NEW Multicultural Children’s & YA Books June 2023

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New Multicultural Children's & YA Books June 2023


Time for our list of new multicultural children’s and YA books for June 2023! Our favourites this month are I Love You, Baby Burrito (Babies & Toddlers), Just One Little Light (Preschool), Cape (Elementary School), Garvey’s Choice (Middle School), and Invisible Son (High School). Enjoy browsing!

NEW Multicultural Children’s & YA Books June 2023

Babies & Toddlers

I Love You, Baby Burrito
by Angela Dominguez

One of the first things parents do when a new baby arrives is gently swaddle their newborn to keep them warm and cozy, like “a baby burrito.” Inspired by that phrase, I Love You, Baby Burrito depicts the love and care that goes into the act of wrapping a little one up: tucking in each piernita, each bracito, everything except the baby’s sweet carita. With gentle text, simple Spanish words, and adorable illustrations, this board book is a perfect gift for a new addition to the family. ~ Hispanic – Babies & Toddlers

Related: 300+ Hispanic Children’s & YA Books

Indestructibles: Hear the Sounds
by Amy Pixton

Did you hear that? Introduce your little one to the joys of story time with this indestructible picture book devoted to interesting sounds. With high-contrast and high-colour illutrations, Hear The Sounds is perfect for the way the youngest babies see, and introduces key concepts of hearing sounds. ~ Diverse – Babies & Toddlers

Potty Party!
by Dionna L Mann

Going potty can be a party for everyone! Potty Party! touches on the aspects of potty training, including feeling the need to go, sitting and waiting, and picking out underwear. Celebrate the milestone of potty training with this energetic board book that features a diverse group of children as they ditch their diapers and flush like big kids do. ~ Diverse – Babies & Toddlers

The Midnight Babies
by Isabel Greenberg

“Sleep! Sleep! Anywhere but Sleep!!!” sing themidnight babies. In an epic quest to stay awake, they must overcome sleepy temptation: battling the forces of Slumberland, venturing through the Forest of Nightlights and the Sea of Stories, voyaging through the Garden of Lullabies to the Rockabye River, and even through the dreaded Land of Nodoff. But can they resist their greatest challenge: the Cuddle? The Midnight Babies turns bedtime on its head with a hilarious, delightful odyssey that will resonate with wide-eyed little ones and sleep-deprived parents alike! ~ Diverse – Babies & Toddlers

Related: 10 Laugh-Out-Loud Funny Multicultural Picture Books






Joy Takes Root
by Gwendolyn Wallace

It’s Joy’s first summer in her grandmother’s South Carolina gardena rite of passage. In the midst of okra, spinach, and strawberries, Grammy teaches Joy that plants are friends with many uses. Herbs, for example, can be turned into medicine. There in Grammy’s abundant backyard, Joy learns to listen for the heartbeat of the earth and connect it to her own as she takes deep breaths and puts her intentions into the soil. By the story’s end, she learns to grow seeds in her own garden, honoring all that her grandmother taught her. With sensory-rich illustrations, Joy Takes Root is a soothing intergenerational story about our connection to nature. ~ African – Preschool

Related: 40+ Multicultural Children’s Books about Grandparents

The South African Alphabet of Affirmations
by Nyasha Williams

The South African Alphabet of Affirmations is a colourful book of affirmations that highlights each of South Africa’s eleven official languages: Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa and isiZulu. The author who grew up living intermittently between the United States and South Africa passionately believes in using words and stories to decolonize literature, minds, and spiritual practices. ~ African – Preschool

Related: 23 Children’s Books set in South Africa

Mr. S: A First Day of School Book
by Monica Arnaldo

It was the first day of school. But the kindergarteners of room 2B could tell something was seriously wrong . . . Where was the teacher? Who left this sandwich on the desk? The only clue, written on the chalkboard, were three simple letters: Mr. S.. Chaos ensues as the kids argue whether or not the sandwich must be their teacher. Prepare for plenty of giggles while reading Mr.S, a comical, first day of school book of mayhem. ~ Diverse – Preschool

Related: 10 Laugh-Out-Loud Funny Multicultural Picture Books

The Only Astronaut
by Mahak Jain

Avni loves being the only astronaut in her space station. She’s in charge of when she takes off and where she goes. But space exploration can be a lot of work for one astronaut. It’s time for a new mission: find an assistant. Avni crisscrosses the distant galaxies (her neighbourhood) in search of the perfect partner. Does that even exist? Will Avni make space for a copilot or will it be mission impossible? With dynamic illustrations, The Only Astronaut is a witty and wonderful story about friendship, imagination and the thrill of a good adventure. ~ Asian – Preschool

