Autism Awareness Month 2022

April is Autism Awareness Month. Here are some books to start discussions or help autistic children feel seen.

Don’t Hug Doug (He Doesn’t Like It)
By Carrie Finison
Illustrated by Daniel Wiseman
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984813022 | Putnam BFYR
Doug doesn’t like hugs. He thinks hugs are too squeezy, too squashy, too squooshy, too smooshy. He doesn’t like hello hugs or goodbye hugs, game-winning home run hugs or dropped ice cream cone hugs, and he definitely doesn’t like birthday hugs. He’d much rather give a high five – or a low five, a side five, a double five, or a spinny five. Yup, some people love hugs; other people don’t. So how can you tell if someone likes hugs or not? There’s only one way to find out: Ask! Because everybody gets to decide for themselves whether they want a hug or not.

It Was Supposed to be Sunny
By Samantha Cotterill
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525553472 | Dial Books
Laila feels like her sparkly sunshine birthday celebration is on the brink of ruin when it starts to storm. Then, just as she starts feeling okay with moving her party indoors, an accident with her cake makes her want to call the whole thing off. But with the help of her mom and a little alone time with her service dog, she knows she can handle this. Changes in routine can be hard for any kid, but especially for kids on the autism spectrum. Samantha Cotterill’s fourth book in the Little Senses series provides gentle guidance along with adorable illustrations to help every kid navigate schedule changes and overwhelming social situations.

She Persisted: Temple Grandin
By Lyn Miller-Lachmann and Chelsea Clinton
Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger and Gillian Flint
80 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Paperback
ISBN 9780593353554 | Philomel Books
In this chapter book biography by beloved author Lyn Miller-Lachmann, STEMinist readers learn about the amazing life of Temple Grandin – and how she persisted. Temple Grandin is a world-renowned scientist, animal-behavior expert, and autism spokesperson who was able to use her way of thinking and looking at the world to invent and achieve great things! Complete with an introduction from Chelsea Clinton, black-and-white illustrations throughout, and a list of ways that readers can follow in Temple Grandin’s footsteps and make a difference!

For older readers:

A Bird Will Soar
By Alison Green Myers
400 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593325674 | Dutton BFYR
Axel loves everything about birds, especially eagles. No one worries that an eagle will fly too far and not come home – a fact Axel wishes his mother understood. Deep down, Axel knows that his mother is like an osprey – the best of all bird mothers – but it’s hard to remember that when she worries and keeps secrets about important things. His dad is more like a wild turkey, coming and going as he pleases. His dad’s latest disappearance is the biggest mystery of all. Despite all this, Axel loves his life – especially the time he spends with his friends observing the eagles’ nest in the woods near his home. But when a tornado damages not only Axel’s home but the eagles’ nest, Axel’s life is thrown into chaos. Suddenly his dad is back to help repair the damage, and Axel has to manage his dad’s presence and his beloved birds’ absence. Plus, his mom seems to be keeping even more secrets. But Axel knows another important fact: an eagle’s instincts let it soar. Axel must trust his own instincts to help heal his family and the nest he loves.

A Kind of Spark
By Ellie McNicoll
192 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593374252 | Crown BFYR
Ever since Ms. Murphy told us about the witch trials that happened centuries ago right here in Juniper, I can’t stop thinking about them. Those people weren’t magic. They were like me. Different like me. I’m autistic. I see things that others do not. I hear sounds that they can ignore. And sometimes I feel things all at once. I think about the witches, with no one to speak for them. Not everyone in our small town understands. But if I keep trying, maybe someone will. I won’t let the witches be forgotten. Because there is more to their story. Just like there is more to mine. Award-winning and neurodivergent author Elle McNicoll delivers an insightful and stirring debut about the European witch trials and a girl who refuses to relent in the fight for what she knows is right.

Paper Heart
By Cat Patrick
304 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984815347 | Putnam BFYR
Tess has always understood her role in her family. She is supposed to be the “okay” one. The one no one has to worry about. But all Tess does is worry, constantly picking at her fingers every time a new worry arises. Still grieving her best friend’s death, she is consumed by the fear that everything was her fault and her sadness that Colette is never coming back. Worse still, it seems like everyone else has found a way to move on, even her twin sister Frankie. When her mom decides a change of location might do her good, Tess finds herself on an airplane bound for her aunt’s house in small town Wyoming and a summer vacation attending art camp. Tess thinks she might never be able to move on from losing Colette but her quirky but determined cousin Kennedy and new friend Izzy are determined to help. When Tess becomes convinced that Colette’s ghost might be haunting her, Kennedy and Izzy find new ways for Tess to make peace with the past and finally let go of the grief that has been haunting her heart.

