Assigned Reading: My Summer Class TBR!

As many of you already know, I’m taking a course this summer in my MLIS (Master of Library and Information Science) program called MLIS 7421: Multicultural Youth Literature (and it actually starts today!). It’s a class that revolves entirely around diverse lit for kids and teens, and has quite a lengthy assigned reading list!

Many of you have asked me to post the reading list when I got it, so here you go! It’s a total of 37 books, and I’ll break it up by YA, MG, and picture books.


Young Adult:

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1. Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures — Mitali Perkins
rep: multicultural
This is an anthology of own-voice stories (mostly non-fiction) about growing up as a person of color in the US. I actually already read this one, and gave it 4 stars!

2. American Street — Ibi Zoboi
rep: immigration
I already had this on my TBR shelf, so I was excited to see this on the list. It’s about a Haitian girl whose mother is detained by immigration during their move, causing the protagonist to be forced to go live with her American cousins.

3. House of Purple Cedar — Tim Tingle
rep: native
This is a magical realism story that takes places in the 80s, I think? The synopsis is a little confusing and I’m still not sure what exactly is going to happen, but I know it talks about native people offering up forgiveness for the sake of their own peace. Having grown up with a grandmother who was 50% native and frequently talked about this sort of topic, I’m very excited to read this, though I think it will be very emotional for me.

4. The Hate U Give — Angie Thomas
rep: black
If you somehow haven’t heard of this one, it’s a 2017 contemporary about police brutality and the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and it is INCREDIBLE. You can read my review here, but this is one of my favorite books of all time and I’m so excited to discuss it in the class (though I will not be rereading it, just because this list has so much!).

5. Children of Blood and Bone — Tomi Adeyemi
rep: black
Another super popular one here, this is a 2018 fantasy release inspired by Nigerian legends and magic, but also heavily inspired by police brutality and the #BlackLivesMatter movement, according to the author note. I just finished this one at the end of May! I gave it 4 stars.

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6. Gabi, a Girl in Pieces — Isabel Quintero
rep: latinx
This is a contemporary about a Mexican-American high schooler, dealing with the various struggles of her best friend’s pregnancy, her other best friend’s homosexuality, her own body image, her father’s meth addiction, and everyday teen life. I just finished the audiobook of this last week and loved it to pieces!

7. Little and Lion — Brandy Colbert
rep: biracial
This is a contemporary about a biracial, bisexual girl, and I’m told it tackles her sexuality more than her biracial identity, but I’m eager to read it either way! It was already on my wishlist, so I ordered it as soon as I got the reading list.

8. American Born Chinese — Gene Luen Yang
rep: asian
This is a graphic novel about a Chinese-American kid, coping with bullying and love in his new high school. Gene is the creator of a ton of Avatar: The Last Airbender comics and I’ve loved the ones I’ve read by him, so I’m very excited for this one.

9. The Hired Girl — Laura Amy Schlitz
rep: jewish
This is one of the ones that I’m most eager to read from the list, as it’s inspired by the author’s grandmother’s diary! It’s a hist-fic story about a 14-year-old Jewish girl growing up in the early 1900s, who decides to take up working in hopes of becoming an independent woman, and is supposed to be super feminist.

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10. Saints and Misfits — S.K. Ali
rep: muslim
This is a contemporary about a Muslim teen, and honestly, I have no clue what happens in the book, but it had been on my wishlist long enough that it’s the only book besides Little & Lion that I actually purchased for the class!

11. Balcony on the Moon — Ibtisam Barakat
rep: middle eastern
This is a memoir about the author’s teen years in Palestine in the 70s, which is a time/place combination that I know very little about, so I expect this to be extremely eye-opening.

12. The Porcupine of Truth — Bill Konigsberg
rep: queer
A gay teen is sent on a road trip with his best friend, by a preacher, to find his long-lost father and grandfather, I think? Not 100% sold on the synopsis for this one, but it has good ratings and I’ve heard the author is pretty likable!

