Multicultural 2021 ALA Award-Winning Children’s & YA Books

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Each January, the American Library Association recognizes the most original and creative books and other media for children and teenagers. The ALA Youth Media Awards include the prestigious Newbery, Caldecott, and Coretta Scott King Book Awards. Great to see so many multicultural children’s and young adult books amongst the winners!

Multicultural 2021 ALA Award-Winning Children’s & YA Books

¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat
by Raúl the Third

Pura Belpré Illustrator Award Winner

Little Lobo is excited to take in a show with wrestling star El Toro in his bustling border town. After getting lunch orders from The Bull and his friends to help prepare for the event, Little Lobo takes readers on a tour of food trucks that sell his favourite foods, like quesadillas with red peppers and Mexican-Korean tacos. Jam-packed with fun details and things to see, Vamos! Let’s Go Eat is a glorious celebration of food little readers will love! ~ Hispanic – Preschool

Also available: ¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market

Sharuko: El Arqueólogo Peruano Julio C. Tello / Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello
by Monica Brown

NEW Multicultural Children's Books August 2020

Pura Belpré Illustrator Honour Book

Growing up in the late 1800s, indigenous Julio Tello spent time exploring the caves and burial grounds in the foothills of the Peruvian Andes. Later, while in medical school, he discovered an article about the skulls he had found. The article renewed Julio’s interest in his ancestry, and he decided to devote his medical skills to the study of Peru’s Indigenous history. Over his lifetime, Julio Tello made many revolutionary discoveries at archaeological sites around Peru. Sharuko is a fascinating bilingual picture book about the archaeologist who unearthed Peru’s ancient cultures and fostered pride in the country’s Indigenous history. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

Related: Pura Belpré Award Winners 1996 – 2020

Efrén Divided
by Ernesto Cisneros

Pura Belpré Author Children’s Book Award Winner

Efrén Amá is his Superwoman—or Soperwoman, named after the delicious Mexican sopes his mother often prepares. Both Amá and Apá work hard all day to provide for the family. But Efrén worries about his parents; although he’s American-born, his parents are undocumented. His worst nightmare comes true one day when Amá is deported across the border to Tijuana, México. Now more than ever, Efrén must channel his inner Soperboy to take care of and try to reunite his family. Efrén Divided is a heartfelt book about family, hardship and deportation. ~ Hispanic – Middle School

Related: Pura Belpré Award Winners 1996 – 2020

The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez
by Adrianna Cuevas

Pura Belpré Children’s Author Honour Book

When Nestor Lopez and his mother move to a new town to live with his grandmother after his dad’s latest deployment, Nestor is careful not to let anyone know that he can talk to animals. But when his grandmother becomes the prime suspect in the disappearance of some town animals, Nestor starts to investigate. He learns that the animals are being seized by a tule vieja―a witch who can absorb an animal’s powers by biting it during a solar eclipse. The next eclipse is just around the corner, so it’s up to Nestor and his new friends to save the animals. The Total Eclipse Of Nestor Lopez is a fast-paced magical mystery that middle graders will love.  ~ Hispanic – Middle School

Lupe Wong Won’t Dance
by Donna Barba Higuera

Pura Belpré Children’s Author Honour Book

Lupe Wong is going to be the first female pitcher in the Major Leagues. She needs an A in all her classes in order to meet her favourite pitcher, Fu Li Hernandez, who’s Chinacan/Mexinese just like her. So when the horror that is square dancing rears its head in gym, she’s not gonna let that slide. Lupe Wong Won’t Dance is a wonderful debut novel written with humour and emotional insight. ~ Hispanic – Middle School

by Yamile Saied Méndez

Pura Belpré Young Adult Author Award Winner

Camila Hassan lives a double life. At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father. On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. But the path ahead isn’t easy… Filled with authentic details of day-to-day life in Argentina, heart-soaring romance, and breathless action on the pitch, Furia is the powerful coming-of-age story. ~ Hispanic – High School

We Are Not from Here
by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Best Multicultural Young Adult Novels 2020

Pura Belpré Young Adult Author Honour Book

Pulga, Chico and Pequeña don’t have any illusions about the town they’ve grown up in and the dangers that surround them. Even with the love of family, threats lurk around every corner. And when those threats become all too real, the trio knows they have no choice but to run: from their country, from their families, from their beloved home. Crossing from Guatemala through Mexico, they follow the route of La Bestia, the perilous train system that might deliver them to a better life–if they are lucky enough to survive the journey. We Are Not From Here is a poignant novel of desperation, escape, and survival across the U.S.-Mexico border. ~ Hispanic – High School