The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester
By Maya MacGregor
360 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781635923599 | Astra Young Readers
Sam Sylvester has long collected stories of half-lived lives – of kids who died before they turned nineteen. Sam was almost one of those kids. Now, as Sam’s own nineteenth birthday approaches, their recent near-death experience haunts them. They’re certain they don’t have much time left . . . . But Sam’s life seems to be on the upswing after meeting several new friends and a potential love interest in Shep, their next-door neighbor. Yet the past keeps roaring back – in Sam’s memories and in the form of a thirty-year-old suspicious death that took place in Sam’s new home. Sam can’t resist trying to find out more about the kid who died and who now seems to guide their investigation. When Sam starts receiving threatening notes, they know they’re on the path to uncovering a murderer. But are they digging through the past or digging their own future grave? The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester explores healing in the aftermath of trauma and the fullness of queer joy.

The Many Mysteries of the Finkel Family
By Sarah Kapit
288 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593112298 | Dial Books
When twelve-year-old Lara Finkel starts her very own detective agency, FIASCCO (Finkel Investigation Agency Solving Consequential Crimes Only), she does not want her sister, Caroline, involved. She and Caroline don’t have to do everything together. But Caroline won’t give up, and when she brings Lara the firm’s first mystery, Lara relents, and the questions start piling up. But Lara and Caroline’s truce doesn’t last for long. Caroline normally uses her tablet to talk, but now she’s busily texting a new friend. Lara can’t figure out what the two of them are up to, but it can’t be good. And Caroline doesn’t like Lara’s snooping – she’s supposed to be solving other people’s crimes, not spying on Caroline! As FIASCCO and the Finkel family mysteries spin out of control, can Caroline and Lara find a way to be friends again?

World Day for African and Afrodescendant Culture 2022

Every year, January 24 is World Day for African and Afrodescendant Culture. We’ve put together a recommended reading list of recent books for you and your little ones to start the dialogue and celebrate African culture and stories.

Picture Books:

Catch That Chicken!
By Atinuke
Illustrated by Angela Brooksbank
32 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536212686 | Candlewick
Lami is the best chicken catcher in the whole village. Her sister may be speedy at spelling, her friend fast at braiding hair, and her brother brave with bulls, but when it comes to chickens, nobody is faster or braver than Lami. That is, until the day when Lami chases a little too fast, up the baobab tree, and reaches a little too far . . . ow! How can she catch chickens with an ankle that’s puffed up like an angry lizard? Could it be, as Nana Nadia says, that quick thinking is more important than quick Award-winning author Atinuke celebrates Nigerian village life in a story vibrantly illustrated by Angela Brooksbank with a universal message at its heart.

Nana Akua Goes to School
By Tricia Elam Walker
Illustrated by April Harrison
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525581130 | Schwartz & Wade
It is Grandparents Day at Zura’s elementary school, and the students are excited to introduce their grandparents and share what makes them special. Aleja’s grandfather is a fisherman. Bisou’s grandmother is a dentist. But Zura’s Nana, who is her favorite person in the world, looks a little different from other grandmas. Nana Akua was raised in Ghana, and, following an old West African tradition, has tribal markings on her face. Worried that her classmates will be scared of Nana – or worse, make fun of her – Zura is hesitant to bring her to school. Nana Akua knows what to do, though. With a quilt of traditional African symbols and a bit of face paint, Nana Akua is able to explain what makes her special, and to make all of Zura’s classmates feel special, too.

The 1619 Project: Born on the Water
By Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson
Illustrated by Nikkolas Smith
48 Pages | Ages 7-10 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593307359 | Kokila
The 1619 Project’s lyrical picture book in verse chronicles the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States, thoughtfully rendered by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and Newbery honor-winning author Renée Watson. A young student receives a family tree assignment in school, but she can only trace back three generations. Grandma gathers the whole family, and the student learns that 400 years ago, in 1619, their ancestors were stolen and brought to America by white slave traders. But before that, they had a home, a land, a language. She learns how the people said to be born on the water survived.

Chapter Books/Graphic Novels:

Akissi: Tales of Mischief
By Marguerite Abouet
Illustrated by Mathieu Sapin
184 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781911171478 | Flying Eye Books
Poor Akissi! The neighborhood cats are trying to steal her fish, her little monkey Boubou almost ends up in a frying pan, and she’s nothing but a pest to her older brother Fofana. But Akissi is a true adventurer, and nothing scares her away from hilarious escapades in her modern African city. Jump into the laugh-out-loud misadventures of Akissi in these girls-will-be-girls comics, based on author Margeurite Abouet’s childhood on the Ivory Coast.

She Persisted: Wangari Maathai
By Eucabeth Odhiambo and Chelsea Clinton
Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger and Gillian Flint
80 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593353561 | Philomel BFYR
In this chapter book biography by critically acclaimed author Eucabeth Odhiambo, readers learn about the amazing life of Wangari Maathai – and how she persisted. When Wangari Maathai learned about how many trees had been cut down in Kenya, where she was from, she was horrified. So she founded the Green Belt Movement and got friends, family, and even strangers to help her plant trees and respect the environment – and she received a Nobel Peace Prize for her work. Complete with an introduction from Chelsea Clinton, black-and-white illustrations throughout, and a list ways that readers can follow in Wangari Maathai’s footsteps and make a difference!

