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February 15, 2018 BOOKLIST
Find more Reid-Aloud Alert
I am very excited by the increase in the percentages of children’s books by and about people of color. I have been teaching future teachers and librarians the last 20-plus years at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, and I have lamented to them about the low percentages tallied by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) over the years. Thanks to the efforts of the CCBC, We Need Diverse Books, and countless other groups and individuals, those percentages showed improvement this last year. We still have a long way to go, so I hope the current trend keeps going and going. Here is the first column in a series coming up in future issues under the We Need Diverse Books banner.
Flying Lessons & Other Stories. Ed. by Ellen Oh. 2017. Crown, $16.99 (9781101934593). Gr. 4–8.Oh, cofounder of We Need Diverse Books, has compiled a collection of short stories by well-known authors.10-Minute Selection: Oh dedicates this collection to the late Walter Dean Myers. Read Myers’ short story “Sometimes a Dream Needs a Push.” Chris is in a wheelchair. His somewhat aloof father is a former pro basketball player. The father quietly gives the team playing tips. When the coach states that shooting from a wheelchair “is a bit harder,” Chris’ father sits in a chair and makes a basket. “Start thinking about a spot on the backboard,” he tells the players. During the season, Chris notices the change in his father’s attitude when his references about the team go from “you” to “we.”
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora. By Pablo Cartaya. 2017. Viking, $16.99 (9781101997239). Gr. 4–8.Arturo’s family owns a popular restaurant in Miami named La Cocina de la Isla. The business is in jeopardy from a developer. Arturo sees himself as the David against this Goliath, but he pessimistically states, “The big guy always wins. Even if the big guy is actually a five-foot-three, flamboyantly dressed land developer with stupendously gelled hair.”10-Minute Selection: Read chapter four. Arturo’s friends suspect the reason he is carrying a book of poems is to impress a family friend named Carmen. “ME: Guys, seriously. I’m not interested in Carmen like that. I mean, she’s cool and all, but we’re practically related. BREN: Hey bro, when love calls, love calls.” The chapter ends with the ominous sentence, “Life is good until Sunday family dinner when disaster strikes.”
Stef Soto, Taco Queen. By Jennifer Torres. 2017. Little, Brown, $16.99 (9780316306867). Gr. 3–6.Stef’s father owns an old food truck the family calls Tía Perla that huffs and puffs and looks “a little bit grubby no matter how clean she actually is.” Stef is embarrassed when her father drives Tía Perla to school. When new city ordinances threaten to put her father and other food truck owners out of business, Stef tries her best to help her family.10-Minute Selection: Read chapter four. Stef has been insulted too many times by her former friend Julia, who sarcastically announces in school, “What is she, the Taco Queen?” Stef frantically tries to rid her clothes of all food truck smells and pesters her friends to take a deep whiff of her sweater. They encourage her to ignore Julia, but as the chapter ends, Stef still worries about her reputation as the Taco Queen.
Amina’s Voice. By Hena Khan. 2017. Simon & Schuster/Salaam Reads, $16.99 (9781481492065). Gr. 4–6.Amina’s uncle is visiting from Pakistan. He is a Muslim with strong, conservative beliefs. Amina’s family worries about the anti-Muslim sentiment in their hometown of Milwaukee and the rest of the U.S., but overall they feel “Muslims have more friends than enemies in this country.” Amina is a strong singer with a beautiful voice, but she suffers from stage fright. Her uncle’s presence does little to bolster her confidence.10-Minute Selection: Read chapter 13. One night, Amina overhears her uncle saying, “You shouldn’t let Amina do so much singing and piano.” He states that “music is forbidden in Islam” and thinks she should spend her time learning the Qur’an. Continue onto chapter 14. Remembering her uncle’s words, Amina is confused when he calls her galaree, which she learns means canary. The chapter ends with Amina thinking, “The weight of his words presses down on me all over again.”
Rob Reid’s latest book is Reaching Reluctant Young Readers, published in spring 2017 by Rowman & Littlefield.
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