13. You’re Welcome, Universe — Whitney Gardner
rep: disability
This contemporary is about a girl who is expelled from her School for the Deaf, and forced to attend a “mainstream” public school, where she copes with bullying through art – specifically, graffiti. I actually removed this from my TBR right before receiving the list, but I’m glad this has made me add it back, because on second thought, it sounds pretty good!

*NOTE: The following two titles were added as last-minute assignments when the class officially began this morning, but are optional reads. I haven’t decided if I’ll read them yet. Thoughts?*

14. When Dimple Met Rishi — Sandhya Menon
rep: asian

If you haven’t heard of this one somehow, it’s about an Indian teen who attends a summer program for aspiring web developers, and stumbles upon the boy her parents have planned to set her up with. It got such mixed reviews and I didn’t like From Twinkle With Love by this same author, but I might give the audiobook of this one a try if my library has it.

15. Will Grayson, Will Grayson — John Green & David Levithan
rep: queer

I’m no big fan of John Green’s or David Levithan’s, but I hear this is a really fast read, so I’ll probably try it. I know it’s an m/m YA contemporary, but beyond that, the synopsis didn’t really tell me much.


Middle Grade:

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1. A Different Mirror, for Young People — Ronald Takaki
rep: multicultural
This is a nonfiction written by an Asian-American man who has spent his career drifting between colleges, teaching classes on various cultures and multiculturalism in America. I read this one already, and it had some really insightful stuff, but it dragged a lot.

2. The Turtle of Oman — Naomi Shihab Nye
rep: immigration
This contemporary is about a boy whose family is moving from Oman (a nation on the Arabian Peninsula) to the US (Michigan, specifically), but the boy doesn’t want to, so he stalls by disappearing with his grandpa for a few last adventures. Honestly, just the synopsis choked me up, so… this one is going to be a rough ride, no doubt.

3. In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse — Joseph Marshall III
rep: native
I believe this story alternates between a modern timeline and a historical one, as a Lakota boy learns about his heritage through his grandfather’s stories about a famous historical Lakota warrior. This is one of the few graciously short books in the YA/MG sections of the reading list, so I’m automatically excited. 😛

4. Brown Girl Dreaming — Jacqueline Woodson
rep: black
This is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while; it’s a poetry memoir about a black woman’s childhood in South Carolina in the 60s/70s, and has won so many awards that I just know it’s going to knock my socks off.

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5. The Only Road — Alexandra Diaz
rep: latinx
This sounds positively brutal, and I’m surprised I haven’t heard of it before, given the subject matter, but it’s a contemporary about a teen whose cousin is murdered by a Guatemalan gang. Seeking shelter, as he fears he will be next, the protagonist flees to live with his older brother in New Mexico. It’s inspired by true events, and I’m just not even sure my heart is ready for this one!

6. Cilla Lee Jenkins, Future Author Extraordinaire — Susan Tan
rep: biracial
This one sounds very “young” and very cute and fluffy, so it may be a breath of fresh air! It’s about a girl whose little sister is about to be born, and the girl decides she absolutely must become a best-selling author before her sister arrives! It sounds super cute, and it also deals with her learning about the Chinese side of her family’s traditions.

7. Kira-Kira — Cynthia Kadohata
rep: asian
This is a story of a Japanese-American family who moves to the south (Georgia, specifically), and the kids already have their hands full with learning to cope with the way they’re treated, when one of the children grows incredibly ill, on top of it. This sounds positively heartbreaking, and has won loads of awards.

8. The Diary of Laura’s Twin — Kathy Kacer
rep: jewish
First of all, the synopsis for this is so great. This is about a girl who, for her Bat Mitzvah, is assigned a “twin”: a Jewish girl her own age who was imprisoned by Nazis during the Holocaust. Throughout this time, Laura learns about her “twin” through diary entries, photographs, and more. From my understanding, this is a mix of fiction and nonfiction accounts.

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9. Saving Sky — Diane Stanley
rep: muslim
This is marketed as a sci-fi/dystopian story, but it sounds like it’s heavily inspired by true events, as it follows a girl whose best friend is targeted by the government in the aftermath of terrorist attacks and warfare. Not really sure what to expect, but I’m interested to see what’s in store!

