All posts by Elle Covington

Inclusive Reading Recommendations — Memoir/Autobiography

In this inclusive reading recommendations post, we’re focusing on biographies and memoirs. As always, we’d love to hear your own recommendations or experiences with these or other books in the comments.

  1. Becoming by Michelle Obama
    • In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America, she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private. A deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations.
  2. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
    • Noah’s path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother, at the time such a union was punishable by five years in prison. As he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist, his mother is determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life. With an incisive wit and unflinching honesty, Noah weaves together a moving yet funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time.
  3. Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock
    • In 2011, Marie Claire magazine published a profile of Janet Mock in which she publicly stepped forward for the first time as a trans woman. Since then, Mock has gone from covering the red carpet for People.com to advocating for all those who live within the shadows of society. Redefining Realness offers a bold new perspective on being young, multiracial, economically challenged, and transgender in America. Welcomed into the world as her parents’ firstborn son, Mock set out early on to be her own person–no simple feat for a young person like herself. She struggled as the smart, determined child in a deeply loving, yet ill-equipped family that lacked money, education, and resources. Mock had to navigate her way through her teen years without parental guidance but luckily with a few close friends and mentors she overcame extremely daunting hurdles.
  4. The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui
    • Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.
  5. When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele
    • A poetic and powerful memoir about what it means to be a Black woman in America–and the founding of a movement that demands restorative justice for all in the land of the free. Raised by a single mother in an impoverished neighborhood In Los Angeles, Patrisse Khan-Cullors experienced firsthand the prejudice and persecution Black Americans endure at the hands of law enforcement. For Patrisse, the most vulnerable people in the country are Black people. Deliberately and ruthlessly targeted by a criminal justice system serving a white privilege agenda, Black people are subjected to unjustifiable racial profiling and police brutality. In 2013, when Trayvon Martin’s killer went free, Patrisse’s outrage led her to co-found Black Lives Matter with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi.
  6. Crazy Brave: A Memoir by Joy Harjo
    • A memoir from the Native American poet describes her youth with an abusive stepfather, becoming a single teen mom, and how she struggled to finally find inner peace and her creative voice.
  7. Calling Dr. Laura by Nicole Georges
    • When Nicole Georges was two years old, her family told her that her father was dead. When she was twenty-three, a psychic told her he was alive. Her sister, saddled with guilt, admits that the psychic is right and that the whole family has conspired to keep him a secret. Sent into a tailspin about her identity, Nicole turns to radio talk-show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger for advice– Calling Dr. Laura tells the story of what happens to you when you are raised in a family of secrets, and what happens to your brain (and heart) when you learn the truth from an unlikely source.
  8. I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
    • When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize. I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.
  9. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    • For Ta-Nehisi Coates, history has always been personal. At every stage of his life, he’s sought in his explorations of history answers to the mysteries that surrounded him–most urgently, why he, and other black people he knew, seemed to live in fear … In [this book], Coates takes readers along on his journey through America’s history of race and its contemporary resonances through a series of awakenings–moments when he discovered some new truth about our long, tangled history of race, whether through his myth-busting professors at Howard University, a trip to a Civil War battlefield with a rogue historian, a journey to Chicago’s South Side to visit aging survivors of 20th century America’s ‘long war on black people,’ or a visit with the mother of a beloved friend who was shot down by the police
  10.  Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality by Sarah McBride
