2023 Summer Reading List

The 2023 Summer Reading LIst PDF will be coming soon courtesy of School Library Journal.

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 BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color), with attention to their intersecting identities. Chosen books are thoroughly selected, discussed, and vetted by two or more members so that they can be free of microagressions, stereotypes, or vestiges of imperialism.

2023 We Are Kid Lit Collective members: Sam Bloom, Edith Campbell, Sujei Lugo Vázquez, and Lyn Miller-Lachmann.

Some of the content in this list may be difficult for those who have experienced or been impacted by types of actions or situations. Please be sure to read annotations carefully, and refer to CommonSenseMedia .Org  for complete warnings if needed. Please take care of yourself.

Picture Books 

Asoyuf, Morgan. Learning My Rights with Mousewoman. (Native Northwest, 2021) Mousewoman, a grandmother figure in Northwest Coast Indigenous Cultures, informs young people of their basic human rights.

Basseru, Etan; illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh. A Persian Passover. (Kalaniot Books, 2022) In a small town in Iran, a brother and sister lose all of their family’s matzah just hours before their Passover seder. Luckily, their neighbor, Mrs. Pirnazar, has plenty of matzah to share, and so they invite Mrs. Pirnazar to join them for their seder.

Bolling, Valerie; illustrated by Sabrena Khadija. Ride, Roll, Run: Time for Fun. (Abrams Appleseed, 2022) After school is time for fun with our friends! This inclusive celebration of kids in motion highlights young people with disabilities playing alongside their friends.

Brown, Keah; illustrated by Sharee Miller. Sam’s Super Seats. (Kokila, 2022) Sam is excited about going back to school with her mom and her two best friends.  WIth a few needed breaks because of Sam’s disability, this caring group has a good time preparing for the year.

Caines,  Jeannette; illustrated by Pat Cummings. Just Us Women. (Harper & Row, 1982) It’s time for niece and aunty’s annual road trip. They’ll walk in the rain, stop for peaches, pose for pictures and create lasting memories together. And, they’ll take their time because it will be just the two. 

Carranza, Leonarda; illustrated by Rafael Mayani. Abuelita and Me. (Annick Press, 2022) Home is a safe space for the young narrator and her loving abuelita, but the pair must deal with racist microaggressions when they venture out. After an especially egregious episode, the brave child, with Abuelita by her side, decides to take a stand.

de la Fuente-Lau, Shuli. How We Eat (We Are Little Feminists). (Little Feminist Press, 2022) Simple text and bright, inviting photographs show the many ways kids eat their food in this board book for young readers.

Ebeid, Rifk,; illustrated by Lamaa Jawhari. Baba, What Does My Name Mean?: A Journey to Palestine. (Tablo Publishing, 2020) When Saamidah asks her Baba what her names mean, she learns and remembers the existence and resistance of Palestine and its peoples.

Kamanda, Ali and Jorge Redmond;  illustrated by Ken Daley. Black Boy, Black Boy: Celebrate the Power of YOU. (Sourcebooks, 2022) Using rhyming text and boldly colored illustrations, this empowering book affirms Black boys through the examples of Black men such as Colin Kaepernick, Chinua Achebe, and many others.

Lee, Sophia N.; illustrated by Isabel Roxas. Holding On. (Atheneum, 2022) When Lola starts changing her energy to stillness, her granddaughter finds ways to hold on to the music, food and memories they once shared together.

León Amyra; illustrated by Molly Mendoza. Freedom, We Sing. (Flying Eye Books, 2020) A mother and child dance and breathe through a series of earthy scenarios to question life, love and the meaning of individual and collective freedom.

Marshall, Linda Elovitz; illustrated by Zara González Hoang. Measuring A Year: A Rosh Hashanah Story. (Abrams Appleseed, 2022) The Jewish New Year begins with Rosh Hashanah and it gives is an opportunity to measure all we’ve done in the past year.

Martinez, Claudia Guadalupe; illustrated by Laura González. Not a Bean. (Charlesbridge, 2019) Intersecting numbers with the Mexican desert, this non-fiction book portrays the life cycle of the jumping bean moth.  This non-fiction book tells the life cycle of a Mexican jumping bean by counting concepts and a little Spanish vocabulary.

