Topics Covered: Growing Up, Own Voices, Turner Syndrome, Neurodiversity (NLD), STEM, Women in STEM, Friendship, Social-Emotional Growth & Development.
Hot damn, I’m glad this book exists. This middle grade novel follows 12 year old Libby over the course of a school year. Libby has difficulty making friends, and talks to famous women in science that she’s learned about inside her head. When Libby’s sister Nonny moves back home because her husband Thomas is on a longterm job in another state and Nonny is pregnant, Libby is both excited and worried. Libby has Turner syndrome, and because of this she has some complications like giving herself shots daily, and sterility. She’s worried that the baby might need extra help too.
This book covers a wonderful amount of topics throughout the story, and I seriously could not put it down. Libby navigates family dynamics, making friends with a new girl at school, and figuring out how to win a Smithsonian contest with a 25k grand prize (that could really help Thomas and Nonny). Libby has a good relationship with her teacher Ms. Trepky who encourages her to submit the essay and works with her on editing.
There is a particularly beautiful part of the book that really stuck with me after finishing it. Libby and Ms. Trepky are in the classroom, discussing how the world is shaped by individuals, but the individual that changes the world is also shaped by an innumerable amount of people themselves. Libby takes a moment of reflection and comprehends the magnitude of the fact that “the world was shaped by billions and billions of unknown hands…that meant [she] could sculpt and write on the DNA of the universe from [her] little corner of it, too, no matter [her] smallness or genetics or scars” (p137 of ARC). This is a profound realization for a middle schooler, and a mindset that we have sought to emulate by creating ripples of change wherever we can. For us, that means sharing stunning Own Voices texts such as this one. This book comes out on March 31st and please do yourself a favor and devote a few hours to this splendid read, you will absolutely not regret it.
This book was generously sent to us by Macmillan, but all opinions are our own! Note: the quote we cited may differ slightly from the published edition, we will be checking for correctness once the edition is actually published.
About the Author:
Sarah Allen got her MFA in creative writing from BYU and while Utah will always be her home, Sarah moved around a bit and currently lives in the Seattle area.
Pretty much every area of writing interests her, and regularly submits short stories, poetry, articles, and other fun things. Sarah is a Slytherin (with a Hufflepuff exterior), overenthusiastic about most things, and a shmoosher of dog faces. Her superpower is speaking fluent movie quotes. Sarah is also a major lover of Pixar, leather jackets, and Colin Firth.
Summary: This book is awesome! Each story takes a unique viewpoint and has a hero in it, but an unexpected one. There are stories about adoption, ghosts, sports, brilliant robot engineer twin sisters, and even one with an autistic main character who loves aikido!
This book is special because everyone can find something to connect with in these stories. They are diverse in viewpoint, in interests, and storylines. In one story, the hero is a camp counselor that buys something for a town zombie. In another, the hero is a young girl who realizes she must use fairy magic to stop a war between worlds. It’s hard to describe all of these stories without giving away everything! Trust us, this book is fantastic and the author list stellar. It’s a great introduction to a huge array of talented authors, and a jumping off point into their works. Highly recommend you check this book out and have at least a few copies for you classroom!
About the Authors & the Cover Artist:
Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovichis the author of the8th Grade Superzero,which was named a Notable Book for a Global Society and a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. She also writes nonfiction, includingAbove and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow,andSomeday is Now: Clara Luper and the 1958 Oklahoma City Sit-Ins.She is the coauthor of the middle grade novelTwo Naomis,which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and is a Junior Library Guild selection, and its sequel,Naomis Too.She is a member of the Brown Bookshelf and the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. She has contributed to numerous anthologies for children, teens, and educators, holds an MA in education, and writes frequently on literacy-related topics for Brightly. Visit her online at olugbemisolabooks.com!
Rita Williams-Garcia is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels for young adults and middle grade readers. Her most recent novel, Gone Crazy in Alabama ends the saga of the Gaither Sisters, who appear in One Crazy Summer and PS Be Eleven. Her novels have been recipients of numerous awards, including the Coretta Scott King Award, National Book Award Finalists, Newbery Honor Book, Junior Library Guild, and the Scott O’Dell Prize for Historical Fiction. She served on faculty at the Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing for Children MFA Program and she resides in Queens, New York.
