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Updated by Angela Sauter on Apr 04, 2014
Headline for Multicultural Summer Reading Choices
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Multicultural Summer Reading Choices

Recommendations for multicultural summer reading choices.

Golden Boy

Grades 8 and up-Born albino in a Tanzanian village, Habo suffers virulent prejudice for his pale skin, blue eyes, and yellow hair, even from his own family. At 13, he runs away to the city of Dar-es-Salaam, where he thinks he will find more acceptance: there are even two albino members of the government there.

Inside Out and Back Again

Grades 4-6-Starred Review* After her father has been missing in action for nine years during the Vietnam War, 10-year-old Hà flees with her mother and three older brothers. Traveling first by boat, the family reaches a tent city in Guam, moves on to Florida, and is finally connected with sponsors in Alabama, where Hà finds refuge but also cruel rejection, especially from mean classmates.

Starry River of the Sky

Gr 3-6-The moon is missing from the sky, and its absence causes unrelenting heat and drought. At night, Rendi can hear the sky moan and whimper for the missing moon, a sound that has plagued him since running away from home and ending up as a chore boy at an isolated inn.

Heart of a Samurai

Gr 5 Up-A Japanese teenager living in the mid-19th century bridges two worlds in this stunning debut novel based on true events. Manjiro and his fellow fishermen find refuge on a remote island after a storm destroys their ship. When they are rescued by an American whaleboat captain and given the chance to return home with him, Manjiro accepts the offer.

Toads and Diamonds

Grade 7 Up-Starred Review. This is an impressive reimagining of Perrault's classic tale, set in precolonial India. Stepsisters Diribani and Tana are on the edge of poverty when they are blessed and cursed by the goddess Naghali-ji.

Same Sun Here

Gr 4-7-Meena, a recent immigrant from India, lives in Manhattan's Chinatown with her family. Through a program arranged by their schools, she becomes a pen pal with River, who lives in rural Kentucky and is the son of a coal miner. They exchange letters via snail mail and, as a result, learn about each other and themselves.

The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible . . . on Schindler's List

Grades 5 and up-Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2013: For readers ages 11 and up, Leon Leyson's remarkable memoir, The Boy on the Wooden Box, is the moving account of a happy childhood shattered by the Holocaust. Leyson was fortunate enough to survive, thanks largely to Oskar Schindler.

Glory Be

Grades 4-7-Each year, Gloriana Hemphill celebrates her Fourth of July birthday at the community pool. But the summer before her twelfth birthday, in 1964, Hanging Moss, Mississippi, is in turmoil, and that turmoil reaches right into Glory's life. Yankee "freedom people" have infiltrated the town, rousing rabble and insisting the white-only pool be desegregated.

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Crow

Crow

Grades 5-8-Starred Review, School Library Journal, January 1, 2012:"The expert blending of vivid historical details with the voice of a courageous, relatable hero makes this book shine."Starred Review, The Horn Book Magazine, January 1, 2012:"Wright has taken a little-known event and brought it to vivid life, with a richly evoked setting

P.S. Be Eleven

Gr 4-7-After their life-changing summer in Oakland with their poet-activist mother, related in One Crazy Summer (HarperCollins, 2010), sisters Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern find it difficult to readjust to life in Brooklyn. In addition to their grandmother's strict expectations, the girls must navigate the return of their uncle from Vietnam, their father's new romantic relationship, and their own uncontrollable love for the Jackson Five.

American Born Chinese

Grades 7 and up-Indie graphic novelist Gene Yang's intelligent and emotionally challenging American Born Chinese is made up of three individual plotlines: the determined efforts of the Chinese folk hero Monkey King to shed his humble roots and be revered as a god; the struggles faced by Jin Wang, a lonely Asian American middle school student who would do anything to fit in with his white classmates; and the sitcom plight of Danny, an All-American teen so shamed by his Chinese cousin Chin-Kee (a purposefully painful ethnic stereotype) that he is forced to change schools.

Ten Things I Hate About Me

Grades 7 and up-Jamilah Towfeek hides her Lebanese-Muslim background from the other kids at her Australian school "to avoid people assuming I fly planes into buildings as a hobby." She dyes her hair blonde, wears blue contacts and stands by when popular kids make racist remarks.

Chained

Grades 4-6 "...an affecting animal story and a well-paced adventure."--School Library Journal"First novelist Kelly crafts a layered, convincing tale of interspecies friendship between individuals who care for each other within the confines of enslavement."--Horn Book"A heartfelt...addition to the literature promoting better treatment of our fellow animals."--Kirkus"Lynne Kelly has written a story that unwraps the heart and asks it to be brave, loyal, and above all, kind.

The Lions of Little Rock

Grades 5-8 In Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1958, as politicians rage for and against the struggle to integrate schools, Marlee, 13, is a math whiz but she has a personal problem with mutism-she's terrified to say things aloud in public.

Between Shades of Gray

Grades 8 and up Starred Review* Sepetys' first novel offers a harrowing and horrifying account of the forcible relocation of countless Lithuanians in the wake of the Russian invasion of their country in 1939. In the case of 15-year-old Lina, her mother, and her younger brother, this means deportation to a forced-labor camp in Siberia, where conditions are all too painfully similar to those of Nazi concentration camps.