Category Archives: Book Lists by Topic

Lists of recommended books categorized by subject matter.

20 YA Novels for Thinking Adults: A Diverse List

There has been a lot of controversy this week surrounding that now-infamous Slate article saying that adults should be embarrassed to read YA. Here at LEE & LOW, we couldn’t disagree more. We don’t think your enjoyment of a book should be limited by your age (or anything at all, really). YA novels are great. They can be entertaining, literary, thought-provoking, funny, sad, or all of the above at the same time.

There have been several excellent lists of YA recommendations floating around this week, so we thought we’d add our own. Here is a list (a diverse list, of course!) of YA novels that made us think, featuring some great books from LEE & LOW and some of our favorites from other publishers:

1. Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Tu Books)

When Odilia and her four sisters find a dead body in the swimming hole, they embark on a hero’s journey to return the dead man to his family in Mexico. But returning home to Texas turns into an odyssey that would rival Homer’s original tale.

2. How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents by Julia Alvarez (Algonquin Books)

Uprooted from their family home in the Dominican Republic, the four Garcia sisters – Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia – arrive in New York City in 1960 to find a life far different from the genteel existence of maids, manicures, and extended family they left behind.

3. Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Lee & Low Books)Under the Mesquite

As the oldest of eight siblings, Lupita is used to taking the lead—and staying busy behind the scenes to help keep everyone together. But when she discovers Mami has been diagnosed with cancer, Lupita is terrified by the possibility of losing her mother, the anchor of her close-knit Mexican American family.

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Book List: Picture Books about Muslim or Middle Eastern Characters

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s been a lot of talk lately about the need for more diversity in books. We already know that the population of the United States is rapidly changing, and people have been demanding books that reflect this. From the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign to this recent article from School Library Journal, the demand for diverse titles grows louder every day. One category we often get asked about is recommendations of books featuring Middle Eastern and Muslim characters, so we thought we’d put together a list of some favorites:

coming to america

  1. The Butter Man, by Elizabeth & Ali Alalou, ill. by Julie Klear Essakalli: As young Nora waits impatiently for her mother to come home from work and for her father to serve the long-simmering couscous that smells so delicious, her father tells her about his childhood in Morocco.
  2. Coming to America: A Muslim Family’s Story, by Bernard Wolf: With captivating photographs and engaging text, Bernard Wolf invites us into the life of this close-knit family — a family whose love and courage speak for all immigrants who work hard and make sacrifices in the pursuit of a better life. 
  3. Deep in the Sahara, by Kelly Cunnane, ill. by Hoda Hadadi: Lalla lives in the Muslim country of Mauritania, and more than anything, she wants to wear a malafa, the colorful cloth Mauritanian women, like her mama and big sister, wear to cover their heads and clothes in public. 
  4. The Flag of Childhood: Poems From the Middle East, selected by Naomi Shihab Nye: In this stirring anthology of sixty poems from the Middle East, honored anthologist Naomi Shihab Nye welcomes us to this lush, vivid world and beckons us to explore.
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Books That Fit Your Definition of “American Family”

Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.

As the holidays charge forth, many teachers reach for their tried-and-true holiday read-aloud bin. It can be very tricky to select just the right text for the holidays. November and December are wonderful months to expose our children to as many cultures as possible and share how different families celebrate holidays in their homes. I encourage teachers, librarians, and literacy advocates to use this time of year not only to explore rituals, traditions, and core values, but also to recognize and celebrate the different kinds of families our children have.

Like many of our literacy partners, we are always looking for fresh stories that demonstrate the core values of the season: empathy, respect, gratitude, service, honesty, community, self-reflection, and responsibility. What better way to teach these abstract concepts than with books that reflect our students’ experiences at home and relationships? when this world was new

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Book List: 13 Funny Middle Grade Books with Diverse Characters

Oh the weather outside is frightful, but a middle school sense of humor is so delightful! When the temperature is freezing, what better way to spend your time than by reading a hilarious book? We’ve put together a list of middle grade humor books (all of which feature diverse main characters), so get ready to have your funny bone tickled!

