Assigned Reading Wrap-Up: Summer Semester!

August 11, 2018

My summer semester ended this week, which means it’s time to post my class wrap-up! There were 39 books on the list in total, but a few were optional, and I didn’t get around to all of those. Here’s a quick wrap-up of my thoughts on the ones I did read, though!

Since I won’t be posting most of these reviews to the blog, if you click the title, it will take you to my mini review on Goodreads!


This list was originally going to be the first of three lists (one per semester). As many of you know, I’m in grad school for my Master’s of Library and Information Science degree, and my specialization was originally Children’s Librarianship. Part of that involved taking one class per semester for three semesters like this one: Multicultural Youth Literature, Children’s Literature, and Young Adult Literature.

Unfortunately, some things came up with my degree program and without going into too much detail, I changed my specialization to Library Management (which makes more sense, because my BS is a management degree). So, unfortunately, this will be the only assigned reading list I can share with you guys.

That said, I do have some fun lists coming up soon to make up for it, so stay tuned for those! ♥

Young Adult:

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. It had so many different cultures represented!
2. American Street (review coming soon in a blog post) — Ibi Zoboi — ★★★★☆
rep: immigration, Haitian
I already had this on my TBR shelf, so I was excited to read it. It tackled a lot of topics at once (immigration, drug selling, gang violence, death, and more), which made it hard to follow at times, but overall, a great read!
3. House of Purple Cedar — Tim Tingle — N/A
rep: native
This was an optional book that I didn’t get around to.
4. The Hate U Give (full review) — Angie Thomas — ★★★★★
rep: black
I’d already read this one and loved it. ♥
5. Children of Blood and Bone (full review) — Tomi Adeyemi — ★★★☆☆
rep: black
I had already read this one before, and had a bit of an unpopular opinion on it, as you can see from my review.
6. Gabi, a Girl in Pieces — Isabel Quintero — ★★★☆☆
rep: latinx
This one was okay; the writing wasn’t great, and there was too much going on through most of it, but I enjoyed the audiobook narrator a lot.
7. Little and Lion — Brandy Colbert — N/A
rep: biracial, bisexual
This was an optional book that I didn’t get around to.
8. American Born Chinese — Gene Luen Yang — ★★☆☆☆
rep: asian
This was a graphic novel anthology that pulled together at the end into a cohesive story about a Chinese-American boy. It had a lot of potential, but it took this ultra religious twist about halfway through that threw me off, and then I also struggled with how over-the-top the stereotypes presented were. I know it was intentional, but it felt… bad.
9. The Hired Girl — Laura Amy Schlitz — N/A
rep: jewish
This was an optional book that I didn’t get around to.
10. Saints and Misfits (review coming soon in a blog post) — S.K. Ali — ★★★★☆
rep: muslim
I really enjoyed this one; in fact, it was probably my favorite out of everything, besides The Hate U Give! It was a solid 4.5-star read about a Muslim teen coping with having been sexually assaulted by a Muslim boy in her neighborhood.
11. Balcony on the Moon — Ibtisam Barakat — N/A
rep: middle eastern
This was an optional book that I didn’t get around to.
12. The Porcupine of Truth — Bill Konigsberg — ★☆☆☆☆
rep: queer
I hated this book, and have no idea why it’s won so many awards. The characters are SO unlikable, and its “queer rep” is a cis/hetero MC who has a huge crush on his new lesbian friend, and spends way too much time objectifying and sexualizing her.
13. You’re Welcome, Universe (review coming soon in a blog post) — Whitney Gardner — ★★★☆☆
rep: disability
I buddy read this with Reg, and you can read her review here! We both had similar thoughts in that we liked the representation and aspects of the story, but struggled with the book overall.
PicMonkey Collage.jpg
14. When Dimple Met Rishi — Sandhya Menon — N/A
rep: asian

This was an optional book that I didn’t get around to. I didn’t like From Twinkle With Love much, so this actually isn’t on my TBR anymore.
15. Will Grayson, Will Grayson — John Green & David Levithan — ★☆☆☆☆
rep: queer

This was awfulI can’t even describe how much I hated this, and I DNFed it 100 pages in. I buddy read this with Lacy, and she wrote a great review for it here!

Middle Grade:

