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. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Shane W. Evans
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? [middle grade, 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. [nonfiction, 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. [nonfiction, 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 the 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.
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p.s. Related posts:
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Mother Daughter Book Reviews
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.