When Stars Are Scattered
By Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed
Illustrated by Victoria Jamieson and Iman Geddy
264  Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525553915 | Dial BFYR
Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day. Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It’s an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee, as told to New York Times bestselling author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story.

Middle Grade:

Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood
Edited by Kwame Mbalia
320 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593379936 | Delacorte BFYR
Black boy joy is . . .
Picking out a fresh first-day-of-school outfit.
Saving the universe in an epic intergalactic race.
Finding your voice – and your rhymes – during tough times.
Flying on your skateboard like nobody’s watching.
And more! From seventeen acclaimed Black male and non-binary authors comes a vibrant collection of stories, comics, and poems about the power of joy and the wonders of Black boyhood.

Ikenga
By Nnedi Okorafor
240 Pages | Ages 10+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593113530 | Viking BFYR
Nnamdi’s father was a good chief of police, perhaps the best Kalaria had ever had. He was determined to root out the criminals that had invaded the town. But then he was murdered, and most people believed the Chief of Chiefs, most powerful of the criminals, was responsible. Nnamdi has vowed to avenge his father, but he wonders what a twelve-year-old boy can do. Until a mysterious nighttime meeting, the gift of a magical object that enables super powers, and a charge to use powers for good changes his life forever. How can he fulfill his mission? How will he learn to control his newfound powers? Award-winning Nnedi Okorafor, acclaimed for her Akata novels, introduces a new and engaging hero in her first novel for middle grade readers set against a richly textured background of contemporary Nigeria.

Young Adult:

African Town
By Charles Waters and Iene Latham
448 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593322888 | Putnam BFYR
In 1860, long after the United States outlawed the importation of enslaved laborers, 110 men, women and children from Benin and Nigeria were captured and brought to Mobile, Alabama aboard a ship called Clotilda. Their journey includes the savage Middle Passage and being hidden in the swamplands along the Alabama River before being secretly parceled out to various plantations, where they made desperate attempts to maintain both their culture and also fit into the place of captivity to which they’d been delivered. At the end of the Civil War, the survivors created a community for themselves they called African Town, still exists to this day. Told in 14 distinct voices, including that of the ship that brought them to the American shores and the founder of African Town, this powerfully affecting historical novel-in-verse recreates a pivotal moment in US and world history, the impacts of which we still feel today.

Beasts of Prey
By Ayana Gray
496 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593405680 | Putnam BFYR
There’s no such thing as magic in the broken city of Lkossa, especially for sixteen-year-old Koffi, who holds a power within her that could only be described as magic – a power that if discovered could cost her life. Indentured to the notorious Night Zoo, Koffi knows the fearsome creatures in her care and paying off her family’s debts to secure their eventual freedom can be her only focus. But the night those she loves are gravely threatened by the Zoo’s cruel master, Koffi finally unleashes the power she doesn’t fully understand, upending her life completely. As the second son of a decorated hero, Ekon is all but destined to become a Son of the Six – an elite warrior – and uphold a family legacy. But on the night of his final rite of passage, Ekon encounters not only the Shetani – a vicious monster that has plagued the city for nearly a century and stalks his nightmares, but Koffi who seems to have the power to ward off the beast. Koffi’s power ultimately saves Ekon’s life, but his choice to let her flee dooms his hopes of becoming a warrior. Desperate to redeem himself, Ekon vows to hunt the Shetani and end its reign of terror, but he can’t do it alone. Meanwhile, Koffi believes finding the Shetani could also be the key to solving her own problems. Koffi and Ekon form a tentative alliance and together enter the Greater Jungle, a world steeped in wild, frightening magic and untold dangers. The hunt begins. But it quickly becomes unclear whether they are the hunters or the hunted.

Skin of the Sea
By Natasha Bowen
320 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593120941 | Random House BFYR
Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata – a mermaid – collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home. But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi does the unthinkable – she saves his life, going against an ancient decree. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy it. To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But all is not as it seems. There’s the boy she rescued, who knows more than he should. And something is shadowing Simi, something that would rather see her fail. . . . Danger lurks at every turn, and as Simi draws closer, she must brave vengeful gods, treacherous lands, and legendary creatures. Because if she doesn’t, then she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it.

The Gilded Ones
By Namina Forna
432 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984848697 | Delacorte BFYR
Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs. But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity – and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death. Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki – near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat. Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be – not even Deka herself.

Women’s History Month

In honor of Women’s History Month, we made a list of some of our favorite books by and about strong women.

Becoming: Adapted for Young Readers
By Michelle Obama
432 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593303740 | Delacorte BFYR
From her early years of marriage, and the struggle to balance being a working woman, a wife, and the mom of two daughters, Michelle Obama details the shift she made to political life and what her family endured as a result of her husband’s fast-moving political career and campaign for the presidency. She shares the glamor of ball gowns and world travel, and the difficulties of comforting families after tragedies. She managed to be there for her daughters’ swim competitions and attended plays at their schools without catching the spotlight, while defining and championing numerous initiatives, especially those geared toward kids, during her time as First Lady. Most important, this volume for young people is an honest and fascinating account of Michelle Obama’s life led by example. She shares her views on how all young people can help themselves as well as help others, no matter their status in life. She asks readers to realize that no one is perfect, and that the process of becoming is what matters, as finding yourself is ever evolving. In telling her story with boldness, she asks young readers: Who are you, and what do you want to become?

