Best Multicultural Chapter Books and Kid Lit Blog Hop

Best Multicultural Chapter Books and Kid Lit Blog Hop

This is Part 2 of the 2015 Notable Books for a Global Society Award, for middle grade readers ages 8 and up. I haven’t read them all so I’ll use book jacket blurbs with age range to make this list more helpful for parents and teachers looking for books for kids.

Many of these chapter books deal with difficult themes like genocide, racism, and violent civil wars. Will kids and parents actually put themselves through these kinds of experiences where the protagonist goes through unimaginable hell? I hope so. These are important stories that haven’t received the attention they deserve and if kids are aware of the mistakes made by their elders in the past, perhaps this is our best hope they will not be repeated in the future.

Part I from the list of picture books are here. I will post on the best young adult books from this list at the next Kid Lit Blog Hop.

Best Multicultural Chapter Books for Ages 9 and Up

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

A luminous novel in verse about Jacqueline Woodson’s life including her personal story of the Civil Rights Movement. This is a book for all kids, not just brown girls!

I have an interview with Jacqueline Woodson on Brown Girl Dreaming at the Multicultural Children’s Book Day blog.  [novel in verse, ages 8 and up]

El Deafo by Cece Bell

My son read this award winning graphic novel and said, “I really like this graphic novel because it tells you how deaf people feel in ordinary situations.” [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]

The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye

This accessible, exquisite novel shines with gentle humor and explores themes of moving, family, nature, and immigration. It tells the story of Aref Al-Amri, who must say good-bye to everything and everyone he loves in his hometown of Muscat, Oman, as his family prepares to move to Ann Arbor, Michigan. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Shane W. Evans

Finally, Amira is twelve. Old enough to wear a toob, old enough for new responsibilities. And maybe old enough to go to school in NyalaAmira’s one true dream.
But life in her peaceful Sudanese village is shattered when the Janjaweed arrive. The terrifying attackers ravage the town and unleash unspeakable horrors. After she loses nearly everything, Amira needs to dig deep within herself to find the strength to make the long journey on foot to safety at a refugee camp. Her days are tough at the camp, until the gift of a simple red pencil opens her mindand all kinds of possibilities. [chapter book, ages 9 and up]

Arcady’s Goal by Eugene Yelchin

For twelve-year-old Arcady, soccer is more than just a game. Sent to live in a children’s home after his parents are declared enemies of the state, it is a means of survival, securing extra rations, respect, and protection. Ultimately, it proves to be his chance to leave. But in Soviet Russia, second chances are few and far between. Will Arcady seize his opportunity and achieve his goal? Or will he miss his shot? [chapter book, ages 9 and up]

Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain by Russell Freedman

There is the more well-known Ellis Island in New York City, and then there’s Angel Island in California. Angel Island, off the coast of California, was the port of entry for Asian immigrants to the United States between 1892 and 1940. Following the passage of legislation requiring the screening of immigrants, “the other Ellis Island” processed around one million people from Japan, China, and Korea. Drawing from memoirs, diaries, letters, and the “wall poems” discovered at the facility long after it closed, the nonfiction master Russell Freedman describes the people who came, and why; the screening process; detention and deportation; changes in immigration policy; and the eventual renaissance of Angel Island as a historic site open to visitors. [non fiction, ages 9 and up]

I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosín, translated by E.M. O’Connor, illustrated by Lee White

Celeste Marconi is a dreamer. She lives peacefully among friends and neighbors and family in the idyllic town of Valparaiso, Chile—until one day when warships are spotted in the harbor and schoolmates start disappearing from class without a word. Celeste doesn’t quite know what is happening, but one thing is clear: no one is safe, not anymore. [chapter book, ages 10 and up]

Strike!: The Farm Workers Fight for Their Rights by Larry Dane Brimner

In 1965, as the grapes in California’s Coachella Valley were ready to harvest, migrant Filipino American workers—who picked and readied the crop for shipping—negotiated a wage of $1.40 per hour, the same wage growers had agreed to pay guest workers from Mexico. But when the Filipino grape pickers moved north to Delano, in the Central Valley, and again asked for $1.40 an hour, the growers refused. The ensuing conflict set off one of the longest and most successful strikes in American history. [non fiction, ages 10 and up]

Caminar by Skila Brown

Set in 1981 Guatemala, a lyrical debut novel tells the powerful tale of a boy who must decide what it means to be a man during a time of war. A novel in verse inspired by actual events during Guatemala’s civil war, Caminar is the moving story of a boy who loses nearly everything before discovering who he really is. [novel in verse, ages 10 and up]

