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These books are CARE-recommended and available for selection by local elementary school teachers, librarians, reading specialists, and principals.
Funding for Reading In Color comes from your donations and grants from the Community Foundation for Rockbridge, Bath, & Alleghany County.
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The Book List
For complete information or to purchase on your own, click on the link will for the book’s page at bookshop.org . We purchase our books for Reading In Color through bookshop.org to support independent bookstores.
New Additions for National Native American Heritage Month! (November)
Dark Moon to Rising Sun
Victoria Last Walker Ferguson
Victoria Last Walker Ferguson is an enrolled member of the Monacan tribe and involved the Native American Cohort at Washington and Lee. She primarily works with Virginia Tech, but her presences in Lexington cannot go unnoticed. Have a look into the lives of two Native American sisters, Prancing Fawn and Dark Moon. The whole Bear Clan Town prepares for the Berry Moon Celebration. By the end of the festival the two sister’s approach to life will lead to very different outcomes. The tale will become part of discussions about vanity and how so much emphasis is often placed on what someone looks like on the outside as well as how being pretty sometimes gives a sense of entitlement. The lush illustrations expand awareness by adding visual depth to the text. Each page of the book has stunning artwork which serves to increase understanding of a time and culture long since forgotten. This story, like so many other Native American tales, helps to teach a most valuable lesson. Dark Moon to Rising Sun, is a great read for anyone who wants to experience a true American Indian story with a moral at the end which will extend throughout life.
We Are Water Protectors
Carole Lindstrom (illustrated by Michaela Goade)
Winner of the 2021 Caldecott Medal. #1 New York Times Bestseller. Carole Lindstrom is Anishinaabe/Metis and an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe. Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, We Are Water Protectors issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth’s water from harm and corruption–a bold and lyrical picture book written by Carole Lindstrom and vibrantly illustrated by Michaela Goade. Water is the first medicine. It affects and connects us all . . . When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth And poison her people’s water, one young water protector takes a stand to defend Earth’s most sacred resource.
What Your Ribbon Skirt Means to Me
Alexis Bunten (illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt)
Alexis Bunten is a member of the Aleut/Yup’ik tribe in Alaska. Nicole Neidhardt is Navajo. Bunten’s contemporary children’s book pays homage to Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American to become a Cabinet Secretary, but it also explores a more urban Native American lifestyle similar to how more Native Americans live today. This aspect of the book makes it unique and applicable today because it demonstrates a “modern” Native American. Pia rushes over to the Indigenous community center after school. It’s where she goes every day to play outside with friends and work on her homework. But today–March 18, 2021–is special: Auntie Autumn gathers all the children around their television to witness Secretary Deb Haaland in her ribbon skirt at the White House as she becomes the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary. Pia and the other kids behold her Native pride on an international stage.
End New Additions
A Different Pond
Bao Phi (illustrated by Thi Bui)
Graphic novelist Thi Bui and acclaimed poet Bao Phi deliver a powerful, honest glimpse into a relationship between father and son – and between cultures, old and new. As a young boy, Bao and his father awoke early, hours before his father’s long workday began, to fish on the shores of a small pond in Minneapolis. Unlike many other anglers, Bao and his father fished for food, not recreation. A successful catch meant a fed family. Between hope-filled casts, Bao’s father told him about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam.
A Map Into the World
Kao Kalia Yang (illustrated by Seo Kim)
A heartfelt story of a young girl seeking beauty and connection in a busy world. As the seasons change, so too does a young Hmong girl’s world. She moves into a new home with her family and encounters both birth and death. As this curious girl explores life inside her house and beyond, she collects bits of the natural world. But who are her treasures for?
A Single Shard
Linda Sue Park
Tree-ear is an orphan boy in a 12th-century Korean village renowned for its ceramics. When he accidentally breaks a delicate piece of pottery, he volunteers to work to pay for the damage. Putting aside his own dreams, Tree-ear resolves to serve the master potter by embarking on a difficult and dangerous journey, little knowing that it will change his life forever.
Alma and How She Got Her Name
What’s in a name? For one little girl, her very long name tells the vibrant story of where she came from — and who she may one day be. If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; José, the grandfather who was an artist; and other namesakes, too. As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all — and realizes that she will one day have her own story to tell.
Alvin Ho: Allergic to School, Girls, and Other Scary Things
Lenore Look (illustrated by Leuyen Pham)
Alvin, an Asian American second grader, is afraid of everything–elevators, tunnels, girls, and, most of all, school. He’s so afraid of school that, while he’ s there, he never, ever, says a word. But at home, Alvin is a very loud superhero named Firecracker Man, a brother to Calvin and Anibelly, and a gentleman-in-training, just like his dad. With the help of his family, can Alvin take on the outside world without letting his fears get the best of him?
