For children, books are often a way to explore parts of the world they have not yet had access to. It’s important that they do not develop a limited worldview, based on consuming media and reading books that are just about people like them. Introducing children to a diversity of voices at an early age is essential to helping them make sense of and accept the modern world.
Here are some of our recommendations for books represent minority groups in the United States:
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan (Grades 7 & Up)
Winner of the Lambda Literary Award 2003, which celebrates lgbtq books.
Paul meets Noah, falls in love, and then blows it big time. Can he beat the 12-1 odds that his friends give him to win Noah’s affection, all the while dealing with his friends’ problems, his needy classmates, and of course, the inevitable school dance? David Levithan conjures up a bright, happy-go-lucky romantic comedy in a world free of any-LGBTQ discrimination that sparkles with wit, but also the adolescent angst about young love. A fun story that treats the LGBTQ experience as no big deal!
“Because sometimes you just have to dance like a madman in the Self-Help section of your local bookstore.”
Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale (Grades 6 & Up)
Winner of the American Indian Youth Literature Awards 2016, which honors books by and about the indigenous peoples of America.
This text collects poetry, prose and art about the lives of 64 indigenous Native American young people, among whom number hip-hop dancers, comic-book creators, fashion models, activists, tribal leaders, rappers and more. The book addresses a multitude of social issues that touched the lives of these youths, and the result is an authentic, non-stereotypical look at contemporary Native American life. Prejudice, tolerance and acceptance are big themes, though positive success stories are highlighted. A quick note: despite its age rating, references to drugs and sexuality do pop up, so parents and teachers may want to bring up these topic first!
” ‘Mom, why do we greet the dawn?’ She said, ‘We greet the dawn because we are the people of the dawn. We are the first ones to see the white light coming to announce the sunrise, and when the sun comes up, it gives us light and we are able to see where we are going and we are able to work, and the sun gives us warmth and the Elders feel better and are able to move around.’ “
Wonderstruck: A Novel in Words and Pictures by Brian Selznick (Grades 4-7)
Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award 2012, awarded to books that honor the disability experience.
Wonderstruck tells the story of two deaf children, Ben and Rose, whose separate yearnings for a different life set them each on a journey to New York City. Though living 50 years apart, the children’s quests are tied to the American Museum of Natural History and its wondrous curiosities. Emotional, compelling, and with a nifty twist, this book is also unusual in that one of the two intertwining stories is told entirely in (gorgeously drawn) pictures, meaning that the 600-page tome feels quite a bit lighter! And the glimpses into deaf culture should be illuminating for children and adults alike.
“Ben wished the world was organized by the Dewey decimal system. That way you’d be able to find whatever you were looking for, like the meaning of your dream, or your dad.”