Never Look Back
by Lilliam Rivera

Best Multicultural Young Adult Novels 2020

Pura Belpré Young Adult Author Honour Book

Haunted by losing everything in Hurricane Maria–and by an evil spirit, Ato — Eury arrives in the Bronx, fully expecting the tragedy that befell her and her family in Puerto Rico to catch up with her in New York. When she meets Pheus — a golden-voiced, bachata-singing charmer — she can set her fears aside for a while. But some dangers are too powerful for even the strongest love, and as the world threatens to tear them apart, Eury and Pheus must fight for each other and their lives. Never Look Back is a modern Afro-Latinx retelling of the Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice. ~ Hispanic – High School

When You Trap a Tiger
by Tae Keller

John Newberry Medal Winner / Asian/Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature

When Lily and her family move in with her sick grandmother, a magical tiger straight out of her Halmoni’s Korean folktales arrives, prompting Lily to unravel a secret family history. Long, long ago, Halmoni stole something from the tigers. Now they want it back. And when one of the tigers approaches Lily with a deal–return what her grandmother stole in exchange for her health–Lily is tempted to agree. But deals with tigers are never what they seem! When You Trap A Tiger is a sparkling tale about courage, the power of stories and the magic of family. ~ Asian – Middle School

Related: 18 Multicultural Children’s Books about Fear and Courage

BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom
by Carole Boston Weatherford

New Multicultural Children’s Books April 2020

John Newberry Honour Book

“What have I to fear? / My master broke every promise to me. / I lost my beloved wife and our dear children. / All, sold South. / Neither my time nor my body is mine. / The breath of life is all I have to lose. / And bondage is suffocating me.” In stanzas of six lines each, strikingly illustrated Box tells the story of how Henry Brown shipped himself from slavery to freedom. Includes timeline, historical records and an excerpt from Henry’s own writing. ~ African – Middle School

Related: African American Historical Fiction for Middle School


All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team
by Christina Soontornvat

John Newberry Honour Book / YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults (Finalist)

On June 23, 2018, twelve young players of the Wild Boars soccer team and their coach enter a cave in Thailand seeking an afternoon’s adventure. But when they turn to leave, rising floodwaters block their path out. Before long, news of the missing team spreads, launching a seventeen-day rescue operation involving thousands of rescuers from around the globe. With firsthand interviews of rescue workers, photographs, in-depth science and details of the region’s culture and religion, All Thirteen masterfully shows how both the complex engineering operation above ground and the mental struggles of the thirteen young people below proved critical in the life-or-death mission. ~ Asian – Middle School

We Are Water Protectors
by Carole Lindstrom

Randolph Caldecott Medal Winner

“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. Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, lyrically written and vibrantly illustrated We Are Water Protectors is an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth’s water from harm and corruption. ~ Diverse – Preschool

Related: 75+ Native American Children’s Books

A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart
by Zetta Elliott

NEW Multicultural Children's Books July 2020

Caldecott Honour Book

“There is a place inside of me / a space deep down inside of me / where all my feelings hide.” A Place Inside Of Me is a powerful poem that follows a Black boy as he explores his shifting emotions throughout the year. Summertime is filled with joy―skateboarding and playing basketball―until his community is deeply wounded by a police shooting. As fall turns to winter and then spring, fear grows into anger, then pride and peace. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 150 Children’s Books Celebrating Black Boys

The Cat Man of Aleppo
by Irene Latham & Karim Shamsi-Basha

New Multicultural Children’s Books April 2020

Caldecott Honour Book

“Aleppo’s city center no longer echoes with the rich, exciting sounds of copper-pot pounding and traditional sword sharpening. His neighborhood is empty–except for the many cats left behind.” Alaa loves Aleppo, but when war comes his neighbours flee to safety, leaving their many pets behind. Alaa starts feeding them but there are so many that he will need to find help from others. The Cat Man Of Aleppo tells the true story of a courageous man who in the midst of the Syrian Civil War offered a safe haven to Aleppo’s abandoned cats. ~ Asian – Elementary School

