Black History Month: Middle Grade Books

February is Black History Month, so throughout the month we are highlighting books written by African American authors. Today we are showcasing a selection of middle grade books!

 

Blended

“You’re so exotic!” “You look so unusual.” “But what are you really?”

Eleven-year-old Isabella is used to these kinds of comments – her father is black, her mother is white – but that doesn’t mean she likes them. And now that her parents are divorced (and getting along WORSE than ever), Isabella feels more like a push-me-pull-me toy.

One week she’s Isabella with her dad, his girlfriend Anastasia, and her son Darren living in a fancy house where they are one of the only black families in the neighborhood. The next week she’s Izzy with her mom and her boyfriend John-Mark in a small, not-so-fancy house that she loves.

Being split between Mom and Dad is more than switching houses, switching nicknames, switching backpacks: it’s also about switching identities. If you’re only seen as half of this and half of that, how can you ever feel whole?

Click here to put this book on hold.

 

 

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Caroline Murphy is a Hurricane Child.

Being born during a hurricane is unlucky, and 12-year-old Caroline has had her share of bad luck lately. She’s hated and bullied by everyone in her small school on St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, a spirit only she can see won’t stop following her, and — worst of all — Caroline’s mother left home one day and never came back.

But when a new student named Kalinda arrives, Caroline’s luck begins to turn around. Kalinda, a solemn girl from Barbados with a special smile for everyone, becomes Caroline’s first and only friend — and the person for whom Caroline has begun to develop a crush.

Now, Caroline must find the strength to confront her feelings for Kalinda, brave the spirit stalking her through the islands, and face the reason her mother abandoned her. Together, Caroline and Kalinda must set out in a hurricane to find Caroline’s missing mother — before Caroline loses her forever.

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New Kid (New Kid, #1)A graphic novel about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real.

Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.

As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?

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Ghost (Track, #1)Running. That’s all that Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But never for a track team. Nope, his game has always been ball. But when Ghost impulsively challenges an elite sprinter to a race—and wins—the Olympic medalist track coach sees he has something: crazy natural talent. Thing is, Ghost has something else: a lot of anger, and a past that he is trying to outrun. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed and meld with the team, or will his past finally catch up to him?

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Love Like Sky (Love Like Sky, #1)“Love ain’t like that.”
“How is it then?” Peaches asked, turning on her stomach to face me.
“It’s like sky. If you keep driving and driving, gas will run out, right?”
“That’s why we gotta go to the gas station.”
“Yep. But have you ever seen the sky run out? No matter how far we go?”
“No, when we look up, there it is.”
“Well that’s the kind of love Daddy and Mama got for us, Peaches–love like sky.”
“It never ends?”
“Never.”

G-baby and her younger sister, Peaches, are still getting used to their “blended-up” family. They live with Mama and Frank out in the suburbs, and they haven’t seen their real daddy much since he married Millicent. G-baby misses her best friend back in Atlanta, and is crushed that her glamorous new stepsister, Tangie, wants nothing to do with her.

G-baby is so preoccupied with earning Tangie’s approval that she isn’t there for her own little sister when she needs her most. Peaches gets sick-really sick. Suddenly, Mama and Daddy are arguing like they did before the divorce, and even the doctors at the hospital don’t know how to help Peaches get better.

It’s up to G-baby to put things right. She knows Peaches can be strong again if she can only see that their family’s love for her really is like sky.

Click here to put this book on hold.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My CryWhy is the land so important to Cassie’s family? It takes the events of one turbulent year—the year of the night riders and the burnings, the year a white girl humiliates Cassie in public simply because she’s black—to show Cassie that having a place of their own is the Logan family’s lifeblood. It is the land that gives the Logans their courage and pride—no matter how others may degrade them, the Logans possess something no one can take away.

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Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Tristan Strong #1)Seventh-grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he failed to save his best friend when they were in a bus accident together. All he has left of Eddie is the journal his friend wrote stories in. Tristan is dreading the month he’s going to spend on his grandparents’ farm in Alabama, where he’s being sent to heal from the tragedy. But on his first night there, a sticky creature shows up in his bedroom and steals Eddie’s journal. Tristan chases after it — is that a doll? — and a tug-of-war ensues between them underneath a Bottle Tree. In a last attempt to wrestle the journal out of the creature’s hands, Tristan punches the tree, accidentally ripping open a chasm into the MidPass, a volatile place with a burning sea, haunted bone ships, and iron monsters that are hunting the inhabitants of this world. Tristan finds himself in the middle of a battle that has left black American gods John Henry and Brer Rabbit exhausted. In order to get back home, Tristan and these new allies will need to entice the god Anansi, the Weaver, to come out of hiding and seal the hole in the sky. But bartering with the trickster Anansi always comes at a price. Can Tristan save this world before he loses more of the things he loves?

Click here to put this book on hold.

 

 

The Parker Inheritance

The letter waits in a book, in a box, in an attic, in an old house in Lambert, South Carolina. It’s waiting for Candice Miller.