Bunheads
By Misty Copeland
Illustrated by Setor Fiadzigbey
32 Pages | Ages 5-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780399547645 | Putnam BFYR
From prima ballerina and New York Times bestselling author Misty Copeland comes the story of a young Misty, who discovers her love of dance through the ballet Coppélia – a story about a toymaker who devises a villainous plan to bring a doll to life. Misty is so captivated by the tale and its heroine, Swanilda, she decides to audition for the role. But she’s never danced ballet before; in fact, this is the very first day of her very first dance class! Though Misty is excited, she’s also nervous. But as she learns from her fellow bunheads, she makes wonderful friends who encourage her to do her very best. Misty’s nerves quickly fall away, and with a little teamwork, the bunheads put on a show to remember. Featuring the stunning artwork of newcomer Setor Fiadzigbey, Bunheads is an inspiring tale for anyone looking for the courage to try something new.

Fight Like a Girl
By Sheena Kamal
272 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265554 | Penguin Teen Canada
Love and violence. In some families they’re bound up together, dysfunctional and poisonous, passed from generation to generation like eye color or a quirk of smile. Trisha’s trying to break the chain, channeling her violent impulses into Muay Thai kickboxing, an unlikely sport for a slightly built girl of Trinidadian descent. Her father comes and goes as he pleases, his presence adding a layer of tension to the Toronto east-end townhouse that Trisha and her mom call home, every punch he lands on her mother carving itself indelibly into Trisha’s mind. Until the night he wanders out drunk in front of the car Trisha is driving, practicing on her learner’s permit, her mother in the passenger seat. Her father is killed, and her mother seems strangely at peace. Lighter, somehow. Trisha doesn’t know exactly what happened that night, but she’s afraid it’s going to happen again. Her mom has a new man in her life and the patterns, they are repeating.

Folktales for Fearless Girls: The Stories We Were Never Told
By Myriam Sayalero
Illustrated by Dani Torrent
224 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593115220 | Philomel BFYR
Curses to be broken. Riddles to be solved. Kings’ favor to be won. These are the standard stories we’ve heard in folktales and fables for as long as we can remember – challenges faced and overcome by princes and knights in shining armor. In Folktales for Fearless Girls, though, we see a different set of heroes charge across the page. In fact, we see heroines. Wily women and clever girls, valiant queens and brave villagers – these are the people to save the day in this collection of folktales from around the world and across the ages. Here we read the story of Jimena, who dresses like a man to go fight in a war; of Min, whose cleverness leads her family to riches; and of Nabiha, who outsmarts thieves and wins the respect of the king. With stories from China, Russia, Persia, India, Armenia, the UK, Spain, France, Southern Africa, Egypt, and Germany, this is a collection of tales that showcases the original literary feminists.

G My Name is Girl: A Song of Celebration from Argentina to Zambia
By Dawn Masi
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593304044 | Doubleday BFYR
Girls from 26 different countries – Argentina to Zambia – are beautifully and thoughtfully represented in this A to Z tribute to global girlhood. Children will enjoy reading about each girl’s name, empowering character trait, and country, while learning how we are all connected. Globally-minded kids can also find the countries on a map at the back of the book and dream of places they’d like to visit.

Grace Banker and Her Hello Girls Answer the Call: The Heroic Story of WWI Telephone Operators
By Claudia Friddell
Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley
40 Pages | Ages 7-10 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781684373505 | Calkins Creek
Follow Grace Banker’s journey from her busy life as a telephone switchboard trainer in New York to her pioneering role as the Chief Operator of the 1st Unit of World War I telephone operators in the battlefields of France. With expert skill, steady nerves, and steadfast loyalty, the Signal Corps operators transferred orders from commanders to battlefields and communicated top-secret messages between American and French headquarters. After faithfully serving her country – undaunted by freezing weather and fires; long hours and little sleep, and nearby shelling and far off explosions – Grace was the first and only woman operator in the Signal Corps to be awarded the Army’s Distinguished Service Medal.

He Must Like You
By Danielle Younge-Ullman
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265691 | Penguin Teen Canada
Libby’s having a rough senior year. Her older brother absconded with his college money and is bartending on a Greek island. Her dad just told her she’s got to pay for college herself, and he’s evicting her when she graduates so he can AirBnB her room. A drunken hook-up with her coworker Kyle has left her upset and confused. So when Perry Ackerman, serial harasser and the most handsy customer at The Goat where she waitresses, pushes her over the edge, she can hardly be blamed for dumping a pitcher of sangria on his head. Unfortunately, Perry is a local industry hero, the restaurant’s most important customer, and Libby’s mom’s boss. Now Libby has to navigate the fallout of her outburst, find an apartment and deal with her increasing rage at the guys who’ve screwed up her life – and her increasing crush on the one guy who truly gets her. As timely as it is timeless, He Must Like You is a story about consent, rage, and revenge, and the potential we all have to be better people.

