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.
2021 We Are Kid Lit Collective members: Edith Campbell, Sujei Lugo Vázquez, Lyn Miller-Lachmann, and Sonia Alejandra Rodríguez.
Bashi, Golbarg; illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi. P is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book. (Dr. Bashi; 2017). English. A child takes readers into an alphabet journey to learn about the rich cultures, traditions, and history of the occupied nation of Palestine.
Brown, Aviva L.; illustrated by Anastasia Kanavaliuk. Ezra’s BIG Shabbat Question. (SpringLight Publishing, 2019). English. Ezra’s mixed race family is preparing to celebrate Shabbat. He’s trying to get ready, but is he allowed to tie his shoes? In trying to find an answer, Ezra describes how his family celebrates Shabbat and he learns how others do as well.
Charles, Tami; illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara. Freedom Soup. (Candlewick Press, 2019). English. Intergenerational story between a Haitian American child and their grandmother, that connects family, cooking and food to the Haitian Revolution.
Guidroz, Rukhsanna; illustrated by Dinara Mirtalipova. Leila in Saffron. (Salaam Reads, 2019). English. At a Friday night dinner with her family, Leila looks for parts of herself in her family when she begins to wonder where she fits in.
Ho, Joanna; illustrated by Dung Ho. Eyes that Kiss in the Corners. (HarperCollins, 20210). English. A girl embarks on a journey of self-love and discovery of how her eyes, her family’s eyes “kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea” and are beautiful and revolutionary.
Larkin, Shabazz. The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter. (Readers to Eaters, 2019). English. Some of us may not like bees, but they help us bring food to the table, to see things from different perspectives and to bring a father and his two sons together and share joy, love…and food.
Lindstrom, Carole; illustrated by Michaela Goade. We Are Water Protectors. (Roaring Brook Press, 2020). English. Learning her people’s connection with water and Earth, a girl and all water protectors take a stand to defend Indigenous lands and the sacred resource.
Maillard, Kevin Noble; illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal. Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story. (Roaring Brook Press, 2019). English. Text and illustration are combined to explain the importance of fry bread to the diverse Indigenous nations in the United States. There’s even a recipe to make your own!
Minnema, Cheryl; illustrated by Julie Flett. Johnny’s Pheasant. (University of Minnesota Press, 2019). English. When grandma and Johnny find a pheasant that appears to be injured, they decide to take him home. They’re in for quite a surprising visit!
Muhammad, Ibtihaj with S.K. Ali; illustrated by Hatem Ali. The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family. (Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2019). English; Braille. Asiyah’s first day blue hijab is like the sky and the ocean. It makes her a princess and Faizah, a young Black Muslim girl, is so very proud to be her sister.
Oh, Joowon. Our Favorite Day. (Candlewick, 2019). English. Grandfather and granddaughter get together once a week on Thursdays to create crafts with one another. In this tender story, readers will follow Papa as he goes about his routine to get ready for his favorite day with his granddaughter.
Osei, Kingsley; illustrated by Elaine Davis. Young Kap. (self-published; 2020). English. Colin Kaepernick was moved to action after hearing about the murder of young Black men by local police offices. He led a movement when he took to his knee in protest.
Pippins, Andrea. Hey Baby! A Baby’s Day in Doodles. (Schwartz & Wade, 2020). English. Vibrant photos of a Black baby accompany words associated with their daily activities: waking up, meals, play, nap, bath time, story time, bedtime and more.
Ramadan, Danny; illustrated by Anna Bron. Salma the Syrian Chef. (Annick Press, 2020). English. Salma and her mom miss their home in Syria and Salma’s dad who hasn’t been able to leave Syria yet. Salma also misses her mom’s smile. She has a plan to bring it back and that’s why she’s Salma the chef!
Raúl the Third; colors by Elaine Bay. ¡Vamos! : Let’s Go Eat. (Versify/ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 2020). English. Little Lobo takes his delivery service to the grand lucha libre show. The luchadores have great appetites so Little Lobo travels to all the local food trucks and food carts to get their orders of Mexican food before the big fight.
