like everyone else, and what he wanted more than anything was to be able to read. Even at the school for the blind in Paris, there were no books for him. And so he invented his own alphabet—a whole new system for writing that could be read by touch. A system so ingenious that it is still used by the blind community today. Award-winning writer Jen Bryant tells Braille’s inspiring story with a lively and accessible text, filled with the sounds, the smells, and the touch of Louis’s world. Boris Kulikov’s inspired paintings help readers to understand what Louis lost, and what he was determined to gain back through books.
  • Key words: Characters with disabilities; White American author; French characters
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
  • Age range: 5-8 (980L)
  • Synopsis:
Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math…really good. They participated in some of NASA's greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America's first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they worked hard. They persisted. And they used their genius minds to change the world. In this beautifully illustrated picture book edition, we explore the story of four female African American mathematicians at NASA, known as "colored computers," and how they overcame gender and racial barriers to succeed in a highly challenging STEM-based career.
  • Key words: Black American author and characters ( f4); Social injustice; Powerful women
Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh
  • Age range: 6-10
  • Synopsis:
Funny Bones tells the story of how calaveras came to be. The amusing figures are the creation of Mexican artist José Guadalupe (Lupe) Posada (1852–1913). Lupe learned the art of printing at a young age and soon had his own shop. In a country that was not known for freedom of speech, he drew political cartoons, much to the amusement of the local population but not that of the politicians. He continued to draw cartoons, but he is best known today for his calavera drawings. They have become synonymous with Mexico’s Día de Muertos festival. Calaveras are skeletons performing all sorts of activities, both everyday and festive: dancing in the streets, playing instruments in a band, pedaling bicycles, promenading in the park, and even sweeping the sidewalks. They are not intended to be frightening, but rather to celebrate the joy of living as well as provide humorous observations about people.
  • Key words: Latinx American author ( f5); Mexican characters
Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges (autobiography)
  • Age range: 7-12 (860L)
  • Synopsis:
On November 14, 1960, a tiny six-year-old black child, surrounded by federal marshals, walked through a mob of screaming segregationists and into her school. From where she sat in the office, Ruby Bridges could see parents marching through the halls and taking their children out of classrooms. The next day, Ruby walked through the angry mob once again and into a school where she saw no other students. The white children did not go to school that day, and they wouldn't go to school for many days to come. Surrounded by racial turmoil, Ruby, the only student in a classroom with one wonderful teacher, learned to read and add. This is the story of a pivotal event in history as Ruby Bridges saw it unfold around her. Ruby's poignant words, quotations from writers and from other adults who observed her, and dramatic photographs recreate an amazing story of innocence, courage, and forgiveness. Ruby Bridges' story is an inspiration to us all.
  • Key words: Black American authors and characters; Social injustice; Activism; Powerful women
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe
  • Age range: 8-10 (1050L)
  • Synopsis: Jean-Michel Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocketed to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art world had ever seen. But before that, he was a little boy who saw art everywhere: in poetry books and museums, in games and in the words that we speak, and in the pulsing energy of New York City. Now, award-winning illustrator Javaka Steptoe’s vivid text and bold artwork echoing Basquiat’s own introduce young readers to the powerful message that art doesn’t always have to be neat or clean–and definitely not inside the lines–to be beautiful.
  • Key words: Black American author; Hatian and Latinx American characters
  • Additional resources:
Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story by Caren Stelson
  • Age range: 10-18 (850L)
  • Synopsis: This striking work of narrative nonfiction tells the true story of six-year-old Sachiko Yasui’s survival of the Nagasaki atomic bomb on August 9, 1945, and the heartbreaking and lifelong aftermath. Having conducted extensive interviews with Sachiko Yasui, Caren Stelson chronicles Sachiko’s long journey toward peace. This special book offers readers a remarkable new perspective on the final moments of World War II, the fifty years that followed, and the courage it took for one woman to tell her story of nuclear war and peace.
  • Key words: Japanese characters; White American author; Social injustice
  • Additional resources:
Fred Korematsu Speaks Up by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi
  • Age range: 11-13 (930L)
  • Synopsis: Fred Korematsu liked listening to music on the radio, playing tennis, and hanging around with his friends—just like lots of other Americans. But everything changed when the United States went to war with Japan in 1941 and the government forced all people of Japanese ancestry to leave their homes on the West Coast and move to distant prison camps. This included Fred, whose parents had immigrated to the United States from Japan many years before. But Fred refused to go. He knew that what the government was doing was unfair. And when he got put in jail for resisting, he knew he couldn’t give up.
Inspired by the award-winning book for adults Wherever There’s a Fight, the Fighting for Justice series introduces young readers to real-life heroes and heroines of social progress. The story of Fred Korematsu’s fight against discrimination explores the life of one courageous person who made the United States a fairer place for all Americans, and it encourages all of us to speak up for justice. Undocumented by Dan-El Padilla-Peralta
  • Age range: 14-17 (930L)
  • Synopsis: Dan-el Padilla Peralta has lived the American dream. As a boy, he arrived in the United States legally with his family. Together they had traveled from Santo Domingo to seek medical care for his mother. Soon the family’s visas lapsed, and Dan-el’s father eventually returned home. But Dan-el’s courageous mother decided to stay and make a better life for her bright sons in New York City.
Without papers, she faced tremendous obstacles. While Dan-el was only in grade school, the family joined the ranks of the city’s homeless. Dan-el, his mother, and brother lived in a downtown shelter where Dan-el’s only refuge was the meager library. At another shelter he met Jeff, a young volunteer from a wealthy family. Jeff was immediately struck by Dan-el’s passion for books and learning. With Jeff’s help, Dan-el was accepted on scholarship to Collegiate, the oldest private school in the country. There, Dan-el thrived. Throughout his youth, Dan-el navigated two worlds: the rough streets of East Harlem, where he lived with his brother and his mother and tried to make friends, and the ultra-elite halls of a Manhattan private school, where he immersed himself in a world of books and rose to the top of his class. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi (autobiography)
  • Age range: 14-18 (GN380L)
  • Synopsis: In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.
Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love. While the World Watched: A Birmingham Bombing Survivor Comes of Age during the Civil Rights Movement by Carolyn McKinstry and Denise George
  • Age range: Young Adult
  • Synopsis: On September 15, 1963, a Klan-planted bomb went off in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Fourteen-year-old Carolyn Maull was just a few feet away when the bomb exploded, killing four of her friends in the girl’s restroom she had just exited. It was one of the seminal moments in the Civil Rights movement, a sad day in American history . . . and the turning point in a young girl’s life.
While the World Watched is a poignant and gripping eyewitness account of life in the Jim Crow South: from the bombings, riots, and assassinations to the historic marches and triumphs that characterized the Civil Rights movement. A uniquely moving exploration of how racial relations have evolved over the past 5 decades, While the World Watched is an incredible testament to how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go.