How to Change Everything: The Young Human’s Guide to Protecting the Planet and Each Other
By Naomi Klein with Rebecca Stefoff
336 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270060 | Puffin Canada
Temperatures are rising all over the world, leading to wildfires, droughts, animal extinctions, and ferocious storms – climate change is real. But how did we get to this state, and what can we do next? What if we could work to protect the planet, while also taking action to make life fairer and more equal for the people who live on it? We can – if we’re willing to change everything. In her first book written for young readers, internationally acclaimed, bestselling author and social activist Naomi Klein, with Rebecca Steffof, lays out the facts and challenges of climate change and the movement for climate justice. Using examples of change and protest from around the world, including profiles of young activists from a wide range of backgrounds, Klein shows that young people are not just part of the climate change movement, they are leading the way. How to Change Everything will provide readers with clear information about how our planet is changing, but also, more importantly, with inspiration, ideas, and tools for action. Because young people can help build a better future. Young people can help decide what happens next. Young people can help change everything.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club
By Malinda Lo
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525555254 | Dutton BFYR
Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the feeling took root – that desire to look, to move closer, to touch. Whenever it started growing, it definitely bloomed the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. Suddenly everything seemed possible. But America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father – despite his hard-won citizenship – Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

Love Is Powerful
By Heather Dean Brewer
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
32 Pages | Ages 5-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536201994 | Candlewick Press
Mari is getting ready to make a sign with crayon as the streets below her fill up with people. “What are we making, Mama?” she asks. “A message for the world,” Mama says. “How will the whole world hear?” Mari wonders. “They’ll hear,” says Mama, “because love is powerful.” Inspired by a girl who participated in the January 2017 Women’s March in New York City, Heather Dean Brewer’s simple and uplifting story, delightfully illustrated by LeUyen Pham, is a reminder of what young people can do to promote change and equality at a time when our country is divided by politics, race, gender, and religion.

Ocean SpeaksOcean Speaks: How Marie Tharp Revealed the Ocean’s Biggest Secret
By Jess Keating
Illustrated by Katie Hickey
34 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265080 | Tundra Books
From a young age, Marie Tharp loved watching the world. She loved solving problems. And she loved pushing the limits of what girls and women were expected to do and be. In the mid-twentieth century, women were not welcome in the sciences, but Marie was tenacious. She got a job at a laboratory in New York. But then she faced another barrier: women were not allowed on the research ships (they were considered bad luck on boats). So instead, Marie stayed back and dove deep into the data her colleagues recorded. She mapped point after point and slowly revealed a deep rift valley in the ocean floor. At first the scientific community refused to believe her, but her evidence was irrefutable. She proved to the world that her research was correct. The mid-ocean ridge that Marie discovered is the single largest geographic feature on the planet, and she mapped it all from her small, cramped office.

She Persisted: Claudette Colvin
By Lesa Cline-Ransome and Chelsea Clinton
Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger and Gillian Flint
80 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593115831 | Philomel BFYR
Before Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin made the same choice. She insisted on standing up – or in her case, sitting down – for what was right, and in doing so, fought for equality, fairness, and justice. In this chapter book biography by award-winning author Lesa Cline-Ransome, readers learn about the amazing life of Claudette Colvin – and how she persisted. Complete with an introduction from Chelsea Clinton!

She Persisted: Harriet Tubman
By Andrea Davis Pinkney and Chelsea Clinton
Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger and Gillian Flint
80 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593115657 | Philomel BFYR
Born enslaved, Harriet Tubman rose up to become one of the most successful, determined and well-known conductors of the Underground Railroad. With her family’s love planted firmly in her heart, Harriet looked to the North Star for guidance – and its light helped guide her way out of slavery. Her courage made it possible for her to help others reach freedom too. In this chapter book biography by bestselling and award-winning author Andrea Davis Pinkney, readers learn about the amazing life of Harriet Tubman – and how she persisted. Complete with an introduction from Chelsea Clinton!

Ten Little Dumplings
By Larissa Fan
Illustrated by Cindy Wume
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266193 | Tundra Books
In the city of Tainan, there lives a very special family – special because they have ten sons who do everything together. Their parents call them their ten little dumplings, as both sons and dumplings are auspicious. But if you look closely, you’ll see that someone else is there, listening, studying, learning and discovering her own talent – a sister. As this little girl grows up in the shadow of her brothers, her determination and persistence help her to create her own path in the world . . . and becomes the wisdom she passes on to her own daughter, her own little dumpling. Based on a short film made by the author, inspired by her father’s family in Taiwan, Ten Little Dumplings looks at some unhappy truths about the place of girls in our world in an accessible, inspiring and hopeful way.