    • Informative, heartbreaking, and profoundly empowering, Tomorrow Will Be Different is McBride’s story of love and loss and a powerful entry point into the LGBTQ community’s battle for equal rights and what it means to be openly transgender. From issues like bathroom access to health care to gender in America, McBride weaves the important political and cultural milestones into a personal journey that will open hearts and change minds. As McBride urges: ‘We must never be a country that says there’s only one way to love, only one way to look, and only one way to live.’ The fight for equality and freedom has only just begun.
  11. Lakota Woman by Mary Crow Dog and Richard Erdoes
    • Mary Brave Bird grew up fatherless in a one-room cabin, without running water or electricity, on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Rebelling against the aimless drinking, punishing missionary school, narrow strictures for women, and violence and hopeless of reservation life, she joined the new movement of tribal pride sweeping Native American communities in the sixties and seventies. Mary eventually married Leonard Crow Dog, the American Indian Movement’s chief medicine man, who revived the sacred but outlawed Ghost Dance.
  12.  The Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward
    • A memoir that examines rural poverty and the lingering strains of racism in the South by the author of Salvage the bones.
  13. The Ministry of Guidance Invites You To Not Stay: An American Family in Iran by Hooman Majd
    • With U.S.-Iran relations at a thirty-year low, Iranian-American writer Hooman Majd dared to take his young family on a year-long sojourn in Tehran. ‘The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay’ traces their domestic adventures and closely tracks the political drama of a terrible year for Iran’s government. It was an “annus horribilis” for Iran’s Supreme Leader. The Green Movement had been crushed, but the regime was on edge, anxious lest democratic protests resurge. International sanctions were dragging down the economy while talk of war with the West grew. Hooman Majd was there for all of it.
  14. In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri; translated by Ann Goldstein
    • A series of reflections on the author’s experiences learning a new language and living abroad, in a dual-language edition.
  15. Tell Me Everything You Don’t Remember: The Stroke That Changed My Life by Christine Hyung-Oak Lee
    • Christine Hyung-Oak Lee woke up with a headache on New Years Eve 2006. By that afternoon, she saw the world quite literally upside down. By New Years Day, she was unable to form a coherent sentence. And after hours in the ER, days in the hospital, and multiple questions and tests, she learned that she had had a stroke. For months, Lee outsourced her memories to her notebook. It is from these memories that she has constructed this frank and compelling memoir.
  16. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
    • On the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. Kalanithi chronicles his transformation from a naïve medical student into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.
  17. The Grace of Silence: A Family Memoir by Michele Norris
    • The cohost of National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” set out, through original reporting, to write a book about “the hidden conversation on race” that is going on in this country. Along the way she unearthed painful family secrets that compelled her to question her own self-understanding; she traveled extensively to explore her own complex racial legacy. Her exploration is informed by hundreds of interviews with ordinary Americans and their observations about evolving attitudes toward race in America.
  18. Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America and American in Iran by Azadeh Moaveni
    • An Iranian-American journalist, who grew up as a California girl living in two worlds, returns to Tehran and discovers not only the oppressive and decadent life of her Iranian counterparts who have grown up since the revolution, but the pain of searching for identity between two cultures, and for a homeland that may not exist. The landscape of her Tehran–ski slopes, fashion shows, malls and cafes–is populated by a cast of young people whose exuberance and despair brings the modern reality of Iran to vivid life.
  19. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Baeh
    • This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this hell and survived. Ishmael Beah, now 25 years old, tells how at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts.
  20. In the Absence of Sun: A Korean American Woman’s Promise to Reunite Three Lost Generations of Her Family by Helie Lee
    • Describes the attempt of Helie Lee to reunite her grandmother with her uncle who was lost decades ago during an escape from North Korea.

