Blogger Maria Trivisonno

We Need (and Found) Diverse Early Chapter Books

Ten years ago, I struggled to find early readers and chapter books that reflected the overwhelmingly African American community in which I worked. Thankfully, the landscape has changed a lot in the last decade.  Here are some recent early chapter books featuring ethnically and racially diverse characters that I have enjoyed. 

Julia on the Go: Swimming into Trouble by Angela Ahn

Julia Nam loves to work at her immigrant parents’ sushi café at the Mountainview Community Center, where she also is the youngest swimmer for the Center’s Vipers Swim Team.  When an ear infection threatens her participation in the team’s Personal Best Day, Julia goes behind her parents’ backs with sticky results.

Mehndi Boy by Zain Bandali

Creative Tehzeeb becomes entranced when he meets the mehndi artist who will be applying the art (also known as henna) for his cousin’s wedding.  The boy’s interest in a traditionally feminine artform puts him at odds with his favorite uncle, the father-of-the-bride. 

Abby in Orbit series by Andrea J Loney

Four books have already been published in this futuristic series, which starts with Blast Off! and features the Black/Latine Baxter family who live on the international space station Oasis.  The series opener features third-grade Abby’s first day of school in space, which is thrown into a tizzy when she realizes she grabbed her mom’s datapad by accident…which her Mami needs for a big experiment at work.

Frankie and Friends series by Christine Platt

African American Frankie McKnight is so very proud of her Mama who, as a journalist, is often away for work.  She wants to make a news show as well, enlisting her kitten and toy robot to help.  In the first of two books so far, Breaking News!, Frankie investigate crying that she overhears at home.  What’s wrong with her older sister, Raven?

The Legend of Lotus Island series by Christina Soontornvat

Orphaned Plum lives a simple life in the Thai-inspired Santipap island with her grandparents until, a la Harry Potter, she receives word that she is accepted into the Guardian Academy, a school for magical humans trained to transform into animals and take care of the natural world.  Does Plum have what it takes?  Manga-inspired illustrations by Kevin Hong round out this appealing fantasy world.

This appealing chapter books from different cultures and different genres to readers who are finding their place in the world of stories.  What other recommendations do you have?

This post addresses the core competencies of I. Commitment to Client Group and IV. Knowledge, Curation, and Management of Materials.

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