The Aquanaut
By Jill Heinerth
Illustrated by Jaime Kim
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263635 | Tundra Books
Through beautiful, spare text, Jill Heinerth tells her story about a girl who feels too young, too little, and too far away from her dreams. But you don’t need to wait to grow up. It doesn’t take much to imagine all the things you can do and be. What if your bedroom were a space station? What would it be like to have flippers or tusks? In your own home you can explore new worlds and meet new friends. Jaime Kim’s luminous art transports readers back and forth through time to see how Jill’s imagination as a young girl laid the pathway to her accomplishments and experiences as an underwater explorer.

The Gilded Ones
By Namina Forna
432 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984848697 | Delacorte BFYR
Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs. But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity – and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death. Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki – near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat. Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be – not even Deka herself.

The Girls I’ve Been
By Tess Sharpe
368 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593353806 | Putnam BFYR
Nora O’Malley’s been a lot of girls. As the daughter of a con-artist who targets criminal men, she grew up as her mother’s protégé. But when her mom fell for the mark instead of conning him, Nora pulled the ultimate con: escape. For five years Nora’s been playing at normal. But she needs to dust off the skills she ditched because she has three problems:
#1: Her ex walked in on her with her girlfriend. Even though they’re all friends, Wes didn’t know about her and Iris.
#2: The morning after Wes finds them kissing, they all have to meet to deposit the fundraiser money they raised at the bank. It’s a nightmare that goes from awkward to deadly, because:
#3: Right after they enter the bank, two guys start robbing it.
The bank robbers may be trouble, but Nora’s something else entirely. They have no idea who they’re really holding hostage . . .

This Is Your Time
By Ruby Bridges
64 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593378526 | Delacorte BFYR
Written as a letter from civil rights activist and icon Ruby Bridges to the reader, This Is Your Time is both a recounting of Ruby’s experience as a child who had to be escorted to class by federal marshals when she was chosen to be one of the first black students to integrate into New Orleans’ all-white public school system and an appeal to generations to come to effect change. This beautifully designed volume features photographs from the 1960s and from today, as well as stunning jacket art from The Problem We All Live With, the 1964 painting by Norman Rockwell depicting Ruby’s walk to school. Ruby’s honest and impassioned words, imbued with love and grace, serve as a moving reminder that “what can inspire tomorrow often lies in our past.” This Is Your Time will electrify people of all ages as the struggle for liberty and justice for all continues and the powerful legacy of Ruby Bridges endures.

We Are the Ashes, We Are the Fire
By Joy McCullough
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525556053 | Dutton BFYR
Em Morales’s older sister was raped by another student after a frat party. A jury eventually found the rapist guilty on all counts – a remarkable verdict that Em felt more than a little responsible for, since she was her sister’s strongest advocate on social media during the trial. Her passion and outspokenness helped dissuade the DA from settling for a plea deal. Em’s family would have real justice. But the victory is short-lived. In a matter of minutes, justice vanishes as the judge turns the Morales family’s world upside down again by sentencing the rapist to no prison time. While her family is stunned, Em is literally sick with rage and guilt. To make matters worse, a news clip of her saying that the sentence makes her want to learn “how to use a sword” goes viral. From this low point, Em must find a new reason to go on and help her family heal, and she finds it in the unlikely form of the story of a fifteenth-century French noblewoman, Marguerite de Bressieux, who is legendary as an avenging knight for rape victims. We Are the Ashes, We Are the Fire is a searing and nuanced portrait of a young woman torn between a persistent desire for revenge and a burning need for hope.

What Are Little Girls Made Of?
By Jeanne Willis
Illustrated by Isabelle Follath
32 Pages | Ages 7-10 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536217339 | Nosy Crow
Think you know your nursery rhymes? Then think again! In this witty reworking of some nursery rhymes, Georgie Porgie doesn’t dare to make the girls cry, Little Bo-Peep’s sheep are all present and accounted for, thank you, and it’s a female doctor, of course, who fixes Humpty Dumpty. With the combination of clever rhymes and charming, witty illustrations, this remixed nursery rhyme collection is the perfect gift book for any child (or adult!), to read aloud or enjoy alone.

Black History Month Reading List

February is Black History Month, and we encourage you to visit your local bookstore or library (to learn more. In the meantime, we have compiled our reading recommendations for you.

Antiracist Baby
By Ibram X. Kendi
Illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky
32 Pages | Ages 0-3 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593110508 | Kokila
From the National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning and How to Be an Antiracist comes a new 9×9 picture book that empowers parents and children to uproot racism in our society and in ourselves, now with added discussion prompts to help readers recognize and reflect on bias in their daily lives. With bold art and thoughtful yet playful text, Antiracist Baby introduces the youngest readers and the grown-ups in their lives to the concept and power of antiracism. Providing the language necessary to begin critical conversations at the earliest age, Antiracist Baby is the perfect gift for readers of all ages dedicated to forming a just society.