Related: 50+ Multicultural STEAM Books for Children

Dance with Oti: The Bird Jive
by Oti Mabuse

It’s time for Mrs. Oti’s class, where everyone’s about to learn a dance in ten easy steps! There are lots of children, and lots of feelings, too. Meet Fikile in her sparkly new shoes, and Naira, who is super excited to get started. Gan is a little worried about joining in, while Martin can’t wait to show his parents what he can do. Everyone’s getting into the groove (with just a few missteps) when suddenly an unexpected visitor disrupts the class—one whose fluttery movements give Mrs. Oti an idea. With bright illustrations and upbeat text from a two-time winner of the hit TV show Strictly Come Dancing, Dance With Oti: The Bird Jive is a fun picture book for families everywhere who love to move. Includes an QR code enabling readers to watch a step-by-step tutorial and listen to the “Bird Jive” song. ~ Diverse – Preschool

Related: 15 Multicultural Children’s Books based on famous songs

Ready for Kindergarten
by Bethany V. Freitas

Perfect for easing nerves and increasing excitement, Ready for Kindergarten is about all the things kids love to do that show they are ready to start school. Created in consultation with education experts, the book highlights skills that teachers will build upon in the classroom—like imaginative play, recognizing colours and shapes, and cooperating with friends—and encourages kids to enjoy and practice them. Look who is ready for kindergarten! ~ Diverse – Preschool

Related: 80 Multicultural Children’s Books about School

Papá’s Magical Water-Jug Clock
by Jesús Trejo

Little Jesús is excited to spend a Saturday with his landscaper Papá at the “family business.” He loves Papá’s cool truck and all the tools he gets to use. Papá even puts him in charge of the magical water jug, which is also a clock! When it’s empty, Papá explains, the workday will be done. It’s a big job, and Jesús wants to do it right. But he just can’t help giving water to an array of thirsty animals—a dog in a sweater, some very old cats, and a flock of peacocks. Before he knows it, the magical water jug is empty —but the workday’s not over yet! Will Jesús be fired?! Or is the jug not really magical after all?  Papá’s Magical Water-Jug Clock is a mischievous tale that will warm hearts and have class clowns, practical jokers, and all high-spirited kids nodding in sympathy. ~ Hispanic – Preschool

Related: 300+ Hispanic Children’s & YA Books

Sam with Ants in His Pants
by April Reynolds

Sam is not ready for naptime. Momma says he has ants in his pants and that he must calm down, but Sam says “NOOOOOO!” and flies off to his bedroom. He flips open his favourite book–African Wildlife–and out jumps a herd of gazelles…followed by a pride of lions…and then a zeal of zebras. And that’s just the beginning! How can Sam ever be expected to take a nap?! Sam With Ants In HIs Pants is a ferociously fun bedtime story that begins with a can’t-settle-down boy who spends his naptime with wild animals, and ends with a sleepy boy all played out! ~ African – Preschool

Related: Top 10 Multicultural Bedtime Stories for Babies & Toddlers

The Together Tree
by Aisha Saeed

At his new school, quiet Rumi feels small and unwelcome, and a few kids bully him for being different and wearing bright shoes. He finds refuge beneath the old willow tree by the playground and builds his own world of hope and dreams of belonging. One day, when Rumi is made a target again, one of his classmates bravely steps in to defend him. It’s in that moment of solidarity Rumi’s class finally realizes that under the shade of the willow tree, all are welcome, and they create a space they can all play in—together. The Together Tree is a poignant picture book about the power every bystander—no matter how small—has to extend kindness and stand up in the face of intolerance. ~ Diverse – Preschool

Related: 20 Multicultural Children’s Books about Bullying

The Masjid Kamal Loves
by Ashley Franklin

Friday is Kamal’s favourite day of the week because he gets to go to the masjid for Jumu’ah prayer. The masjid is where he can be with his friends, hear the teachings of the imam, and pray with the community that he loves so dearly. He just can’t help the bounce in his step, the smile on his face, or the joy bubbling up in his chest every time Friday rolls around! Inspired by the famous nursery rhyme “This Is the House That Jack Built,” each spread in this buoyant picture book builds on the rhythmic list of things Kamal loves about the masjid. The Masjid Kamal Loves is a jubilant story about a young Muslim boy celebrating the many reasons he loves going to his local masjid. ~ Asian – Preschool