10. The Treasure of Maria Mamoun — Michelle Chalfoun
rep: middle eastern
This is a mystery/adventure story about Maria, a Lebanese girl living in the Bronx, whose mother suddenly whisks her away from their difficult life to a seaside estate, where Maria befriends a local, finds a sailboat, and decides that it’s a pirate’s life for her.

11. George — Alex Gino
rep: queer
You may have heard of this book before if you tend to keep up with current events in librarianship and banned books, as this book has been banned by quite a few school libraries over the last couple of years since it was published (which makes me want to read it even more, duh!). It’s about a trans girl, living life and trying to convince her classmates to view her as something more than “George”, the little boy-shaped box they want to place her in.

12. Me and Rupert Goody — Barbara O’Connor
rep: disability
This one is about a girl who learns she has a cousin she didn’t know existed, and he happens to be biracial and mentally disabled. It’s super short, at only 106 pages, so there’s not much to gripe about, but I’ve been burned by so many books similar to this in theme that I’m a little bit apprehensive. (I’m also surprised that this book has only 41 Goodreads ratings, despite being published in ’99!)


Children’s Picture Books:

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1. Whoever You Are — Mem Fox
rep: multicultural
This one encourages children to celebrate the differences between individuals, no matter what they might be.

2. The Name Jar — Yangsook Choi
rep: immigration
This is about a little girl who’s just moved to the US from Korea, and is worried she won’t be liked because other children can’t pronounce her name as easily as her family can.

3. Caribou Song — Tomson Highway
rep: native
This is a Cree story about two brothers who are following the caribou with their family when they pass a meadow that offers them a view into the spirit world.

4. Before She Was Harriet — Lesa Cline-Ransome
rep: black
This is a nonfiction, kid-friendly quick rundown of Harriet Tubman’s life, and what brought her to the point she reached in being such an amazing historical figure. I read this one already, and it is the most beautiful children’s book I’ve ever seen, as far as the art goes, as well as the fact that it offers such a good message (and made me cry!).

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5. Ada’s Violin — Susan Hood
rep: latinx
This nonfiction story is about a little girl whose music teacher in Paraguay built her a violin out of trash, and changed her life forever as she went on to play in the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay.

6. Radiant Child — Javaka Steptoe
rep: biracial
This is a children’s biography about Jean-Michel Basquiat, a famous painter.

7. A Different Pond — Bao Phi
rep: asian
As Bao Phi fishes with his father, his father regales him with stories of their homeland, Vietnam.

8. The Patchwork Torah — Allison Ofanansky
rep: jewish
Pieces of Torahs are woven together as the story tells about four generations of a Torah scribe and his family.

9

9. Time to Pray — Maha Addasi
rep: muslim
Yasmin visits her grandmother, and is taught how to pray and worship. I LOVED this one. It was so sweet and precious.

10. The Olive Tree — Elsa Marston
rep: middle eastern
Two Lebanese children are reluctant neighbors who must learn how to accept one another and become friends.

11. I Am Jazz — Jessica Herthel
rep: queer
Based on the true life of Jazz Jennings, this is the story of a trans girl who knew she was trans from her toddler years. I read this one already, and ADORED IT. ♥

12. The Girl Who Thought in Pictures — Julia Mosca
rep: disability
This is the biography of Dr. Temple Grandin, and her life as an autistic child.


So, there you have it – these 37 books are the books I have to read for my summer class! Thankfully, as you can see, I’ve already been able to get a head start on them, but I’m looking at a busy summer of reading. Hopefully, I’ll find some new favorites along the way!


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Just a 25-year-old trying to juggle motherhood, grad school, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

45 thoughts on “Assigned Reading: My Summer Class TBR!

  1. I liked Will Grayson, Will Grayson. It’s really hard to summarize it without giving it away, and it’s been a few years since I read it. I’m not sure how much you’ll like it if you already don’t like John Green though.

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  2. Such an incredible list! Some I know are fantastic and some are on my own TBR! It is refreshing to see assigned reading that is so rich and diverse (love that you are studying this!). I was pleased when we relocated to Portland from the Appalachian region to see the drastic and welcomed change in the assigned reading my kids brought home 💜 How do you acquire the majority of the books for the class?