Traditional Literature


Traditional literature includes stories that are passed down within a culture such as myths, legends, folktales, and fairytales. These may be considered fiction or nonfiction, depending on who is telling the story. Mommy Eats Fried Grasshoppers by Vilayvanh Bender; Illustrator: Nor Sanavongsay

  • Age range ( f1): 4-7
  • Synopsis ( f2):
Mahlee loves doing things with her mother. When Mommy suggests that she try fried grasshoppers, something she ate as a child growing up in Laos, Mahlee is not so sure. Mommy knows it’s time to tell her daughter how different her life was in Laos. She drank water from a coconut, wore shoes made from banana tree trunks, made dolls out of rags, did homework on a small blackboard, swam in a pond, and had a beetle and a fighting fish as pets. Not only that—she ate fried grasshoppers! “They taste just like potato chips,” Mommy tells her, but Mahlee changes the subject. She lives in California, and Americans don’t eat fried grasshoppers. Her mother suggests again that they have fried grasshoppers while they watch a movie. Mahlee thinks about it. She and Mommy always do things together, she realizes. Why should this be any different? In Mommy Eats Fried Grasshoppers and through the closeness of a mother-daughter relationship, Vilayvanh Bender shows children that cultural differences are just that—differences.
  • Key words (f3): Laotian American author and characters ( f9); Immigrant experience
Lon Po Po by Ed Young
  • Age range: 4-8 (670 L)
  • Synopsis:
On their grandmother's birthday, three children are left at home when their mother goes to visit her. Little do they know that a hungry wolf is waiting for her to leave. He disguises himself as an old woman and knocks on the door. Won't they let their grandmother in? The eldest granddaughter, Shang, is fooled. She opens the door. The little ones are so happy to see their Po Po. And Po Po is happy to see them; they're so sweet and plump. One thing is the same throughout the world: A big bad wolf is a big bad wolf. But he's never a match for a clever girl with a plan, and Po Po won't know what hit her in this exciting Red Riding Hood story.
  • Key words: China; Chinese-American author and characters
Hansel and Gretel: A Fairy Tale with a Down Syndrome Twist by Jewel Kats; Illustrator: Claudia Marie Lenart
  • Age range: 5-7 (610L)
  • Synopsis:
Hansel & Gretel: A Fairy Tale with a Down Syndrome Twist is an enchanting tale about how kindness overcomes callousness and leads to a wondrous reward. This adaptation of the classic Grimms’ tale includes the wicked witch and the poor siblings in search of food, but in this case, five-year-old Hansel is a mischievous, yet courageous, boy with Down syndrome. Young readers will learn that: Children with Down syndrome are capable and can achieve extraordinary success with determination. An act of kindness can transform people and the world. Treating people like family can create a miracle. People cannot be judged by appearance; a princess or a hero can be hidden within. Facing a challenge can lead to unimagined rewards.
  • Key words: Author and characters with disabilities ( f7)
Brothers of the Knight by Debbie Allen; Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
  • Age range: 5-8 (720L)
  • Synopsis:
Debbie Allen’s contemporary retelling of the classic tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses with illustrations from Kadir Nelson! Reverend Knight can’t understand why his twelve sons’ sneakers are torn to threads each and every morning, and the boys aren’t talking. They know their all-night dancing wouldn’t fit with their father’s image in the community. Maybe Sunday, a pretty new nanny with a knack for getting to the bottom of household mysteries, can crack the case. This modern, hip retelling of the classic tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses bursts with vibrant artwork and text that’s as energetic as the twelve toe-tapping Knight brothers themselves. Peach Boy and Other Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories by Florence Sakade; Illustrator: Yoshisuke Kurosaki
  • Age range: 4-9
  • Synopsis:
This colorfully illustrated multicultural children's book presents several Japanese fairy tales and other folk stories—providing insight into a rich oral culture. Welcome to a fantastic world populated by magical teakettles, long-nosed goblins, brave warriors, and a host of other beloved characters who have lived on for centuries in the traditional tales of Japan. Drawn from Japanese folklore that has been passed down from generation to generation, the nine enchanting stories collected in this volume have been lovingly retold just for today's readers. They make perfect new additions for story time or bedtime reading. Vibrantly illustrated and full of thrilling adventures, funny discoveries and important lessons, they're sure to become story time favorites.
  • Key words: Japanese author and characters