Related: 100 Children’s & YA Books with Muslim Characters

Roll, Roll, Little Pea
by Cecile Bergame

When a little pea escapes a girl who is shelling peas, it rolls off the kitchen table, onto the floor, and an adventure begins. The runaway pea rolls passed several hungry animals. It manages to evade a mouse, a cat, a rabbit, a hen, a pig, and a wolf, finally resting in the perfect place. The girl will find it again after some time has passed for a surprise conclusion. Told with repetition, predictive vocabulary, and bright colourful art, Roll, Roll, Little Pea delivers a natural history lesson about plant life for the youngest of readers.  ~ African – Preschool

Just One Little Light
by Kat Yeh

“Your one little light / cannot light the whole sky / but it is enough to begin.” From popular author Kat Yeh and award-winning illustrator Isabelle Arsenault, Just One Little Light is a luminous picture book and a powerful reminder to readers of any age that no matter how dark it may seem, even the smallest glimmer of hope can make a difference. ~ Diverse – Preschool

This Train Is Bound for Glory
by Alice Faye Duncan

“This train is bound for Glory—this train! / This train is bound for Glory—this train! / This train is bound for Glory. / Everybody here is a-rocking and a-rolling. / This train is bound for Glory—this train!” Rooted in the tradition of an African American spiritual, This Train Is Bound For Glory takes readers on a cosmic journey to heaven, celebrating the diversity of life at every stop along the way. The history of “This Train is Bound for Glory” dates back to 1922 as a popular recording. The lyrics have evolved across the ages. At the end of the book, readers are invited to write their own version of the song in a spirit of hope, joy, and love for a new generation. ~ African – Preschool

Related: 15 Multicultural Children’s Books based on famous songs

How to Babysit Your Grown-Up: Activities to Do Together
by Jean Reagan

Ready to keep your grownup busy? AND to have lots of fun? Build a kite, make a mosaic, teach your mom yoga, and more in this fun-filled book, loaded with countless creative ideas. All you need are basic materials and some imagination. Enjoy family fun with science, crafts, nature and more as the kids can lead a hands-on learning experience. How To Babysit Your Grown-Up can be shared with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and anyone who wants to get creative! ~ African – Preschool

The Coolest Beard
by Betty Tekle

Isaac wants to grow a beard, just like his dad, who always seems to be the coolest guy in the barbershop. Isaac uses Dad’s beard oil every day for weeks, but nothing happens. Next time it’s barbershop day, Isaac doesn’t even want to go back―but maybe there is still a way for him to grow the coolest beard. The Coolest Beard is an adorable picture book about a young boy who learns that even without a beard helping his community makes him the coolest kid at the barbershop.  ~ African – Preschool

Related: 70+ Multicultural Children’s Books about Fathers

I Absolutely, Positively Love My Spots
by Lid’ya C. Rivera

A young girl with vitiligo celebrates her skin in this joyful picture book by debut author Lid’ya C. Rivera and illustrated by #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator Niña Mata! I Absolutely, Positively Love My Spots is lyrical celebration of self-esteem, perseverance, and loving the skin you’re in will inspire all children to appreciate their spots or what makes them different. Perfect for pairing with I Am Enough by Grace Byers, Remarkably You by Pat Zietlow Miller, and I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes. Includes a personal letter from the author and facts about vitiligo. ~ African – Preschool

Before, Now
by Daniel Salmieri

Ava’s world is full of opposites: colourful sneakers on a gray sidewalk, thick books made up of thin sheets of paper, and dreams of huge spaces in her small head. Together, these opposites depict a full and impactful life, as Ava moves from girl to student to scientist, from daughter to mother to grandmother. While years pass and some things change, there is even more that is constant in this visually rich, soothing portrait of family connection through the generations. Before, Now is a touching picture book about family connections, time, and opposites—a lyrical classic in the making. ~ Diverse – Preschool

Words of Wonder from Z to A
by Zaila Avant-Garde

When 14-year-old Zaila Avant-Garde became the first Black American student to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2021, the world took notice. Now, this extraordinary speller, writer, and basketball champ celebrates the world of words, with 26 of Zaila’s favourite words, such as KINDNESS, HOPE, and RESILIENCE, alongside Zaila’s encouraging and poetic thoughts. Each bright and busy page also includes an inspiring quotation from a famous thought leader. And an afterword to the book details the fascinating origins of each word. Words of Wonder from Z to A is an uplifting picture book packed with motivation, learning, and fun, from one of America’s most promising, unique, and accomplished young people. ~ African – Preschool





