In today’s age of social media and instantaneous communication, the world seems smaller than ever before. With so many people across so many diverse countries, cultures, and backgrounds in contact with one another—and often part of our school communities—it is important to acknowledge and promote a global perspective among young learners. This is particularly relevant for libraries, where diverse characters and stories can offer readers windows into the lives of characters very different from themselves. Below is a list of titles recommended by SLC reviewers that focus on characters from various backgrounds and walks of life, all experiencing problems, joys, fantasies, and ordeals that readers from anywhere in the world can recognize and relate to.
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Save Me a Seat
Author: Sarah Weeks & Gita Varadarajan
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Grade Level (as recommended by Reviewer/SLC): Grades 4-8
When his family moves to the United States from India, fifth grader Ravi Suryanarayanan struggles to fit in at his new school. Ravi is used to being a superstar student, but he quickly learns that his American classmates think his accent, clothes, and lunches are unusual and not impressive, even giving him horrible nicknames like “curry head.” Little does Ravi know that his classmates also group him with Joe Sylvester, a struggling student who is bullied and feels like an outsider because of his family’s financial problems. When Ravi and Joe are sent to the same Special Education teacher’s classroom, an unlikely friendship slowly takes off and is solidified as they find a common enemy in Dillon Samreen. The reader sees Ravi and Joe’s unique perspectives through alternating chapters and even finds a glossary for each character in the back of the book. This heartfelt novel would be a great addition to any library collection, especially one seeking more diverse books.
Reviewer: Tracy Scaglione, Library Media Specialist, Dorsett Shoals Elementary, Douglasville, Georgia
Rating: Highly Recommended
The Head of the Saint
Author: Socorro Acioli
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House)
Grade Level (as recommended by Reviewer/SLC): Grade 6 & Up
Samuel, a boy of 14 who lives in rural Brazil, carries out his mother’s last wishes by journeying to sleepy Candeia to meet his grandmother and light a candle at the foot of Saint Anthony. Rejected by his grandmother, Samuel finds refuge in the large, hollow head of Saint Anthony that rests on the ground. He soon hears voices of women that come to pray to Saint Anthony for a miracle. Samuel also hears haunting songs that reverberate in the saint’s head twice a day. In an effort to expel the women so he can discover the source of the singing, Samuel tries to grant the prayers of the women. His plan backfires as the wishes are successful, bringing in many more people. Candeia becomes a hotbed of pilgrims and the locals try to profit from the sudden influx. Quirky characters, funny occurrences, forgotten family secrets, and poignant memories make this story appealing to all. This book is a standout in diverse young adult literature.
Reviewer: Lisa Castellano, Library Media Specialist, Larkspur Middle School, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Rating: Highly Recommended Continue reading “Diversity in Your Collection: Recommended Titles”