Ríos Vega, Juan A. El niño hada Carlos = Carlos, the Fairy Boy. (Reflection Press, 2020). Bilingual (Spanish; English). Carlos travels to Panamá to visit his grandmother and attend the famous Carnaval! When the boy learns that his two cousins are going to dress up as fairies and join the queen’s float, Carlos’ desire to participate will challenge the Carnaval’s traditional gender roles.
Tallie, Mariahadessa Ekere; illustrated by Ashleigh Corrin. Layla’s Happiness. (Enchanted Lion Books, 2019). English. Layla is a young Black girl who describes all the ways she finds happiness in her world.
Velasquez, Eric. Octopus Stew. (Holiday House, 2019). English; Spanish. Ramsey and his grandma are making octopus stew for the family dinner. When the octopus grows to the size of the kitchen and traps his grandma, Ramsey will need to take into his superhero knowledge to save her.
Yang, Kao Kalia; illustrated by Seo Kim. A Map Into the World. (Carolrhoda Books, 2019). English; French. Raj Ntaub’s world is full! Her Hmong family spends much time together in the garden, celebrating holidays and sharing meals. WHen her neighbor, Bob, suddenly left all alone Paj Ntaub draws a special map for him in his driveway.
CHAPTER BOOKS/BEGINNING READERS
Bidania, V.T.; illustrated by Dara Lashia Lee. Astrid and Apollo and the Soccer Celebration. (Picture Window Books, 2020). English. Hmong American twins Astrid and Apollo are excited about spending the day at the 4th of July celebration. They have to watch their babysitter Eliana and worry that they won’t be able to join dad to watch his favorite soccer team play. Part of the Astrid and Apollo series.
Cummings, Pat. Where is Mommy? (Holiday House, 2019). English; Spanish. A young Black girl falls asleep on the sofa while mommy is reading to her but, when she wakes up, mommy is gone. There are clues everywhere but, where is mommy?
Gilani-Williams, Fawzia; illustrated by Kulthum Burgess. Husna and the Eid Party. (The Islamic Foundation; 2007). English. Husna is so excited when she overhears her friend, Maryam, talking about the upcoming party. Husna hasn’t received her invitation yet and expects every phone call and mail delivery to be her invitation. She enjoys celebrating Eid and is looking forward to the special celebration with her friend. But, where is her invitation?
Griffith, Theanne; illustrated by Reggie Brown. The Magnificent Makers #1: How to Test a Friendship. (Random House; 2020). English. New friends Pablo, Violet and Deepak enter a magical makerspace where they test their knowledge and science and their friendship.
Lyons, Kelly Starling; illustrated by Nina Mata. Ty’s Travels: All Aboard. (Harper, 2020). English. Everyone is too busy to play with Ty but he knows that using his own imagination can be one of the best ways to entertain himself.
Pumphrey, Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey. The Old Truck. (Norton Young Readers, 2020). English. On a small farm, an old truck worked hard. The farmer did, too.
Quigley, Dawn; illustrated by Tara Audibert. Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-To-Be-Best Friends. (Heartdrum, 2021). English. Jojo’s best friend is her cat, Mimi. It used to be Fern but Jojo worries that Fern doesn’t want to be friends at all anymore. When Jojo brings Mimi to class, she’ll need help from some old friends.
Smith, Nikki Shannon; illustrated by Mari Lobo. The Amazing Live of Azaleah Lane (Book #1). (Picture Window Books/Capstone, 2020). English. Azaleah is a young Black girl excited when her teacher says their class will be visiting the National Zoo. Azalea really likes learning about animals and she’s excited to use her craftiness to build a diorama of one of the animal’s habitats. But, before she can begin, she has to help her younger sister, Tiana, solve the mystery of where her sister’s stuffed animal has gone.
Soontornvat, Christina; illustrated by Barbara Szepesi Szucs. Diary of An Ice Princess #4: The Big Freeze. (Scholastic, 2020). English. Lina enjoys going to school where she can just be a normal, everyday girl who does stuff like sharpen her pencil and work on projects with her best friend, Claudia. But, Lina’s not just a normal everyday girl. She’s a princess! Her grandfather wants to help her learn what that means.