Ronald L. Smith is the award-winning author of the middle grade novel,Black Panther: The Young PrinceandThe Mesmerist, a supernatural Victorian fantasy. His first novel,Hoodoo, won the 2016 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award. His latest isThe Owls Have Come to Take Us Away, a Junior Library Guild Selection. Ronald grew up on Air Force Bases and has lived in Japan, Maine, Alabama, Michigan, South Carolina, and a bunch of other places he doesn’t remember. As a boy, he loved to read, especially fantasy and science fiction, and this inspired his lifelong passion of the fantastical. The book that inspired him to write more than any other wasThe Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planetby Eleanor Cameron.
Linda Sue Park was born in Urbana, Illinois on March 25, 1960, and grew up outside Chicago. The daughter of Korean immigrants, she has been writing poems and stories since she was four years old, and her favorite thing to do as a child was read.In 1997, she started writing her first book,Seesaw Girl. It was accepted that same year and published in 1999.Since then, Linda Sue has published many other books for young people, includingA Single Shard, which was awarded the 2002 Newbery Medal. She now lives in western New York with the same Irishman; their son lives nearby, and their daughter lives in Brooklyn. Besides reading and writing, Linda Sue likes to cook, travel, watch movies, and do the New York Times crossword puzzle. She also loves dogs, watching sports on television and playing board and video games. When she grows up, she would like to be an elephant scientist.
Anna Dobbin is a writer, copy editor, and proofreader. She owns an adorable Italian greyhound named Pintxo. In middle school she played soccer three hundred days a year and also loved singing, reading and making art. Anna is Linda Sue Park’s daughter, and this story is just one of their second professional collaboration after they contributed to the collection Totally Middle School, edited by Betsy Groban.
Hena Khanis a Pakistani-American Muslim who was born and raised in Maryland, and enjoys sharing and writing about her culture and religion. She has also written about a bunch of other topics, from spies to space travel, that take her out of her reality and on adventures. While not quite as thrilling, she’s had a few adventures of her own, managed to get to some pretty fantastic places on our planet, and met incredible people. She’s slightly obsessed with Spain, ceramic tiles and pottery, food, flamenco, and good coffee. When she’s not cooking up a story, she’s often actually cooking food or baking treats. She also spends time writing and editing for international organizations that work to improve the health and lives of people around the world.
Suma Subramaniam works with children globally to promote education and is a WNDB volunteer. After a successful corporate career for many years, now, instead of chasing technical talent in the hi-tech industry, she chases characters in her fictional work for the most part of her time. Suma has an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, a Certificate in Popular Fiction from the University of Washington, and advanced degrees in computer science and management.
For over forty years Joseph Bruchac has been creating literature and music that reflect his indigenous heritage and traditions. He is a proud Nulhegan Abenaki citizen and respected elder among his people. He is the author of more than 120 books for children and adults. His best selling Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children series, with its remarkable integration of science and folklore, continue to receive critical acclaim and to be used in classrooms throughout the country.
Juana Medina was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. She is the author and illustrator of the Pura Belpré Award-winning chapter book Juana & Lucas. Juana is also the author and illustrator for Juana & Lucas: Big Problemas, 1 Big Salad, ABC Pasta, and Sweet Shapes. She illustrated Smick! By Doreen Cronin, Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous by Keith Calabrese, and I’m a Baked Potato! by Elise Primavera. She has participated in two recent anthologies: We Are The Change (Chronicle, 2019) and The Hero Next Door (Crown Books, 2019). Juana has been lucky to earn recognitions from the Colombian Presidency, the National Cartoonists Society, the National Headliner Award, International Latino Book Awards, and Ridgway Award honors, among others — which is quite impressive for someone who was a less-than-stellar student and who often got in trouble for drawing cartoons of her teachers. Despite all trouble caused, Juana studied and taught at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and the Corcoran College of Art + Design (where students had plenty of chances to draw cartoons of her). She lives in the DC area, with her wife, twin sons, and their dear dog, Rosita.