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    1. I can only imagine the difference from the Appalachian area to Portland – wow! That’s awesome, though! I’m using the library for the bulk of these books, thankfully. Georgia has a great library system called the PINES system, and it spans something like 60-ish counties. If you have a card to any branch in the system, you can order books from other branches! Without that, I don’t know how I would’ve swung this class. I feel like, if I had to buy all of these, it would’ve ended up being several hundred dollars, especially since some of the picture books the professors chose are out of print and very exclusive and run for $100+ a copy on amazon!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, reading diverse books for class sounds amazing 😀 Although having to read 37 is definitely a lot. There were many on the list that I’ve never heard of, but it seems like a great list.

    I didn’t know George was banned in schools, though unfortunately it doesn’t surprise me :/

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    1. Aw, that’s awful that you weren’t able to get into it – I wish you could have! The program that I’m in has 3 classes like this one: there’s this one, then Children’s Lit which I’m registered for this fall, and then YA Lit, which I should hopefully be taking in spring. Thank you, Deanna!

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  4. This is such an amazing reading list! I’m so jealous ahah. My reading list at uni was always full of very long academic books.

    Personally, I really hated Will Grayson. I didn’t like the writing at all and thought the gay rep was terrible.

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    1. Thanks, Norrie – there are some real gems on this list, I think! It’s 7 weeks long. I think it ends on July 26th, or something. I know it’ll be worthwhile, but at the same time, it’s so reading-intensive that part of me wonders if I’ll regret taking it just a little bit, haha. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  5. WOW WOW this is so cool! also insane that there are 37 books for one class. like, whoa. good luck & enjoy!! ❤

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  6. Oooh, I read American Born Chinese for the Ethnic American YA Lit class I just finished taking in the spring! Such a good read!
    The rest of your reading list also looks fun! Good luck on your class!

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      1. Yeah, I really enjoyed the class, especially since I was able to take it with one of my friends who also loves YA! ❤ The reading homework was so much fun, though I was a little sad that we didn't get to read many current YA novels like your class is (I'm so jealous!). I think the most recently published YA books that we read were The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and Shadowshaper.
        But my prof was also really chill which was great! For part of my final project the prof even let me write a blog post about YA lit! 🙂
        I don't know if you're at all curious, but here's the link to the post I wrote for that class if ya wanna read it (no pressure if ya don't):
        http://www.areyoumybook.wordpress.com/2018/04/28/why-we-should-have-more-ya-literature-in-classrooms/

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  7. Sooo many books!
    I don’t know about When Dimple Met Rishi. Dimple was.. meh. And I hate how the whole competition faded into the background. You decide for yourself! Maybe pick it up if you find you have some time left?

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    1. That’s what I’m leaning towards – like, *if* I have some free time and feel like picking it up, maybe… I think my audiobook hold for it did just come in, like, 5 freakin’ weeks earlier than the library estimated it would be on hold for, so I should probably decide quickly. 😡 Ugh. Maybe I’ll put the audio on 2x and just halfway listen to it while I clean, or something.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, that definitely sounds like a plan! I absolutely suck at audiobooks but I do like having some kind of talking on the background when I’m working since my colleagues don’t say a WORD except for during lunch. So I’ve taken to putting on audiobooks of HP? Even though I reread everything I heard as soon as I get home, it’s something. :’) [And it proves to me how many things I miss when I’m listening to an audiobook, which means I’m never doing it with books I can’t read the physical copy of. :’)]

        Liked by 1 person

      2. No, I totally can get that! I had to do the whole going back and rereading thing when I first started listening to audiobooks. I still feel like I miss some, so I don’t do audiobooks of anything that I’m like, SUPER into getting every last detail on. Like the audiobook for Strange the Dreamer is beautiful but I had to put it down because the writing is just too gorgeous to risk missing any of.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I stopped rereading when I get home! But.. more because my work is so mind-numbing that I really do pick up everything now. As soon as work gets interesting again, I bet that’ll change so I’m not even going to try it with anything else than HP. :’)

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