When Candice finds the letter, she isn’t sure she should read it. It’s addressed to her grandmother, after all, who left Lambert in a cloud of shame. But the letter describes a young woman named Siobhan Washington. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery enfolding the letter-writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle. Grandma tried and failed. But now Candice has another chance.

So with the help of Brandon Jones, the quiet boy across the street, she begins to decipher the clues in the letter. The challenge will lead them deep into Lambert’s history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and one great love; and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets. Can they find the fortune and fulfill the letter’s promise before the summer ends?

Click here to put this book on hold.

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Together We Read: The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade

Borrow The Five Wounds from February 7 – 21 to join Together We Read. The book club connects readers in the U.S. with the same book at the same time without any waitlists or holds.

 

About the Book

Title details for The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade - Available

From an award-winning storyteller comes a stunning debut novel about a New Mexican family’s extraordinary year of love and sacrifice.

“Masterly…Quade has created a world bristling with compassion and humanity. The characters and the challenges they face are wholly realized and moving; their journeys span a wide spectrum of emotion and it is impossible not to root for [them].” —Alexandra Chang, New York Times Book Review

It’s Holy Week in the small town of Las Penas, New Mexico, and thirty-three-year-old unemployed Amadeo Padilla has been given the part of Jesus in the Good Friday procession. He is preparing feverishly for this role when his fifteen-year-old daughter Angel shows up pregnant on his doorstep and disrupts his plans for personal redemption. With weeks to go until her due date, tough, ebullient Angel has fled her mother’s house, setting her life on a startling new path.

Vivid, tender, funny, and beautifully rendered, The Five Wounds spans the baby’s first year as five generations of the Padilla family converge: Amadeo’s mother, Yolanda, reeling from a recent discovery; Angel’s mother, Marissa, whom Angel isn’t speaking to; and disapproving Tíve, Yolanda’s uncle and keeper of the family’s history. Each brings expectations that Amadeo, who often solves his problems with a beer in his hand, doesn’t think he can live up to.

The Five Wounds is a miraculous debut novel from a writer whose stories have been hailed as “legitimate masterpieces” (New York Times). Kirstin Valdez Quade conjures characters that will linger long after the final page, bringing to life their struggles to parent children they may not be equipped to save.

Check out the ebook here or the audiobook here.

After reading, head over to the online discussion board to discuss the book with readers across the country! Click here to read the discussion board.

 

About the Author

Kirstin Valdez Quade is the author of The Five Wounds, which is currently shortlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize and the Carnegie Medal for Excellence, and is longlisted for the Aspen Words Literary Prize. Her story collection, Night at the Fiestas, won the John Leonard Prize from the National Book Critics Circle, the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a “5 Under 35” award from the National Book Foundation, and was a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Award. It was named a New York Times Notable Book and a best book of 2015 by the San Francisco Chronicle and the American Library Association. Kirstin is the recipient of the John Guare Writer’s Fund Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation, and a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford. Her work has appeared in The New YorkerThe Best American Short StoriesThe O. Henry Prize StoriesThe New York Times, and elsewhere. She is an assistant professor at Princeton.

Click here to read the author’s letter to readers.

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2022 Reading Challenge: Read a book by a debut author

Have you started any of our three reading challenges for 2022?
If you’re participating in the category-based reading challenge, either by using the tracking sheet or on Beanstack, we can help you find books in each of the categories.

Today we’re featuring books written by a debut author! For this challenge, you need to read a book written by a brand new author. Now, feel free to read books in any genre (be it fiction, non-fiction, graphic novel, children’s, etc), but here are just a few fiction books available to check out. These aren’t the only books we have available in this category but are ideas that can help you spark inspiration, help clarify the category, and (hopefully) make your decision easier.

(Click on the covers to see the book on KanShare!)

                      

Check out more by clicking here!

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Black History Month: Picture Books

February is Black History Month, so throughout the month we are highlighting books written by African American authors. Today we are showcasing a selection of picture books!
Change Sings: a Children's Anthem

Change Sings by Amanda Gorman

A lyrical picture book debut from Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman and illustrator Loren Long

“I can hear change humming
In its loudest, proudest song.
I don’t fear change coming,
And so I sing along.”

In this stirring, much-anticipated picture book by inaugural Youth Poet Laureate and activist Amanda Gorman, anything is possible when our voices join together. As a young girl leads a cast of characters on a musical journey, they learn that they have the power to make changes—big or small—in the world, in their communities, and in most importantly, in themselves.
 Click here to put on hold

 

All Because You Matter

All Because You Matter by Tami Charles

A love letter to Black and brown children everywhere: reminding them how much they matter, that they have always mattered, and they always will.

Tami Charles pens a text that is part love letter, part anthem, assuring readers that they always have, and always will, matter.

Click here to put on hold

 

 

Saturday

Saturday by Oge Mora

In this warm and tender story by the Caldecott Honor-winning creator of Thank You, Omu!, join a mother and daughter on an up-and-down journey that reminds them of what’s best about Saturdays: precious time together.

