Diversity Reading Challenge Young Adult

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo is a #Cybils YA Fiction finalist

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

I love EVERY DING DANG THING that Acevedo writes. Bonus shout outs to the author who sets the story in my hometown of PHILLY! All the things you love about Philly are represented in the book. AND! our heroine’s best friend is named Angelica which is my daughter’s name!

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

Soooooooo much fun! And I listened on audio which is divine because the author herself reads it. Homegirl could read a calculus book and make it sound interesting. Give With the Fire on High to every girl you know. She’ll be inspired.

This title may not have won the Cybils but it’s a winner in my heart this year. Also qualifies for the Diversity Reading Challenge!

Children Diversity Reading Challenge

Let’s Dance! by Valerie Bolling, Maine Diaz (Illustrations)

Let’s Dance! by Valerie Bolling,
Maine Diaz (Illustrations)

There is SO much to love about Let’s Dance! It’s a picture book that incorporates music and dance from all around the globe.

This rhythmic showcase of dances from all over the world features children of diverse backgrounds and abilities tapping, spinning, and boogying away!

Tap, twirl, twist, spin! With rhyming text, author Valerie Bolling shines a spotlight on dances from across the globe, while art from Maine Diaz shows off all the moves and the diverse people who do them. From the cha cha of Cuba to the stepping of Ireland, kids will want to leap, dip, and zip along with the dances on the page!

There’s more to the book than just the dancing though. The accurate depictions of the people of color ensure that all children of all races and abilities are represented. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that! I could imagine singing and dancing with a class of littles with this title. Super Great story!

Here’s where you can find the author:

Twitter: valerie_bolling

Instagram: valeribollingauthor

Instagram: letsdancebook

And because there is so much diversity, it qualifies for the Diversity Reading Challenge!
Attachments area

Carefree, Like Me! – Ch. 2: Sacra the Joyous by Rashad Malik Davis

Carefree, Like Me! – Ch. 2: Sacra the Joyous by Rashad Malik Davis

Forget about any picture book you’ve ever read before. Because Rashad Malik Davis’ illustrations will absolutely blow you away: the vivid coloring and the magical quality of the illustrations make the scenes jump out at you as if you’re watching a 3-D movie.

The story rhymes which is always a bonus in my book! But the most amazing bit about the story is that the characters accurately depict the features of the ethnicities of the characters. Imagine that! African American characters with African American features! Kids need accurate representation in so many ways. For far too long if kids saw a person of color in a book, that character had the same features as the white characters, and just given brown skin. But not here! The reader will be able to recognize themselves or their friends in the illustrations.

Accurate representation is so magnificent. Davis is an artist, every page moves the story along. Grab a copy for yourself and check out the author on social media: 

Twitter @RashadMDavis

Instagram @ramalik_illustrations

Also? His books qualify for the Diversity Reading Challenge. Thanks for being an inspiration for kids, Rashad!



Diversity Reading Challenge

I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal a #Cybils YA Fiction Finalist

I’m Not Dying with You Tonight

im not dying with you tonight

I’m not Dying with You Tonight was a finalist in the Cybils YA Fiction category and WOW! what a fast ride! I love books that start up on the action immediately and this book did not disappoint. It’s a fast read and had my stomach in knots the whole time.

Lena and Campbell aren’t friends.

Lena has her killer style, her awesome boyfriend, and a plan. She knows she’s going to make it big. Campbell, on the other hand, is just trying to keep her head down and get through the year at her new school.

When both girls attend the Friday-night football game, what neither expects is for everything to descend into sudden mass chaos. Chaos born from violence and hate. Chaos that unexpectedly throws them together.

They aren’t friends. They hardly understand the other’s point of view. But none of that matters when the city is up in flames, and they only have each other to rely on if they’re going to survive the night.

You get a glimpse into the mindset of each person and it’s so interesting, especially if you recognize yourself in the situation. So many options for teaching with this book. I’m glad I read it.

Also qualifies for the Diversity Reading Challenge!


