Two weeks into the Diversify Your Summer Reading Challenge, I’ve enjoyed three books that fit the bill.
So far I’ve read The Friendship Doll by Kirby Larson which I include because the Diversify blog highlights it, but otherwise I wouldn’t have. It’s much much more about the lives of white girls throughout the nineteenth century than Japanese culture. There are glimpses of Japanese culture in the voice of the doll, but the doll is much more a prop for the girls’ personal growth.
Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu (ARC provided by local author) definitely fits the bill comfortably. Hazel search for Jack touches on her own struggle to fit in. Her imagination and creativity are the main reasons she does not fit in, but she is also acutely aware of looking different from her parents and classmates. Her attempts to identify with another child who was adopted from overseas fall flat though since the girl is quite definite that they are nothing alike.
Boy at the End of the World by Greg Van Eekhout is a riveting survival tale of a boy and his robot. It is clear that Fisher has darkly pigmented skin and the advantages of that for survival are pointed out by the robot, his caretaker.
The biggest disappointment for me in doing this challenge so far is that there is hardly any overlap between this challenge and the books I need to read for the state’s Children’s Choice award. This is a list of 90+ books so I find it shocking that all the titles are so lacking in racial diversity. The books on the list are nominated by children and then librarians and teachers read and rate their choices to narrow down to a list of 15-25 for each year’s list. Hopefully the list of 90 would look different if the teachers and librarians made the initial list, but it is still a concern since the children are all choosing books that they have read themselves or had read to them at home or school.