Tan, Sheri; illustrated by Shirley Ng-Benitez. Follow That Map! (Lee & Low; 2019). English. The multiracial group of friends realize how useful a map can be when they travel across the city.
Velasquez, Crystal. Forever Friends #3: Keiko’s Pony Rescue. (Scholastic, 2018). English. Madison and Sofia join Keiko on a visit to her aunt’s farm. They learn how to take care of the animals. They learn that the animals rely on them, just like they rely on each other.
Walters, Eric and Danson Mutinda; illustrated by Claudia Dávila. Hockey Night in Kenya. (Orca Echoes, 2020). English. Nigosi and Kitoo may as well be brothers. They go to school together, eat lunch together and support each other’s hopes and dreams. When Kitoo reads about hockey in a book on Canada, he dreams of playing the sport in Kenya where he lives. Nigosi and everyone in the village supports Kitoo.
MIDDLE GRADE (AGES 8-12)
Aung Thin, Michelle. Crossing the Farak River. (Annick Press, 2020). English. Hasina is quite literally trying to survive after her village is attacked by the Sit Tat (Myanmar) Army. She pulls together a small group of survivors, bringing hope of reuniting with their families. Crossing the Farak River gives insight into the political instability that still exists in Myanmar from the Rohingya perspective, one of the ethnic groups under attack in the country.
Browne, Mahogany L., Elizabeth Acevedo; Olivia Gatwood; illustrated by Theodore Taylor III. Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice. (Roaring Brook Press, 2020). English. A collection of poems to reflect, learn, unlearn and take action towards an equitable, inclusive and just society for all.
Callender, Kacen. King and the Dragonflies. (Scholastic, 2020) English. King, a young boy that navigates grief, black masculinity and family dynamics through a journey of identity, reflection and self-love.
Colbert, Brandy. The Only Black Girls In Town. (Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2020). English. Alberta is the only Black girl in her quaint little surfing town until Edie and her family move into the bed and breakfast across the street. While navigating their new friendship, they discover a journal. The two girls work to discover who wrote this journal and lived this mysterious life.
Higuera, Donna Barba. Lupe Wong Won’t Dance. (Levine, Querido, 2020). English; Spanish. Lupe, a young girl of Chinese-American and Mexican-American heritage, dreams of playing baseball and meeting her hero Fu Li Hernandez who is also Chinacan/Meaxanese. But, she won’t get her chance if she fails the square-dance unit in gym class. Her efforts to get her school to cancel the unit lead her and her friends to explore the complicated racial and gendered history of this dance form.
Jewell, Tiffany; illustrated by Aurélia Durand. This Book is Anti-Racist. (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2020). English. A guide with activities for tweens and teens that explores microaggressions and systemic racism, privilege and intersectionality, with advice on how to speak out effectively. The author shares her own experiences as a model for readers to do the same as they examine their backgrounds, assumptions, and strengths and weaknesses in order to advocate for themselves and others.
Keller, Tae. When You Trap A Tiger. (Random House, 2020). English. Keller weaves Korean folklore into the story of Lily, her sister Sam and their mother moving back to the town where their mother grew up. Sam’s grandmother is in need of their care and Sam believes the tiger she keeps seeing can provide a way for her to help.
Lê, Minh; illustrated by Andie Tong. Green Lantern: Legacy. (DC Comics, 2020). English. Tai Pham inherits his Green Lantern legacy from her grandmother. The legacy steeped in tradition and through that power and connections to other Green Lanterns. But, there’s also a lot of responsibility. Is Tai ready?
Mabalon, Dawn Bohulano and Gayle Romasanta; illustrated by Andre Sibayan. Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong. (Bridge and Delta Publishing, 2018). English. Biography of the life and work of Filipino American labor activist Larry Itliong and the history of Filipino American farm workers and their struggle and resistance in the United States.
Nagara, Innosanto. M is for Movement. (Triangle Square/Random House, 2019). English. This fictionalized memoir set in Java describes the young character’s growing political awareness and activism.