Asha and the Spirit Bird
In contemporary India, 12-year-old Asha will journey across the dangerous Himalayas to find her missing father and save her family’s home — guided by a mythical bird and a green-eyed tiger who she believes to be the spirits of her ancestors. This is an incredibly unique debut about loss, family, buried treasure, and hope. Asha lives on a family farm with her mother in rural India in the foothills of the Himalayas. Life would be perfect if her father were with them instead of working at the factory in the faraway city. But she knows they wouldn’t be able to afford their home without the money he sends home. When four months go by without a single letter, a ruthless debt collector arrives with a warning, and soon the entire world that Asha has known is threatened. Determined to save her home, Asha and her best friend must swallow their fears and set out on a dangerous journey across the Himalayas to find her father. As desperation turns to peril, Asha will face law enforcement, natural disaster, and the wild dangers of the Himalayas. But with a majestic bird and a green-eyed tiger as her guides, who she believes to be the spirits of her ancestors, she’s determined to keep faith in order to save her family.
Danbi Leads the School Parade
Meet Danbi, the new girl at school! Danbi is thrilled to start her new school in America. But a bit nervous too, for when she walks into the classroom, everything goes quiet. Everyone stares. Danbi wants to join in the dances and the games, but she doesn’t know the rules and just can’t get anything right. Luckily, she isn’t one to give up. With a spark of imagination, she makes up a new game and leads her classmates on a parade to remember! Danbi Leads the School Parade introduces readers to an irresistible new character. In this first story, she learns to navigate her two cultures and realizes that when you open your world to others, their world opens up to you.
Dragons in a Bag
Zetta Elliott (illustrated by Geneva B.)
When Jaxon is sent to spend the day with a mean old lady his mother calls Ma, he finds out she’s not his grandmother–but she is a witch! She needs his help delivering baby dragons to a magical world where they’ll be safe. There are two rules when it comes to the dragons: don’t let them out of the bag, and don’t feed them anything sweet. Before he knows it, Jax and his friends Vikram and Kavita have broken both rules! Will Jax get the baby dragons delivered safe and sound? Or will they be lost in Brooklyn forever?
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners
Joanna Ho (illustrated by Dung Ho)
A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers’. They have big, round eyes and long lashes. She realizes that her eyes are like her mother’s, her grandmother’s, and her little sister’s. They have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future. Drawing from the strength of these powerful women in her life, she recognizes her own beauty and discovers a path to self-love and empowerment. This powerful, poetic picture book will resonate with readers of all ages.
Mia Tang has a lot of secrets. Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests. Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they’ve been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed. Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language? It will take all of Mia’s courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?
Matthew A. Cherry (illustrated by Vashti Harrison)
It’s up to Daddy to give his daughter an extra-special hair style in this ode to self-confidence and the love between fathers and daughters, from Academy-Award winning director and former NFL wide receiver Matthew A. Cherry and New York Times bestselling illustrator Vashti Harrison. Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way. Zuri knows it’s beautiful. When Daddy steps in to style it for an extra special occasion, he has a lot to learn. But he LOVES his Zuri, and he’ll do anything to make her — and her hair — happy. Tender and empowering, Hair Love is an ode to loving your natural hair — and a celebration of daddies and daughters everywhere.
Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend
Dawn Quigley (illustrated by Tara Audibert)
Jo Jo Makoons Azure is a spirited seven-year-old who moves through the world a little differently than anyone else on her Ojibwe reservation. It always seems like her mom, her kokum (grandma), and her teacher have a lot to learn–about how good Jo Jo is at cleaning up, what makes a good rhyme, and what it means to be friendly. Even though Jo Jo loves her #1 best friend Mimi (who is a cat), she’s worried that she needs to figure out how to make more friends. Because Fern, her best friend at school, may not want to be friends anymore…
What’s a queen to do when her summer plans go horribly wrong? A powerful, funny, and timely novel for young readers. Layla has ended the school year on a high and can’t wait to spend the holidays hanging out with her friends and designing a prize-winning Grand Designs Tourismo invention. But Layla’s plans are interrupted when her grandmother in Sudan falls ill and the family rushes to be with her. The last time Layla went to Sudan she was only a young child. Now she feels torn between her Sudanese and Australian identities. As political tensions in Sudan erupt, so too do tensions between Layla and her family. Layla is determined not to lose her place in the invention team, but will she go against her parents’ wishes? What would a Kandaka do?
Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business
Lyla Lee (illustrated by Dung Ho)
Mindy Kim just wants three things: 1. A puppy! 2. To fit in at her new school 3. For her dad to be happy again But, getting all three of the things on her list is a lot trickier than she thought it would be. On her first day of school, Mindy’s school snack of dried seaweed isn’t exactly popular at the lunch table. Luckily, her new friend, Sally, makes the snacks seem totally delicious to Mindy’s new classmates, so they decide to start the Yummy Seaweed Business to try and raise money for that puppy! When another student decides to try and sabotage their business, Mindy loses more than she bargained for—and wonders if she’ll ever fit in. Will Mindy be able to overcome her uncertainty and find the courage to be herself?