Elementary School

by Kevin Johnson

When a child loses the person in his life that he loves more than anything, he uses his cape as protection from his grief. On the day of the funeral, he uses it to block out the pictures and stories people share, refusing to acknowledge the memories that keep bubbling up. He won’t think about them. He doesn’t want to. He avoids the memories, until he no longer can. He remembers then. Their laugh, their smile, the moment they gave him the cape. The cape transforms, becoming a source of comfort and strength as the child navigates the sadness and joy that these memories bring up. With evocative illustrations, Cape is an achingly beautiful and honest story about processing and redefining grief after the loss of a loved one. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 21 Multicultural Children’s Books About Feelings

I Am Somebody
by Nyasha Williams

I Am Somebody takes the reader on a journey over the course of a day, as the main character notices various forms of neglect and injustice—from trash on the sidewalk and students butting in line waiting for the bus, to not sharing on the playground and bullying about food. In each instance, the young child remarks that somebody should do something to remedy the situation(s) until, eventually, they realize that they are the person that can effect change. This powerful story reminds us that every living thing is unique and should be treated with kindness and respect and that we are all somebody. ~ African – Elementary School

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

Taíno Tales: The Miracle of Salomé
by Vicky Weber

When Salomé finds herself in trouble, she happily accepts a kind stranger’s helping hand but her father and her people are far more wary. Despite the Taino warrior saving Salomé’s life, he is forbidden from seeing her again and Salomé is stuck at a crossroad. Taino Tales: the Miracle of Salomé is a retelling of a bittersweet Tiano legend about how love never fades and our choices define us. Written by an elementary educator, the third book in the Taino Tales series aims to educate about the Taino people of Puerto Rico while keeping their folklore alive. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

More in the series: Taíno Tales: The Legend of Coquí // Taíno Tales: The Secret of the Hummingbird

A Hero Like Me
by J. Reid & A. Joy

Inspired by the events of June 7, 2020, when a statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston was pulled down and thrown into Bristol Harbour during an anti-racism protest, A Hero Like Me tells the story of a little girl who, every day, on her way to school, sees a towering statue. A statue of a man who sold freedom for cotton and tea. The world around her says this man is a hero. But she knows he’s not a real hero. Heroes are hard to find. She looks for them around corners, under rocks, and on TV, but there are none that she can see. And so, the little girl marches and shouts for them instead. And that statue—he doesn’t belong. He doesn’t stand for Kindness. He doesn’t stand for Peace. Maybe he shouldn’t stand at all. This gorgeous picture book empowers children to have courage to stand up for what is right and be their own hero. ~ Diverse – Elementary School

Salat in Secret
by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

In this beautiful story of community, family, and acceptance, a boy named Muhammad receives a special salat rug on his seventh birthday. Seven is the age when Muslim children are encouraged to pray, and Muhammad is determined to do all five daily prayers on time. But one salat occurs during the school day–and he’s worried about being seen praying at school. His father parks his truck to worship in public places, and people stare at and mock him. Will the same thing happen to Muhammad? In the end, with help from his teacher, he finds the perfect place to pray. Salat in Secret, by two highly acclaimed Muslim creators, is a poignant and empowering look at an important facet of Islam that many observant children cherish but might be scared to share. ~ Asian – Elementary School

Related:  100 Children’s & YA Books with Muslim Characters

Ketanji: Justice Jackson’s Journey to the U.S. Supreme Court
by Kekla Magoon

Ketanji Brown Jackson is no stranger to overcoming obstacles. When a high school guidance counselor told her she should set her sights lower than Harvard, she decided to go to Harvard for college and law school. When she became a public defender and saw inequalities in the justice system, she used her legal skills to advocate for people who needed help, but couldn’t afford an attorney. Ketanji’s path to the Supreme Court was unique: She’s the only current Justice to have been a public defender and one of a few who went to public school. Her story is powerful and heartening, and it’s a lesson in overcoming adversity by being true to yourself. Ketanji is an uplifting picture book biography about Ketanji Brown Jackson, who is making history as the first Black woman to serve as a Supreme Court Justice. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 80 Picture Book Biographies About Bold Black Women & Girls





Middle School

The Probability of Everything
by Sarah Everett

11-year-old Kemi Carter loves scientific facts, specifically probability. She knows her odds of being born were 1 in 5.5 trillion, and that the odds of her having the best family ever were even lower. Yet somehow, Kemi lucked out. But everything Kemi thought she knew changes when she sees an asteroid hover in the sky, casting a purple haze over her world. Amplus-68 has an 84.7% chance of colliding with earth in four days, and with that collision, Kemi’s life as she knows it will end. But over the course of the four days, even facts don’t feel true to Kemi anymore. The new town she moved to that was supposed to be “better for her family” isn’t very welcoming. And Amplus-68 is taking over her life, but others are still going to school and eating at their favourite diner like nothing has changed. Is Kemi the only one who feels like the world is ending? The Probability of Everything is a heart-wrenching middle grade debut about a young girl navigating change, grief and loss. ~ African – Middle School