Pancholy, Maulik. The Best At It. (Balzer + Bray, 2019). English. As the new school year begins, Rahul Kapoor wants to be the best at something. Rahul and his BFF Chelsea know they’re nerds, but what can a nerd be good at? If that’s not enough, everyone seems to know something about Rahul that he doesn’t know himself. It’s got him so stressed that he’s checking the stove and the locks once, twice… five times before he can relax.
Pérez, Celia C. The First Rule of Punk. (Penguin Random House, 2018). English; Spanish. Zinester and punk rocker, 12-year-old Malú is on a path of self-discovery and finding a place within yourself, her family and society.
Salazar, Aida. Land of the Cranes. (Scholastic Press, 2020). English. In this novel in verse, picture poems help Betita capture her experiences with deportation and detention. While in detention, her picture poems will also empower those around to let the world know of the cruel treatment in the hielera.
Taylor, Mildred. The Gold Cadillac. (Dial Books for Young Readers, 1987). English. In Toledo, Ohio in the 1950s, Lois’s father dareds to come home with a brand new gold Cadillac. This symbol of a Black person’s success proves to disrupt the family’s dynamics as well as their trip to Mississippi. Is it worth it?
YOUNG ADULT (AGES 12-18)
Acevedo, Elizabeth. Clap When You Land. (HarperTeen, 2020). English. Verse novel from the alternating perspectives of Camino Ríos, living in the Dominican Republic, and Yahaira Ríos, living in New York City, who discover they’re half-sisters when their father dies in a plane crash en route to visit Camino for the summer. A story of unexpected changes, family obligations, and forgiveness.
Anderson, Carol and Tonya Bolden. We Are Not Yet Equal: Understanding Our Racial Divide. (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2018). English. We Are Not Yet Equal presents history to young people in a way that privileges the African American experience. Anderson and Bolden provide insights to people, events and situations that are told from a black perspective.
Fukuda, Andrew. This Light Between Us. (Tor Teen, 2020). English. When Alex, a Japanese-American boy, begins a pen-pal relationship with Charlie, a Jewish girl living in Paris, they are unaware of the tragedies that will befall them and their families. Interned with his family after the U.S. declares war on Japan, Germany, and Italy, Alex enlists in the army to get his father out of prison and to find and rescue Charlie.
Kim, Hyun Sook and Ryan Estrada; illustrated by Ko Hyung-Ju. Banned Book Club. (Iron Circus Comics, 2020). English; Korean. In this manhwa [Korean graphic novel] memoir, Hyun Sook begins her first year at a local university despite her mother’s wishes that she work full-time in the family’s failing steak restaurant. She makes new friends, but when Hyun Sook is instrumental in starting an activist book club to challenge South Korea’s military dictatorship, she, her friends, and her family quickly find themselves in danger.
Martins, Vitor; translated by Larissa Helena. Here the Whole Time. (Push/Scholastic; 2020). English; Portuguese. When Felipe’s neighbor, Caio, comes to stay with him and his mother for two weeks while Caio’s parents go on vacation, Felipe wonders how he’ll survive. After all, he’s gay, he’s had a crush on Caio for years, and he’s fat, a target for school bullies. But Caio, who attends a different school, has his own secrets, and this may be the vacation that changes both their lives forever.
Mendoza, Jean, Debbie Reese and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People. (Beacon Press, 2019). English. A young people’s version of Dunbar-Ortiz’s book that details the role of settler colonialism and US governmental policies of American Indian genocide in forming US national identity.
Nguyen, Trung Le. The Magic Fish. (RH Graphics, 2020). English. Intergenerational Cinderella story told by Tien who reads the stories while his mother sews a new jacket for him. As important as the fables are to the family, they come to realize they are responsible for creating their own stories.
Yupechika and Marie Nishimori; translated by Jenny McKeon. Satoko and Nada: Book 1. (Seven Seas Entertainment, 2018). Japanese; English. This manga series features the ups and downs of Satoko and Nada, a Japanese and a Saudi Arabian Muslim student living and studying in United States.