2020 Summer Reading List

2020 Summer Reading List PDF

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), with attention to their intersecting. Chosen books are thoroughly selected, discussed, and vetted by two or more members.

2020 We Are Kid Lit Collective members: Tad Andracki, Edith Campbell, Laura M. Jiménez, Sujei Lugo, Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Debbie Reese, and Sonia Alejandra Rodríguez.



Bogan, Carmen; illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Where’s Rodney? (Dream On Publishing/Yosemite Conservancy, 2017). English.

So full of energy, Rodney, a young African American boy, enjoys being outside. When his class takes a field trip to the park, he is overcome by its majestic beauty. “Where’s Rodney?” Read-aloud by author Carmen Bogan.


Dominguez, Grecia Huesca; illustrated by Teresa Martinez. Dear Abuelo. (Reycraft Books, 2019). English.

Juana has immigrated from Mexico to New York City. She doesn’t know the language and doesn’t fit in at school. She writes her grandfather letters to inform him about what’s going on in her life. Juana makes a new friend, a Mexican-American girl, who helps her navigate her new school.


Gonzales, Mark; illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini. Yo Soy Muslim: A Father’s Letter to His Daughter. (Salaam Reads, 2017). English; Braille.

A father writes a letter to his daughter that celebrates all aspects of her multicultural identity.


González, Lucía; illustrated by Lulu Delacre. The Storyteller’s Candle/La velita de los cuentos. (Children’s Book Press, 2008). Bilingual (English/Spanish).

Librarian Pura Belpré helps the Puerto Rican community feel welcome in the library by speaking Spanish and celebrating the Feast of the Three Kings.


Hunt, Dallas; illustrated by Amanda Strong. Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock. (Highwater Press, 2018). English with some Cree.

Follow Awâsis as they lose grandma’s world-famous bannock and the different animals they encounter along the way.


Johnson, Myles; illustrated by Kendrick Daye. Large Fears. (Myles Johnson, 2016). English.

Jeremiah Nebulah, who loves all things pink, sets off to visit Mars only to have his fears take over his imagination and land him, and his troubles, among the stars. Will he ever be able to make it to Mars?


Jung Jin-Ho; translated by Mi Hyun Kim. Look Up! (Holiday House, 2016). English; Korean.

A young person leans forward in their wheelchair and looks over the railing of their building. What a unique perspective of the world down below!


Lee, Uk-Bae; translated by Aileen Won. When Spring Comes to the DMZ. (Plough Publishing, 2019). English; Korean.

Springtime in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Korea is when a unique ecosystem comes to life. But, the DMZ is also a military barrier humans created to divide a country. This book provides a unique perspective on the region. Backmatter explains the politics.


Lukoff, Kyle; illustrated by Kaylani Juanita. When Aidan Became a Brother. (Lee & Low, 2019). English.

Aidan becomes a little boy who gets to decide what he’ll wear and how he’ll decorate his room. He takes the news that he’s going to be a big brother to heart, wanting to be sure that his new sibling feels nothing but love.


Mathis, Sharon Bell; illustrated by George Ford. Ray Charles. (Lee & Low, 2001). English; Spanish.

Written prior to his death, this picture book biography of musician Ray Charles captures his life and work from his days at St. Augustine School for the Blind to his activism and musical achievements. Learning resources.


Mayeno, Laurin; illustrated by Robert Liu-Trujillo; translated by Teresa Mlawer. One of a Kind, Like Me/Único como yo. (Blood Orange Press, 2016). Bilingual (English/Spanish).

Danny and his mom search the thrift store to find the perfect purple princess dress. With a little creativity, they’re able to come up with the perfect costume for the school’s parade.


McDaniel, Breanna J.; illustrated by Shane W. Evans. Hands Up! (Dial, 2019). English.

A little African American girl is affirmed by her community as she goes through her day with her hands up.


Sotomayor, Sonia; illustrated by Lulu Delacre. Turning Pages: My Life Story. (Philomel, 2018). English; Spanish.

Sonia Sotomayor’s biography reveals her personal life and the ups and downs that  motivated her career. Teaching resources from Reading is Fundamental.


Vermette, Katherena; illustrated by Julie Flett. The Girl and the Wolf. (Theytus Publishing, 2019). English.