Before the Ever After
By Jacqueline Woodson
176 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780399545436 | Nancy Paulsen Books
For as long as ZJ can remember, his dad has been everyone’s hero. As a charming, talented pro football star, he’s as beloved to the neighborhood kids he plays with as he is to his millions of adoring sports fans. But lately life at ZJ’s house is anything but charming. His dad is having trouble remembering things and seems to be angry all the time. ZJ’s mom explains it’s because of all the head injuries his dad sustained during his career. ZJ can understand that – but it doesn’t make the sting any less real when his own father forgets his name. As ZJ contemplates his new reality, he has to figure out how to hold on tight to family traditions and recollections of the glory days, all the while wondering what their past amounts to if his father can’t remember it. And most importantly, can those happy feelings ever be reclaimed when they are all so busy aching for the past?

Brown Girl DreamingBrown Girl Dreaming
By Jacqueline Woodson
368 Pages | Ages 10+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780147515827 | Puffin Books
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

C is for Country
By Lil Nas X
Illustrated by Theodore Taylor III
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593300787 | Random House BFYR
Join superstar Lil Nas X—who boasts the longest-running #1 song in history—and Panini the pony on a joyous journey through the alphabet from sunup to sundown. Experience wide-open pastures, farm animals, guitar music, cowboy hats, and all things country in this debut picture book that’s perfect for music lovers learning their ABCs and for anyone who loves Nas’s signature genre-blending style. Featuring bold, bright art from Theodore Taylor III, with plenty of hidden surprises for Nas’s biggest fans, C Is for Country is a celebration of song and the power inside us all.

I Am Every Good Thing
By Derrick Barnes
Illustrated by Gordon C. James
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525518778 | Nancy Paulsen Books
The confident Black narrator of this book is proud of everything that makes him who he is. He’s got big plans, and no doubt he’ll see them through – as he’s creative, adventurous, smart, funny, and a good friend. Sometimes he falls, but he always gets back up. And other times he’s afraid, because he’s so often misunderstood and called what he is not. So slow down and really look and listen, when somebody tells you – and shows you – who they are. There are superheroes in our midst!

I Am Smart, I Am Blessed, I Can Do Anything!
By Alissa Holder and Zulekha Holder-Young
Illustrated by Nneka Myers
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593206607 | Flamingo Books
Based on a viral video comes the story of one boy’s positive energy and how a sunny outlook can turn everything around. It’s a new day and Ayaan has woken up on the wrong side of the bed, where nothing feels quite right. What if he doesn’t know the answer at school? What if he messes up? But as he sets out that morning, all it takes is a few reminders from his mom and some friends in the neighborhood to remind him that a new day is a good day because . . . HE IS SMART, HE IS BLESSED, AND HE CAN DO ANYTHING!

Jabari Jumps
By Gaia Cornwall
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536202908 | Candlewick
Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board. In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fears, Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for.

Lubaya’s Quiet Roar
By Marilyn Nelson
Illustrated by Philemona Williamson
32 Pages | Ages 5-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525555551 | Dial BFYR
Newbery Honor winner Marilyn Nelson and fine artist Philemona Williamson have come together to create this lyrical, impactful story of how every child, even the quietest, can make a difference in their community and world. Young Lubaya is happiest when she’s drawing, often behind the sofa while her family watches TV. There, she creates pictures on the backs of her parents’ old protest posters. But when upsetting news shouts into their living room, her parents need the posters again. The next day her family takes part in a march, and there, on one side of the posters being held high, are Lubaya’s drawings of kids holding hands and of the sun shining over the globe – rousing visual statements of how the world could be. “Lubaya’s roar may not be loud, but a quiet roar can make history.”

Milo Imagines the World
By Matt De La Peña
Illustrated by Christian Robinson
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780399549083 | Putnam BFYR
Milo is on a long subway ride with his older sister. To pass the time, he studies the faces around him and makes pictures of their lives. There’s the whiskered man with the crossword puzzle; Milo imagines him playing solitaire in a cluttered apartment full of pets. There’s the wedding-dressed woman with a little dog peeking out of her handbag; Milo imagines her in a grand cathedral ceremony. And then there’s the boy in the suit with the bright white sneakers; Milo imagines him arriving home to a castle with a drawbridge and a butler. But when the boy in the suit gets off on the same stop as Milo – walking the same path, going to the exact same place – Milo realizes that you can’t really know anyone just by looking at them.

My Rainbow
By DeShanna Neal and Trinity Neal
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984814609 | Kokila
Warm morning sunlight and love fill the Neal home. And on one quiet day, playtime leads to an important realization: Trinity wants long hair like her dolls. She needs it to express who she truly is. So her family decides to take a trip to the beauty supply store, but none of the wigs is the perfect fit. Determined, Mom leaves with bundles of hair in hand, ready to craft a wig as colorful and vibrant as her daughter is. With powerful text by Trinity and DeShanna Neal and radiant art by Art Twink, My Rainbow is a celebration of showing up as our full selves with the people who have seen us fully all along.