*Note: This is NOT a comprehensive list. Help us make it more comprehensive by adding books you like in the comments!

Inclusive Reading Recommendations — Science Fiction/Fantasy/Magical Realism

Back with more inclusive reading recommendations! For this post, we’re focusing on science fiction, fantasy, magical realism, and related genres.

  1. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
    • “Seventeen-year-old Zélie, her older brother Tzain, and rogue princess Amari fight to restore magic to the land and activate a new generation of magi, but they are ruthlessly pursued by the crown prince, who believes the return of magic will mean the end of the monarchy.”
  2. Kindred by Octavia Butler
    • “Home is a new house with a loving husband in 1970s California that is suddenly transformed into the frightening world of the antebellum South. Dana, a young black writer, can’t explain how she is transported across time and space to a plantation in Maryland. But she does quickly understand why: to deal with the troubles of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder–and her progenitor. Her survival, her very existence, depends on it.”
  3.  The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden (local author)
    • “In South Africa, the future looks promising. Personal robots are making life easier for the working class. The government is harnessing renewable energy to provide infrastructure for the poor. And in the bustling coastal town of Port Elizabeth, the economy is booming thanks to the genetic engineering industry which has found a welcome home there. Yes, the days to come are looking very good for South Africans. That is, if they can survive the present challenges: A new hallucinogenic drug sweeping the country. An emerging AI uprising. And an ancient demigoddess hellbent on regaining her former status by preying on the blood and sweat (but mostly blood) of every human she encounters.”
  4. Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
    • “Born into post-apocalyptic Africa to a mother who was raped after the slaughter of her entire tribe, Onyesonwu is tutored by a shaman and discovers that her magical destiny is to end the genocide of her people.”
  5. The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
    • “Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle.”
  6. Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
    • “Certain Dark Things combines elements of Latin American mythology with a literary voice that leads readers on an exhilarating and fast-paced journey. Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Here in the city, heavily policed to keep the creatures of the night at bay, Domingo is another trash-picking street kid, just hoping to make enough to survive. Then he meets Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers.”
  7. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
    • “An ode to George Orwell’s “1984” told in alternating male and female voices relates the stories of Aomame, an assassin for a secret organization who discovers that she has been transported to an alternate reality, and Tengo, a mathematics lecturer and novice writer.”
  8. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
    • “The rise and fall, birth and death, of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendia family.”
  9. The Mystery of Munroe Island and Other Stories by Satyajit Ray
    • Short story collection including: “Dr Schering’s memory,” “Hypnojen,” “The black night of professor Shonku,” “Shonku’s golden opportunity,” “The mystery of Munroe Island,” “A messenger from space,” “Nakur Babu and El Dorado,” “Shonku’s expedition to the congo,” and “Shonku and the UFO.”
  10. The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord
    • “When their homeland is destroyed, the survivors of a proud and aloof alien society struggle to reach out to the rest of the galaxy for aid and understanding while striving to preserve their cherished way of life.”
  11. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
    • “With the scope of Dune and the commercial action of Independence Day, this near-future trilogy is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple-award-winning phenomenon from China’s most beloved science fiction author. Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision”– Provided by publisher.
  12. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
    • “An extraordinary debut novel, Freshwater explores the surreal experience of having a fractured self. It centers around a young Nigerian woman, Ada, who develops separate selves within her as a result of being born ‘with one foot on the other side.'”
  13. So Lucky by Nicola Griffith
    • “Mara Tagarelli is, professionally, the head of a multimillion-dollar AIDS foundation; personally, she is a committed martial artist. But her life has turned inside out like a sock. She can’t rely on family, her body is letting her down, and friends and colleagues are turning away–they treat her like a victim. She needs to break that narrative: build her own community, learn new strengths, and fight. But what do you do when you find out that the story you’ve been told, the story you’ve told yourself, is not true? How can you fight if you can’t trust your body?”
  14. The Merry Spinster: Takes of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg
    • “From Mallory Ortberg comes a collection of darkly mischievous stories based on classic fairy tales.”
  15. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
    • “The Trueba family embodies strong feelings. This family saga starts at the beginning of the 20th century and continues through the assassination of Allende in 1973.”
  16. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
    • “The story of Saleem Sinal, born precisely at midnight, August 15, 1947, the moment India became independent. Saleem’s life parallels the history of his nation.”
  17. Flight by Sherman Alexie
    • “Flight follows a troubled foster teenager–a boy who is not a “legal” Indian because he was never claimed by his father. The journey begins as he’s about to commit a massive act of violence. At the moment of decision, he finds himself shot back through time to resurface in the body of an FBI agent during the civil rights era.”
  18. Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany
    • “Bellona is a city at the dead center of the United States. The population has fled. Madmen and criminals wander the streets. Strange portents appear in the cloud-covered sky. Into this disaster zone comes a young man-poet, love, and adventurer known only as the Kid.”
  19. The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh
    • “A computer operator in New York stumbles on information regarding an experiment in 1895 Calcutta to change people. In the experiment, mosquitos were used to transfer chromosomes from one person to another.”
  20. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
    • “When Patricia Delfine was six years old, a wounded bird led her deep into the forest to the Parliament of Birds, where she met the Great Tree and was asked a question that would determine the course of her life. When Laurence Armstead was in grade school, he cobbled together a wristwatch-sized device that could send its wearer two seconds into the future. When Patricia and Laurence first met in high school, they didn’t understand one another at all. But as time went on, they kept bumping into one another’s lives. Now they’re both grown up, and the planet is falling apart around them.”

