It’s important to read books to celebrate diversity for a myriad of reasons. Marginalized children shouldn’t be the the only ones reading and being exposed to diverse books, nor are their lives the only ones that will be enriched by reading them.
Reading books that represent different abilities, cultures, beliefs, and skin colors help us change our attitude toward those differences. Offering a diverse title for your family to read allows you to step into the shoes of someone else as well as be a little separate from their reality. Seeing bullying or injustice happen in the world of a book can give a child a new perspective on what’s happening in their own school or community.
Reading books to our children is unquestionably the most fun and easiest way of connecting with our babes. It’s second nature when they are young and can fit on your lap. It gets harder as they get older and get more involved with activities outside the home. Still though, it’s important to keep that bond even when your kids are as big as you.
You can also get audio books that the family can enjoy together, while you occupy yourself with a hand craft or fixing dinner. Incorporate literacy in all you do as a family. Plus, I bet your child has an assignment to read for a certain amount of time from school. This will be getting his or her homework done then and there! Plus choosing books to celebrate diversity in the middle grades will be giving them a hand up in all aspects of life.
Remember that reading to your child doesn’t stop when your child enters school. Continue to read with your child even after he learns to read. There are no negative effects to reading to your child, no matter what the age!
Stars Beneath my Feet by David Barclay Moore A boy tries to steer a safe path through the projects in Harlem in the wake of his brother’s death in this outstanding debut novel that celebrates community and creativity.
I am Enough by Grace Byers is a gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another .
The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander is a gorgeous view into the lives of African Americans and their triumphs and struggles.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson Lyrical text and dazzling art remind us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway. Also available in Spanish.
Just Like Me By Vanessa Newton An ode to the girl with scrapes on her knees and flowers in her hair, and every girl in between, this exquisite treasury will appeal to readers and have kids poring over it to find a poem that’s just for them.
Goodnight Lab by Chris Ferrie An adorable parody of Goodnight Moon, which will throw your kids into nostalgia.
Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio This timely story not only gives readers a fun introduction to the American electoral system but also teaches the value of hard work, courage, independent thought — and offers an inspiring example of how to choose our leaders. Also available in Spanish.
G My Name is Girl by Dawn Masi Girls from 26 different countries – Argentina to Zambia – are beautifully and thoughtfully represented in this A-to-Z tribute of global girlhood. Children will enjoy reading about each girl’s name, empowering character trait, and country, while learning how we are all connected. Globally-minded kids can also find the countries on a map at the back of the book and dream of places they’d like to visit as you increase their knowledge of the world with this terrific book to celebrate diversity for middle grades.
Catching the Moon by Crystal Hubbard The true story of Marcenia Lyle, an African American girl who grew up to become “Toni Stone,” the first woman to play for a professional baseball team.
Books to Celebrate Diversity for Tweens
Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott A chapter-book fantasy with an urban setting, an array of brown-skinned magic wielders, and a lovable black protagonist readers will root for and sympathize with.
Goldie Vance by Hope Larson Move over, Nancy Drew–there’s a new sleuth in town! Inspired by the beloved comic series, Goldie Vance is ready to sleuth her way through never-before-seen mysteries in this original novel series by Lilliam Rivera featuring 16 full-color comic pages!
Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse Lovers of Percy Jackson will find a new love: Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents critically acclaimed indigenous fantasy writer Rebecca Roanhorse’s thrilling adventure about a Navajo girl who discovers she’s a monsterslayer.
New Kid by Jerry Craft Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. Help your kids see another’s perspective with this terrific book to celebrate diversity for middle grades.
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
From debut author Janae Marks comes a captivating story full of heart, as one courageous girl questions assumptions, searches for the truth, and does what she believes is right—even in the face of great opposition.
Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime?
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds In this New York Times bestselling novel, two teens—one black, one white—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension. This is an incredible add on to books to celebrate diversity for middle grades and is a true look at the experiences of people of color in our country.
Ways to Make Sunshine by Renee Watson
Intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, this book allows black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love. Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet!
Don’t stop with this list when you’re looking for books to celebrate diversity for the middle grades. Lots of blogs have lots of great and better book lists than this one. I recommend What do We Do All Day? as the queen of book lists on any topic.
If you have younger readers, be sure to check out our Plenty of Picture Books Celebrating Diversity too.