Millán, Isabel. Chabelita’s Heart/El corazón de Chabelita. (Reflection Press, 2022) When a new girl arrives at school, Chabelita’s heart starts to pound. The connection between Chabelita and Jimena grows and portrays the sweetness of first loves. 

Nambi, Shoshana; illustrated by Moran Yogev. The Very Best Sukkah: A Story from Uganda. (Kalaniot Books, 2022) Shoshi and her family work to build the best sukkah in their Abayudaya Jewish community in Uganda, but Shoshi discovers that winning a contest is far from the most important part of Sukkot, her favorite holiday.

Parra, John. Growing an Artist: The Story of a Landscaper and His Son. (S&S / Paula Wiseman, 2022) Juanito accompanies his dad to his job as a landscaper and learns about the hardworking people, communities and land that eventually inspire him in his work as an artist. 

Robertson, Joanne; translated by Shirley Williams and Isadore Toulouse. Nibi is water/Nibi aawon nbiish. (Second Story Press, 2020) Short and simple text about what all the water around us does, and the importance of protecting it. 

Shange, Ntozake; illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Ellington Was Not a Street. (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2004) Kadir Nelson’s award-winning illustrations pair beautifully with Ntozake Shange’s poem “Mood Indigo,” showing a child’s-eye-view of Harlem Renaissance-era luminaries who spent time at her home.

Tamaki, Jillian. Our Little Kitchen. (Abrams, 2020) This little kitchen is stocked with food from the garden, and donations from the food bank. Every Wednesday, it’s filled with volunteers who prepare food for anyone and everyone who wants a hot meal.

Vandever, Daniel W.; illustrated by Corey Begay. Herizon. (South of Sunrise Creative, 2021) This wordless book follows a Diné girl on a journey to help retrieve her grandmother’s wayward flock of sheep, using a magical scarf to assist her.

Wong-Kalu, Hinaleimoana, Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson; and illustrated by Daniel Sousa. Kapaemahu. (Kokila, 2022) This native Hawaiian legend tells the bittersweet story of four dual male and female spirits who imbued boulders with their powers, only for time (and colonization) to bury the stones of Kapaemahu on the beach of Waikiki.

Early Chapter Books

Albee, Jay. Riley Reynolds Crushes Costume Day. (Stone Arch Books, 2022) For their school’s book week, Riley and their friends try to come up with costume ideas for Dress Like Your Favorite Character Day. The unique storytelling format, with chapters composed of prose text followed by wordless comic-style panels, supports transitional readers.

Ali, Marzieh A. ; illustrated by Lala Stellune. Nadia and Nadir: Hurricane Helpers. (Magic Wagon / Abdo, 2023) After their family gets through a big storm relatively unscathed, Nadia and Nadir and their parents head to their mosque to help those who were not so fortunate.

Brimmer, Larry Dane; illustrated by Kaylani Juanita. Racing Ace: Build It! Jump It!. (Scholastic, 2022) Ace builds a skateboard and ramp for the skate park, and now she needs to master her skateboarding skills. 

Guojing. Stormy: A Story About Finding a Forever Home. (Schwartz & Wade, 2019) A stranger in the park sees a friendly looking stray dog, and she throws a ball to play catch. It takes a while, but the two connect to form a permanent bond.

Kim, Julie. Where’s Halmoni? (Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch Books, 2017) Where’s Halmoni? Trying to find her leads to imaginative excitement and adventure.

Iwai, Melissa. Gigi and Ojiji (HarperCollins, 2022) Gigi is excited for her grandfather (Ojiji) to come from Japan to move in with her family. But Ojiji is not at all how Gigi imagined him to be; how can they make this new living situation work?

Loh-Hagan, Virginia. What is Asian-Black Solidarity? (Racial Justice in American: Asian American Pacific Islander). (Cherry Lake Publishing, 2022.) Using straightforward text and an eye-catching design, this book shows children a number of ways that people from oppressed communities can work to lift one another up.

Novales, Keka; illustrated by Gloria Félix. Dance of the Feathers (¡Hola, Lola!). (Picture Window Books, 2022) After attending a recital, Lola and her friend Joy are excited to enroll in a ballet class. But it turns out that this kind of dancing is a lot harder than it looks!

Otheguy, Emma; illustrated by Andrés Landazába. Reina Ramos Works It Out! (HarperCollins, 2022) It’s wax museum day at school and Reina’s classmates need to dress up as a famous person. When a friend picks Reina’s choice, Frida Kahlo, she works it out to then portray another person, the Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz. 

