Category Archives: Book Lists by Topic

Lists of recommended books categorized by subject matter.

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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Book List: Picture Books About Travel

Summer is in full swing and that means lots of exciting trips to be planned! We’ve pinned a list of picture books about travel on our new Pinterest board, so you can travel the world without spending money or suffering from jetlag!

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Using Children’s Books to Teach About Love and Belonging

Guest blogger Katie Cunningham is an Assistant Professor at Manhattanville College. Her teaching and scholarship centers around children’s literature, critical guest bloggerliteracy, and supporting teachers to make their classrooms joyful and purposeful. Katie has presented at numerous national conferences and is the editor of The Language and Literacy Spectrum, New York Reading Association’s literacy journal. 

We know love when we see it. The best mornings I have as a parent are when I see love between my sons. Moments like when my one-and-a-half year old spontaneously hugs my four year old, and he hugs him back. The best mornings I had as a teacher were when I saw love between my students. When a second grader high-fives a classmate for taking a risk with a math problem or when a student sits by someone at lunch who looks alone. As a parent and an educator, I am always on the look out for stories that center love in ways that enable young children to immediately but deeply understand what love is.

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Reading Biographies to Reflect on Core Principles and Create Belonging

Katie CunninghamGuest blogger Katie Cunningham is an Assistant Professor at Manhattanville College. Her teaching and scholarship centers around children’s literature, critical literacy, guest bloggerandsupporting teachers to make their classrooms joyful and purposeful. Katie has presented at numerous national conferences and is the editor of The Language and Literacy Spectrum, New York Reading Association’s literacy journal. 

Spring is here and with that spring fever for many students who will be graduating from a significant milestone and moving on to the next stage of their lives. Graduating students will hear speeches that urge them to seize the day, to work hard, to stand out amongst the crowd, and to answer the question “Who will you be?”. The Common Core State Standards are written with this day in mind. While the standards are designed to raise the level of education that any child receives regardless of socioeconomic status, race, gender, and language, the standards alone do not put children on the path to college and a career. We cannot overlook that some students see themselves from a very early age as “card carrying members” in college settings while others feel displaced. Before we can ask our students “Who will you be?”, we need to wonder “Who do our students believe they can be?”

Katie Cunningham quoteThe last few springs I’ve hosted seventy-five fifth graders to the college campus where I’m an Assistant Professor. These fifth graders attend a school where 93% are of Latino descent, 85% have reduced or free lunch, and almost 40% have limited English proficiency.  For many of them this experience is their first time on a college campus and the vast majority will be the first generation in their families to attend college. The trip is only five miles by school bus, yet our campus is a world away for many students. The trip is designed to give fifth graders the sense that they are card-carrying members. That they belong here. That they are on the road to college as a pathway to a career.

As educators and parents, we know that college and career-readiness cannot simply be reduced to a series of skills-based standards. Rather, it’s a complex topic with social, cultural and political considerations that go far beyond the classroom. I believe we can enact curriculum that centers the standards in engaging and joyful ways, but what can we do to rewrite history for many of our students who face obstacles inside and outside our classrooms everyday? We can bring them to college campuses and support them to see themselves as members of intellectual communities. We can also support students beyond single events to routinely consider what guides us and what has guided people before us to reach their dreams. Harvard Professor Ronald Ferguson established five core principles I believe our schools must teach long before and alongside any reading, writing, or math lessons:

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