Are you looking for a curated summer reading list that celebrates diversity, inclusivity and intersecting identities? The We Are Kid Lit Collective selects books by and about IPOC (Indigenous and People of Color), people with disabilities, and people from the LGBTQIA+ communities. Chosen books are thoroughly selected, discussed, and vetted by two or more members.
2019 WKL collective members: Tad Andracki, Edith Campbell, Laura M. Jimenez, Sujei Lugo, Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Debbie Reese, and Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez
Campbell, Nicola I.; illustrated by Kim LaFave. Grandpa’s Girls. (Groundwood Books, 2011). Bilingual (English/Interior Salish language). Based on her own childhood memories, Interior Salish and Métis author, Nicola I. Campbell shares the story of a little girl and her cousins adventures and experiences visiting their grandpa’s farm and learning more about his life.
Child, Brenda J.; illustrated by Jonathan Thunder; translated by Gordon Jourdain. Bowwow Powwow. (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2018). Bilingual (English/Ojibwe). Every inch of this picture book is an exquisite mirror for Native children and a clear window for non-Native readers. At its heart is Windy, an Ojibwe girl and her dog, Itchy Boy. On the way to a powwow, Windy’s uncle tells her a story about a dance that is misunderstood by outsiders. That night when she falls asleep, her dreams are filled with that story, and, dogs!
Elwin, Rosamund, Michelle Paulse; illustrated by Dawn Lee. Asha’s Mums. (Women’s Press, 1990). English. When Asha needs a signature for the permission slip for her school trip to the Science Center, she is questioned about which name on the form was her mom’s. Asha undergoes the experience of teaching her fellow classmates and her teacher that she and her brother have two moms and they are both number one.
Harris, J.; illustrated by Ward Jenkins. Salam Alaikum: A Message of Peace. (Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017). English. The message is simple: shine and spread peace, love and joy. Assalamu Alaikum!
Herrera, Juan Felipe; illustrated by Anita De Lucio-Brock. Grandma and Me at the Flea/Los Meros Meros Remateros. (Children’s Book Press, 2002). Bilingual (English/Spanish). Every Sunday Juanito helps his grandma sell old clothes at el remate, the flea market. Juanito and his friends take part in Grandma’s vision of the flea market as a place for helping and sharing as they romp from booth to sunny booth.
Hong, Jess. Lovely. (Creston Books, 2017). English. It’s lovely to be our own unique selves!
Hong, Nari. Days With Dad. (Enchanted Lion Books, 2017). English, Korean. Autobiographical story of a young girl and the different activities and experiences she has with her father, who uses a wheelchair.
Martinez, Ernesto Javier; illustrated by Maya Christina González; translated by Jorge Gabriel Martinez Feliciano. Cuando amamos cantamos/When We Love Someone We Sing to Them. (Reflection Press, 2018). Bilingual (Spanish/English). When a boy feels his heart and love towards a fellow classmate, he seeks guidance from his dad to learn how to express his feelings and learn songs for a boy who loves boys.
Martinez-Neal, Juana. Alma and How She Got Her Name. (Candlewick, 2018). English, Spanish. Alma is a little girl with a very big name: Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela. This picture book lovingly brings Alma’s family history to life by providing tiny biographies of all the people who contribute to her name. The images are soft, delicate, and full of hidden gems for the reader to discover with multiple reads.
Medina, Tony; illustrated by various. Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy. (Penny Candy Books, 2018). English. A collection of tanka poems on black boyhood. Book features 13 illustrators and through vivid and eclectic images and words celebrate and affirms the lives and experiences of black boys.
Morales, Yuyi. Soñadores. (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House, 2018). Spanish, English. Time and again, the United States fails to live up to its aspirations to be a country that embraces people, no matter where they are from. It is a dream that can come true, however, as we see in the splendid story that unfolds in this autobiographical picture book, and it is a loving tribute to libraries and all the children’s books that are part of Morales’s life.
Paul, Baptiste; illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara. The Field. (NorthSouth Books, 2018). English with Saint Lucian Creole. In the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia, a group of young friends get together to play the world’s most popular game, futbol! As a rainstorm approaches they need to decide to stop the game or continue playing and celebrating friendship and community.