Diversity Reading Challenge

Diversity Reading Challenge 2020 is Here! Read #DiverseBooks

diversity reading challenge

It’s time for the Diversity Reading Challenge! Reading diverse books benefits everyone and the DRC makes it easy. Pick one book from each category.

Read a book:

  1. Written by and for a Latinx person
  2. Containing an African American young woman
  3. An African American young man
  4. With a SE Asian main character
  5. With an illustrator of color
  6. Containing an LGBTQ main character
  7. Graphic novel with people of color
  8. Of speculative fiction containing people of color
  9. With a native American protagonist
  10. With a person with a mental illness
  11. With a person with a disability
  12. With a Muslim main character

You can combine it with other challenges or do it alone. It’s like peanut butter, it goes with everything!

I can already think of 7 books that would go with the Diversity Reading Challenge. What’s your first read gonna be?


Welcome to Washington, Fina Mendoza by Kitty Felde

Welcome to Washington, Fina Mendoza

Welcome to Washington, Fina Mendoza is a middle grade book that introduces kids (and maybe parents) to what life is like on Capitol Hill. If you’re like most folks, the life of the Washington insiders may be kind of a mystery. Felde, the award winning host of one of my fave podcast, Book Club for Kids,  takes the mystery out of life in our nation’s capitol. Told through the eyes of the ten year old daughter of a California representative, you’ll learn the ins and outs of the day to day life of Capitol Hill senators.  That orange thing on the cover? That’s Senator Something, a lovable briard that helps our heroine get into shenanigans and cope with the new life on the east coast.  If you’re wanting a #political primer, this is the one.

Diversity Reading Challenge

Pink is for Boys by Robb Pearlman, Illustrated by Eda Kaban

Pink is for Boys



A little guy, who is now a young man, once told me, when I complimented him on his blue nail polish that “Blue is for everyone” and I never forgot that thought. Why? Because it’s true. Colors don’t belong to people.

Pink is for Boys is the cutest ding dang book I’ve seen all year! I’m not sure when colors began as boy or girl colors but I think it’s a ridiculous practice that should have ended decades ago. What Pink is for Boys points out is that colors are for everyone! The opening illustrations show children of all ethnicities wearing pink clothes in a pink room, dancing, singing and having a party to alert the reader that pink is for everyone.

Blue is for girls, by the way, in case you didn’t know. And it’s also for boys. Especially when they are wearing baseball uniforms and play on a team. Let’s not forget that yellow is the color of stars and crowns. Throughout the book the reader is bombarded with the positive message that colors are not gender specific AND the children are multiethnic and have differing abilities.

I love this book so hard. If you have little ones in your home, add this to your library ASAP because colors are for EVERYONE.


Books Diversity Reading Challenge

Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Crossover by Kwame Alexander

The Crossover


I cannot get enough of this friggin fraggin great book! This is a book that I downloaded on audio and listened to. Twice. Back To back. Thanks to a friend, I knew about the ending but still. When it happens. All. The. Feels. All the feels. if you wanna see my review, click here. It’s so good I just HAD to make sure I reminded you about it for Black History Month.

Crossover appeals to everyone of every color and every belief system. To be sure, I know very little about basketball, but that’s not even necessary. Alexander’s descriptions seep into your head and you can see the game and feel the bounce of the ball in your heartbeat.

I love me some Kwame Alexander! He’s my new bestie. (Be afraid KA, be afraid)

If this is your first read, Crossover totally counts toward the Diversity Reading Challenge.

Have you read this? What did you think??


Diversity Reading Challenge

Once you Read I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L Sanchez You’ll NEVER be the Same!

I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

I LOVE THIS BOOK!! I couldn’t love this book any harder if I tried! Sanchez brings out alot of sensitive issues in this YA book.

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?