Mike Jung is the author of Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities and Unidentified Suburban Object. He is a library professional by day, a writer (and ukulele player) by night and was a founding member of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks team. He lives in Oakland, California, with his wife and two children.
Cynthia Leitich Smith (“Leitich” is pronounced Lie-tick. First a long “i,” then a short “i,” followed by a hard “k.”) is best known as an award-winning, bestselling author of fantastical and realistic fiction for young readers. She is the New York Times best-selling YA author of Hearts Unbroken and both the Feral trilogy and Tantalize series. These novels were released by Candlewick Press in the U.S., Walker Books in the U.K. and Australia/New Zealand, and additional publishers around the globe. She also is the author of several award-winning children’s books, including: Jingle Dancer, Rain Is Not My Indian Name, and Indian Shoes, all published by HarperCollins. In addition, she has published short stories, nonfiction essays, and poetry for young readers. She is based in Austin, Texas, and a citizen of Muscogee Nation /ma(:)skó:k-î/. She holds both a bachelor of science degree (with majors in news/editorial and public relations) from the William Allen White School of Journalism at The University of Kansas and a J.D. from The University of Michigan Law School, where she was president of the Native Law Students Association and co-founded The Michigan Journal of Gender and Law. She also serves on the core faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She is both a member of the Advisory Board of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and a member of the Honorary Advisory Board of We Need Diverse Books.Order booksby Cynthia Leitich Smith.
Ellen Oh is a former adjunct college instructor and lawyer with an insatiable curiosity for ancient Asian history. She loves martial arts films, K-pop, K-dramas, and cooking shows, and is a rabid fan of the Last Airbender and the Legend of Korra series. Ellen is the co-founder ofWe Need Diverse Books(WNDB), a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing diversity in children’s literature. She is the author of the middle grade novel The Spirit Hunters, Book 1, and Book 2, Island of the Monsters, and the YA fantasy trilogy The Prophecy Series. She is the editor of WNDB’s middle grade anthology Flying Lessons and Other Stories, and the YA anthology A Thousand Beginnings and Endings out in June 2018. Originally from New York City, Ellen lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with her husband and three children and has yet to satisfy her quest for a decent bagel.
R. J. Palaciolives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, two sons and two dogs (Bear and Beau). Her debut novel,Wonder, has been on theNew York Timesbestseller list since March, 2012, and has sold over 5 million copies worldwide. The book’s message of kindness has inspired the Choose Kind movement, and has been embraced by readers, young and old, around the world. A first generation American (her parents were Colombian immigrants), Palacio was born on July 13, 1963 in New York City. Her birth name is Raquel Jaramillo (Palacio was her mother’s maiden name). Palacio attended The High School of Art & Design in Manhattan, and then majored in illustration at the Parsons School of Design. She spent her junior year at The American University in Paris, where she traveled extensively before returning to NYC with an eye toward making her career in illustration. Her early works appeared inThe Village VoiceandThe New York Times Book Review, which eventually segued into her storied career as the art director of several major book publishing companies. In addition to designing book covers, Palacio illustrated several of her own children’s books that were published under her birth name, includingPeter Pan:The Original Tale of Neverland; Ride Baby Ride; Look Baby Look; The Night Before Christmas; The Handiest Things in the world;andLast Summer.Palacio also invented a baby toy called The Bobo Glove, a portable, wearable, washable activity toy for infants.
William Alexander writes fantasy, science fiction, and other unrealisms for young readers. Honors include the National Book Award, the Eleanor Cameron Award, two Junior Library Guild Selections, a Mythopoetic Award finalist, an International Latino Book Award finalist, a Cybils Award finalist, and the Earphones Award for audiobook narration. Will is Cuban-American. He studied theater and folklore atOberlin College, English at theUniversity of Vermont, and creative writing atClarion. He currently serves as the faculty chair of theVCFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults and is represented by Marietta B. Zacker of theGallt & Zacker Literary Agency.
