Last year’s list for Mixed Heritage Week featured 50+ Picture Books about Mixed Race Families, and the response was overwhelming! The fact that the list got shared over 40,000 times just shows how much of a need for books featuring mixed race characters there is.
This year I focused on middle grade novels with multiracial characters and found some real gems!
21 Middle Grade Novels With Multiracial Characters
The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond
by Brenda Woods
11-year-old Violet often feels like a brown leaf on a pile of snow: She is biracial, but lives with her white mother and sister, and attends a predominantly white school in a white town. When Violet spends two weeks with her new Bibi (Swahili for “grandmother”) she learns about her lost African American heritage, and her confidence in herself grows. The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond is a powerful and uplifting story about family and identity. ~African
Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer
by Kelly Jones
12-year-old Sophie Brown feels like a fish out of water when her family moves from Los Angeles to a farm they’ve inherited from a great-uncle. But farm life becomes interesting when she discovers that the chickens can move objects with the power of their little brains. When a local farmer tries to steal the chickens, Sophie must find a way to keep them (and their superpowers) safe. Told in letters to Sophie’s abuela, quizzes, a chicken-care correspondence course, to-do lists, and more, Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer is a fun and quirky read. ~ Hispanic
by Kekla Magoon
Ella and Z have been friends forever, both of them middle-school outsiders in a Las Vegas suburb. Ella is the only biracial girl (black mother, deceased white father), and Z is the classic “weird kid” living in a fantasy world. One day another black kid arrives at the school: Bailey, who is popular and wants to befriend Ella. But to join the cool crowd, Ella would have to ditch Z. Camo Girl is a heartfelt novel about identity and friendship. ~African
Flying the Dragon
by Natalie Dias Lorenzi
In alternating voices, Flying the Dragon tells the story of two cousins: American-born Skye, a star soccer player, and Hiroshi who lives in Japan. Their lives are thrown together when Hiroshi’s family moves to the U.S. Skye struggles with suddenly not being “Japanese enough,” whilst now being seen as “other” by her American friends. Hiroshi has a hard time adjusting to life in a different culture and resents Skye’s intrusions on his time with his beloved Grandfather. The two cousins eventually bond over their grandfather’s illness and the traditional art of kites battles. ~ Asian
Full Cicada Moon
by Marilyn Hilton
It’s 1969, and half-black, half-Japanese Mimi and her family have just moved to a predominantly white town in Vermont. She struggles to fit in with her classmates, teachers, and neighbours, but still dares to stand out by entering science competitions and dreaming of becoming an astronaut. Told in verse, Full Cicada Moon is a powerful novel about fitting in and standing up for yourself. ~ African, Asian
Becoming Naomi Leon
by Pam Munoz Ryan
11-year-old half-Mexican Naomi lives with Gram and her disabled brother at Avocado Acres Trailer Rancho in California. Despite struggling with issues such as her difficulty speaking up, and her status at school as “nobody special”, Naomi is content with her life. But then her mother’s sudden reappearance stirs up all sorts of questions and challenges the young girl to discover who she really is. Pura Belpré Award honor book Becoming Naomi Leon is an intriguing novel about a young girl’s search for identity. ~ Hispanic
More Pura Belpré award-winning books: Pura Belpré Award Winners 1996 – 2016
by Candy Gourlay
Andi has lots of wishes. She wishes she could play on the school basketball team, she wishes for her own bedroom, but most of all she wishes that her long-lost half-brother, Bernardo, could come from the Philippines and live in London where he belongs. When Bernardo finally arrives, Andi learns that he is plagued by condition called Gigantism and troubled by secrets that he believes led to his phenomenal growth. Tall Story is a quirky and touching novel about a sibling relationship and the clash of two very different cultures that both girls and boys will love. ~ Asian
The Whole Story of Half a Girl
by Veera Hiranandani