Related: 25 Multicultural Children’s Books teaching Kindness & Empathy

Me & Mama
by Cozbi A. Cabrera

NEW Multicultural Children's Books August 2020

Caldecott & Coretta Scott King Honour Book

“On a rainy day when the house smells like cinnamon and Papa and Luca are still asleep, when the clouds are wearing shadows and the wind paints the window with beads of water, I want to be everywhere Mama is.” This book is just too gorgeous for words! With lyrical prose and expressive illustrations, Mama and Me is a tender ode to the bond between a mother and a daughter as they spend a rainy day together. ~ African – Preschool

Related: 14 Multicultural Children’s Books about Mothers // 15 Multicultural Children’s Books about Rain

Before the Ever After
by Jacqueline Woodson

Coretta Scott King Author Book Award

ZJ’s dad is a famous pro football star and everyone’s hero. But lately he is having trouble remembering things and seems to be angry all the time. ZJ’s mom explains it’s because of all the head injuries his dad sustained during his career. As ZJ contemplates his new reality, he has to figure out how to hold on tight to family traditions and recollections of the glory days, all the while wondering what their past amounts to if his father can’t remember it. Before The Ever After is a stirring novel-in-verse that explores how a family moves forward when their glory days have passed.  ~ African – Middle School

Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box
by Evette Dionne

Multicultural Children's Books About Voting & Elections

Coretta Scott King Author Honour Book

Lifting as We Climb tells the overlooked story of African American women who formed their own Black suffrage associations when white-dominated national suffrage groups rejected them. Women like Mary Church Terrell, a founder of the National Association of Colored Women and of the NAACP; or educator-activist Anna Julia Cooper who championed women getting the vote and a college education; or the crusading journalist Ida B. Wells, a leader in both the suffrage and anti-lynching movements. An important book! ~ African – Middle School

King and the Dragonflies
by Kacen Callender

Coretta Scott King Author Honour Book

Twelve-year-old Kingston James is sure his brother Khalid has turned into a dragonfly. When Khalid unexpectedly passed away, he shed what was his first skin for another to live down by the bayou in their small Louisiana town. Khalid still visits in dreams, and King must keep these secrets to himself as he watches grief transform his family. It would be easier if King could talk with his best friend, Sandy Sanders. But just days before he died, Khalid told King to end their friendship, after overhearing that Sandy might be gay. King And The Dragonflies is a heartfelt story about loss, grief, and finding the courage to discover one’s identity.  ~ African – Middle School

All the Days Past, All the Days to Come
by Mildred D. Taylor

Coretta Scott King Author Honour Book

All The Days Past, All The Days To Come concludes the sweeping saga about the Logan family of Mississippi, which is also the story of the civil rights movement in America of the 20th century. Cassie Logan — whom readers first met in Song of the Trees and award-winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cryis a young woman now, searching for her place in the world, a journey that takes her from Toledo to California, to law school in Boston, and, ultimately, in the 60s, home to Mississippi to participate in voter registration. She is witness to the now-historic events of the century: the Great Migration north, the rise of the civil rights movement, and the often violent confrontations that brought about change. ~ African – High School


RESPECT: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul
by Carole Boston Weatherford

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Book Award

The daughter of a pastor and a gospel singer, Aretha Franklin’s musical talent was clear from her earliest days in her father’s Detroit church where her soaring voice spanned more than three octaves. Her string of hit songs earned her the title “the Queen of Soul,” multiple Grammy Awards, and a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But Aretha didn’t just raise her voice in song, she also spoke out against injustice and fought for civil rights. Respect is a vibrant picture book biography that will captivate young readers with Aretha’s inspiring story. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 40 Multicultural Children’s Books About Fabulous Female Artists

Magnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration
by Samara Cole Doyon

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Book Award

A succession of young girls compares the colours they see in nature (trees, rivers, honey etc) to the colours of their skin, eyelashes and eyes. With vivid illustrations and lyrical text, Magnificent Homespun Brown is a beautiful celebration of feeling at home in one’s own skin. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 40 Multicultural Poetry Books for Children

Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks
by Suzanne Slade

New Multicultural Children’s Books April 2020

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Book Award

Born in 1917, Gwendolyn Brooks became known for her poems about about love, loneliness, family, and poverty. With expressive illustrations and lyrical text, Exquisite follows the celebrated poet’s life, from her early childhood to the moment she became the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1950. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 40 Multicultural Children’s Books About Fabulous Female Artists

by Tracy Deonn

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award

After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus. Filled with mystery and a rich magic system, Legendborn offers a modern-day twist on a classic legend about grief and self-discovery. ~ African – High School

