We Need Diverse Books

We Need Diverse Books: School-Age

Library shelves are packed with all kinds of stories for all kinds of readers. Stories can be mirrors for children to see themselves, but can also be windows for readers to empathize with characters who have different experiences. 

Check out these recommended books that feature diverse characters* ! There are so many stories out there and if you need even more reading recommendations be sure to ask your local librarian! 

*We use a broad definition of diverse that includes race, LGBTQIA, religion, people with disabilities, Native, gender diversity, and more.


Compiled by:
Alex G.

Early Readers

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things

Lenore Look
Juvenile Fiction - J Look

A young boy in Concord, Massachusetts, who loves superheroes and comes from a long line of brave Chinese farmer-warriors, wants to make friends, but first he must overcome his fear of everything.


A Big Mooncake for Little Star

Grace Lin
Juvenile Picture Books - EJ Lin

The title reimagines the cycles of the moon as a mother bakes a Big Moon Cake and, despite Mama's request to wait, Little Star begins nibbling at it every night. 


Brand-New School, Brave New Ruby

Derrick Barnes
Juvenile Fiction - J Barnes
Series: Ruby and the Booker Boys

When Ruby Booker starts third grade at Hope Road Academy, the same school her three illustrious older brothers attend, she tries hard to make an impression of her own.


Chews Your Destiny

Rhode Montijo
Juvenile First Chapter Books - J Montijo
Series: Gumazing Gum Girl!

When Mom issues a no-gum rule, Gabby Gomez sneaks a piece of special bubble gum that turns her into a superhero. 


The Day You Begin

Jacqueline Woodson
Juvenile Picture Books - EJ Woo

Other students laugh when Rigoberto, an immigrant from Venezuela, introduces himself. Later, he meets Angelina and discovers that he is not the only one who feels like an outsider. 


Don't Throw It To Mo!

David A. Adler
Juvenile Early Readers - J-ER Adl

Mo is the youngest kid on the Robins football team. The kids on the rival team tease him for being a 'butterfingers' who's too tiny to catch the ball. But Mo's coach has a plan up his sleeve to turn Mo's little size into a big win for the Robins. 


Double Trouble for Anna Hibiscus

Atinuke
Juvenile Picture Books - EJ Ati

Everything is changing for Anna Hibiscus; she's a sister! But everyone is now so busy with the babies! Who has time for Anna Hibiscus? 


Festival of Colors

Kabir Sehgal
Juvenile Picture Books - EJ Seh

Siblings Chintoo and Mintoo collect flowers and press the petals into a fine powder as they prepare for Holi, the Indiana springtime Festival of Colors. 


A Gift from Abuela

Cecilia Ruiz
Juvenile Picture Books - EJ Rui

As Niña grows up, she and Abuela have a lot of fun doing simple things. Abuela decides that she wants to buy Niña a special treat, so she saves a little bit of her money every week. But then something terrible happens.


Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns

Hena Khan
Juvenile Picture Books - EJ Kha

In simple rhyming text, a young Muslim girl and her family guide the reader through the traditions and colors of Islam. 


Happy In Our Skin

Fran Manushkin
Juvenile Picture Books - EJ Man

Bouquets of babies sweet to hold: cocoa-brown, cinnamon, and honey gold. Ginger-colored babies, peaches and cream, too--splendid skin for me, splendid skin for you! A celebration of skin in all its many, many, wonderful forms.


The Haunted House Next Door

Andres Miedoso
Juvenile First Chapter Books - J Miedoso
Series: Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol

Meet Desmond Cole! A fearless eight-year-old who runs his own ghost patrol, looking for ghosts, monsters, and mischief makers everywhere.


Jabari Jumps

Gaia Cornwall
Juvenile Picture Books - EJ Cor

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. Or is he?


Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen

Debbi Michiko Florence
Juvenile First Chapter Books - J Florenc
Series: Jasmine Toguchi

Eager to do something her big sister has not done first, Jasmine Toguchi, eight, decides to pound mochi with the men and boys when her family gets together for New Year's.


Lola Levine is Not Mean!

Monica Brown
Juvenile First Chapter Books - J Brown
Series: Lola Levine

Second-grader Lola has a wonderful family, a great teacher, and the best friend ever, Josh, and they all help her feel better after she is teased and forbidden to play team sports at recess for having accidentally hurt classmate Juan during a soccer game.


Maybe Something Beautiful

Isabel Campoy
Juvenile Picture Books - EJ Cam

Mira lives in a gray and hopeless urban community until a muralist arrives and, along with his paints and brushes, brings color, joy, and togetherness to Mira and her neighbors. 


Mommy's Khimar

Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
Juvenile Picture Books - EJ Tho

A young Muslim girls puts on a head scarf and not only feels closer to her mother, she also imagines herself as a queen, the sun, a superhero, and more. 


One Family

George Shannon
Juvenile Picturebooks - Ej Sha

In this story that introduces numbered groups from one to ten, we realize that families can be many things.


Princess Hair

Sharee Miller
Juvenile Picture Books - EJ Mil

Little girls pretending to be princesses celebrate the different shapes, textures, and styles of their black hair. 