But this blurb doesn’t begin to describe the depth of the life of our young protagonist. Consider these issues:

  • Julia (pronounced Hoo lee ah) speaks English in the world and Spanish at home
  • Her parents are grieving the loss of Julia’s sister and can’t help with her her loss
  • Julia experiences sexual harassment frequently
  • Insight into immigration
  • Undiagnosed mental illness/suicide
  • School/studying pressues
  • Traditional Hispanic family pressures v Julia’s desires
  • Friendship

There’s a lot to unpack in this book and I feel like Sanchez deftly incorporates these issues into the storyline without smacking you over the head with them and getting preachy. I appreciate that. After finishing I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter you will have a greater understanding of what it’s like to be a young Latinx woman. I wept at times; so so good! I promise you, your life will never be the same.

The issues in the book are so timely right now its hard not to see the connections. This could be any young woman’s life right now.

Also qualifies for the Diversity Reading Challenge.

Books Diversity Reading Challenge

Diversity Reading Challenge Roundup: Identity and Compassion

Diversity Reading Challenge Roundup

Identity and Compassion

It’s SUMMER! Summertime means more time for reading, YAY!  Not sure what to read? Your fave unconventional librarian has got you covered. I’ve compiled a list of kids books that contain diversity. No need to scour the internet or ask your friends to find the right book. I’ve got them here. All you’ll hafta do is go to your local bookstore or library and start reading.


#1: Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

I cannot love this book any harder if I wanted to. There is such a need for books representing the Latinx people and I feel like Julian is a Mermaid is a beautiful example.  Young Julian is riding the train with his Abuelita (Grandmother in Spanish) and he sees three very beautiful women dressed in mermaid costumes (I mean it’s New York, right so anything’s possible?) and oh how his imagination soars, pretending to be a mermaid. Once home Julian’s creative thinking allows him to make himself a mermaid costume. I won’t give away the ending but I wept as Julian was caught by his Abuela in his dress up clothes.

The representation of the community is stunning in its accuracies with their different shades, body shapes and hairstyles. I feel that we were all Julian at one time.

Except I was never a mermaid. I was a pirate. But you get my meaning.

Snag this book today!


#2: The Little Tree by Muon Van

The Little Tree by Muon Van

As the little tree sends her little seed out into the world, she wonders what will become of it.  One day she finds out. And when she does, OMG will you cry! There are so many different ways to love this book! The author of the book is of Vietnamese descent and discusses the families emigration from Vietnam to Hong Kong and then to the U.S. These feelings are depicted in the illustrations as well. Parents will appreciate the story because that’s exactly how it feels to send a small child out into the world: magical and frightening at the same time. Children will love the story because of the gentle way the tale unfolds, the soft drawings and the feeling of magic and wonder. So much diversity and multiculturalism without saying a word about it. LOVE!

The Little Tree is sure to be a favorite! Add this to your Diversity Reading Challenge.


#3: This Way Home by Wes Moore  Shawn Goodman

This Way Home by Wes Moore & Shawn Goodman

Elijah Thomas knows one thing better than anyone around him: basketball. At seventeen, he’s earned the reputation of a top-level player, one who steps onto the court ready for battle, whether it’s a neighborhood pickup game or a tournament championship.

What Elijah loves most about the game is its predictability: if he and his two best friends play hard and follow the rules, their team will win. And this formula has held true all way up to the summer before their senior year of high school, when a sinister street gang, Blood Street Nation, wants them to wear the Nation’s colors in the next big tournament.

The boys gather their courage and take a stand against the gang, but at a terrible cost. Now Elijah must struggle to balance hope and fear, revenge and forgiveness, to save his neighborhood. For help, he turns to the most unlikely of friends: Banks, a gruff ex-military man, and his beautiful and ambitious daughter. Together, the three work on a plan to destroy Blood Street and rebuild the community they all call home.

I’m so glad to see more books aimed at an urban or African American young adult reader. This would qualify for the Diversity Reading Challenge!