Everything Sad Is Untrue: (a true story)
by Daniel Nayeri

Michael L. Printz Award

In a classroom in Oklahoma, Khosrou (whom everyone calls “Daniel”) tries to tell his story. But no one believes a word he says. To his classmates he is a dark-skinned, hairy-armed boy with a big butt whose lunch smells funny; who makes things up and talks about poop too much. But Khosrou’s stories stretch back years, decades and centuries — from the moment his family fled Iran with the secret police moments behind them, to the cement refugee camps of Italy, back to the fields near the river Aras, and further back still to the Jasmine-scented city of Isfahan. Everything Sad Is Untrue is a beautifully told and powerful story of hardship, loss and resilience. ~ Asian – Middle School

Related: 30 Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration

Apple: (Skin to the Core)
by Eric Gansworth

Best Multicultural Young Adult Novels 2020

Michael L. Printz Honour Book

The term “Apple” is a slur in Native communities across the country. It’s for someone supposedly “red on the outside, white on the inside.” Eric Gansworth reclaims that slur in heartbreaking verse, prose and imagery. Apple tells the story of the author’s family, of Onondaga among Tuscaroras, of Native folks everywhere. From the horrible legacy of the government boarding schools, to a boy watching his siblings leave and return and leave again, to a young man fighting to be an artist who balances multiple worlds. This moving novel will stay with readers long after they finished it. ~ Diverse – High School

Related: 32 Native American Children’s Books

Dragon Hoops
by Gene Luen Yang

Michael L. Printz Honour Book

Gene understands stories―comic book stories, in particular. Big action. Bigger thrills. And the hero always wins. But Gene doesn’t get sports. As a kid, his friends called him “Stick” and every basketball game he played ended in pain. He lost interest in basketball long ago, but at the high school where he now teaches, it’s all anyone can talk about. The men’s varsity team, the Dragons, is having a phenomenal season that’s been decades in the making. What Gene doesn’t know yet is that this season is not only going to change the Dragons’s lives, but his own life as well. Dragon Hoops is an extraordinary graphic novel about the author’s life, his family, and the high school where he teaches. ~ Asian – High School

We Are Not Free
by Traci Chee

Best Multicultural Young Adult Novels 2020

Michael L. Printz Honour Book

“All around me, my friends are talking, joking, laughing. Outside is the camp, the barbed wire, the guard towers, the city, the country that hates us. We are not free. But we are not alone.” Fourteen teens from Japantown, San Francisco, are among the over 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry that are removed from their homes and forced into desolate incarceration camps. In a world that seems determined to hate them, these young Nisei must rally together as racism and injustice threaten to pull them apart. We Are Not Free is the collective account of a tight-knit group of young, second-generation Japanese American boys, whose lives are irrevocably changed by the mass U.S. incarcerations of World War II. ~ Asian – High School

Related: 30 Asian & Asian American Children’s Books for Ages 0 to 18

Every Body Looking
by Candice Iloh

Michael L. Printz Honour Book

When Ada leaves home for a Historically Black College, it’s the first time that she’s able to make her own choices and seek her place in this new world. As she explores her sexuality and the world of dance, she also begins to wrestle with her past—her mother’s struggle with addiction, her Nigerian father’s attempts to make a home for her. Ultimately, Ada discovers she needs to brush off the destiny others have chosen for her and claim full ownership of her body and her future. Every Body Looking is a gripping and beautifully written coming-of-age novel about family and  identity. ~ African – High School

This Is My Brain in Love
by I.W. Gregorio

Schneider Family Book Award for Teens

All Jocelyn Wu wants for her junior year is to direct a short film with her BFF Priya, and to not constantly being compared to Peggy Chang, the only other Chinese girl in her grade. Will Domenici wants to find a paying summer internship and become an editor on his school paper. When Jocelyn’s family’s restaurant is in trouble, it is up to her and her unlikely new employee, Will, to save it. What starts off as a rocky partnership soon grows into something more but family prejudices and the uncertain future of the restaurant threaten the budding romance. Told in dual narrative, This Is My Brain in Love is a stunning novel that explores mental health, race and self-acceptance. ~ Asian – High School


