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Own Voices

Efren Divided

by Ernesto Cisneros

While his father works two jobs, seventh-grader Efren Nava must take care of his twin siblings, kindergartners Max and Mia, after their mother is deported to Mexico.

Reading Level: Ages 8 - 12

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George

by Alex Gino

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she's not a boy. She knows she's a girl. George thinks she'll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte's Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can't even try out for the part . . . because she's a boy. With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte -- but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all

Reading Level: Ages 8 - 12

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A Good Kind of Trouble

by Lisa Moore Ramée

Twelve-year-old Shayla is allergic to trouble. All she wants to do is to follow the rules. (Oh, and she'd like to make it through seventh grade with her best friendships inteact, learn to run track, and have a cute boy see past her giant forehead.) But in junior high, it's like all the rules have changed. Now she's suddenly questioning who her best friends are, and some people at school are saying she's not black enough. Wait, what? Shay's sister, Hana, is involved in Black Lives Matter, but Shay doesn't think that's for her. After experiencing a powerful protest, though, Shay decides some rules are worth breaking. She starts wearing an armband to school in support of the Black Lives movement. Soon everyone is taking sides. And she is given an ultimatum. Shay is scared to do the wrong things (and even more scared to do the right thing), but is she doesn't face her fears, she'll be forever tripping over the next hurdle. Now, that's trouble, for real.

Reading Level: Ages 8 - 12

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I Can Make This Promise

by Christine Day

When twelve-year-old Edie finds letters and photographs in her attic that change everything she thought she knew about her Native American mother's adoption, she realizes she has a lot to learn about her family's history and her own identity

Reading Level: Ages 8 - 12

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Indian No More

by Charlene Willing McManis

When Regina's Umpqua tribe is legally terminated and her family must relocate from Oregon to Los Angeles, she goes on a quest to understand her identity as an Indian despite being so far from home.

Reading Level: Ages 8 - 12

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Lety Out Loud

by Angela Cervantes

Can Lety find her voice before it's too late? Lety Muñoz's first language is Spanish, and she likes to take her time putting her words together. She loves volunteering at the Furry Friends Animal Shelter because the dogs and cats there don't care if she can't always find the right word. When the shelter needs a volunteer to write animal profiles, Lety jumps at the chance. But grumpy classmate Hunter also wants to write profiles--so now they have to work as a team. Hunter's not much of a team player, though. He devises a secret competition to decide who will be the official shelter scribe. Whoever helps get their animals adopted the fastest wins. The loser scoops dog food. Lety reluctantly agrees, but she's worried that if the shelter finds out about the contest, they'll kick her out of the volunteer program. Then she'll never be able to adopt Spike, her favorite dog at the shelter!

Reading Level: Ages 8 - 12

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Love, Love

by Victoria Chang

Frances Chin, a 10-year old Chinese-American girl, lives in the suburbs of Detroit with her immigrant parents and older sister, Clara. At school Frances copes with bullies and the loneliness that comes with not quite fitting in. At home, she feels a different kind of aloneness. Her parents are preoccupied with work and worry about Clara, whose hair is inexplicably falling out. But, with the help of her friend Annie, Frances is determined to play Nancy Drew and solve the mystery of Clara’s condition. She also faces the everyday challenges and unexpected thrills of being a tween, especially when she receives encouragement from a tennis coach. Although she struggles to speak up, Frances’s powerful inner voice resonates in gorgeous imagery and evocative free verse.

Reading Level: Ages 8 - 12

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Once Upon an Eid

by Aisha Saeed

Day of Joy is a collection of short stories that showcases the most brilliant Muslim voices writing today, all about the most joyful holiday of the year: Eid! Eid: The short, single-syllable word conjures up a variety of feelings and memories for Muslims. Maybe it's waking up to the sound of frying samosas and simmering pistachio kheer, maybe it's the pleasure of putting on a new outfit for Eid prayers, or maybe it's the gift giving and holiday parties to come that day. Whatever it may be, for those who cherish this day of celebration, the emotional responses may be summed up in another short and sweet word: joy. The anthology will also include a poem, graphic-novel chapter, and spot illustrations.