*Note: This is NOT a comprehensive list. Help us make it more comprehensive by adding books you like in the comments!

Inclusive Reading Recommendations — Young Adult

For round three, we’re focusing on inclusive books for young adults to help you keep reading more representationally, and of course, to spread some holiday gift ideas!

  1. America: the Life and Times of America Chavez by Gabby Rivera
    • “Critically acclaimed young-adult novelist Gabby Rivera and all-star artist Joe Quinones unite to shine a solo spotlight on America’s high-octane and hard-hitting adventures! She was a Young Avenger. She leads the Ultimates. And now she officially claims her place as the preeminent butt-kicker of the entire Marvel Universe! But what’s a super-powered teenager to do when she’s looking for a little personal fulfillment? She goes to college! America just has to stop an interdimensional monster or two first and shut down a pesky alien cult that’s begun worshipping her exploits before work can begin. Then she can get on with her first assignment: a field trip to the front lines of World War II – with Captain America as her wingman!”–Publisher’s description.
  2. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
    • “Nimona, a young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy, and Lord Ballister Blackheart, a villain with a vendetta, set out to prove that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his friends are not the heroes everyone thinks they are, but Lord Blackheart soon realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past, and her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.”
  3. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
    • Parable of the Sower is a dystopian novel by Octavia Butler. As the US society crumbles, Lauren, a hyperempath who experiences the pain and pleasures the people around her are feeling, prepares herself for the inevitable collapse of civilization. Lauren is forced to hide who she is from everyone around her who may use her hyperempathy to hurt her. As she fights to survive, she works to learn who she can trust, what scarce resources still exist that will help her survive, and what she really believes about God and the nature of life.
  4. This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
    • “Rose and her parents have been going to Awago Beach since she was a little girl. It’s her summer getaway, her refuge. Her friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had, completing her summer family. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and Rose and Windy have gotten tangled up in a tragedy-in-the-making in the small town of Awago Beach. It’s a summer of secrets and heartache, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.”
  5. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
    • “This book takes its place alongside the unnerving, memorable, darkly funny family memoirs of Augusten Burroughs and Mary Karr. It’s a father-daughter tale perfectly suited to the graphic memoir form. Meet Alison’s father, a historic preservation expert and obsessive restorer of the family’s Victorian house, a third-generation funeral home director, a high school English teacher, an icily distant parent, and a closeted homosexual who, as it turns out, is involved with male students and a family babysitter. Through narrative that is alternately heartbreaking and fiercely funny, we are drawn into a daughter’s complex yearning for her father. And yet, apart from assigned stints dusting caskets at the family-owned ‘fun home, ‘ as Alison and her brothers call it, the relationship achieves its most intimate expression through the shared code of books. When Alison comes out as homosexual herself in late adolescence, the denouement is swift, graphic, and redemptive.” –From publisher description
  6. Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum
    • “A dramatic retelling of the Stonewall riots of 1969, introducing teen readers to the decades-long struggle for gay rights”– Provided by publisher
  7. The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle
    • “Teenaged Quinn, an aspiring screenwriter, copes with his sister’s death while his best friend forces him back out into the world to face his reality”– Provided by publisher.
  8. Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