Seki, Sunny. Yuko-Chan and the Daruma Doll: The Adventures of a Blind Japanese Girl Who Saves Her Village. (Tuttle Publishing, 2012). Bilingual (English/Japanese). Yuko-chan lived in a small village in Japan. She didn’t have much, even her eyesight was severely limited, but she knew that she had more than many others. Her desire to help those less fortunate than her is the story behind the creation of the famous Daruma Dolls.
Sorell, Traci; illustrated by Frané Lessac. We are Grateful: Otsaliheliga. (Charlesbridge, 2018). Bilingual (English/Cherokee). Sparse in words but packed with information, this nonfiction picture book depicts the present-day life of a Cherokee family. The history, values and cultural ways of the Cherokee people are warmly depicted as the season’s move, one to the next. Cherokee words, some shown using the syllabary created by Sequoyah in the early 1800s, appear throughout.
Wong, Herbert Yee. Summer Days and Nights. (Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt, 2012). English. A young girl enjoys spending a summer day and night, finding and learning about different animals and the world around her. For her, a good summer day can’t be completed without some lemonade, pool-time, and picnic at the park with the family.
Woodson, Jacqueline; illustrated by Rafael López. The Day You Begin. (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2018). English, Spanish. When a new school year begins, Angelina is worried that nobody will be like her. When others share stories about their summer travels, she feels even more different but then remembers the places she went, by reading stories to her little sister. She shares her story, and makes a friend with a boy who also felt different. Their confidence radiates in a new-found friendship.
Beginning Readers/Chapter Books
Ada, Alma Flor; illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Daniel’s Pet/Daniel y su mascota. (Harcourt Books, 2008). Bilingual (Spanish/English). Daniel lives in farm surrounded by different animals and takes care of them. One day he held a baby chick/pollito in his hand and decides to raise it until it grows up.
Amen IV, Henry J and Kyubyong Park; illustrated by Aya Padron. My First Book of Korean Words. (Tuttle, 2012). Bilingual (Korean/English). Using the ABCs as a framework, this picture book guides young readers through fundamentals of Korean language and culture.
Crews, Donald. Cloudy Day, Sunny Day. (Harcourt Brace & Company, 1999). English. Repetitive words and short sentences showcases fun activities to do together on cloudy and sunny days.
Delacre, Lulu. ¡Olinguito, de la A al Z! Descubriendo el bosque nublado/Olinguito, from A to Z!/Unveiling the Cloud Forest. (Children’s Book Press/Lee & Low, 2016). Bilingual (English/Spanish). What could be more fun that using the ABCs to investigate the flora and fauna that are endemic to the cloud forest. Text, glossary and all backmatter and provided in Spanish and English.
Faruqi, Saadia; illustrated by Hatem Aly. Yasmin: the Painter. (Picture Window Books, 2018). English. When an art competition is announced at her school, Yasmin isn’t sure about her art skills. By learning and practicing, will she gain the confidence and talent to create a masterpiece?
Florence, Debbie Michiko; illustrated by Elizabeth Vukovic. Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen. (Picture Window Books, 2017). English. With the New Year around the corner, Jasmine wants to do something special: pound the mochi rice with the men of her family. Can Jasmine break a tradition reserved for boys and show that she is not too young to help?
Lyons, Kelly Starling; illustrated by Melissa Manwill. A Girl Named Misty: The True Story of Misty Copeland. (Scholastic, 2018). English. From the American Girl series, the life and story of ballet dancer Misty Copeland, who grew from a shy African American girl to the lead performer and first African American to dance the role of Firebird.
Medearis, Angela Shelf; illustrated by Nicole Tadgell. Lights Out! (Scholastic, 2004). English. When daddy tucks her into bed, a young girl open her eyes and enjoys a bright night of the city through her window and creates a playful puppet show through lights and shadows.
Perkins, Mitali; illustrated by Jamie Hogan. Rickshaw Girl. (Charlesbridge, 2007). English. Naimi is the best alpana painter in her village and she’s her father’s pride and joy. When Naimi accidently damages her father’s rickshaw she feels it’s her responsibility to help repair it. But what can she do in this traditional village where girls aren’t allowed to work? Naimi will have to be very creative!
Torres, Jennifer; illustrated by Renato Alarcão; translated by Alexis Romay. Finding the Music/ En pos de la música. (Lee & Low, 2015). Bilingual (Spanish/English). Her abuelo’s guitar is one of the few things of his that Reyna’s family still has. When it’s accidentally broken, Reyna meets with people in her community seeking help to repair the beloved instrument. Along the way, she finds more memories. This bilingual English/Spanish story displays how our neighbors are extended family members.
Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem and Raymond Obstfeld; illustrated by Ben Boos and A. G. Ford. What Color is My World? (Candlewick Press, 2010). English. When twins Ella and Herbie move into a new home that is much in need of repairs, they begin to learn that there home is a museum filled with black history. Mr. Mital teaches that that inventions are really innovations that are built on previous work. He teaches them about the African Americans who are important parts of these innovations.
Atkins, Laura and Stan Yogi; illustrated by Yutaka Houlette. Fred Korematsu Speaks Up. (Heydey Books, 2017). English. Through poetry, historical narrative, appealing illustrations, timelines, and discussion questions that connect the past with the reader’s present, the first in the Fighting for Justice series explores Korematsu’s resistance to the internment of Japanese Americans during the World War II and his and his family’s continued quest for awareness and reparations decades later.
Briggs, Jacqueline and June Jo Lee; illustrated by Man One. Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix. (Readers to Eaters, 2017). English. This nonfiction book is the story of how Korean American Roy Choi became one of the best street cooks in the United Stats. Illustrations are by graffiti artist, Man One.
Callender, Kheryn. Hurricane Child. (Scholastic, 2018). English. Born when a hurricane struck her home in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Caroline has always been considered as having bad luck. When a new girl, Kalinda, comes to school, Caroline develops her first crush. But haunted by spirits and the feeling that her mother abandoned her family, she embarks on a journey to find whether she can ever be truly happy.
Hashimi, Nadia. One Half from the East. (Harper Collins, 2016). English. When Obayda’s father is injured in a terrorist attack, her family decides that she must become a bacha posh: an Afghani girl who lives her life as a boy to ensure that her family has someone who can do the things only men or boys can do in Afghani society. As Obayd, he realizes that the freedom he now has may be something hard to give up when the time comes.
Hosseini, Khaled. Sea Prayer. (Riverhead Books, 2017). English. As a Syrian family sits on a beach, waiting to seek refuge in a new land, a father recounts his homeland and prays for safety on their journey.
Hudson, Wade and Cheryl Willis Hudson, eds. We Rise. We Resist. We Raise Our Voices. (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2018). English. An anthology of poems, short stories, personal essays, and artwork by indigenous creators and creators of color that explores the struggles of the past through the experiences of those who lived through them and offers reassurance, encouragement, advice, and hope for young people facing our current political crisis. The editors are the founders of acclaimed small press Just Us Books.
Maldonado, Torrey. Tight. (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2018). English. Middle schooler Bryan’s mother, a social worker, wants him to become friends with Mike, a classmate from a troubled family, because they’re both good students and have interests in common. But when Mike dares Bryan to do dangerous things, Bryan has to decide what his values are and how much he will compromise to keep a friend.
Moyer, Naomi M. Black Women Who Dared. (Second Story Press, 2018). English. A collection of portraits of the life and work of 10 women from the Black diaspora.
Nicholson, Dorinda Makanaonalani. The School the Aztec Eagles Built. (Lee & Low, 2016). English. Sgt. Ángel Bocanegra become a member of the US’s Squadron 201, the Fighting Eagles, during World War II. This unique squadron was created through cooperation by the US and Mexico. For his service, Bocanegra requested that a school be built in his hometown that it’s still in function today.
Older, Daniel José. Dactyl Hill Squad. (Scholastic, 2018). English. The storytelling in this fantasy makes it believable that there are dinosaurs on earth during the Civil War. Little known episodes from history bring the teen squad together. Led by Mags, who can communicate with the dinosaurs, the children set out to do battle in NYC in this first of a trilogy that ends with the squad on the back of a pterodactyl, flying south.
Soto, Gary. Neighborhood Odes. (Harcourt Brace, 1992). English with Spanish. A recollection of twenty-poems of growing up and everyday life in a Latino neighborhood.
Starr, Arigon; illustrated by Janet Miner. Super Indian (Volume 1). (Wacky Productions Unlimited, 2012). English. Tainted government issued cheese gives Hubert Logan powers to fight evil forces on the reservation where he and his sidekicks, Mega Bear and Diogi, live.