Control Freaks
by J.E. Thomas

One week. One prize. Seven really weird challenges. The kids at Benjamin Banneker College Prep very competitive. The minute Principal Yee announces an epic competition for the golden B-B trophy, seventh-grader Frederick Douglass Zezzmer knows he has to win. But it won’t be easy. The competition doesn’t just include science, technology, engineering and math. It also has arts and sports. Not Doug’s best subjects. Even worse, it’s a TEAM competition. Instead of being in a superstar group, Doug gets paired with four middle school misfits no one else wants. Worst of all, Doug’s dad has a horrible backup plan. If Doug doesn’t win, he has to forget about becoming The World’s Greatest Inventor and spend the summer in sports camp, with his scary stepbrother. With only a week to go, Doug launches a quest to turn his team of outcasts into winners… and maybe even friends. Control Freaks is a hilarious and engaging book about life as a middle school kid. ~ African – Middle School

Garvey’s Choice: The Graphic Novel
by Nikki Grimes

Garvey’s father has always wanted Garvey to be athletic, but Garvey is interested in astronomy, science fiction, reading—anything but sports. Feeling like a failure, he comforts himself with food. Garvey is kind, funny, smart, a loyal friend, and he is also overweight, teased by bullies, and lonely. When his only friend encourages him to join the school chorus, Garvey’s life changes. The chorus finds a new soloist in Garvey, and through chorus, Garvey finds a way to accept himself and a way to finally reach his distant father—by speaking the language of music instead of the language of sports. Award-winning author Nikki Grimes’s beloved novel in verse Garvey’s Choice is now an enthralling and dramatically illustrated graphic novel. ~ African – Middle School

Related: 80+ Multicultural Graphic Novels for Children & Teenagers

Lei and the Fire Goddess
by Malia Maunakea

Curses aren’t real. At least, that’s what twelve-year-old, part-Hawaiian Anna Leilani Kamaʻehu thinks when she listens to her grandmother’s folktales about sacred flowers and family guardians. Anna’s friends back home in Colorado don’t believe in legends, either. They’re more interested in science and sports. So when Anna goes back to Hawaiʻi to visit her Tūtū, she has no interest in becoming the heir to her family’s history; she’s set on having a touristy, fun vacation. But when Anna accidentally insults Pele the fire goddess by destroying her lehua blossom, a giant hawk swoops in and kidnaps her best friend, and she quickly learns just how real these moʻolelo are. In order to save her friends and family, Anna must now battle mythical creatures, team up with demigods and talking bats, and evade the traps Pele hurls her way. Lei and the Fire Goddess follows Anna as she digs deep into her Hawaiian roots and learns to embrace all of who she is. ~ Diverse –  Middle School

Related: 52 Multicultural Middle Grade & Young Adult Fantasy Books

Conjure Island
by Eden Royce

If you ask Delphinia Baker, she’d tell you she has all the family she needs. Sure, her mom passed away when she was young, her dad is often away on deployment, but even though Del has never had anyone she can call her people, she has always had her grandmother—and that’s enough. Besides, having no roots just makes it that much easier when you have to move again. All of that changes, though, when Gramma falls ill and Del is sent to stay with her great-grandmother. Del has never even heard of Nana Rose, and she has no interest in spending the summer on an unbearably hot island off the South Carolina coast. And when Nana Rose starts talking about the school she runs dedicated to their family’s traditions—something called “conjure magic”—Del knows she’s in for a weird, awkward summer. That is, until the magic turns out to be real. Conjure Island is a magical story tweens will love. ~ Diverse –  Middle School

Related: 52 Multicultural Middle Grade & Young Adult Fantasy Books

The Order of Things
by Kaija Langley

11-year-old April Jackson loves playing the drums, almost as much as she loves her best friend, Zee, a violin prodigy. They both dream of becoming professional musicians one day. When Zee starts attending a new school that will nurture his talent, April decides it’s time for her to pursue her dreams, too, and finally take drum lessons. She knows she isn’t very good to start, but with Zee’s support, she also knows someday she can be just as good as her hero, Sheila E., and travel all around the world with a pair of drumsticks in her hand. When Zee suddenly passes away, April is crushed by grief. Without Zee, nothing is the way it’s supposed to be. Zee’s Dad isn’t delivering the mail for his postal route like he should. April’s Mom is suddenly dating someone new who is occupying too much space in their lives. And every time April tries to play the drums, all she can think about is Zee. Desperate to help Papa Zee, she decides to secretly deliver the mail he’s been neglecting. But when on her route she discovers a classmate in trouble, she doesn’t second guess what she knows is the right thing to do. The Order of Things is a heart-rending novel-in-verse about a girl beginning to learn it is possible to go on even after a great loss. ~ African – Middle School