#4: Chocolate Mixer by Jason Armstrong

Chocolate Mixer by Jason Armstrong

The children in Chocolate Mixer, happen to be brown like chocolate milk (and who doesn’t love chocolate milk??) even though they are a mixture of a white (vanilla) mother and a chocolate (Black) father. The very BEST line in the easy to read rhyming book is the line from Dad:

“He sat me on his lap and said “my rainbow you see” we are all some kind of mixer, just look at a family.”

Isn’t that cute? Even the youngest kiddos can look at families (possibly their own) and see how everyone is different shades of color, just like a rainbow.  What a great way to discuss similarities rather than differences with the littles.  There are SO many teachable moments in this book!

#5: Peter’s Chair

Peter stretched as high as he could.  There! His tall building was finished.”

Peter’s Chair by Ezra Jack Keats is the CUTEST book around for children and parents experiencing the joyful addition of another child into the house.  Peter, however, is none too thrilled to have a little sister who uses all his old baby things: his crib, his high chair, etc.

I’ve reviewed Ezra Jack Keats before and I love the multicultural vibe he brings. He purposely choose an ethnic variety for his main characters, and this was over 40 years ago! It’s only natural that I should review Peter’s Chair for Black History Month.  The author is Jewish and the main character is African American; I LOVE the diversity!

If you’ve not read this book, you MUST DO IT NOW!! It is delightful and easy for kids to understand; all kids everywhere can relate to being dethroned by a little sib.


#6: Belle Prater’s Boy

Belle Prater’s Boy by Ruth White

So, I just finished reading an endearing book called Belle Prater’s Boy, by Ruth White. The tale is of two cousins, Gypsy and Woodrow, living in 1950s Virginia. Both children have lost a parent and both children struggle to understand why their parents left them. Gypsy is known for her long beautiful hair and Woodrow is a story teller. The language of the book is a blend of 50s charm and southern backwoods vernacular, which spoken through a child’s voice is particularly effective. I can see why the book was a Newberry Honor book.

I chose to read the book because I thought, given that the setting was the rural South, the story might contain a multicultural element. I was mistaken. While the characters within the story are Caucasian, there is a multicultural feel to the book, especially since Woodrow did not grow up in a family with money. In fact, Woodrow’s family was poor. Blind Benny adds a musical touch to the story and could certainly be African American, although not specifically stated.

Although Belle Prater’s Boy doesn’t specifically provide the multicultural blend that I was looking for, it is surely a good read: the characters are engaging, the story flows well, and the very small town lifestyle is different from what some readers may be familiar with.


#7: Little Shaq by Theodore Taylor III

Little Shaq by Shaquille O'Neal

When you think of Black History month do you think of politicians or just of musicians and actors? What about famous athletes? African American have contributed to society in so many ways! I’d like to share with you a great little book about Shaquille O’Neal, the basketball player.  He has a  series out called Little Shaq.

Little Shaq is a book for emerging and middle grade readers, depending on their interest.

When Little Shaq and his cousin Barry accidentally break their favorite video game, they need to find a way to replace it. That’s when Little Shaq’s science project inspires a solution: a gardening business. They can water their neighbors’ gardens to raise money for a new game! Little Shaq and Barry make a great team both on and off the basketball court, but will their business be as successful as they hoped?

The best thing about this book is that it shows kids (and maybe some adults) that athletes can have other talents than on the ball field or the court. Friends, family, business, and fair play are lessons that readers will enjoy.

This title also counts toward the Diversity Reading Challenge. Way to go Little Shaq!


#8: Don’t Forget DEXTER! by Lindsay Ward

Dexter T Rexter might be the cauuuuuutest T-Rex I’ve ever met! And sadly, I would be devastated if he were mine and got separated from me. But you know what, that’s exactly what happens in this adorbs story. Poor Dexter gets left behind in the doctor’s office waiting room. He’s sure his best buddy would never leave him behind on purpose so he sets out to figure out what happened and then tries to help himself get rescued.

The illustrations are multidimensional and so clever. I love love love this story. No spoiling the ending either, so you’ll hafta find out for yourself what happens.

PS you’ll be singing the dinosaur song all day!