We are seeing a steady and welcome rise in children’s books featuring people of color, and in children’s books representation that reflects and honors the lives of all young people matters. Children need to see themselves reflected in the books they read, as well as learn about people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Diverse characters should possess their own agency, autonomy and humanity and not be used as devices to advance another character’s moral growth. A good diverse book celebrates our shared humanity, helping young readers see our differences as well as our similarities. Below is a list of wonderful, new diverse books, but for more ideas check out We Need Diverse Books™, a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry. Their aim is to help produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.
Winner of the 2019 Newbery Medal Thoughtful, strong-willed sixth-grader Merci Suarez navigates difficult changes with friends, family, and everyone in between in a resonant new novel from Meg Medina. Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don't have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci's school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna's jealousy. Things aren't going well at home, either: Merci's grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately - forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. No one in her family will tell Merci what's going on, so she's left to her own worries, while also feeling all on her own at school. In a coming-of-age tale full of humor and wisdom, award-winning author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change that defines middle school - and the steadfast connection that defines family.