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Reading List: Racial & Ethnic Diversity

Stories featuring characters of various ethnic and/or racial backgrounds.

View this list in Destiny.

by Laurie Halse Anderson

Isabel and her sister Ruth were promised their freedom when their owner died—but their owner’s son sold them anyway, to a Loyalist couple from New York City. The Locktons are working with the British, and some new friends want Isabel to spy on them to help foil the planned invasion. Isabel’s only priority is protecting her sister—but when Mrs. Lockton does the unforgivable, Isabel knows it’s time to take action.

My Basmati Bat Mitzvah My Basmati Bat Mitzvah 
by Paula Freedman

Tara decided to go through with her bat mitzvah, though maybe not for the right reasons (it's mostly to prove to annoying Sheila that she IS Jewish, thankyouverymuch)--but now there are all these complications. The class clown who is suddenly everywhere and wants her attention. Her best guy friend who is acting really weird lately. Her best girl friend who is friendly with--ugh!--Sheila. Her Indian relatives finding ways to blend with her Jewish ones. And Tara is struggling to reconcile all these parts.


Lions of Little Rock 
by Kristin Levine

Marlee never speaks outside of her family. At school, she's the mute girl. But then the new girl, Liz, sits across from her at lunch, and begins to break Marlee out of her shell. The girls are soon inseparable, and Liz is encouraging Marlee to work through her fears--speaking, mainly. But then Liz is suddenly gone from school, and there are rumors that she was passing as white, only a year after the Little Rock Nine forced desegregation of schools. Marlee had always been quiet, but if ever there were a time to find her voice, this is it.

by Walter Dean Myers

Steve is writing a screenplay of his murder trial as it unfolds, cutting in scenes of his family and his time in his cell.  He’s 16, scared, and alone—and not necessarily guilty.

by Walter Dean Myers

Reese made one bad decision when he was 13--stealing a prescription pad and selling it to a local drug dealer--and now he's serving out 30 months at Progress Center. With good behavior he can get out early and start getting his life on track, and keep his sister on the right track as well. (Who knows about his brother, but Reese is willing to try.) Reese is in a work-release program, but he's blowing through his chances, and all of the administration's goodwill. He doesn't want his only direction to be an adult prison, but if he can't keep himself from fighting--even to defend his friend--that's the only place he'll be going.

True Meaning of Smekday
by Adam Rex

Where do you start writing an essay on what Smekday means to you, when it involves things like an alien invasion, a runaway Boov mechanic named J.Lo, and a cross-country trip in a flying car, all while on a mission to rescue your mom—whom the alien invaders kidnapped on Christmas Eve? Gratuity “Tip” Tucci’s essay has all the hilarious details—and some photos!—from her action-packed adventure!

by Sherri Smith

Ida learned to fly from her father, and she never wants to be anywhere but in the sky. When her brother finds an ad recruiting women pilots, Ida makes up her mind to apply. The WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) program will change Ida's life--because it gives her purpose, because it gives her a way to help her brother (currently MIA in the South Pacific), because she has to pretend to be white. Ida has grown up as a light-skinned black in 1930s/1940s Louisiana, and now has the chance to pursue her dream of flying, though passing means denying her darker-skinned family.

Save me a Seat
by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

Joe and Ravi might be from very different places, but they're both stuck in the same place: SCHOOL. Joe's lived in the same town all his life, and was doing just fine until his best friends moved away and left him on his own. Ravi's family just moved to America from India, and he's finding it pretty hard to figure out where he fits in. Joe and Ravi don't think they have anything in common -- but soon enough they have a common enemy (the biggest bully in their class) and a common mission: to take control of their lives over the course of a single crazy week. (From the book)

One Crazy Summer
by Rita Williams Garcia

Delphine (11) and her two younger sisters, Vonetta (9) and Fern (7), have flown across the country to Oakland, CA, to spend a month with their mother. Cecile abandoned them shortly after Fern was born, and Delphine is determined to get to know the woman who abandoned them. What she and her sisters get instead, though, is an education: it's the summer of 1968, and Cecile--also known as the black poet Nzila--sends the girls to a Blank Panther summer camp to get them out of her house.

by Jacqueline Woodson

When a new, white student nicknamed "The Jesus Boy" joins her sixth grade class in the winter of 1971, Frannie's growing friendship with him makes her start to see some things in a new light. (From the book)