Note: In general, middle grade books are appropriate for kids ages 8-12. If any of these books fall outside that range, we’ve tried to note that below.

For you visual learners, we’ve also pinned these titles on Pinterest:

diverse middle grade humor booksThese books have been recommended in various places – we haven’t (yet) read them all ourselves. If you have other recommended humorous middle grade titles that feature characters of color or are written by authors of color, let us know in the comments! For more on middle grade humor, check out Cat Girl’s Day Off author Kimberly Pauley’s guest post she wrote on How to Write Humor for Young Readers.

Let the giggles and laughs commence!

smiling cat

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Babies, Burglars, and Other Bumps in the Night by Lenore Look, ill. by LeUyen Pham: Alvin Ho is an Asian American second grader who is afraid of everything—elevators, tunnels, girls, and, most of all, school. But at home he’s a very loud superhero named Firecracker Man, a brother to Calvin and Anibelly, and a gentleman-in-training, so he can be just like his dad.

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Trick or Treat: Diverse Books for Halloween!

Halloween, thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival Samhain, is just around the corner! Whether you’re planning to spend the holiday pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating, or just relaxing with a cup of steaming hot apple cider, we have six diverse books full of thrills and chills to add to your Halloween festivities!

Ghosts for Breakfast

1. Ghosts for Breakfast by Stanley Todd Terasaki, illustrated by Shelly Shinjo

In this humorous story set in the 1920s, a Japanese American boy and his father investigate their neighbors’ report of ghosts in a nearby farmer’s field.

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5 Books for Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15, a period chosen because it bookends the independence days of five Central American nations (Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica, Sept. 15), Mexico (Sept. 16) and Chile (Sept. 18), as well as Columbus Day/Dia de la Raza (Oct. 14 this year in the United States). In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’ve rounded up five great books that celebrate Latino culture and history.

Gracias - Thanks

1. Gracias~Thanks by Pat Mora, illustrated by John Parra

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Five Picture Books to Celebrate Women’s Equality Day

Today is Women’s Equality Day and we’d like to thank the women of the past, present, and future for their contributions to women’s rights and gender equality.

Women’s Equality Day was created to commemorate the the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote, but it also highlights women’s continued efforts toward full equality in America.

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Happy Friendship Day!

This Sunday is Friendship Day, and what better way to celebrate than with books that celebrate friends of all ages and ethnicities!

Friendship Day was originally created by Hallmark in 1919 and people were supposed to celebrate their friendship by sending each other cards. It was officially recognized by the UN in 2011. According to the Friendship Day Declaration, the purpose is to “observe this day in an appropriate manner, in accordance with the culture and other appropriate circumstances or customs of their local, national and regional communities, including through education and public awareness-raising activities.”

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New Releases from Lee & Low and Tu Books this Fall

Fall is just a few months away and while we aren’t looking forward to the cooler weather, we’re excited to introduce our new fall releases. Take a look – there’s sure to be something for every book lover you know!

King for A Day 

King for a Day cover image

King for a Day takes us to Basant, the springtime kite-flying festival in Lahore, Pakistan. Watch as Malik guides his kite into leaps and swirls, slashing strings to capture the other kites in the sky to become king for a day. Written by Rukhsana Khan and illustrated by Christiane Krömer.

Parrots Over Puerto Rico

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5 Books that Build Confidence in African American Children

In light of the recent verdict in the Trayvon Martin case, many parents are wondering, “What should I tell my children?” For parents looking for a place to start, we’ve created a list of five great books for young readers. Books can serve as an opening into serious discussion on race and social justice issues, build confidence and instill pride in young African American readers, and counter negative messages that children may be absorbing from other media outlets.

Ranging from lighthearted stories to titles that deal with serious topics, including loss, inner city issues, and race relations, these books will instill confidence in young readers, build their self-worth, and inspire them to overcome whatever obstacles they may face.

5 Books that Build Confidence in African American Children1. Black All Around by Patricia Hubbell, illustrated by Don Tate

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