Métis author Katherena Vermette and Cree- Métis artist Julie Flett collaborate on this re-creation of the European story of a little girl in red who gets lost in the woods while picking berries with her mother. When she begins to panic, a large gray wolf appears and helps her find her way home.



Dominguez, Angela. Stella Díaz Has Something to Say. (Roaring Brook, 2018). English; Spanish.

Stella, a young Latinx girl, has lots of fun with her mom and her brother. She has many different interests, but few friends to share them with. Stella doesn’t speak out much at school because she’s not confident with her English. But, Stella has something to say!


González, Sarai and Monica Brown; illustrated by Christine Almeda. Sarai Saves the Music. (Scholastic, 2019). Spanish; English.

When Sarai’s school threatens to cut the music program, Sarai rallies her friends and her community to raise the necessary funds. Her dedication, innovation, and charisma recruits a global popstar to join in the fight.


Hooks, Gwendolyn; illustrated by Shirley Ng-Benitez. The Buddy Bench. (Lee & Low, 2019). English.

In this early reader, a group of young friends decide to create a welcoming space for students who feel alone at school.


Lyons, Kelly Starling; illustrated by Nneka Myers & Vanessa Brantley-Newton. Jada Jones: Sleepover Scientist. (Penguin, 2019). English.

Jada Jones is a young African American girl who loves science as much as she loves being with her friends. She eagerly decides to have a sleepover but, will her friends enjoy her experiments as much as she does?


McKissack, Patricia and Fredrick. Louis Armstrong: King of Jazz. (Enslow, 2013). English.

This book introduces readers to the life and career of Louis Armstrong, an iconic African American jazz musician.


Tan, Susan; illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte. Cilla Lee-Jenkins: This Book Is a Classic. (Roaring Brook, 2018). English.

After finishing her “best-selling memoir”, Cilla is ready to write a “classic” while tackling being a good friend, big sister, and insecurities.



Alexander, Kwame; illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile. The Crossover – Graphic Novel. (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2019). English.

Filthy and his twin brother Jordan used to be all about basketball, but when Jordan gets a girlfriend everything starts to change. Through basketball, the twins’ father teaches them about life, death, and what it means to be a man. Filthy will need to figure out if he wants to play the game.


Argueta, Jorge; illustrated by Manuel Monroy. Caravan to the North: Misael’s Long Walk. (Groundwood, 2019). English; Spanish.

This short novel in verse follow’s Misael and his family as they join the caravan from El Salvador to the Mexico/US border. Misael details the violence he is fleeing and the beauty of his country that he will miss.


Armand, Glenda; illustrated by Floyd Cooper. The Story of Trailblazing Actor Ira Aldridge. (Lee & Low, 2015). English.

This is the story of Ira Aldridge, an African American actor who followed his dreams and became one of the best Shakespearean actors in the world.


Cartaya, Pablo. The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora. (Viking, 2017). English; Spanish.

Arturo Zamora and his Cuban-American family fight for their family restaurant in their Miami neighborhood now facing major gentrification. After his grandmother dies, Arturo turns to his family for support and finds letters written by his grandfather, which guide him in his adventure only to have it all blow up in his face.


Chanani, Nidhi. Pashmina. (First Second, 2017). English; Italian.

In this graphic novel, Priyanka Das wants to know more about her family. She uses her imagination to know more about India, her mother’s homeland, and she constantly questions her mother. But, Pri is only left with more questions until she has to go to India to help her aunt.


Craft, Jerry. New Kid. (HarperCollins, 2019). English.

In this graphic novel, Jordan Banks, an African American student, begins the school year at a majority white school located outside his neighborhood. Jordan’s lessons extend beyond textbooks as he faces new levels of acceptance.


Freeman, Paula J. My Basmati Bat Mitzvah. (Amulet, 2013). English.

Tara Feinstein is of Jewish and Indian heritage. Her family has always accepted this blending, but as Tara prepares for her bat mitzvah she begins to question what she really believes about her heritage, her faith, and her relationships.


Quigley, Dawn. Apple in the Middle. (North Dakota State Univ. Press, 2019). English.

Apple Starkington is a high school student in Minnesota. Apple’s father is European American and her mother was Turtle Mountain Chippewa. Apple’s mother died shortly after she was born, leaving Apple to barely recognize what it means to be Turtle Mountain Chippewa.This summer, Apple will spend time with her mother’s family on the Reservation where she gets to know her family and herself just a little more.