Nana Akua Goes to School
By Tricia Elam Walker
Illustrated by April Harrison
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525581130 | Schwartz & Wade
It is Grandparents Day at Zura’s elementary school, and the students are excited to introduce their grandparents and share what makes them special. Aleja’s grandfather is a fisherman. Bisou’s grandmother is a dentist. But Zura’s Nana, who is her favorite person in the world, looks a little different from other grandmas. Nana Akua was raised in Ghana, and, following an old West African tradition, has tribal markings on her face. Worried that her classmates will be scared of Nana – or worse, make fun of her – Zura is hesitant to bring her to school. Nana Akua knows what to do, though. With a quilt of traditional African symbols and a bit of face paint, Nana Akua is able to explain what makes her special, and to make all of Zura’s classmates feel special, too.

She Persisted: Harriet Tubman
By Andrea Davis Pinkney and Chelsea Clinton
Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger and Gillian Flint
80 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593115657 | Philomel BFYR
Born enslaved, Harriet Tubman rose up to become one of the most successful, determined and well-known conductors of the Underground Railroad. With her family’s love planted firmly in her heart, Harriet looked to the North Star for guidance – and its light helped guide her way out of slavery. Her courage made it possible for her to help others reach freedom too. In this chapter book biography by bestselling and award-winning author Andrea Davis Pinkney, readers learn about the amazing life of Harriet Tubman – and how she persisted. Complete with an introduction from Chelsea Clinton!

Take Back the Block
By Chrystal D. Giles
240 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593175170 | Random House BFYR
Wes Henderson has the best style in sixth grade. That – and hanging out with his crew (his best friends since little-kid days) and playing video games – is what he wants to be thinking about at the start of the school year, not the protests his parents are always dragging him to. But when a real estate developer makes an offer to buy Kensington Oaks, the neighborhood Wes has lived his whole life, everything changes. The grownups are supposed to have all the answers, but all they’re doing is arguing. Even Wes’s best friends are fighting. And some of them may be moving. Wes isn’t about to give up the only home he’s ever known. Wes has always been good at puzzles, and he knows there has to be a missing piece that will solve this puzzle and save the Oaks. But can he find it . . . before it’s too late? Exploring community, gentrification, justice, and friendship, Take Back the Block introduces an irresistible 6th grader and asks what it means to belong – to a place and a movement – and to fight for what you believe in.

The Day You BeginThe Day You Begin
By Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrated by Rafael López
32 Pages | Ages 5-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780399246531 | Nancy Paulsen Books
There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it. Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963
By Christopher Paul Curtis
256 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780593306499 | Yearling
When the Watson family – ten-year-old Kenny, Momma, Dad, little sister Joetta, and brother Byron – sets out on a trip south to visit Grandma in Birmingham, Alabama, they don’t realize that they’re heading toward one of the darkest moments in America’s history. The Watsons’ journey reminds us that even in the hardest times, laughter and family can help us get through anything. Celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Newbery and Coretta Scott King Honoree about an unforgettable family on a road-trip during one of the most important times in the civil rights movement. This special edition makes a perfect gift and includes bonus content.

This Is Your Time
By Ruby Bridges
64 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593378526 | Delacorte BFYR
Written as a letter from civil rights activist and icon Ruby Bridges to the reader, This Is Your Time is both a recounting of Ruby’s experience as a child who had to be escorted to class by federal marshals when she was chosen to be one of the first black students to integrate into New Orleans’ all-white public school system and an appeal to generations to come to effect change. This beautifully designed volume features photographs from the 1960s and from today, as well as stunning jacket art from The Problem We All Live With, the 1964 painting by Norman Rockwell depicting Ruby’s walk to school. Ruby’s honest and impassioned words, imbued with love and grace, serve as a moving reminder that “what can inspire tomorrow often lies in our past.” This Is Your Time will electrify people of all ages as the struggle for liberty and justice for all continues and the powerful legacy of Ruby Bridges endures.

What Lane?
By Torrey Maldonado
144 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525518433 | Nancy Paulsen Books
Anything his friends can do, Stephen should be able to do too, right? So when they dare each other to sneak into an abandoned building, he doesn’t think it’s his lane, but he goes. Here’s the thing, though: Can he do everything his friends can? Lately, he’s not so sure. As a mixed kid, he feels like he’s living in two worlds with different rules – and he’s been noticing that strangers treat him differently than his white friends . . . so what’ll he do? Hold on tight as Stephen swerves in and out of lanes to find out which are his – and who should be with him. Torrey Maldonado, author of the highly acclaimed Tight, does a masterful job showing a young boy coming of age in a racially split world, trying to blaze a way to be his best self.

When Stars Are Scattered
By Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed
Illustrated by Victoria Jamieson and Iman Geddy
264  Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525553915 | Dial BFYR
Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day. Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It’s an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee, as told to New York Times bestselling author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story.

Need more ideas? Check out our list from last year or our Raising Conscious Kids listicle, and look out for a teen reading list this Friday!