Cover Art Designed by Michelle Cunningham. She is a designer at Penguin Random House working on the Middle Grade team. When she’s not playing around with book cover layouts, she’s also a freelance illustrator.
Summary: For our second skill to take into 2020 we’ve chosen Inclusion! Our planet is a wonderful, weird, diverse place. It becomes better when we include and advocate for everyone, especially marginalized populations. By understanding the intersections of oppression, we can be better allies and embrace the teachable moments throughout the day.
This is a creative take on an alphabet book, both teaching the letters and telling a story with it. The book encourages the reader to recognize and embrace differences. We really like how the book demonstrates that something or someone might be unfamiliar, but friendship is possible. There is an emphasis on social-emotional learning and kindness to others. In the back is a glossary with all of the words used, and they are great for vocabulary development. This book would be a great tool to inspire action, introduce a new classmate, or help with teaching how to be a good human.
This book was kindly sent to us by Kathryn, but all opinions are our own!
About the Author & Illustrator:
Kathryn Jenkins is the author and illustrator of this book, and also runs a website called Inclusion Project! The website has resources, a list of things that her family loves (that have withstood the test of 3 children!) and a shop where she designs her own inclusion-based shirts.
Here is a blurb from her website about why she does the work she does:
“In 2016, I started Inclusion Project because I wanted to talk about inclusion with others and how its not a place but rather — a mindset. I truly believe that, as a mom to three boys, one of has autism, — we can be more inclusive and kind and respectful and promoting of each other. We can believe in each others success, even though it does look different and because of my strong passion in that belief
Because of my strong passion in that belief, I picked up a pen and wrote a book. It was published in October 2018 and titled Inclusion Alphabet. I also designed shirts. I created several coloring pages and I am now currently writing a second and third book book full of worksheets and ideas to spread more inclusion. Be sure to join my community on Instagramand Facebook. You will find me there a lot. For any collaboration opportunities or features, check out my media kit. “
Summary: This book was great! Lucy Callahan got struck by lightning, and because of this gained extraordinary mathematical abilities, as well as synesthesia and OCD. After being homeschooled by her grandmother, she is thrust into the 7th grade at a local public school despite having taken both high school and college courses. Lucy has a plethora of online friends on math forums and they are her only interactions. She rarely leaves the house, and has severe germ anxieties. Her grandmother makes her a deal-1 year, 1 book, 1 friend, and Lucy can go to college.
Lucy starts school, navigating being the new kid and having her compulsive habits publicly acknowledged by classmates. This book, which we won’t give too much away, is about self-discovery, patience, and friendship. Lucy may be a genius, but she has some trouble relating to others. Luckily a service project, animal shelter, and a couple friends come along and help Lucy realize that maybe being out in the world, and seventh grade, aren’t so bad after all.
About the Author:
Stacy McAnulty is a children’s book author, who used to be a mechanical engineer, who’s also qualified to be a dog therapist (is that a thing???), a correspondent for The Daily Show (why not), and a Green Bay Packer coach (totally!). She has written dozens of books including her debut middle-grade novel, The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl , a Junior Library Guild Selection, and the 2017 Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor book Excellent Ed, illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach. Her other picture books include Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years, illustrated by David Litchfield; Max Explains Everything: Grocery Store Expert, illustrated by Deborah Hocking, Brave and Beautiful, both illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff; Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite, illustrated by Edward Hemingway; and 101 Reasons Why I’m Not Taking a Bath, illustrated by Joy Ang. She’s also authored the chapter book series Goldie Blox, based on the award-winning toys, and The Dino Files. When not writing, Stacy likes to listen to NPR, bake triple-chocolate cupcakes, and eat triple-chocolate cupcakes. Originally from upstate NY, she now lives in Kernersville, NC with her 3 kids, 3 dogs, and 1 husband.
Summary: This graphic novel is the next installment in the series! We were sent this book by the publisher, Flying Eye Books, (Nobrow in the UK) but all opinions are our own.