Prince, Dorothy H.; illustrated by Shiane Salabie. Jalen’s Big City Life: Friendship Flowers (Picture Window, 2023) J.C. is going to the Spring Flower Festival with his grandparents, the same day as his friends invited him to the zoo. He wonders if he can make it on time to attend both events.

Middle Grade

Ancona, George. Harvest. (Marshall Cavendish, 2001) Ancona uses text and photographs to inform us about where our food comes from, and the tireless, low paying  labor provided by immigrant workers to feed people in the United States. Details about the worker’s  routine ‘stooped’ posture as well as their sense of fashion helps to  provide a personable story.

Argueta, Jorge; illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh; translated by Elisa Amado. Salsa: Un poema para cocinar/A Cooking Poem. (Groundwood Books, House of Anansi Press, 2015) Whether you’re going to make it red or green, learn the roots and processes of creating the perfect salsa with your loved ones. 

Cohen, Emi Wantanabe. The Lost Ryū. (Levine Querido, 2022) Kohei’s father died a few years ago, so he now lives in Japan with his mother and grandfather. He has a faint memory of the big dragons that are so much larger than his own ryū that perches on his shoulder. When his grandfather becomes ill, Kohei thinks finding a big dragon will help save his grandfather, so he goes on a quest. S

Jung, Mike. The Boys in the Back Row. Levine Querido, 2020. Korean American sixth grader Matt Park and best friend Eric Costa play in the school band, but Eric is moving away at the end of the year. When the regional school band competition takes place at the same time and place as a comic con, the two plot an adventure that the band’s most obnoxious and racist bullies threaten to thwart.

McQueen, Omari. Omari McQueen’s Best Bites Cookbook. (BuzzPop, an imprint of Little Bee Books, 2022) Plant-based recipes from the award-winning Jamaican/Antiguan child chef, Omari McQueen. 

Meriano, Anna. A Dash of Trouble (Love Sugar Magic series book #1) (Walden Pond Press, 2018) Leo Logroño is the youngest of five sisters in a family of brujas who use their magic to conjure sweet treats for their popular bakery. But when Leo gets tired of waiting for her turn to join in on the family secret, she privately uses magic in an attempt to help her best friend… with disastrous results. 

Nichols, De; illustrated by Diana Dagadita, Molly Mendoza, Olivia Twist, Saddo, and Diego Becas. Art of Protest: Creating, Discovering and Activating Art for Your Revolution. (Big Picture Press, 2021. This visually striking book details the past, present and future of protest art and the role of art in social movements, and gives readers the tools to become “artivists.”

Ortiz, Simon J.; illustrated by Sharol Graves. The People Shall Continue. (Children’s Book Press, 2017) Ortiz offers an overview of the history of interactions between settlers in the US and Native Americans. He touches upon issues of land, class, and race that continue to impact the well-being of Native Americans, forty years after this book’s original publication date.

Nadia Shammas; illustrated by Nabi H. Ali. Ms. Marvel: Stretched Thin. (Marvel/Graphix, 2021) Kamala Khan has way too much going on in her life; between middle school, family, friends, writing fanfic, and being a superhero—Ms. Marvel—Kamala is barely able to keep up. So when a strange robot tries to infiltrate Avengers Tower, will Ms. Marvel find time to save the day when she so badly just needs a good nap?

Solli ,Raphael. Limelight. (Penguin Australia, 2018) Solli Raphael is an environmentalist who uses poetry as part of his activism.In 2017, Solli Raphael became Australia’s youngest Poetry Slam national champion. In Limelight, Solli encourages other creatives by sharing his writing process. He shares writing prompts, talking them through writer’s block, and through the fear of speaking.

Soontornvat, Christina. All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team. (Candlewick, 2020) In June 2018, twelve teenage soccer players and their coach were trapped for three weeks inside a flooded cave near their home in northern Thailand. Through text, diagrams, and photos, this account of their rescue explores the coach’s Buddhist training and the local and international community that came together to get them all out alive.

