Diversity in kid lit

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On a recent trip to the library I happened to see many of the books on my to-read list on the shelves. The theme this time is diversity! All of these books are about a culture/time different from mine. It was nice to read them together. There are picture books, poetry, and chapter books too.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena – I think this was a fine book but there are many more deserving books for the Coretta Scott King and Newbery Medal. It wasn’t even the strongest one among these five books. I guess that goes to show more diverse books need to be read and recognized.

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate – I read this within 3 hours and I loved it. It is a little like The Wild Robot and Pax because it reads like a fable. Very allegorical! It was uniquely told from a tree’s point of view. I loved the tree’s flashbacks and how everything connects.

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser – I’ve wanted to read this book for a while and am so glad I finally found it. I think I am into family novels lately. It’s cozy to read books about big families and I love how the hustle and bustle of New York City came through in this story.

Yagua Days by Cruz Martel – I read this book because my mentor mentioned it. She said it had “weird words” that students could figure out using context clues 😛 . Indeed it does! It had a lot of Spanish words but also words that are unusual even in Spanish. I love the illustrations in this book. Here’s to yagua days in our future.

Caminar by Skila Brown – I think this might be my favorite. It is a historical novel-in-verse, set in a context I have never read about. It’s about the Guatemalan Civil War from 1960-1996. It didn’t feel foreign at all because it is told from the point of view of one boy, who became a man, and his decision. Caminar means “to walk” in Spanish, the the reader walks with Carlos over the course of the book. I think the epilogue is the most personal part of the book. I love how years later, when Carlos has a daughter, he saw Flora and remembers. I wonder what it must feel to have an experience like war or other trauma in your past, and to be decades removed from it yet still hold it close in the your heart. I am so so glad I got a chance to read this. Thank you Skila Brown!

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