It’s September, and many of us are asking how did summer slip away. It feels like it’s been a long week. On Tuesday I popped on YouTube and pulled up Green Day’s Wake Me Up When September Ends which summed up the feelings. To distract from the ugh and blah, including Seattle Storm’s GOAT Sue Bird playing her final game, here is a list of books to distract and enjoy.
Young Adult and Adult Books
Firekeepers Daughter was written by first time author Angeline Boulley. Boulley is from the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Firekeepers Daughter is a thriller/mystery centered on Daunis Fontaine, who is half white and half Anishinaabe. Daunis has to untangle a mystery that is made personal and involves people close to her. It took me a while to get into the novel, but once I did I was hooked. I stayed up to 1.00 a.m. reading two nights in a row to finish it – so good!
Simu Liu’s We Were Dreamers autobiography/memoir kept me entertained on many long walks with my overeager dog. I borrowed the audio version from the library and enjoyed Liu’s narration. He shared what it was like to be the only child of immigrant Chinese parents who worked hard and saw a path to prosperity that didn’t match what he wanted for himself. Liu did not gloss over the hard stuff. There were comical moments in the book as well. After listening to the book, I promptly came home and rewatched Shang Chi with my kid and I appreciated the movie even more knowing how Liu worked to get there.
Nikki Grimes is a favorite poet of mine, and her book of poetry Legacy is just that a legacy. Written in the Golden Shovel poetic format it forces you to think. I borrowed the book from the library several times to fully appreciate it. The artwork in the book is fabulous and features full-color art by amazing Black artists.
I admit I haven’t finished Heather McGee’s fabulous book the Sum of Us, YET— I will read it. But I’m including it because I am listening to her new podcast by the same name on Spotify. I’m so absorbed in the stories she tells from across America and about the solidarity building that takes place to recreate racial justice.
Miss Quinces is so fun. I read this with my kid and we were both absorbed in the coming-of-age story. American teen flies to Honduras for the summer and is so bummed to miss the summer with her friends, including no text, phone, or internet. Sue rebels at the thought of having a quinceañera, but learns the value of family and compromise along the way.
Invisible is another Latino/a based graphic novel. This one highlights the diversity of the Latine community. This school-based story brings together diverse Latine students who come together to help a neighbor and the racism and prejudices they face in school. There are surprise twists that show compassion along the way. There are a lot of good jumping-off points for deeper conversations with kids as you read the book.
Komi Can’t Communicate, I cringe at the title BUT sharing it because this manga series is very popular with the upper elementary school student cohort. There is a Netflix series by the same name. Komi is a student with anxiety and doesn’t speak orally or finds it very hard to interact with others. Along with a friend they are on a mission to make 100 friends. I cringe at the title because Komi DOES communicate, just not with spoken language. Saying she doesn’t over emphasizes the social norm of communicating with spoken language. I do appreciate the series is accessible to young kids and talks about anxiety and friendship.
Thunderous was recommended by a friend in Montana who is Native American. Aiyana is annoyed with constantly hearing about Lakota stories, but when she falls she draws upon her Lakota stories to bring her back to the present. A very worthy book with so many different facets to think about.
There are so many other books to include, but I think I’ll save them for another post. Stay tuned for a list of some of my fall fave picture books, a few cookbooks, and other books I ran out of room to add to this list.
Why I wrote this: Reading books by diverse authors is important to learn new ways to think about race and diversity.
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I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.