Nightmare Island
by Shakirah Bourne

12 year-old Serenity Noah has recurring nightmares — the haunting images of silver butterflies whose flapping wings drive away all sound, leaving only suffocating silence in their wake. She finds a productive way to channel her fears: creating a horror movie as scary as her nightmares. When her brother Peace suddenly becomes afraid of the dark and refuses to sleep alone, their parents take him away for “treatment” on Duppy Island. Serenity has a very bad feeling about the mysterious island and the facility’s creepy leader, Dr. Whisper. And when she sees a silver butterfly from her nightmares in the forbidden forest she realizes that something is seriously, dangerously awry. But nothing could’ve prepared Serenity for the truth: the island is home to douens — faceless children with backward feet who are trapped in limbo between the world of the living and the land of the dead. And unless Serenity acts soon, her brother is going to join their ranks…Nightmare Island is a mysterious adventure that explores one of the most chilling tales in Caribbean mythology. ~ African – Middle School

Related: 50 Children’s & YA Books set in the Caribbean

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: Lost in the Void
by Liselle Sambury

Danger slithers around every corner as the Masters of the Universe are overwhelmed by a reptilian army wreaking havoc across the land. But young magician Teela is more worried about finding Eldress, the missing guardian of Castle Grayskull and the only person who can help her understand her powers. Teela takes matters into her own hands—what’s the worst that could happen? But when her spell goes horribly wrong, she meets a mysterious stranger made of stars who turns her world upside down. Suddenly, she’s trapped in an alternate dimension where there are no Masters of the Universe: She can’t use her magic, this Adam is more used to hiding than battling evil, and Eternia is ruled by . . . King Skeletor?! If Teela has any hope of finding her way home, she’ll first have to save this world—but not without the help of her friends. Young witch Teela—also known as Sorceress—takes center stage in this middle-grade adventure based on Mattel’s He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and the hit Netflix show.  ~ African – Middle School

Welcome to Fort Goode
by Winsome Bingham

Lang Ford is moving, again. He’s leaving his school, friends, and community for his dad’s new post at Fort Goode Military Base in Virginia. As Lang settles into his new life and meets new friends, he learns that as long as his family is together, he is home. Welcome to Fort Goode is an encouraging and relatable middle grade book that conveys how when one person serves in the military, the whole family serves in the military. It brings you into the life of a Jamaican American boy who must learn to balance friendship, family, and adapting to his new home. Includes a glossary of terms and a recipe for Jamaican Grater Cake. ~ African – Middle School

The Braid Girls
by Sherri Winston

Maggie’s world is turned upside down when she learns that her father has a second daughter, Callie, whom no one knew existed. But she won’t let a new family member get in the way of her summer plans with best friend Daija. They are determined to make tons of money braiding hair for kids around the neighbourhood. Maggie needs the money to pay for extra ballet lessons so she can go en pointe and earn a spot in the fall dance showcase, making her distant father proud at last. Callie is still grieving her late mom. Now she is leaving her old home in the Bahamas behind to move in with the father she has never met, plus his family. When she hears of Maggie’s and Daija’s business, she sees a chance to prove her skills and a way to be accepted. With three very different girls on board, the Braid Girls arrive to a summer camp full of kids with locs begging to be braided. Business is booming, until rival Angela shows up with her friends and starts a new braiding business. The Braid Girls is an unforgettable summer novel perfect for fans of From the Desk of Zoe Washington. ~ African – Middle School

Related: 115 Multicultural Middle Grade Novels for Summer Reading

Game On, Zhuri! How to Defeat a Blob Monster
by D. Zollicoffer

Programming whiz Zhuri is getting ready for a coding competition with her new video game–ZHURI’S WORLD–when a mysterious bug brings the game’s monster to life and kidnaps Zhuri’s Uncle Mike. With the help of her friends, Zhuri must enter the game herself and fend off dangerous storms, boiling oceans, and fearsome creatures to save her uncle. Will she be able to fix the game, or is something more sinister behind the bug? ~ African – Middle School