    • “Caught between the pressure to succeed in America, her duty to their family, and her own personal desires, Kimberly Chang, an immigrant girl from Hong Kong, learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles.”
  9. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
    • “There are three rules in the neighborhood: Don’t cry ; Don’t snitch ; Get revenge. Will takes his dead brother Shawn’s gun, and gets in the elevator on the 7th floor. As the elevator stops on each floor, someone connected to Shawn gets on. Someone already dead. Dead by teenage gun violence. And each has something to share with Will.”
  10. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    • “After witnessing her friend’s death at the hands of a police officer, Starr Carter’s life is complicated when the police and a local drug lord try to intimidate her in an effort to learn what happened the night Kahlil died.”
  11. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
    • “Noah’s path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother, at the time such a union was punishable by five years in prison. As he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist, his mother is determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life. With an incisive wit and unflinching honesty, Noah weaves together a moving yet funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time.”
  12. To All the Boys I Have Loved Before by Jenny Han
    • Lara Jean writes love letters to all the boys she has loved and then hides them in a hatbox until one day those letters are accidentally sent”– Provided by publisher.
  13. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
    • “My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla. But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black — black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly. Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.”
  14. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
    • “Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health.”
  15. My Family Divided: One Girl’s Journey of Home, Loss, and Hope by Diane Guerrero
    • “The star of Orange Is the New Black and Jane the Virgin, Diane Guerrero presents her personal story in this middle grade memoir about her parents’ deportation and the nightmarish struggles of undocumented immigrants and their American children”– Provided by publisher.
  16. I’m Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sánchez
    • “Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family. But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role. Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.”
  17. Drag Teen: a Tale of Angst and Wigs by Jeffery Self
    • “JT is a gay high school senior determined to get out of Clearwater, Florida, and be the first person in his family to go to college, even though he cannot figure out how to pay for it–until his friends convince him to compete in a drag teen competition where the first prize is a college scholarship.”
  18. The Afterlife by Gary Soto
    • “A senior at East Fresno High School lives on as a ghost after his brutal murder in the restroom of a club where he had gone to dance.”
  19. Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden
    • “When Mariah and her young brother Zeke are suddenly freed from slavery, they set out on Sherman’s long march through Georgia during the Civil War. Mariah wants to believe that the brutalities of slavery are behind them forever and that freedom lies ahead. When she meets Caleb, an enigmatic young black man also on the march, Mariah soon finds herself dreaming not only of a new life, but of true love as well. But even hope comes at a cost, and as the treacherous march continues toward the churning waters of Ebenezer Creek, Mariah’s dreams are as vulnerable as ever.”
  20. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
    • “After enduring his father’s suicide, his own suicide attempt, broken friendships, and more in the Bronx projects, Aaron Soto, sixteen, is already considering the Leteo Institute’s memory-alteration procedure when his new friendship with Thomas turns to unrequited love.”

Inclusive Reading Recommendations — Middle Grade

Back for a second round of inclusive books. Here are a few middle grade books to get started reading more representationally. As the holidays get closer, these may also make excellent gifts for people in your life!