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. It had some really insightful stuff, but it read a lot like a generic textbook.
2. The Turtle of Oman — Naomi Shihab Nye — N/A
rep: immigration
This was an optional book that I didn’t get around to.
3. In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse — Joseph Marshall III — ★★★★☆
rep: native
This alternates between modern time and the past as a Lakota boy’s grandfather tells him stories of a famous warrior, Crazy Horse. It was really interesting and sweet!
4. Brown Girl Dreaming — Jacqueline Woodson — ★★★★☆
rep: black
This is a book I’d been meaning to read. It’s a poetry memoir about a black woman’s childhood in South Carolina in the 60s/70s. It has won so many awards, and it deserves all of them!
5. The Only Road — Alexandra Diaz — N/A
rep: latinx
This was an optional book that I didn’t get around to (but I want to!).
6. Cilla Lee Jenkins, Future Author Extraordinaire — Susan Tan — ★★★★☆
rep: biracial (Chinese/white)
This one was very cute and fluffy, and one of my favorites! 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!
7. Kira-Kira — Cynthia Kadohata — N/A
rep: asian
This was an optional book that I didn’t get around to (but I want to!).
8. The Diary of Laura’s Twin — Kathy Kacer — ★★★★☆
rep: jewish
This alternated between modern time and history, and talks about a Jewish girl who’s reading a young Jewish girl’s diary from the Holocaust. It was sad (as to be expected), and heavy, and worth a read, though the writing quality is a little subpar.
9. Saving Sky — Diane Stanley — N/A
rep: muslim
This was an optional book that I didn’t get around to.
10. The Treasure of Maria Mamoun — Michelle Chalfoun — ★★☆☆☆
rep: middle eastern, biracial (Lebanese/Puerto Rican)
This was a mystery/adventure story about Maria, a Lebanese girl living in the Bronx, whose mother suddenly uproots them to work for a dying, wealthy old man after Maria is attacked by schoolmates. It was painfully boring.
11. George (review coming soon in a blog post) — Alex Gino — ★★★★★
rep: queer
This own-voice MG story about a trans girl coming out was amazing. It broke my heart so many times, and the audiobook (how I read it) is narrated by a trans voice actress, who executes it PERFECTLY.
12. Me and Rupert Goody — Barbara O’Connor — ★☆☆☆☆
rep: disability
This was definitely the worst book from the MG selection: the narrative voice is so annoying and over-the-top “redneck”, and the main character is HORRIBLE and constantly does terrible things that are never addressed.

Children’s Picture Books:

1. Whoever You Are — Mem Fox — ★★☆☆☆
rep: multicultural
This had no real “story” or anything and the art was literally TERRIFYING.
2. The Name Jar — Yangsook Choi — ★★★★☆
rep: immigration
This is about a little girl who’s just moved to the US from Korea. It’s really precious!
3. Caribou Song — Tomson Highway — ★★☆☆☆
rep: native
I wanted to like this, but it’s just really boring and the art is kind of awful. :/
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. It is one of the most beautiful children’s book I’ve ever seen, and it offers such a good message.
5. Ada’s Violin — Susan Hood — ★★★☆☆
rep: latinx
This nonfiction story was okay, but since reading and rating it, I’ve been told a lot of it is inaccurate, so I don’t know that I’d really recommend it.
6. Radiant Child — Javaka Steptoe — ★★★☆☆
rep: biracial
This is a children’s biography about Jean-Michel Basquiat, and it was… honestly, super boring and the art was bizarre.
7. A Different Pond — Bao Phi — ★★★★☆
rep: asian
This is a really sweet story based on the author’s own life as an immigrant from Vietnam.
8. The Patchwork Torah — Allison Ofanansky — ★★★☆☆
rep: jewish
This one has a nice theme, but it’s very repetitive and the art doesn’t help matters much.
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
This just didn’t have much of a plot.
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 adored it! The art is so gorgeous and the story is precious and sweet. ♥
12. The Girl Who Thought in Pictures — Julia Mosca — ★★★★☆
rep: disability
This is exactly how nonfiction stories should be written for kids; it offers enough details to be interesting and doesn’t dumb things down too much, but it’s also totally approachable and the art is cute and colorful to hold interest.



More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

    1. I love this reading list!! It’s great that they encourage you to read diversely. I heard so many bad things about Will Grayson, Will Grayson that I kinda want to see it for myself.

      1. Thank you, Alexa! Yeah, I really appreciated that aspect! The only thing about the list that I wish had been done differently is that there were so few own-voice books in certain sections – like in the disability rep section of the list, none of those books were own-voice, and one of them presented SUCH a harmful view of disabled people! I had to wonder if they actually read some of the books they picked, or maybe if they did it intentionally to see if we would notice what was “bad” there… :/

        1. Oh 🙁 I didn’t know that because I didn’t know most of the books, but that’s kind of disappointing.
          Are there going to be a discussion about these together? Because it’s possible that they intentionally picked books with bad rep, but that only really works if they do a discussion around it…

          1. Sadly, the only discussions we really had about the books were tying together what we read and the chapters we studied in the textbook during those weeks. :/ I think it might have been okay in a full-semester class (16 weeks) where they would have taken the time to break down why those books were harmful, but it was a 7-week summer class and they just kind of swept it all under the rug. I was so disappointed that it’s part of why I decided not to continue the group of classes with YA Lit and Children’s Lit in this fall and next spring.

    1. I thought the same about American Born Chinese! I get what they were trying to do, but the stereotypes were just too much. I hated reading that character even knowing what the intent was.

    1. I love how this post was essentially a whole bunch of teasers about the book. I felt like a got a good sense of each book from your short one or two sentences. I think it’s super cool that contemporary YA and MG books were required reading in your program. Did reading these for a class impact your feelings about them? Good luck with the remainder of your degree!

      1. Thank you! 😀 I was hoping that would go over well. I do think that having them as assigned reads may have hindered my enjoyment just a little on a few because I don’t really like being forced to read something in a specific time frame, but not enough to really change my ratings or anything. And thanks! 🙂

    1. I was so happy to see this list! I’ve been intrigued by your thoughts ever since you announced that you were taking the class.

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