High School

What She Missed
by Liara Tamani

When Ebony and her parents move from Houston, Texas, to her grandmother’s house in a small lake town, Ebony is sure her life is doomed. And to make matters worse, the ghost of Ebony’s beloved grandmother—a strong swimmer who tragically drowned in the lake—is everywhere. Alula Lake does offer one perk: reconnecting Ebony with her childhood friend, Jalen. But as Ebony settles into life, she finds herself drifting away from Jalen and gravitating to his older sister. Lena is chaotic, disorderly, and rebellious, yet she offers a reprieve for the anger and sadness Ebony feels about losing so much. An ode to nature, art, friendship, history, family, and love, What She Missed is a lyrical coming-of-age story that explores one girl’s summer of self-discovery as she reimagines the world and her place in it. ~ African -High School

You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight
by Kalynn Bayron

Charity has the summer job of her dreams, playing the “final girl” at Camp Mirror Lake. Guests pay to be scared in this full-contact terror game, as Charity and her summer crew recreate scenes from a classic slasher film, The Curse of Camp Mirror Lake. The more realistic the fear, the better for business. But the last weekend of the season, Charity’s co-workers begin disappearing. And when one  ends up dead, Charity’s role as the final girl suddenly becomes all too real. If Charity and her girlfriend Bezi hope to survive the night, they’ll need figure out what this killer is after. As they unravel the bloody history of the real Mirror Lake, Charity discovers that there may be more to the story than she ever suspected . . . You’re Not  Supposed To Die Tonight is a heart-pounding slasher that teens will love. ~ African – High School

Sing Me to Sleep
by Gabi Burton

Saoirse Sorkova survives on lies. As a soldier-in-training at the most prestigious barracks in the kingdom, she lies about being a siren to avoid execution. At night, working as an assassin for a dangerous group of mercenaries, Saoirse lies about her true identity. And to her family, Saoirse tells the biggest lie of all: that she can control her siren powers and doesn’t struggle constantly against an impulse to kill. As the top trainee in her class, Saoirse would be headed for a bright future if it weren’t for the need to keep her secrets out of the spotlight. But when a mysterious blackmailer threatens her sister, Saoirse takes a dangerous job that will help her investigate: she becomes personal bodyguard to the crown prince. Saoirse should hate Prince Hayes. After all, his father is the one who enforces the kingdom’s brutal creature segregation laws. But when Hayes turns out to be kind, thoughtful, and charming, Saoirse finds herself increasingly drawn to him-especially when they’re forced to work together to stop a deadly killer who’s plaguing the city. There’s only one problem: Saoirse is that deadly killer. Featuring an all Black and Brown cast, a forbidden romance, and a compulsively dark plot full of twists, Sing Me To Sleep is a thrilling and seductive YA fantasy novel. ~ African – High School

Related: 52 Multicultural Middle Grade & Young Adult Fantasy Books

Good as Gold
by Candace Buford

Casey’s life in Langston has been charmed. She’s the queen bee of her prep school, a shoe-in for prom queen, and on her way to the Ivy League come fall. She can’t wait to leave the whole town of Langston behind her. That is until her father loses his job and she finds herself on the brink of losing her ticket out of town. Everyone who lives in Langston has heard at some point that there is a treasure buried deep below the surface that no one has ever been able to find. Few people actually believe in the treasure, and even fewer have searched for it. Suddenly an outcast from her popular squad, Casey falls in with a new group of friends who are exactly the opposite of her usual crowd. Together they make a plan to find the elusive treasure, in a quest to save Casey’s family and her future. But what they find is much more complicated than just a pile of gold. With thrilling twists and turns, Good As Gold is a summer adventure that teens will devour. ~ African – High School

The Secret Summer Promise
by Keah Brown

Andrea Williams has got this. The Best Summer Ever. Last summer, she spent all her time in bed, recovering from the latest surgery for her cerebral palsy. She’s waited too long for adventure and thrills to enter her life. Together with her crew of ride-or-die friends, and the best parents anyone could ask for, she’s going to live it up. There’s just one thing that could ruin it: Her best friend, Hailee, finding out Andrea’s true feelings. So Andrea WILL fall out of love with Hailee – even if it means dating the cute boy George who keeps showing up everywhere with a smile. The Secret Summer Promise is a YA debut of nerdy queer love with a cast of characters to fall in love with. ~ African – High School