  1. Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill
    • When the heroic princess Amira rescues the kind-hearted princess Sadie from her tower prison, neither expects to find a true friend in the bargain. Join Sadie and Amira, two very different princesses with very different strengths, on their journey to figure out what happily ever after really means and how they can find it with each other.
  2. The House You Pass On the Way by Jacqueline Woodson
    • Staggerlee used to be Evangeline but she took on a fiercer name. She’s always been different–set apart by the tragic deaths of her grandparents in an anti-civil rights bombing, by her parents’ interracial marriage, and by her family’s retreat from the world. This summer she has a new reason to feel set apart–her confused longing for her friend, Hazel. When cousin Trout comes to stay, she gives Staggerlee a first glimpse of her possible future selves and the world beyond childhood.
  3. Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx by Sonia Manzano
    • Set in the 1950s in the Bronx, this is the story of a girl with a dream. When readers meet young Sonia, she is a child living amidst the squalor of a boisterous home that is filled with noisy relatives and nosy neighbors. But it is Sonia’s dream of becoming an actress that keeps her afloat among the turbulence of her life and times. Spiced with culture, heartache, and humor, this memoir paints a lasting portrait of a girl’s resilience as she grows up to become an inspiration to millions
  4. George by Alex Gino
    • When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl. George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy. With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all
  5. Lumberjanes: The Infernal Compass by Lilah Sturges
    • When the Janes start to become separated during an orienteering outing thanks to a mysterious compass, Molly becomes more and more insecure about the effect of her relationship with Mal on the other girls. Meanwhile, a lonely woman explorer is trying to steal the compass, with the help of some weirdly polite automaton butlers.
  6. A Step from Heaven by An Na
    • A young Korean girl and her family find it difficult to learn English and adjust to life in America.
  7. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
    • Jacqueline Woodson, one of today’s finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse. Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement.
  8. Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
    • Ten-year-old Caitlin, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, struggles to understand emotions, show empathy, and make friends at school, while at home she seeks closure by working on a project with her father.
  9. Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
    • When Paul falls hard for Noah, he thinks he has found his one true love, but when Noah walks out of his life, Paul has to find a way to get him back and make everything right once more.
  10. Being Jazz: my life as a (transgender) teen by Jazz Jennings
    • Teen activist and trailblazer Jazz Jennings–named one of “The 25 most influential teens” of the year by Time–shares her very public transgender journey, as she inspires people to accept the differences in others while they embrace their own truths.
  11. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
    • When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.
  12.  Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
    • A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family’s vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school. After her local mosque is vandalized, she is devastated. Her friend Soojin is talking about changing her name. Does Amina need to become more “American” and hide who she really is?
  13. Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
    • Priyanka Das has so many unanswered questions: Why did her mother abandon her home in India years ago? What was it like there? And most importantly, who is her father, and why did her mom leave him behind? But Pri’s mom avoids these questions and the topic of India is permanently closed. For Pri, her mother’s homeland can only exist in her imagination. That is, until she finds a mysterious pashmina tucked away in a forgotten suitcase. When she wraps herself in it, she is transported to a place more vivid and colorful than any guidebook or Bollywood film.
  14. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
    • Alternates three interrelated stories about the problems of young Chinese Americans trying to participate in the popular culture.
  15. March by John Lewis
    • March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.
  16. Miles Morales by Jason Reynolds
    • As a student at Brooklyn Visions Academy, Miles Morales knows he’s lucky. Not all kids get this opportunity, especially not kids from his neighborhood. With his quirky best friend Ganke, this school year is gonna be a blast. Right? Wrong. Miles has a secret. He’s actually Spider-Man. Well not THE Spider-Man but A Spider-Man. Pretty much the only Spider-Man in town now that Peter Parker is gone.
  17. El Deafo by Cece Bell
    • The author recounts in graphic novel format her experiences with hearing loss at a young age, including using a bulky hearing aid, learning how to lip read, and determining her “superpower.”
  18. Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
    • Catrina and her family move to Bahía de la Luna, a small town on the Northern California coast, hoping that the cool, salty air will help her little sister, Maya, who suffers from cystic fibrosis. Cat is not happy about leaving her friends, and becomes even more upset about the move when a neighbor informs the sisters that the town is inhabited by ghosts, and that Dia de los Muertos– a time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones– is coming up and is celebrated by the entire town.
  19. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
    • In the summer of 1968, after traveling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.
  20. Legend by Marie Lu
    • In a dark future, when North America has split into two warring nations, fifteen-year-old Day–a famous criminal, and prodigy June–the brilliant soldier hired to capture him, discover that they have a common enemy.