Today would be special. Today would be splendid. It was Saturday! But sometimes, the best plans don’t work out exactly the way you expect….

In this heartfelt and universal story, a mother and daughter look forward to their special Saturday routine together every single week. But this Saturday, one thing after another goes wrong–ruining storytime, salon time, picnic time, and the puppet show they’d been looking forward to going to all week. Mom is nearing a meltdown…until her loving daughter reminds her that being together is the most important thing of all.

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Hands Up!

Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel

This triumphant picture book recasts a charged phrase as part of a black girl’s everyday life–hands up for a hug, hands up in class, hands up for a high five–before culminating in a moment of resistance at a protest march.

A young black girl lifts her baby hands up to greet the sun, reaches her hands up for a book on a high shelf, and raises her hands up in praise at a church service. She stretches her hands up high like a plane’s wings and whizzes down a hill so fast on her bike with her hands way up. As she grows, she lives through everyday moments of joy, love, and sadness. And when she gets a little older, she joins together with her family and her community in a protest march, where they lift their hands up together in resistance and strength.

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I Got the Rhythm

I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison

On a simple trip to the park, the joy of music overtakes a mother and daughter. The little girl hears a rhythm coming from the world around her- from butterflies, to street performers, to ice cream sellers everything is musical! She sniffs, snaps, and shakes her way into the heart of the beat, finally busting out in an impromptu dance, which all the kids join in on! Award-winning illustrator Frank Morrison and Connie Schofield-Morrison, capture the beat of the street, to create a rollicking read that will get any kid in the mood to boogie.

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Just Like Me

Just Like Me by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

An ode to the girl with scrapes on her knees and flowers in her hair, and every girl in between, this exquisite treasury will appeal to readers of Dear Girl and I Am Enough and have kids poring over it to find a poem that’s just for them.

I am a canvas
Being painted on
By the words of my family
Friends
And community

From Vanessa Brantley-Newton, the author of Grandma’s Purse, comes a collection of poetry filled with engaging mini-stories about girls of all kinds: girls who feel happy, sad, scared, powerful; girls who love their bodies and girls who don’t; country girls, city girls; girls who love their mother and girls who wish they had a father. With bright portraits in Vanessa’s signature style of vibrant colors and unique patterns and fabrics, this book invites readers to find themselves and each other within its pages.

Click here to put on hold

 

Max and the Tag-Along MoonMax and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper

Has the moon ever followed you home at night?

Max loves his grandpa. When they must say good-bye after a visit, Grandpa reminds Max that the moon above them at Grandpa’s house is the same moon that will follow him all the way home. And on that swervy-curvy car ride back home Max smiles as the moon tags along, thinking of Grandpa. But when the sky darkens and the moon disappears behind clouds, Max worries that it did not follow him home after all. Yet when the clouds part and light streams through his window, he realizes that Grandpa was right—the moon was with him all along.Floyd Cooper received the Coretta Scott King Award for The Blacker the Berry, two Coretta Scott King Honors for Honey in Broomwheat Tea and I Have Heard of a Land, and an NAACP image award. His books have also been named to numerous best books list and been given many Parents Choice Awards.  In Max and the Tag-Along Moon, his lush paintings perfectly capture the wonder of the moon, the love between grandfather and grandson, and that feeling of magic every child experiences when the moon follows him home.
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Cool Cuts

Cool Cuts by Mechal Renee Roe

African-American boys and their cool hair are celebrated in this bright, joyful read-together picture book that will have boys everywhere repeating the book’s chorus: “I am born to be awesome!”

When the stars shine, the world is mine! I am born to be awesome! My hair is free, just like me! I am born to be awesome!

African-American boys will love seeing strong, happy reflections of themselves in this vibrant, rhythmic picture book celebrating a diversity of hip black hairstyles. From a ‘fro-hawk to mini-twists and crisp cornrows, adorable illustrations of boys with cool curls, waves, and afros grace each page, accompanied by a positive call-and-response affirmation that will make boys cheer. It’s a great read-aloud to promote positive self-esteem to boys of all ages, building and growing the foundation of self-love (and hair love!) and letting every boy know that “You are born to be awesome!”

Click here to put on hold

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Bedtime for Sweet Creatures by Nikki Grimes

Nikki Grimes, Coretta Scott King Award winning author, and acclaimed illustrator Elizabeth Zunon’s latest children’s masterpiece creates an imagination-fueled and animal-filled journey to bedtime.

“[A] rhythmic, playful romp through a restless child’s bedtime routine… a loving, effective lullaby.”―Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

It’s bedtime. But Mommy’s little one is not sleepy.

He growls like a bear, he questions like an owl, he tosses his mane like a lion. He hunts for water like a sly wolf, and hides like a snake.

Mommy needs to wrangle her sweet creature in bed so that the whole family can sleep. From tigers to squirrels to snakes, the little boy dodges around his bedtime, until he is tired enough to finally sleep. His imaginative animal friends weave their way through the illustrations, eventually joining him in curling up for the night.

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