House Party (Joy Revolution)
by Justin A. Reynolds

The biggest event of the year is happening, and you’re invited! Join us for Florence Hills High School seniors’ last hurrah before graduation. THE LOCATION: A megamansion in one of Chicago’s wealthiest suburban enclaves. THE HOST: DeAndre Dixon, aka FHHS’s golden boy. THE GUESTS: The populars, the jocks, the artists, and heck, even that one kid. THE HOPE: All the drama ensues. Kisses are swapped between old friends, new friends, and could’ve-sworn-they-were-enemies kind of friends. Relationships get tested. Animals roam free. Secrets are spilled. Add dope music that’s thumping, and there’s a good chance the whole neighbourhood will be disrupted. House Party is a fresh novel of interconnected stories by ten bestselling authors that follows a group of young adults over the course of a few wild, transformative hours. ~ Diverse – High School

The Library of Broken Worlds
by Alaya Dawn Johnson

In the winding underground tunnels of the Library, the great peacekeeper of the three systems, a heinous secret lies buried — and Freida is the only one who can uncover it. As the daughter of a Library god, Freida has spent her whole life exploring the Library’s ever-changing tunnels and communing with the gods. Her unparalleled access makes her unique — and dangerous. When Freida meets Joshua, a Tierran boy desperate to save his people, and Nergüi, a disciple from a persecuted religious minority, Freida is compelled to help them. But in order to do so, she will have to venture deeper into the Library than she has ever known. There she will discover the atrocities of the past, the truth of her origins, and the impossibility of her future. With the world at the brink of war, Freida embarks on a journey to fulfill her destiny, one that pits her against an ancient war god. Her mission is straightforward: Destroy the god before he can rain hellfire upon thousands of innocent lives — if he doesn’t destroy her first. The Library Of Broken Worlds is a thought-provoking tale of oppression and the cost of peace, where stories hide within other stories, and narrative has the power to heal — or to burn everything in its path. ~ African – High School

Invisible Son
by Kim Johnson

Andre Jackson is determined to reclaim his identity. But returning from juvie doesn’t feel like coming home. His Portland, Oregon, neighbourhood is rapidly gentrifying, and COVID-19 shuts down school before he can return. And Andre’s suspicions about his arrest for a crime he didn’t commit even taint his friendships. It’s as if his whole life has been erased. The one thing Andre is counting on is his relationship with the Whitaker kids—especially his longtime crush, Sierra. But Sierra’s brother Eric is missing, and the facts don’t add up as their adoptive parents fight to keep up the act that their racially diverse family is picture-perfect. If Andre can find Eric, he just might uncover the truth about his own arrest. But in a world where power is held by a few and Andre is nearly invisible, searching for the truth is a dangerous game. Invisible Son is a social justice thriller that shines a light on being young and Black in America—perfect for fans of The Hate U Give and Dear Justyce. ~ African – High School

Related: 100 Children’s Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination

When It All Syncs Up
by Maya Ameyaw

Ballet is Aisha’s life. So when she’s denied yet another lead at her elite academy because she doesn’t “look” the part, she knows something has to change–the constant discrimination is harming her mental health. Switching to her best friend Neil’s art school seems like the perfect plan at first. But she soon discovers racism and bullying are entrenched in the ballet program here, too, and there’s a new, troubling distance between her and Neil. And as past traumas surface, pressure from friends and family, a new romance, and questions about her dance career threaten to overwhelm her. There’s no choreography to follow–for high school or for healing. Aisha will have to find the strength within herself–and place her trust in others–to make her next move. When It All Syncs Up is an explosive debut about the healing power of art and friendship. ~ African – High School

Related: 22 Multicultural Children’s & YA Books About Brave Ballerinas

This Town Is on Fire
by Pamela Harris

A lot is up in the air in Naomi Henry’s life: her spot as a varsity cheer flier, her classmates’ reaction to the debut of her natural hair, and her crush on the guy who’s always been like a brother to her. With so much uncertainty, she feels lucky to have a best friend like Kylie to keep her grounded. After all, they’re practically sisters—Naomi’s mom took care of Kylie and her twin brother for years. But then a video of Kylie calling the cops on two Black teens in a shopping store parking lot goes viral. Naomi is shaken, and her town is reeling from the publicity. While Naomi tries to reckon with Kylie, the other Black students in their high school are questioning their friendship, and her former friends are wondering where this new “woke” Naomi came from. Although Naomi wants to stand by her best friend, she now can’t help but see everything in a different light. As tensions in her town escalate, Naomi finds herself engaging in protests that are on the cusp of being illegal. And then a bomb explodes, and someone is found dead. Will Naomi be caught in the center of the blast? The Town Is On Fire is a page-turning YA contemporary novel about what happens when the latest “Becky” on the internet is your best friend. ~ African – High School

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