When Stars Are Scattered
by Victoria Jamieson & Omar Mohamed

Best Multicultural Middle Grade Books Of 2020

Schneider Family Honour Book for Middle Grade / Odyssey Honour Audiobook

Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, grow up in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya where there is never enough food, and no access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day. When Stars Are Scattered is a heartbreaking yet hopeful graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting. ~ African – Middle School

We Are Little Feminists Board Book Set
by Little Feminist

Stonewall Children’s Literature Award (LGBT+ experience)

Little Feminist’s 3-board-book-bundle features photos of real families with poems to build vocabulary and connection. Created to help families and educators discuss diversity through everyday topics, award-winning Families showcases gender, sexuality and all the wonderful forms of family, Hair showcases race and ethnicity, On-The-Go showcases the many forms of mobility, ability an bodies. We adore these books! ~ Diverse – Babies & Toddlers

Related: Top 10 Multicultural Bedtime Stories for Babies & Toddlers

Felix Ever After
by Kacen Callender

Best Multicultural Young Adult Novels 2020

Stonewall Honour Book

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. Even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after. As he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself. Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve. ~ African – High School

Related: 18 Multicultural Children’s Books featuring LGBTQIA Characters

You Should See Me in a Crown
by Leah Johnson

Best Multicultural Young Adult Novels 2020

Stonewall Honour Book

Liz Lighty thinks she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. She plans to get out of Campbell, Indiana, attend the elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor. But with limited finances, Liz’s only option is the school’s scholarship for prom queen. Despite her fear of a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, she does whatever it takes to get to Pennington. You Should See Me In A Crown is a fresh queer romcom celebrating diversity and individuality. ~ African – High School

Related: 250 Children’s Books Celebrating Black Girls

Darius the Great Deserves Better
by Adib Khorram

Best Multicultural Young Adult Novels 2020

Stonewall Honour Book

Since Darius’s trip to Iran, he’s been getting along with his dad, and his best friend Sohrab is only a Skype call away. Between his first boyfriend, Landon, varsity soccer practices, and an internship at his favourite tea shop, things seem to be falling into place. It’s everything he’s ever wanted–but what if he deserves better? Darius The Great Deserves Better is the follow-up to the award-winning Darius the Great Is Not Okay. ~ Asian – High School

Related: The 50 Best Multicultural Young Adult Books of 2020

Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist
by Julie Leung

Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature (Picture Book)

Before he became an artist named Tyrus Wong, he was a boy named Wong Geng Yeo. He traveled across a vast ocean from China to America with only a suitcase and his immigration papers. Once in America, Tyrus seized every opportunity to make art, eventually enrolling at an art institute in Los Angeles. Working as a janitor at night, his mop twirled like a paintbrush in his hands. Eventually, he was given the opportunity of a lifetime… Paper Son tells the inspiring story of animator Tyrus Wong, the artist who brought Disney’s Bambi to life. ~ Asian – Preschool

Related: 30 Asian & Asian American Children’s Books for Ages 0 to 18

Danbi Leads the School Parade
by Anna Kim

NEW Multicultural Children's Books July 2020

Asian/Pacific American Honour Book (Picture Book)

New in America, Danbi wants to join in the dances and the games at her school , but she doesn’t know the rules and just can’t get it right. But 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 an irresistible new character who learns to navigate her two cultures and realizes that when you open your world to others, their world opens up to you. ~ Asian – Preschool

Prairie Lotus
by Linda Sue Park

Asian/Pacific American Honour Book (Children’s Book)

Young half-Asian Hanna lives in a small town in America’s heartland, in 1880. Her adjustment to her new surroundings, which primarily means negotiating the townspeople’s almost unanimous prejudice against Asians, is at the heart of the story. Prairie Lotus is a powerful and touching book about a girl determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father’s shop, and making at least one friend. ~ Asian – Middle School

