Gift These Uplifting Books to the Kids and Young Adults In Your Life

By catherine lizette gonzalez Dec 21, 2018

This year further proved the power and brilliance of young people of color. At a March for Our Lives rally in March, 11-year-old Naomi Wadler stirred the country with her nationally-televised speech dedicated to Black women and girls. “I represent the African-American women who are victims of gun violence who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential,” she told a crowd in Washington D.C.

Wadler was one of thousands of students, from elementary to high school, who earlier in the year organized national student walkouts to fight all forms of gun violence. Amidst constant attacks against Asian, Latinx, Black, MESA, Muslim, immigrant, queer and trans people, children and youth have always and continue to use their ingenuity to create change and lead social revolutions. As we now shift into a new year, let these 2018 books affirm, inspire and galvanize the young people in your life. 

Children’s Fiction

"Julián is a Mermaid" is the story of an Afro-Latinx boy who dreams of being a mermaid and receives affirmation from his Abuela (Candlewick). >>"Don’t Touch My Hair!" allows Black girls to establish boundaries and teaches a lesson on consent (Little, Brown Young Readers). >>A Black Muslim girl delights in her mother’s colorful headscarves in “Mommy’s Khimar" (Simon and Schuster). >>The Day You Begin encourages children to practice self-love when they feel scared and alone (Nancy Paulsen Books). >>Yuyi Morales and her son migrate to the United States from Mexico and discover surreal fantasies at their local library in Dreamers,” (Holiday House). >>In "Drawn Together," an English-speaking boy and his Thai-speaking grandfather overcome language barriers through elaborate illustrations (Disney-Hyperion).

Children’s Non-Fiction

Go Show the World” celebrates Indigenous heroes who have shaped history in the United States and Canada, from Crazy Horse to the Dakota Access Pipeline protestors (Penguin Random House). >>Learn about Clara Luper, the civil rights activist and educator who organized her students to protest segregation, in "Someday Is Now" (Seagrass Press). >>"We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga" follows a full year of Cherokee celebration, written in English and Cherokee (Charlesbridge Publishing). >>"Game Changers" narrates the lives of tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams (Simon and Schuster). >>"They Call Me Mix / Me Llaman Maestre" is a bilingual book that teaches kids about gender pronouns and what it means to be a nonbinary transgender person of color (Self-published).

Middle Grade Fiction

Twelve-year-old Caroline Murphy must brave trauma, haunting spirits, and her first queer crush in the St. Thomas-based novel, "Hurricane Child" (Scholastic). >>In "Ana Maria Does Not Live in a Castle," an 11-year-old Dominican girl with dreams of attending private school learns to value her immigrant family and community (Tu Books). >>Latin American mythologies come to life for a Mexican-American boy experiencing bodily changes in "Charlie Hernández and the League of Shadows" (Aladdin). >>"Aruh Shah and the End of Time," is a fantasy story about a South Asian-American preteen who embarks on a fantastical journey filled with Hindu cosmology, folklore and feminism (Rick Rordian Presents). >>Two girls of color must save their space station home after they bionegineer a three-headed kitten in the scifi graphic novel, "Sanity and Tallulah" (Disney-Hyperion).

Middle Grade Non-Fiction

Marley Dias, the 13-year-old founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks, shows young people how they can channel their passions to make a difference in "Marley Dias Gets It Done" (Scholastic). >>"We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices" is a collection of 30 illustrated stories, poems and letters that uplift children during difficult times (Crown Books for Young Readers). >>A young girl retells the history of the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike in "Memphis, Martin and the Mountain Top" (Boyds Mills Press). >> "So Tall Within" gives an intimate portrait of the groundbreaking Black feminist abolitionist Sojourner Truth (Roaring Brook Press). >>Ilyasah Shabazz tells the childhood story of her mother, civil rights activist Betty Shabazz, in "Betty Before X" (Farrar Straus and Giroux).

Young Adult Fiction

"A Very Large Expanse of Sea" is the story of a Muslim teen dealing with racism and Islamophobia as she experiences young love in a post-9/11 world (HarperCollins). >> In "Give Me Some Truth" two Native teens meet on the Tuscarora Reservation where they form a band, find love and mobilize a protest (Scholastic). >> "The Poet X" tells the fictional story of an Afro-Latina teen from Harlem who asserts her identity via her love for slam poetry (HarperCollins). >> In "My So-Called Bollywood Life" an Indian-American high schooler navigates drama, relationships and her love of Bollywood films (Penguin Random House). >> "Anger is a Gift," follows a Black teen who struggles with systemic racism, mental health and gender identity and ultimately organizes against oppression (Macmillan). >> La Borinqueña fights for Puerto Rican reconstruction in the comics anthology, “Ricanstruction” (Somos Arte, LLC).>>"Pride" revamps Jane Austen’s famed novel with an Afro-Latinx protagonist set in modern-day Brooklyn (Balzer + Bray).

Young Adult Non-Fiction

In "Americanized," Sara Saedi uses history, diary entries and photographs to recount her teen years as an Iranian immigrant of undocumented status (Knopf). >>"Girls Resist!" is an illustrated handbook that teaches young people how to lead a social revolution (Quirk Books). >>"Modern HERstory" honors 70 trailblazing women and non-binary people who have changed or are still changing the world (Ten Speed Press).