Walls, Jasmine;; illustrated by  Bex Glendining. Seen: Edmonia Lewis, True Stories of Marginalized Trailblazers. (Boom! Box, 2020) As the first sculptor of African American and Native American Heritage, Edmonia Lewis faced much discrimination. Yet, she managed to find the inner strength to create her art on her own terms. This graphic novel tells her story.

Watson, Renée. Some Places More Than Others. (Bloomsbury, 2019) Amara, who is one of the few Black kids in her town of Beaverton, Oregon, dreams of spending her twelfth birthday in Harlem, where her father grew up and where her grandfather and the rest of her family live. When she gets her wish, she observes how her family’s story connects with that of the city, but she finds herself in the middle of old family wounds, including her father’s estrangement with her grandfather.

Wilson, Diane; illustrated by Tashia Hart. Ella Cara Deloria: Dakota Language Protector. (Minnesota Humanities Center, 2020) Biography of Dakota educator, historian and linguist Era Cara Deloria and her work in preserving the stories and languages of her peoples. 

Zhao, Katie. Last Gamer Standing (Scholastic, 2021) 12 year old Reyna Cheng is spending the summer at Dayhold’s summer camp where she’s perfecting her gaming skills. It’s not easy being one of the few girl gamers, even harder being a Chinese American girl gamer because of all the toxic male doxing she could face. But, Reyna Cheng is determined to be the last gamer standing in this summer’s junior tournament.

Young Adult 

Acevedo,  Elizabeth Acevedo; illustrated by Andrea Pippins. Inheritance: A Visual Poem. (Quill Tree Books, 2022)

Based on the poet’s famous spoken-word poem, the lyrical text of this book blends self-love and Afro-Latinidad culture to confront anti-Blackness that exists in ourselves and communities. 

Chella Man. Continuum/Pocket Change Collection. (Penguin Workshop, 2021) In this short memoir, artist, designer, and actor Chella Man describes his experience as a deaf, transgender, Jewish and Chinese young adult learning to accept himself, and to  navigate the world in his own way.

Ferguson, Jen. The Summer of Bitter and Sweet (Heartdrum, 2022) When asexual Métis teenager Lou breaks up with her white boyfriend, it creates a tense situation, as he’s working alongside her in her family’s popular ice cream stand in western Canada. The breakup, along with her father’s release from prison and the return of her best friend after years of absence, forces Lou to confront her family and community’s history of sexual violence and trauma.

Hughes,  Kiku. Displacement. (First Second, 2020) Kiku is on vacation when she’s suddenly pulled back to the 1940s, when her grandmother and other Japanese Americans were displaced from their homes and sent to prison camps. She is stuck in that time period for longer and longer periods of time. She relies on her prior knowledge for survival, but is it enough? 

Jonnie, Brianna; illustrated by Nahanni Shingoose and Neal Shannacappo. If I Go Missing. (Lorimer, 2020) If Brianna goes missing, if her Indigenous sisters or her cousins go missing, we need to remember that it will not be by choice, and someone must look for them.  

Katouh, Zoulfa. As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow. (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2022) Salama Kassab’s home is in Homs, Syria. When the war began, she gave up her studies as a pharmacy student to volunteer at the hospital. She’s lost her family, but not her hope. Her days are filled with the physical and mental trauma of war, and it seeps into her mind, along with the colors, flowers, and drawings of might life. Salama’s is a story of how much she leaves behind when she makes the decision to move forward. 

Khorram, Adib. Kiss & Tell (Dial, 2022) Canadian teen Hunter, the frontman of a popular boy band, is hurting after his breakup with his longtime boyfriend, the twin brother of a fellow band member. Then he meets up-and-coming drummer Kaivan, of Iranian heritage, and the two boys fall in love. This smart novel explores racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and the pressures faced by young people who live in the public eye.

Legorreta,  Conchita Hernández. “I Grew Up Latinx & Disabled — & I’m Creating The Change I Want To See.” (Refinery 29, 2020) https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2020/09/9985118/blind-latinx-experience-immigrant-disability-rights-metas  Conchita Hernández Legorreta is a disability rights activist and co-founder of the National Coalition of Latinx with Disabilities. In this essay, Hernandez relates how she — a blind, undocumented, Latinx woman — experiences a lack of access to basic rights, resources and information. 