This Light Between Us: A Novel of World War II
by Andrew Fukuda

Asian/Pacific American Award for Youth Literature

In 1935, ten-year-old Alex Maki from Bainbridge Island, Washington is disgusted when he’s forced to become pen pals with Charlie Lévy of Paris, France—a girl. In spite of Alex’s initial reluctance, their letters continue to fly across the Atlantic—and along with them, the shared hopes and dreams of friendship. Until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the growing Nazi persecution of Jews force them to confront the darkest aspects of human nature. This Light Between Us is a heartfelt story about the unlikeliest of pen pals—a Japanese American boy and a French Jewish girl—as they fight to maintain hope in a time of war. ~ Asian – High School


by Kiku Hughes

Asian/Pacific American Award for Youth Literature Honour Book

Kiku suddenly she finds herself displaced to the 1940s Japanese-American internment camp that her late grandmother, Ernestina, was forcibly relocated to during World War II. These displacements keep occurring until Kiku finds herself “stuck” back in time. Living alongside her young grandmother and other Japanese-American citizens in internment camps, Kiku gets the education she never received in history class. She witnesses the lives of Japanese-Americans who were denied their civil liberties but managed to cultivate community and commit acts of resistance in order to survive. Displacement is a bittersweet historical graphic novel that highlights a dark part of American history. ~ Asian – High School

Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail
by Leslea Newman

The Sydney Taylor Book Award Picture Book Gold Medalist

Inside, a boy and his family sit around the dinner table to embrace the many traditions of their Passover Seder around the dinner table. Outside, a cat wanders, hungry and alone. When it’s time for the symbolic Passover custom of opening the family’s front door for the prophet Elijah, both the boy and the cat are in for a remarkable surprise. Welcoming Elijah is a warm, lyrical story about Passover, family, and friendship. ~ Diverse – Elementary School

Related: 18 Multicultural Children’s Books about Friendship

Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky)
by Rebecca Roanhorse

Alex Awards

“A god will return / When the earth and sky converge / Under the black sun.”  In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world. From the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Resistance Reborn comes the first book in the Between Earth and Sky trilogy, inspired by the civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas and woven into a tale of celestial prophecies, political intrigue, and forbidden magic. ~ Diverse – High School

The Only Good Indians: A Novel
by Stephen Graham Jones

Alex Awards

Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in violent, vengeful ways. ~ Diverse – High School

Related: 75+ Native American Children’s Books

Riot Baby
by Tochi Onyebuchi

Alex Awards

Ella  sees a classmate grow up to become a caring nurse, a neighbor’s son murdered in a drive-by shooting — things that haven’t happened yet. Kev, born while Los Angeles burned around them, wants to protect his sister from a power that could destroy her. But when Kev is incarcerated, Ella must decide what it means to watch her brother suffer while holding the ability to wreck cities in her hands. Intimate family story as well as global dystopian narrative, Riot Baby is a heartfelt novel about the painful Black experience of racism, police brutality and injustice in America. ~ African – High School

Related: 37 Children’s Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination

Clap When You Land (Audiobook)
by Elizabeth Acevedo

Odyssey Award 

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people… In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash. Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. Clap When You Land is a novel-in-verse about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives. ~ African – High School

Related: 36 Children’s Books set in the Caribbean

The Black Kids
by Christina Hammonds Reed

Best Multicultural Young Adult Novels 2020

William C. Morris Award Finalist

As the 1992 Rodney King riots engulf LA, senior student Ashley Bennett tries to continue as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model Black family façade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow Black kid, LaShawn Johnson. With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the themThe Black Kids is a brilliant coming-of-age novel that explores issues of race, class, and violence. ~ African – High School

Related: 250 Children’s Books Celebrating Black Girls

Woven in Moonlight
by Isabel Ibañez

Best Multicultural Young Adult Novels 2020

William C. Morris Award Finalist

Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight. Debut novel Woven in Moonlight is a lush tapestry of magic, romance, and revolución, drawing inspiration from Bolivian politics and history. ~ Hispanic – High School

Related: Pura Belpré Award Winners 1996 – 2020

Black Girl Unlimited: The Remarkable Story of a Teenage Wizard
by Echo Brown

William C. Morris Award Finalist

Echo Brown is a wizard from the East Side, where apartments are small and parents suffer addictions. New portals begin to open when Echo transfers to the rich school on the West Side, and an insightful teacher becomes a pivotal mentor. Each day, Echo travels between two worlds, leaving her brothers, her friends, and a piece of herself behind on the East Side. Echo soon realizes there is pain flowing through everyone around her, and a black veil of depression threatens to undo everything she’s worked for. Heavily autobiographical and infused with magical realism, Black Girl Unlimited fearlessly explores the intersections of poverty, sexual violence, depression, racism, and sexism. ~ African – High School

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  1. ThomasJoe123
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