Night of Yalda: (In Persian & English)
Anahita Tamaddon (edited by Soraya Tamaddon)
Inspired by the art of the Qajar Era, “Yalda Night” introduces children to one of the most beloved Iranian celebrations of the year. It is winter, and six-year-old Soraya is sad because it is too cold and dark to play outside. Everything changes when she discovers that the family traditions of gathering together on the longest and darkest night of the year can give her the warmth and love she needs to get through the winter. In anticipation of spring, Soraya snacks on nuts and sweets, plays with her cousin, and dances to her Dad’s music.
Ohana Means Family
Ilima Loomis (illustrated by Kenard Pak)
This is the land that’s never been sold, where work the hands, so wise and old, that reach through the water, clear and cold, into the mud to pick the taro to make the poi for our ohana’s luau.
President of the Whole Fifth Grade
Start counting your votes… and your friends. When Brianna Justice’s hero, the famous celebrity chef Miss Delicious, speaks at her school and traces her own success back to being president of her fifth grade class, Brianna determines she must do the same. She just knows that becoming president of her class is the first step toward her own cupcake-baking empire! But when new student Jasmine Moon announces she is also running for president, Brianna learns that she may have more competition than she expected. Will Brianna be able to stick to her plan of working with her friends to win the election fairly? Or will she jump at the opportunity to steal votes from Jasmine by revealing an embarrassing secret? This hilarious, heartfelt novel will appeal to any reader with big dreams, and the determination to achieve them.
Rocket Says Look Up!
Nathan Bryon (illustrated by Dapo Adeola)
A comet will be visible tonight, and Rocket wants everyone to see it with her–even her big brother, Jamal, whose attention is usually trained on his phone or video games. Rocket’s enthusiasm brings neighbors and family together to witness a once-in-a-lifetime sighting.
Stella Díaz Has Something to Say
Stella Díaz loves marine animals, especially her betta fish, Pancho. But Stella Díaz is not a betta fish. Betta fish like to be alone, while Stella loves spending time with her mom and brother and her best friend Jenny. Trouble is, Jenny is in another class this year, and Stella feels very lonely. When a new boy arrives in Stella’s class, she really wants to be his friend, but sometimes Stella accidentally speaks Spanish instead of English and pronounces words wrong, which makes her turn roja. Plus, she has to speak in front of her whole class for a big presentation at school! But she better get over her fears soon, because Stella Díaz has something to say!
The Bridge Home
Four determined homeless children make a life for themselves in Padma Venkatraman’s stirring middle-grade debut. Life is harsh on the teeming streets of Chennai, India, so when runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter–and friendship–on an abandoned bridge that’s also the hideout of Muthi and Arul, two homeless boys, and the four of them soon form a family of sorts. And while making their living scavenging the city’s trash heaps is the pits, the kids find plenty to take pride in, too. After all, they are now the bosses of themselves and no longer dependent on untrustworthy adults. But when illness strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or to keep holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom.
The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story
Tina Cho (illustrated by Jess X. Snow)
Dayeon wants to be a haenyeo just like Grandma. The haenyeo dive off the coast of Jeju Island to pluck treasures from the sea–generations of Korean women have done so for centuries. To Dayeon, the haenyeo are as strong and graceful as mermaids. To give her strength, Dayeon eats Grandma’s abalone porridge. She practices holding her breath while they do the dishes. And when Grandma suits up for her next dive, Dayeon grabs her suit, flippers, and goggles. A scary memory of the sea keeps Dayeon clinging to the shore, but with Grandma’s guidance, Dayeon comes to appreciate the ocean’s many gifts.
When Life Gives You Mangoes
A small village on a Jamaican island. A girl who doesn’t remember the previous summer. A best friend who is no longer acting like one; a new girl who fills that hole in her heart. A summer of finding fallen mangos, creating made up games and dancing in the rain. Secrets she keeps from others…and herself. The courage to face the truth even in the toughest of storms.
When My Name Was Keoko
Linda Sue Park
Sun-hee and her older brother, Tae-yul, live in Korea with their parents. Because Korea is under Japanese occupation, the children study Japanese and speak it at school. Their own language, their flag, the folktales Uncle tells them–even their names–are all part of the Korean culture that is now forbidden. When World War II comes to Korea, Sun-hee is surprised that the Japanese expect their Korean subjects to fight on their side. But the greatest shock of all comes when Tae-yul enlists in the Japanese army in an attempt to protect Uncle, who is suspected of aiding the Korean resistance. Sun-hee stays behind, entrusted with the life-and-death secrets of a family at war.