Because this is Black History month, I asked several experts to recommend some not-to-be-missed middle-grade books. Not all their suggestions are about the African American experience, but they’re all about the multicultural experience and kids dealing with differences. If you’re discussing the timely topics of prejudice or exclusion, here’s a great list of resources:
TWO NAOMIS by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick
Two girls named Naomi are forced into an unlikely friendship when their parents begin dating. The girls’ emotional journeys take them through the struggles of living in a blended family and learning to become friends as well as sisters.
AS BRAVE AS YOU by Jason Reynolds
This multi-award-winning book examines bravery from the viewpoint of Genie, who wonders how you can tell who’s brave. What about his blind grandfather, who never leaves the house? Or his older brother who doesn’t want to shoot a gun? Maybe bravery is being strong enough to admit what you don’t want to do.
GHOST by Jason Reynolds
A National Book Award Finalist, Ghost tells the story of four kids from diverse backgrounds whose personalities clash. But they must come together to form an elite track team bound for the Junior Olympics.
THE LEFT-HANDED FATE by Kate Milford
Caught up in the war between England and France, Lucy Bluecrowne and Maxwell Ault hope to stop the battle by finding parts to an engine. They’re imprisoned by a twelve-year-old American midshipsman, Oliver, who must decide whether to become a traitor or risk the lives of enemies he now sees as friends.
MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON by Linda Williams Jackson
Set in Mississippi in 1955, Jackson’s novel blends fiction with the true story of the trial of Emmett Till. Rose Lee Carter decides to be a part of the movement that changes the South.
FRAZZLED by Booki Vivat
Filled with doodles by Booki Vivat, this hilarious story of Abbie Wu is filled with drama. Will Abbie “survive the everyday disasters of growing up”? Great for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
THE SEVENTH WISH by Kate Messner
Charlie feels unimportant until she discovers a wish-granting fish – only what she wishes for comes true in unexpected ways. Then her family faces a challenge. Should Charlie risk a wish on something this important?
THE GAUNTLET by Karuna Riazi
In a steampunk set in the Middle East, twelve-year-old Farah and her friends get trapped in a game board. The only way they can escape and save the others inside is to figure out the puzzle set up by a diabolical gamemaker.
TOWERS FALLING by Jewell Parker Rhodes
An award-winning author, Rhodes tells the story of the Twin Towers from the point of view of children who weren’t born when it happened. While they’re learning about their town’s history, they’re also discovering things about themselves and what it means to be an American.
MAGNIFICENT MYA TIBBS: SPIRIT WEEK SHOWDOWN by Crystal Allen
With pink cowboy boots and the upcoming Spirit Week, Mya’s all set for partnering with her best friend. But then she gets paired with the school bully. Great for fans of Clementine and Ramona.
If you want more great titles written by and about African Americans, take a look at Brown Bookshelf’s daily featured books and authors every day this month. If you’re not familiar with the Brown Bookshelf, be sure to return to our blog on February 22 to learn more when Jacqueline Jaeger Houtman interviews Kelly Starling Lyons, one of the founders.
ABOUT THE BLOG AUTHOR
A former teacher and librarian, Laurie J. Edwards is now an author who has written more than 2300 articles and 36 books under several pen names, including Erin Johnson and Rachel J. Good. Living in Africa as a child and traveling extensively as an adult taught Laurie the importance of appreciating other cultures. She spent last weekend with an African friend, learning to properly cook grasshoppers and caterpillars. To find out more about Laurie, visit her website and blog.