When her father loses his job, half Indian and half Jewish American Sonia has to move from a private school to a public one. For the first time, she is confronted with questions about her mixed heritage as she navigates between a group of popular girls and other students who aren’t part of the “in” crowd. At the same time, Sonia has to cope with her father’s unemployment and depression. When he goes missing, Sonia begins to look for answers. The Whole Story of Half a Girl is a heartfelt story about identity, family and true friendship. ~ Asian
What the Moon Saw
by Laura Resau
“Dear Clara, We invite you to our house for the summer. We will wait for you on the day of the full moon, in June, at the Oaxaca airport. Love, your grandparents.” Fourteen-year-old Clara Luna has never met her father’s parents. When she visits them, she is stunned by their life in simple shacks in the mountains of southern Mexico. Through her grandmother and young goatherder Pedro, she discovers the magic of Yucuyoo and in her own soul. What The Moon Saw is an enchanting story of discovering your true self in the most unexpected place. ~ Hispanic
by Chrystal Chan
“Nothing matters. Only Bird matters. And he flew away.” Jewel, a 12-year-old girl of Mexican and Jamaican heritage, never knew her brother Bird, who died on the day she was born. Her parents blame Grandpa for the tragic death, and he hasn’t spoken a word since. But maybe the time has come to break through the stagnant silence of the past. Bird is powerful and haunting story about secrets, spirits, loss and moving on. ~ African, Hispanic
Dream on, Amber
by Emma Shevah
“My name is Amber Alessandra Leola Kimiko Miyamoto. I have no idea why my parents gave me all those hideous names but they must have wanted to ruin my life, and you know what? They did an amazing job.” As a half-Japanese, half-Italian girl with a ridiculous name, Amber feels anxious about making friends at her new school. Worse, she misses her dad who left a long time ago, so Amber will have to dream up a way for her and her little sister to make it on their own. Dream On, Amber is a funny and poignant coming-of-age story girls will love. ~ Asian
Half and Half
by Lensey Namioka
Fiona Cheng is half Chinese, half Scottish. Looking more like her father than her mother, people always expect her to be more interested in her Chinese culture than her Scottish one. Lately, even Fiona is confused about who she really is. Half and Half is a gentle, funny and realistic story about a young girl’s struggle to fit in. ~ Asian
Rain Is Not My Indian Name
by Cynthia Leitich Smith
In the six months since her best friend died, Rain has been shutting herself off from the world. But when controversy arises around her aunt Georgia’s Indian Camp in their predominantly white midwestern community, Rain decides to face the outside world again through the lens of her camera. She soon finds that she has to decide how involved she wants to become in the intertribal community she belongs to. Rain Is Not My Indian Name is an authentic and heartfelt story of heartbreak, recovery, and reclaiming one’s place in the world. ~ Diverse
I Wanna Be Your Shoebox
by Cristina Garcia
Yumi’s life is as complicated as her Japanese-Cuban-Guatemalan-Jewish heritage. She is starting eighth grade, dealing with her mom’s new boyfriend and her unsuccessful punk-rock father, losing her house, her school orchestra, and – worst of all – her beloved grandfather. I Wanna Be Your ShoeBox is a slightly overstuffed yet charming story about the craziness that is life, and how we can either sit and watch life happen or join the dance. ~ Asian, Hispanic
The Other Half of My Heart
by Sundee T. Frazier
11-year-old twins Minerva and Keira King made headlines when they were born: Keira is black like Mama, but Minni is white like Daddy. When Grandmother Johnson invites the twins down South to compete for the title of Miss Black Pearl Preteen of America, the girls’ deep bond is put to the test. The Other Half of my Heart is a rich and heartwarming portrayal of multiracial identity and family life. ~ African
by S. Terrell French
“Sibley Carter is a moron and a world-class jerk,” reads the angry e-mail meant for Julian Carter-Li’s greedy, high-powered uncle. The fateful message sets the 12-year-old on the course to stop an environmental crime. His uncle’s company plans to cut down some of the oldest California redwood trees, and it’s up to Julian and a ragtag group of friends to figure out a way to stop them. Operation Redwood is a thrilling and thoughtful debut novel that shows that any determined individual, no matter what age, can take action to change the world. ~ Asian
Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything in It
by Sundee T. Frazier
10-year-old Brendan Buckley keeps a confidential notebook for his top-secret discoveries. His biggest discovery yet is the grandpa he’s never met, whom his mom refuses to talk about, who is an expert mineral collector and lives nearby! Brendan sneaks off to meet his grandpa, who is white, not brown like Brendan and his dad, and discovers more secrets. Brendan Buckley’s Universe And Everything In It is an authentic story about family and identity. ~ African
The Prince of Fenway Park
by Julianna Baggott
Oscar Egg believes he is cursed, just like his favourite team, the Boston Red Sox. His birth parents didn’t want him, and now his adoptive mom is sending him to live with his strange and sickly adoptive father. Turns out that Oscar’s dad is one of a number of strange magical souls called the Cursed Creatures, who have been doomed to live deep below Fenway Park. Oscar is the key to breaking the curse but someone wants him to fail. The Prince of Fenway Park is an intriguing story that not only young baseball fans will love. ~ African
How Ali Ferguson Saved Houdini
by Elen Caldecott
Half-Indian (Gujarati) Ali Ferguson has just moved into Lever Tower with his mum. He befriends Caitlin, Gez and Falcon, the Alsatian dog Caitlin looks after. Together they set out to discover, firstly, why the foxes have disappeared from the area, secondly, why the owls have appeared and, thirdly, why Miss Osborne seems to have vanished. How Ali Ferguson Saved Houdini is a heartfelt novel about loss and adjusting to a new life. ~ Asian
Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact
by A.J. Hartley
11-year-old Darwen Arkwright has spent his whole life in a tiny town in England. When he is forced to live with his aunt in Atlanta, Georgia, he knows things will be different but what he finds is beyond even his wildest imagination. Darwen discovers an enchanting and dangerous world through the old mirror hanging in his closet. Along with his new friends Rich and Alexandra, he becomes entangled in an adventure and mystery that involves the safety of his entire school. Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact is a thrilling fantasy novel both boys and girls will adore. ~ African
The Young Chieftain
by Ken Howard
The day his dad is killed, Jamie’s life is turned upside down. He and his mother must travel from the comfort of their Los Angeles home to a remote Scottish island to bury him. Jamie finds himself at the heart of ancient feuds where even his own life is now at risk. There’s a mysterious, magical stone; a secret place only true chieftains can find; and a huge struggle for power. The Young Chieftain is a coming-of-age story full of magic and adventure. ~ African
*You can buy any of the books on this site from Amazon USA, CAN or UK by clicking on the book titles or images*
We loved Unusual Chickens and have just been reading (and enjoying) Camo Girl and Tall Story. Several of these were new to me though – I love your lists! I’m looking forward to reading Rain is Not My Indian Name as well.
Colours of Us
Thank you! Glad you’ve found some new books here.
I’m writing from Daybreak Press, where we were excited and impressed to find Colours of Us! We are a women-own and women-run press with the mission of creating positive cultural change, one book at a time, and we would like to share with you our recently published children’s book, Drummer Girl.
Drummer Girl by Hiba Masood and illustrated by Hoda Hadadi of Deep in the Sahara fame, just received the Literary Classics Seal of Approval, and you can see their review here: http://clcreviews.blogspot.com.
We’re organizing a blog tour for Drummer Girl, and are hoping you’d agree to have Colours of Us be one of the stops. We’d be thrilled if you could feature or review Drummer Girl (or interview the author or invite her to write a guest post) anytime between March 15 and May 15.
We’d be happy to send you a digital reviewers copy if you’d like. Please just let us know the best email address to use.
Thanks so much,
Colours of Us
Hi Najiyah, thanks for contacting me. You can email a copy to info(at)coloursofus(dot)com.