Reading Level: Ages 8 - 12

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Sal and Gabi Break the Universe

by Carlos Alberto Hernandez

In order to heal after his mother's death, Sal learned how to meditate. But no one expected him to be able to take it further and 'relax' things into existence. Turns out he can reach into time and space to retrieve things from other universes.

Reading Level: Ages 8 - 12

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Santiago's Road Home

by Alexandra Diaz

Fleeing abusive relatives and extreme poverty in Mexico, young Santiago endures being detained by ICE while crossing the border into the United States.

Reading Level: Ages 8 - 12

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Show Me a Sign

by Anne Clare LeZotte

Mary Lambert has always felt safe and protected on her beloved island of Martha's Vineyard. Her great-great-grandfather was an early English settler and the first deaf islander. Now, over a hundred years later, many people there -- including Mary -- are deaf, and nearly everyone can communicate in sign language. Mary has never felt isolated. She is proud of her lineage.

But recent events have delivered winds of change. Mary's brother died, leaving her family shattered. Tensions over land disputes are mounting between English settlers and the Wampanoag people. And a cunning young scientist has arrived, hoping to discover the origin of the island's prevalent deafness. His maniacal drive to find answers soon renders Mary a "live specimen" in a cruel experiment. Her struggle to save herself is at the core of this penetrating and poignant novel that probes our perceptions of ability and disability. It will make you forever question your own ideas about what is normal.

Reading Level: Ages 8 - 12

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When You Trap a Tiger

by Tae Keller

When Lily, her sister Sam, and their mother move in with her sick grandmother, Lily traps a tiger and makes a deal with him to heal Halmoni.

Reading Level: Ages 8 - 12

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The Brave

by James Bird

Collin can't help himself--he has a unique condition that leads him to count every letter spoken to him. It's a quirk that makes him a prime target for bullies and a continual frustration to the adults around him, including his father. When Collin is asked to leave yet another school, his dad decides to send him to live in Minnesota with the mother he's never met. She is Ojibwe and lives on a reservation. Collin arrives in Duluth with his loyal dog, Seven, and quickly finds his mom and his new home to be warm, welcoming, and accepting of his condition. Collin's quirk is matched by that of his neighbor, Orenda, a girl who lives mostly in her treehouse and believes she is turning into a butterfly. With Orenda's help, Collin works hard to overcome his challenges. His real test comes when he must step up for his new friend and trust his new family.

Reading Level: Ages 9 - 12

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Hoodoo

by Ronald L. Smith

In 1930s Alabama, twelve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher is the only member of his family who seems unable to practice folk magic, but when a mysterious man called the Stranger puts the entire town at risk from his black magic, Hoodoo must learn to conjure to defeat him.

Reading Level: Ages 10 - 12

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Forget Me Not

by Ellie Terry

When her mother breaks up with yet another boyfriend, Calliope meets Jinsong at her latest middle school, who becomes her friend despite her Tourette Syndrome and the embarrassment it can cause.

Reading Level: Ages 10 - 13

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The Bridge Home

by Padma Venkatraman

Life is harsh in Chennai's teeming streets, so when runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter--and friendship--on an abandoned bridge. With two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, the group forms a family of sorts. And while making a living scavenging the city's trash heaps is the pits, the kids find plenty to laugh about and take pride in too. After all, they are now the bosses of themselves and no longer dependent on untrustworthy adults. But when illness strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or to keep holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom.

Reading Level: Ages 10+

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Forest World

by Margarita Engle

Sent to Cuba to visit the father he barely knows, Edver is surprised to meet a half-sister, Luza, whose plan to lure their cryptozoologist mother into coming there, too, turns dangerous.

Reading Level: Ages 10+

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Turtle Boy

by Evan M. Wolkenstein

Seventh-grader Will's Bar Mitzvah community service project, visiting an incurably ill older boy in the hospital, leads to a friendship that is life-changing for both them and those around them.

Reading Level: Ages 10+

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