Riazi, Karuna. The Gauntlet. (Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster, 2017). English; Czech.

A board game given to Farah for her twelfth birthday draws her, her two best friends and her spoiled younger brother into a parallel world drawn from Muslim traditions from Morocco to Southeast Asia. If they can’t work together and solve the puzzles, she and the others will never return home.


Smith, Ronald L. Black Panther: The Young Prince. (Marvel Press, 2018). English.

T’Challa and his close friend M’Baku are sent by T’Challa’s father, the Black Panther, to be safer in Chicago when war strikes Wakanda. This is T’Challa’s first time leaving Wakanda. As he’s learning about life on the South Side, he and his friend stumble into matters of the dark side.


Venkatraman, Padma. The Bridge Home. (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2019). English.

Viji leaves home with her sister Rukku, who is developmentally disabled, to be safe from her father’s abuse. They meet and become friends with Muthu and Arul and quickly become family. Their belief and trust in each other provide for their survival on the streets of Chennai, India.


Wang, Jen. Stargazing. (First Second, 2019). English.

Moon and Christine and their “unlikely” friendship, help them find joy and hope and navigate complex friendship and family dynamics.



Acevedo, Elizabeth. With the Fire on High. (Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins, 2019). English.

Emoni Santiago dreams of becoming a chef. After signing  up for a culinary class at school, she learns that there’s more to it than creating delicious meals. When she’s offered a spot in the culinary class trip to Spain, Emoni must figure out how to manage it all: taking care of her baby, her grandmother, and her grades.


Alkaf, Hanna. The Weight of Our Sky. (Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster, 2019). English; Malay.

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1969, Melati Ahmad creates elaborate rituals to hold off visions of her mother’s death. The outbreak of rioting between ethnic Chinese and Muslim Malay people leave Melati stranded with a (supposedly enemy) Chinese family, desperate to find her mother, and fighting to keep her OCD in check as she searches through the devastated streets of her home.


Emezi, Akwaeke. Pet. (Make Me a World, 2019). English.

If Jam wants to save her best friend, Redemption, from an impending monster attack she’ll have to join Pet, an out of this world creature, in the fight, even if the rest of the town is convinced there aren’t any monsters.


McCall, Guadalupe Garcia. All the Stars Denied. (Tu Books/Lee & Low, 2018). English.

After 15-year-old Estrella speaks out against the deportation of her Mexican-American classmates and friends in Depression-era South Texas, vigilantes burn her family’s home, and sheriff’s deputies separate her, her mother, and her sickly younger brother from her father and “repatriate” them to Mexico, a country they’ve never known. Sequel to Shame the Stars, set 16 years later.


Ribay, Randy. Patron Saints of Nothing. (Knopf, 2019). English.

When 18-year-old Jay Reguero, a Filipino-American  teenager living in Michigan, learns of his cousin Jun’s death as a result of Duterte’s drug war in the Philippines, he vows to return to his father’s home to discover the truth. In his ten days there, he learns that the truth, home, and family are more complicated than he could ever imagine.


Spillett, Tasha; illustrated by Natasha Donovan. Surviving the City. (Highwater Press, 2018). English.

Miikaw and Dez are two teen best friends navigating the challenges of living in the city, colonialism and missing those you love.


This Place: 150 Years Retold. (Highwater Press, 2019). English and several Native/First Nations languages.

A graphic novel anthology by various Native/Indigenous authors and illustrators that highlight and intersect the past, present, and futures of Native peoples.



Abirached, Zeina. I Remember Beirut. (Graphic Universe, 2008). English.

Abirached’s second graphic novel memoir follows her childhood experiences in Lebanon and the impact of her country’s civil war.


Hernández, Daisy & Bushra Rehman. (eds.) Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism. (Seal Press, 2019). English.

This second edition of Colonize This! Is a collection of essays shining a spotlight on the experiences of young women of color and the myriad of ways they challenge systemic oppression.


Whitehead, Joshua. Jonny Appleseed. (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2018). English; German; French; Braille.

In the week between receiving the news that his stepfather has died and the funeral, Two-Spirit Cree “glitter princess” Jonny will navigate love, sex, trauma, and memory, guided by recollections of his kokum.

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