Hello everyone! With the beginning of the school year here, I was thinking of some of the books that I have read recently and even not so recently. The books that came to mind are ones I felt are so important for kids to read, process and discuss. I’m going to list them but give some reasons why I felt they are so important for kids to read/how they made me feel/brought up for me.
Yusuf Azeem Is Not A Hero by Saadia Faruqi: I loved this book because it covers a part of American History that isn’t spoken much about from the perspective of a kid. As a New Yorker, 9/11 is a part of the fabric of the state. I had become immune to seeing murals and memorials but hadn’t heard much of how it impacted others in other states though I knew of the hatred it intensified in people towards the Muslim Community. This book takes place around the time of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 (which is this year) and as I read this book, I had flashbacks of how I felt around and at the time of 9/11. It was also so important to read how people within the Muslim community were impacted. I had the pleasure of doing an IG live with Saadia and if you would like to watch it, here is the link.
Ahmed Aziz’s Epic Year by Nina Hamza: This was another book that I really enjoyed and laughed A LOT during! It’s such a great book for learning how to deal with life changing occurrences such as a big move and a sickly family member. Ahmed is a character that I just came to adore throughout the time that I was reading. I can see so many kids really relating to him because he also deals with a bully and anyone who has dealt with one knows how anxiety inducing it can be. This is a book filled with gems & lessons that anyone could appreciate!
Partly Cloudy by Tanita S. Davis: This book is one that I appreciated as someone who can have difficulty with expressing themselves and had difficulty making friends (peopling is hard at any age). There are a lot of weather metaphors used (as implied by the title) which I thought was a brilliant way of giving kids a way to express their thoughts/emotions. The main character also deals with a big change and the pressures of trying to make new friends as well as the fear inducing circumstance of a wildfire.
Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams: This is a book layered with gems. Genesis deals with a plethora of things that range from homelessness/socio-economic disparities to colorism to alcoholism… I just wanted to hug Genesis throughout the time I was reading because she went through the ringer. I feel that there are so many kids that will be able to see themselves in Genesis, whether its her struggles or her triumphs. She learns so much about herself as well as the kids she comes to call her friends.
Cuba In My Pocket by Adrianna Cuervas (out on 9/21): So you all know that I love a good historical fiction and this one was no exception. CIMP gives insight as to what it could be like for those who have immigrated, not just to the US but anywhere really, and what could’ve led them to their new home. Growing up, I heard quite a few stories from my own family members about their experiences but there is always something special about reading other experiences and learning those histories. There was also a lovely balance of the emotional, funny and life lessons in this book. I also believe it would help kids to develop a sense of empathy for those learning their way around a new environment.
The Samosa Rebellion by Shanthi Sekaran (out on 9/21): When I was reading this book, I thought a lot about the book Internment by Samira Ahmed (which is a book I love & still think of frequently) but it was lighter where it needed to be and gave us a group of kids on a mission. It took place in a fictional country that felt like it could really be anywhere in the world due to the real world circumstances & situations that occurred. A book like this is really timely in how race, religion, social and immigration status is currently seen and makes it digestible for kids who maybe struggling with these topics while providing eye opening anecdotes for adults that need them.
The Insiders by Mark Oshiro (out on 9/21): I literally finished this book the day before posting this and I absolutely adored it. While this book was from a singular perspective, it offered so many different insights from the experiences of coming out to bullying to finding your place after a big move. I appreciated the comedic moments as much as I did the highly sentimental ones as well as the lessons of the importance of advocacy of self and others. There was also something really special about seeing this diverse group of kids experiencing magic in the way so many of us wished we could while reading books that definitely didn’t center children of color.
Thinking about it, I would highly recommend all of these books especially for middle school classrooms/libraries. I can’t recall any books like these in my middle school libraries but I know that I could’ve certainly used them. There is so much going on at this age range especially being at the crossroads of elementary school and high school that more texts like these could be truly life changing. These books could provide emotional support where kids may need it and help them find a way when they can’t express themselves.
In case anyone is interested, Brave + Kind bookshop (located in Atlanta, Georgia & they are wonderful) is having an event with the authors of Yusuf Azeem Is Not A Hero, The Samosa Rebellion and Partly Cloudy. It is taking place on Tuesday, September 21st, 2021 from 7-8 pm. If you would like to virtually attend this event, here is the link to register and if you are able, please support the authors & store by purchasing at least one of the books featured.
Alright y’all, I’ve occupied enough of your time now but I hope that you all will consider adding these books to your libraries, whether its your personal or school or even request your local library to (this also supports the authors). These books have great potential to effect change in this world as long as we place them into the hands of kids/teens as well as adults who interact with kids on a daily basis. If there are any books that you feel strongly about, feel free to write about them in the comments! If you want to come find & follow me out on the interwebs, look me up on Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic where you can typically find me in book centered clubs/rooms (also subscribe to this blog please please please). As usual, I’m sending you tons of bookish love & wishing you happy reading! BYEEE!