Voices from the March on Washington by J. Patrick Lewis & George Ella Lyon

This novel-in-verse plunges readers into the heart of the experience of the March on Washington, capturing the emotions of the day from multiple points of view. Throughout this moving, beautifully crafted collection of poems, six “soloists” tell their personal tales of how the March changed them. [novel in verse, age 10 and up]

Harlem Hellfighters by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Gary Kelley

They went by many names, but the world came to know them best as the Harlem Hellfighters. Two thousand strong, these black Americans from New York picked up brass instruments—under the leadership of famed bandleader and lieutenant James Reese Europe—to take the musical sound of Harlem into the heart of war. From the creators of the 2012 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award Honor Book, And the Soldiers Sang, this remarkable narrative nonfiction rendering of WWI — and American — history uses free-verse poetry and captivating art to tell century-old story of hellish combat, racist times, rare courage, and inspired music. [free verse poems, ages 10 and up]

To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

Best Multicultural Chapter Books and Kid Lit Blog Hop

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Welcome to the 56th Kid Lit Blog Hop where we continue to develop a dynamic and engaged community of children’s books bloggers, authors, publishers, and publicists. So, you are always more than welcome to join us by popping in a post and hopping around to meet some of your fellow Kid Lit bloggers and authors!

This week, we are excited to be including a Google+ Linky Party to be held in conjunction with the Kid Lit Blog Hop. These linky parties are designed to give you the opportunity to connect with and grow your network of fellow kid lit bloggers, authors, and parents through your various social media platforms.

We are pleased to be welcome back Tiffiny from the blog Spark and Pook as co-host this week (two weeks in a row – woot!. Welcome back once again, Tiffiny!



Mother Daughter Book Reviews

Julie Grasso, Author/ Blogger

Cheryl Carpinello, Author / Blogger

Stacking Books


Pragmatic Mom

Best 4 Future: Bringing Up Baby Bilingual

Reading Authors

The Logonauts

A Book Long Enough


Spark and Pook

Happy Hopping everyone and enjoy the Hop!


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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Marjorie (MWD)

    Great list, Mia – and I so agree about putting yourself through a slightly harrowing read. These are the kinds of books I would sayt it’s important to share and discuss with yor kids as it can be a bit traumatic without that sharing. Lee and Low have a great new guest post on their blog on just this topic, though more focused on younger children and picture books – (your comments won’t let me put the hyperlink in but hopefully copying and pasting that will work!)
    Marjorie (MWD) recently posted…Review: One World Together by Catherine and Laurence AnholtMy Profile

  2. Thanks, Mia! I’ve read many of these books, and loved them for different reasons:Brown Girl Dreaming is sad, funny, triumphant and hopeful, as is The Red Pencil. Makes you realize the simple things we totally take for granted! It’s wonderful to see verse vindicated, and get the attention it deserves, including The Crossover!

    I loved El Deafo–full of humor and feeliing–the illustrations were terrific!

    Thanks for reminding me of The Turtle of Oman! I just requested it from the library, since they didn’t initially have it when it first came out.

    I also found The Harlem Hellfighters to be an exquisite book–beautifully written, though sometimes painful to read. The images fit the text so well.

    I also really liked Nikki’s Grimes’s short verse novel, Words With Wings, but loved her Chasing Freedom even more. It’s a PB format, but divided into thematic chapters where she imagines a fireside conversation between Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony! A great way to talk about slavery and suffrage and history.

    I’ve put the others on my ever-growing to read list!

  3. Mia, just another wonderful list! I want to read so many of these… Pinned and will share on twitter too 🙂
    Erika recently posted…When it Becomes Ridiculous to talk about Hairy LegsMy Profile

  4. I’ve read some of the books, but not all of them. Several are on my list. And, you’ve introduced me to a few books I wasn’t aware of. Thanks!
    Patricia Tilton recently posted…The Olive Tree by Elsa MarstonMy Profile

  5. Red Pencil is absolutely amazing.. We read this together and it was a very unique experience. I am definitely re-visiting this book when DD is older.
    El deafo and Angel Island were amazing reads as well. Both are quality books. I am amazed at the content that is coming out these days in the chapter book section. Would love to read more in this genre this year.
    Oh! DD is reading Tua and the Elephant .. she is loving it.. one more to add to this list 🙂
    Reshama recently posted…The Pied Piper of HamelinMy Profile

  6. Can’t wait to share this one!!!
    Rebecca recently posted…Spring 2015: Don’t Miss These New Picture Books!My Profile

  7. This is a fantastic list. I was wondering about Brown Girl Dreaming for my daughter so I’m glad you shared it. The cover is beautiful. Thank you linking this to the hop.

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