Inclusive Reading Recommendations — Children

Wanting to add a little more inclusivity into your reading habits? Here are a few books to get started. This list is focused on children’s books, but check back for more lists in the future!

  1. Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall
    • Red’s factory-applied label clearly says that he is red, but despite the best efforts of his teacher, fellow crayons and art supplies, and family members, he cannot seem to do anything right until a new friend offers a fresh perspective.
  2. The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
    • Other students laugh when Rigoberto, an immigrant from Venezuela, introduces himself but later, he meets Angelina and discovers that he is not the only one who feels like an outsider.
  3. Islandborn by Junot Diaz
    • Lola was just a baby when her family left the Island, so when she has to draw it for a school assignment, she asks her family, friends, and neighbors about their memories of her homeland … and in the process, comes up with a new way of understanding her own heritage
  4. I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel
    • From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl’s brain in a boy’s body. She loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn’t feel like herself in boys’ clothing. This confused her family, until they took her to a doctor who said that Jazz was transgender and that she was born that way.
  5. My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete
    • Callie is very proud of her brother Charlie. He’s good at so many things — swimming, playing the piano, running fast. And Charlie has a special way with animals, especially their dog, Harriet. But sometimes Charlie gets very quiet. His words get locked inside him, and he seems far away. Then, when Callie and Charlie start to play, Charlie is back to laughing, holding hands, having fun. Charlie is like any other boy — and he has autism.
  6. Mommy, Mama, and Me by Lesléa Newman
    • A baby enjoys a number of fun activities with her two mothers.
  7.  And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
    • At New York City’s Central Park Zoo, two male penguins fall in love and start a family by taking turns sitting on an abandoned egg until it hatches.
  8. Big Bob, Little Bob by James Howe
    • Big Bob likes trucks and throwing balls and being loud. Little Bob likes dolls and jingling bracelets and being quiet. No matter what they do, they do not do it the same way. Can they possibly be friends despite these differences?
  9. Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story about Gender and Friendship by Jessica Walton
    • Errol’s best friend and teddy, Thomas, is sad because he wishes he were a girl, not a boy teddy, but what only matters to both of them is that they are friends.
  10. That’s What Friends Do by Kathryn Cave
    • Two fantastical creatures celebrate their friendship.
  11. I’m a Girl! by Yasmeen Ismail
    • A rough and tumble little girl loves being herself, although she is often mistaken for a boy.
  12. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
    • A young boy rides the bus across town with his grandmother and learns to appreciate the beauty in everyday things.
  13. The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds
    • Jerome enjoys collecting and using words that he hears, reads, or sees, and then decides to share his collection with others.
  14. Alfie by Thyra Heder
    • Told from the perspective of both the girl, Nia, and her pet turtle, Alfie, and describes what happens when he disappears on the eve of her seventh birthday to find her a special present.
  15. Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan
    • Having to take her younger sister along the first time she is invited to a birthday party spoils Rubina’s fun, and later when that sister is asked to a party and baby sister wants to come, Rubina must decide whether to help.
  16. Green is a Chile Pepper: A Book of Colors by Roseanne Thong
    • Children discover a world of colors all around them. Many of the featured objects are Latino in origin, but all are universal in appeal.
  17. The Water Princess by Susan Verde
    • With its wide sky and warm earth, Princess Gie Gie’s kingdom is a beautiful land. But clean drinking water is scarce in her small African village. She dreams of a day when her village will have cool, crystal-clear water of its own.
  18. Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore
    • When all her older siblings are away, Cora’s mother finally lets her help make pancit, a Filipino noodle dish. Includes a recipe for pancit.
  19. Lovely by Jess Hong
    • Big, small, curly, straight, loud, quiet, smooth, wrinkly. Lovely explores a world of differences that all add up to the same thing: we are all lovely!
  20. F is for Fiesta by Susan Middleton Elya
    • A rhyming book that outlines the preparations for and celebration of a young boy’s birthday, with Spanish words for each letter of the alphabet translated in a glossary.