Only 27% of about 3700 children’s books published in 2018 featured a protagonist of color. That may be higher than the 11% seen a decade ago in 2009, but it still doesn’t meet the needs of the increasingly diverse America of today.
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We need diverse books, as both mirrors for children of color to see themselves represented in and as windows for children to gain insight into lives, cultures, and oppressions unlike their own. The following upcoming chapter books are promising mirrors and windows that will not only help your child avoid the 2020 summer slide, but also encourage them to find compassion, to find themselves, and build a better world for their future.
New Diverse Middle Grade Chapter Books for 2020
Ghost Squad by Claribel Ortega
Lucely and Syd accidentally awaken spirits that create chaos in their town of St. Augustine. With help from Syd’s witch grandma and her fat cat, Chunk, they join together to save the town. This book will make any day of the year feel like Halloween with family magic, action and adventure. Perfect for fans of Coco and Stranger Things!
Stand up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim
Yumi Chung dreams of being a stand-up comedian. She’s taken all the embarrassment she’s felt as a shy, Korean girl at her school, and turned it all into hilarious material. Unfortunately, her parents want her to take fancy test-prep classes, rather than honing her craft.
Yumi thinks she’s found the solution to her dilemma when she discovers a comedy camp for kids, run by her favorite YouTuber! She starts attending the camp, and when the kids think she’s a girl named Kay Nakamura…she doesn’t speak up. Can Yumi pull off being Kay? Or will this be another embarrassment?
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
Zoe Washington’s father has been in prison for as long as she can remember. So when she gets a letter from him on her twelfth birthday, she’s not sure how to respond. Especially when her father claims that he’s innocent of the crime for which he’s been imprisoned.
Zoe sets out on a mission to clear her father’s name — a mission she hides from the rest of her family. Can Zoe uncover the truth? And, more importantly, can she handle the truth that she finds?
The Boys in the Back Row by Mike Jung
During their marching band competition, best friends Matt and Eric make an epic plan to sneak away and attend a nearby comic convention and meet their favorite comic artist. Of course, everything doesn’t go as planned and hijinks ensue. Their story is full of fun and celebrates the magic of male friendship!
Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen! By Sarah Kapit
Vivy Cohen is so excited to finally join a real baseball team, but her parents are worried about her being the only girl and only austistic kid on the team. Vivy starts writing to her favorite Major League pitcher, and he actually writes back! The story is told through their letters, and readers will enjoy rooting for Vivy and her knuckleball pitch.
American as Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar
Lekha is so excited when she learns the new kid on her block is Desi too! When she meets Avantika, she discovers she is new to this country and not like Lekha at all. Lekha has always tried to blend in at school, while Avantika is proud of her culture. When a racist incident occurs, Lekha must decide if she will speak up.
Rick by Alex Gino
Rick always seems to go with the flow, even when things bother him. He ignores his best friend’s bullying behavior, and his father’s awkward comments about girls. He even ignores his questions about his own identity.
When Rick joins his school’s Rainbow Spectrum club, he meets Melissa, a girl who seems to have it all together. Rick admires how self-assured he is, and wonders if he could ever get to the same place. His desire takes him on a journey to figure out who he is and what he wants from his life and his friendships.
Keep it Together, Keiko Carter by Debbie Michiko Florence
Keiko is ready to rock seventh grade, she’s got her two best friends, Jenna and Audrey, by her side and everything will be great. But then Audrey insists they all find boyfriends before the Fall Ball, and things go sour between her and Jenna. Keiko feels fulled apart by their fighting and finds herself crushing a boy she didn’t expect. Will seventh grade turn out as great as she had hoped?
Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros
Efrén is American-born, but his parents are undocumented. When his mom gets deported to México, Efrén must take of his younger siblings and try to reunite his family.
The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert
Alberta has always been the only Black girl in her town, so when she learns the new family in town is Black and they have a daughter her age, she is so excited! Edie misses Brooklyn and struggles to adjust to small town California life. The girls find a mysterious box of old journals in Edie’s attic and start a search to discover who wrote them and why they were left there.
Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte
Mary Lambert has always felt safe in her insular deaf community on Martha’s Vineyard. But everything changes when her brother dies. Mary is heartbroken over the loss, and she’s starting to become nervous about the disputes between the English settlers and native Wampanoag people.
When a curious scientist arrives on the island to learn more about the deaf community there, Mary soon finds herself in the middle of a dangerous situation. She must call upon all of her strength and intelligence to save herself.
A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat
Pong escapes from prison, where he was born, and is on the run. Nok, the prison warden’s daughter, is on a mission to track him dow. This books is set in a Thai inspired fantasy world and is an exciting twist on Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.