We really liked this book, and the diverse cast of characters can’t be beat. Norma is an autistic POC queer character, Barney is trans, and Badyah is Muslim. Besides this badass trio, there are a range of demons and angels all vying for control of the 7th neutral plane also known as earth. Because of previous events, Norma’s soul won’t stay in her body when she’s surprised. This is both helpful and aggravating as tensions mount between demons and angels. Barney is hiding a secret career from his boyfriend though, but it’s very lucrative. Norma and Badyah along with some demons are working overtime at the Dead End, a haunted house during the day and demon B&B at night. We don’t want to give too much about this graphic novel away, but it’s incredible and Corrie had to start reading it right away! It would be helpful to read the first volume before this one, but not necessary. There are a lot of references to past events but enough context to provide the reader of this volume backstory. We can’t wait to see what happens next, it’s an amazing series with awesome representation!
About the Author & Illustrator:
From the website of Hamish: My name is Hamish Ridley-Steele and I’m a Animation Director and Comic-Book artist from London. Soon after graduating, I directed Dead End, a short for Frederator Studio’s Cartoon Hangover. This lead to me directing two films for Nickelodeon’s International Shorts program, the second of which I collaborated on with Blink Industrieswho now represent me.
In 2014, I self-published my first graphic novel Pantheon thanks to Kickstarter. Since then, it has been republished by Nobrow Press. This year, they will also publish my webcomic DeadEndia which is based on that first Cartoon Hangover short. I really like crocodiles. My dream is to meet one.
2018 was a rollercoaster of a year, with so many opportunities for growth and learning all over the place! We launched this site as a passion project, and we have been so lucky to connect with many people from all over the globe, sharing our mutual love of diverse literature!
We have no idea what 2019 will bring,
but we resolve to fight injustice,
to spread love and liberation,
and to lift up the voices of those most marginalized.
In 2019, we will educate to empower!
Without further ado, here are the Top 5 books we read in 2018:
Summary: This book goes through the alphabet, each letter representing a famous woman. Jovita Idar, Odetta Holmes, Carol Burnett, and Wilma Mankiller are some of the famous figures written about. Each page has a brief description of her achievements followed by several biographical paragraphs of more detailed information. Illustrations are black and white graphics against a brightly colored background, with names stamped above. Having this introductory conversation about so many strong and revolutionary women can introduce young readers to a variety of new worlds and new access points to activism. Perfect for a quick story or an introduction to a longer unit on any of the topics covered in the book: activism, neurodiversity, music, or comedy. The book leans heavily on activist leaders and could be considered a primer for the aspiring young trailblazer.
Which one of these women is doing something you would like to do?
Who would you like to learn more about?
Which person that we read about is your favorite?
Continuing the Conversation:
Pick one of the rad women featured and learn more about her accomplishments. How can you follow in her footsteps and help make the world a better place?
Find a rad woman in your own community! What has she done for your area, and could she come visit the class and talk about what she does everyday?
About the Author & the Illustrator
Kate Schatz (pronounced ‘Shots’) is the New York Times-bestselling author of Rad American Women A-Z and Rad Women Worldwide, as well as My Rad Life: A Journal and Rid of Me: A Story. She is the co-founder of Solidarity Sundays, a nationwide network of feminist activist groups. She’s a writer, organizer, public speaker, educator, and left-handed vegetarian Bay Area-born-and-bred feminist activist mama.
Miriam Klein Stahl is a Bay Area artist, educator and activist and the New York Times-bestselling illustrator of Rad American Women A-Z and Rad Women Worldwide . In addition to her work in printmaking, drawing, sculpture, paper-cut and public art, she is also the co-founder of the Arts and Humanities Academy at Berkeley High School where she’s taught since 1995. As an artist, she follows in a tradition of making socially relevant work, creating portraits of political activists, misfits, radicals and radical movements. As an educator, she has dedicated her teaching practice to address equity through the lens of the arts. Her work has been widely exhibited and reproduced internationally. Stahl is also the co-owner of Pave the Way Skateboards, a queer skateboarding company formed with Los Angeles-based comedian, actor, writer and skateboarder Tara Jepson. She lives in Berkeley, California with her wife, artist Lena Wolff, daughter Hazel, and their dog Lenny.