Little Badger; Darcie; illustrated by Rovina Cai. Elatsoe. (Levine Querido, 2020) Ellie’s cousin is killed in an auto accident and he visits her in a dream to tell her he was murdered. This prompts the Lipan Apache teenager with supernatural powers to enlist her best friend, and her faithful ghost dog to find and expose the murderer before her cousin’s spirit steps in to seek violent revenge.

McBride, Amber. Me (Moth). (Feiwel & Friends, 2021) Moth’s entire family has died in a highway accident, and now everyone seems to ignore the Black teenager except for Sani, a Navajo/Diné aspiring musician in search of his roots and answers to his chronic depression. The two set off from their Virginia home on a road trip south and west in this heartbreaking verse novel.

Miller-Lachmann, Lyn and Tanisia “Tee” Moore. Film Makers: 15 Groundbreaking Women Directors (Women of Power series). (Chicago Review Press, 2022) These 15 phenomenal women have succeeded in a male-dominated field, the film and television industry. Each of the women in this collective biography has made a positive impact both on and off the screen. Film buffs can use the selected filmography in the back matter to help them see the fruits of each talented director’s labor.

Rivera. Gabby. Juliet Takes a Breath. (Dial Books, 2019) When Juliet Palante starts her internship with a white feminist author in Portland, a summer of self-discovery, race and identities conversations, and love awaits her. 

Smith, Tommie & Derrick Barnes; illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile. Victory. Stand! Raising My Fist for Justice (Norton Young Readers, 2022) In this graphic memoir, track champion Smith recounts his Gold Medal victory in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics juxtaposed with the personal  experiences of racial discrimination and violence that led him and Bronze Medalist John Carlos to raise their fists on the victory platform, a protest seen by millions of people around the world.

Theoharis, Jeanne; adapted by Brandy Colbert and Jeanne Theoharis. The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa (ReVisioning History for Young People). (Beacon Press, 2021) This biography of Mrs. Rosa Parks dispels many of the myths we’ve come to know about her, while detailing her true role in the civil rights movement in both Birmingham, Alabama, and Detroit, Michigan.  

Toshino, Genzaburō; translated by Bruno Navansky. How Do You Live? (Algonquin. 2021) Copper’s father has passed away and he and his mother have moved to a slightly less affluent neighborhood. As Copper, named after Copernicus, gets to know his new friends and his school, he turns to his uncle for much needed guidance. His uncle often writes letters to Copper that guide how he lives his life. Originally published in Japan in 1937.

Vyam, D., S. Vyam, S. Natarajan, and S Anand Bhimayana: Experiences of Untouchability. (Navayana, 2014) Bhimanyana is a biography of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar who fought for justice for Dalits (untouchables) in India. The artists and storytellers collaborated on this book to create a story book that expresses freedom on every level. Ambedkar is known as the Martin Luther King Jr. of India.

Zhao, Xiran Jay. Iron Widow. Penguin, 2021. In a China of the distant future at war with mecha invaders, young women are physically abused and sacrificed to give energy to male pilots. Zetian vows revenge against the pilot that killed her sister. After killing him, she ends up paired with a notorious criminal pilot with whom she – and her longtime boyfriend – both fall in love, and the three join forces to destroy the misogynistic dictatorship under which they live.

Adult Crossover

Abirached, Zeina. I Remember Beirut. (Graphic Universe, 2008) Remember Beirut is remembering a childhood of finding new ways to go to school,  her mother’s car riddled with bullets, and her brother collecting shrapnel. Remembering Beirut is remembering life in a war zone, and just trying to be a child,  living life. 

Combahee River Collective. The Combahee River Collective Statement. https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/combahee-river-collective-statement-1977/
(self-published, 1977) Black queer feminist statement that acknowledges the existence of interlocking systems of oppression and the work to dismantle such racial, sexual, heterosexual, and class oppressions.

Liew, Sonny. The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye. (Pantheon Books, 2016) Truth may be stranger than fiction, but what if the two become intertwined to the point where it becomes impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins? Such is the case with this fictional graphic novel memoir, following “Singapore’s greatest comics artist” through a meta-history of the Malay Archipelago.

Sabaaneh, Mohammad Power Born of Dreams. (Street Noise Books, 2021) Told by a nameless prisoner in a cell in Palestine, this graphic novel uses symbols and images to explore what it means to be a prisoner. When a bird lands on the prisoner’s window, the two become friends, and exchange stories as a way  to share hope.

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