Sparkle Boy

Lesléa Newman
Juvenile Picture Books - EJ New

Three-year-old Casey wants what his older sister, Jessie, has--a shimmery skirt, glittery painted nails, and a sparkly bracelet--but Jessie does not approve. After two boys tease Casey about his appearance, Jessie evolves to a place of acceptance and celebration of her gender creative younger brother.


A Tale of Two Mommies

Vanita Oelschlager
Juvenile Picture Books - EJ Oel

A young boy describes to two other children how his two mommies help him with all his needs. 


We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

Traci Sorell
Juvenile Nonfiction - J 970.3 Cherokee Sor

Otsaliheliga is a Cherokee word that is used to express gratitude. Journey through the year with a Cherokee family and their tribal nation as they express thanks for celebrations big and small. 


Yasmin the Explorer

Saadia Faruqi
Juvenile Early Readers - J-ER Far
Series: Yasmin

When Yasmin's father explains to her about explorers and maps, Yasmin decides to make a map of her neighborhood and she brings it along on a trip to the farmers' market with her mother--but will the map help her when they are separated?


Older Elementary

Amina's Voice

Hena Khan
Juvenile Fiction - J Khan

A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family's vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community. 


Aru Shah and the End of Time

Roshani Chokshi
Juvenile Fiction - J Chokshi
Series: Pandava

Twelve-year-old Aru stretches the truth to fit in at her private school, but when she is dared to prove an ancient lamp is cursed, she inadvertently frees an ancient demon.


The Crossover

Kwame Alexander
Juvenile Fiction - J Alexand

Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and of the court as their father ignores his declining health.


El Deafo

Cece Bell
Juvenile Graphic Novel - J-GN 921 Bell Bel

Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers!


The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora

Pablo Cartaya
Juvenile Fiction - J Cartaya

Save the restaurant. Save the town. Get the girl. Make Abuela proud. Can thirteen-year-old Arturo Zamora do it all or is he in for a big, epic fail?


The First Rule of Punk

Celia Pérez
Juvenile Fiction - J Perez

Twelve-year-old María Luisa O'Neill-Morales (who really prefers to be called Malú) reluctantly moves with her Mexican-American mother to Chicago and starts seventh grade with a bang--violating the dress code with her punk rock aesthetic and spurning the middle school's most popular girl in favor of starting a band with a group of like-minded weirdos.


Flying Lessons and Other Stories
Juvenile Fiction - J Flying

From basketball dreams and family fiascoes to first crushes and new neighborhoods, this anthology, written by award-winning children's authors, celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.


Front Desk

Kelly Yang
Juvenile Fiction - J Yang

Recent immigrants from China and desperate for work and money, ten-year-old Mia Tang's parents take a job managing a rundown motel in Southern California. Mia works the front desk and tries to cope with demanding customers. 


George

Alex Gino
Juvenile Fiction - J Gino

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she's not a boy. She knows she's a girl. George thinks she'll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte's Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. 


Hurricane Child

Kheryn Callender
Juvenile Fiction - J Callend

Born on Water Island in the Virgin Islands during a hurricane, which is considered bad luck, twelve-year-old Caroline falls in love with another girl--and together they set out in a hurricane to find Caroline's missing mother.


In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse

Joseph Marshall
Juvenile Fiction - J Marshal

Teased for his fair coloring, eleven-year-old Jimmy McClean travels with his maternal grandfather, Nyles High Eagle, to learn about his Lakota heritage while visiting places significant in the life of Crazy Horse. 


Inside Out and Back Again

Thanhha Lai
Juvenile Fiction - J Lai

Through a series of poems, a young girl chronicles the life-changing year of 1975, when she, her mother, and her brothers leave Vietnam and resettle in Alabama.


The Jumbies

Tracey Baptiste
Juvenile Fiction - J Baptist

Eleven-year-old Corinne must call on her courage and an ancient magic to stop an evil spirit and save her island home.


Princeless, Book 1

Jeremy Whitley
Juvenile Graphic Novel - J-GN Princeless Deluxe Edition Edition v. 1
Series: Princeless

Princess Adrienne is tired of being locked in a tower, waiting around to be rescued by a prince. She escapes from the tower with the help of her guardian dragon, Sparky, and with her plucky sidekick Bedelia, Adrienne sets off on a quest to rescue her sisters who are suffering the same fate.


The Storm Runner

Jennifer Cervantes
Juvenile Fiction - J Cervant
Series: Storm Runner

Zane spends every day exploring the sleeping volcano in his backyard. A mysterious girl named Brooks shows up at Zane's doorstep, insisting that they meet at the volcano. Brooks tells him that the volcano is actually a centuries-old prison for the Maya god of death, whose destiny is directly tied to Zane's. 


Trickster: Native American Tales

Matt Dembicki, editor
Juvenile Graphic Novel - J Trickst

Collects over twenty trickster stories, in graphic novel format, from various Native American traditions, including tales about coyotes, rabbits, ravens, and other crafty creatures and their mischievous activities.


Zora and Me: the Cursed Ground

T.R. Simon
Juvenile Fiction - J Simon

A fictionalized account of Zora Neale Hurston's childhood with her best friend Carrie, in Eatonville, Florida, as they learn about life, death, and the differences between truth, lies, and pretending. Includes an annotated bibliography of the works of Zora Neale Hurston, a short biography of the author, and information about Eatonville, Florida.