Vivat, Booki. Frazzled: Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes (Book 2). (Harper Collins, 2017). English. Through honest and hilarious text and illustrations, a pre-teen girl faces the ups and downs of being a middle child and being in middle school.
Ahmed, Samira. Love, Hate, and Other Filters. (Soho, 2017). English. Bristling against her parents’ expectations that she attend college nearby and marry a nice Muslim boy, Maya secretly applies to film school in New York and starts falling for her White classmate, Phil. When a terrorist attack happens across the country, Maya finds herself at the center of the prejudices lying under the surface of her suburban home.
Charleyboy, Lisa and Mary Beth Leatherday, eds. #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women. (Annick Press, 2017). English. Bound by a hashtag used by Native people on social media, this award-winning collection of art and stories features Native teens and women who speak back in the face of adversity. The entries shine bright lights on Native life and the strength the authors draw from their identity as Native people.
Gansworth, Eric. Give Me Some Truth. (Arthur A. Levine, 2018). English. Through alternating chapters featuring Carson, a senior who is trying to get a rock band started and Maggie, who has moved back to the Tuscarora reservation, readers will be riveted by this story of Native teens trying to find their place in a world where white people hurt and abuse them and their families. And yet, they prevail in this wonderful story of resistance and politically engaged youth.
Jackson, Jenn M. “People of Color Deserve Credit for Their Work to Save the Environment.” (Teen Vogue, December 27, 2018). English. Not only are IPOC and low income residents of the US more likely to suffer the effects of abuse to the environment, they’re also more likely to actively resist it.
Jackson, Tiffany D. Monday’s Not Coming. (Katherine Tegen Books, 2018). English. Author Tiffany Jackson explores the real life issue of missing black girls when Monday Charles goes missing. Only her friend, Claudia knows something is wrong and no one else seems to care. Jackson explores media bias, systematic racism and neglect in this powerful novel.
Khorram, Adib. Darius The Great is Not Okay. (Dial, 2018). English. 16-year-old Darius Kellner lives in Portland, OR. When his family learns that his mother’s father is terminally ill, they decide to return to Iran to visit him one last time. Darius, who has never been to Iran, is somewhat apprehensive about the trip. It’s not easy for him to meet new people and his depression doesn’t help either. With humor, wit and honest maybe, just maybe Darius will be okay.
Latin American Youth Center. Voces sin fronteras: Our Stories. Our Truth/Nuestras historias, nuestra verdad. (Shout Mouse Press, 2018). Bilingual (Spanish/English). Bilingual stories and comics from the point of view of Latinx immigrant youth and their experiences.
Myers, Walter Dean; illustrated by Guy A. Sim and Dawud Anyabwile. Monster: A Graphic Novel. (Harper Collins, 2015). English. Steve Harmon is an African American teen on trial for robbery and murder. Steve’s interest in film is brought to the forefront on the narrative in this truly remarkable graphic novel adaptation. Sims and Anyabwile’s use of dense and lively black and white images to provide the reader with an intimate perspective while staying true to Myer’s groundbreaking novel.
Oshiro, Mark. Anger is a Gift. (Tor Teen, 2018). English. Moss Jeffries lost his dad to police brutality. When the high school’s military grade security goes completely wrong, Moss has to decide if he will step out of the shadows and speak up about police violence, again. Amidst the disaster that is the new security system at his high school Moss develops a beautiful romance with an undocumented young man at a different high school. When worlds collide, Moss will need figure out how to deal with loss again.
Smith, Cynthia Leitich. Hearts Unbroken. (Candlewick, 2018). English. When Louise Wolfe joins the high school newspaper class and her younger brother Hughie is cast as the Tin Man in the school’s production of The Wizard of Oz, the Mvskoke siblings find themselves in the middle of a battle over the diverse casting of the play, while Lou experiences her own romantic battles when she breaks up with her insensitive boyfriend and rebounds to ace student reporter Joey Kairouz, who is Lebanese American.
Stevenson, Bryan. Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Readers): A True Story of the Fight for Justice. (Delacorte, 2014). English. In documenting his work with inmates on death row, Bryan Stevenson presents the injustices of the U.S. penal system. He also displays how one person can make a difference.
StVil, Lola. Girls Like Me. (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2016). English. Shay Summers is still grieving over the loss of her father. She’s bullied because of her weight and just can’t seem to catch a break until she meets Blake online.