Ten Books to Diversify Your School’s Reading List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish in which book bloggers list their top ten picks for whatever the current prompt is.

Wow, it’s been ages since my last Top Ten Tuesday! Where is the handbook for this?

With the recent horrifying incident in Charlottesville and this article and that regarding YA Twitter, lists that talk about diversity in literature are relevant more than ever. And since today’s prompt is all about required reading, I thought I’d tweak it a bit and give you Ten Books to Diversify Your School’s Reading List. Or, you know, the school you graduated from. Because you’re already a 20-something adult. Like me. But I digress! I cannot stress this enough. We still need diverse books and there’s still a lot of work to do. We can start by taking a cue from Kate McKean and “support the things [we] want to exist in the world.” (Hint: one easy way is to request these titles from your local libraries if they don’t already have them. Or if you have the money, maybe it’s time to update your shelves at home.)

NOTE: The list is in chronological order and I included #ownvoices from the information I can find in the internet.

*Click the cover to be directed to the book’s Goodreads page.*

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Spokane-Coeur d’Alene-AmericanI would like to begin with a work that probably is on your reading list. Although, there’s a good chance that this oft-banned book has been removed from it. So. Call for a repeal!

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Mexican-American, gay. By now, you should be well aware of my inexorable love for this breathtaking and breathtakingly poignant story of two Mexican-American boys who learn the wonders and power of friendship.

We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Nigerian. Allow me to convince you with a quotation from the author herself:

“But by far the worst thing we do to males – by making them feel they have to be hard – is that we leave them with very fragile egos. The harder a man feels compelled to be, the weaker his ego is.
And then we do a much greater disservice to girls, because we raise them to cater to the fragile egos of males.
We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller.
We say to girls, ‘You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man. If you are the breadwinner in your relationship with a man, pretend that you are not, especially in public, otherwise you will emasculate him.'”

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian 01   Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe   We Should All be Feminists 01

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
African-American, lesbian. Jacqueline Woodson has won multiple awards not for nothing. In Brown Girl Dreaming, she recounts her childhood—growing up as a black girl both in the North and the South—in these beautiful and moving vignettes. The author looks at race, family, self-discovery, and how stories helped her find her voice. It is faintly elegiac but also deeply comforting.

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
I mean. C’mon. You definitely saw this one coming. It’s about a closeted gay whose identity is at risk of being exposed by a classmate and who is also maybe falling in love with a boy he’s been exchanging e-mails with. But more than anything, it’s a thoughtful, adorable tale of coming out and coming of age with a spot-on voice.

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
This National Book Award-winning novel is a keen observation on schizophrenia.

Brown Girl Dreaming 01   Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda   Challenger Deep 01

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa
Lesbian. In 2015, I pronounced this as a title champions of the We Need Diverse Books campaign should be talking about. It’s 2017 and I still often find myself shoving it to people. Intersectional diversity, you guys! Plus, fine storytelling.

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
African-American (Reynolds). Police brutality and systemic racism are at the center of this 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor book.

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Puerto Rican-American, gay. Silvera brings a lot to the table and he’s a name you’d always find in my arsenal of book recommendations. In his latest, he delivers a surprisingly quiet, thoughtful exploration of friendship, grief, love, and loss. His MC also happens to be gay with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). 

The Hate U Give by Angie C. Thomas
African-American. I have yet to pick this one up but by all accounts from people whose opinion I value, Thomas’ debut is an important contribution to YA.

Fans of the Impossible Life 01   All American Boys 01   History is All You Left Me 03   The Hate U Give 01

Complement this with SLJ’s 42 Diverse Must-Have YA Titles for Every Library and Elizabeth Campbell’s 50 Years of Young Adult Literature +.

Have you read any of these? Tell me about your lists!

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Unmissable Weekly: August 20, 2017

Bookish and Awesome’s weekly round-up of buzz-worthy news from around the bookternet in bite size. Click on the links to be directed to the full articles.

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Deadline reports that Odeya Rush has officially joined the cast of Dumplin’.

The upcoming comedy is based off of Julie Murphy’s 2015 young adult novel of the same name and centers around a girl named Willowdean (Patti Cake$ Danielle Macdonald), a confident, plus-sized teen whose nickname is Dumplin.

In an effort to spite her mother, Willowdean enlists in a local beauty pageant, and subsequently inspires a crop of outcast teens to enlist with her.

Rush is set to play Willowdean’s best friend, Ellen ‘El’ Dryver in the upcoming film, who complicates the nature of their friendship after she decides to join the pageant as well.

Odeya Rush has found her next book-to-film project.

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It is now common practice for foreign novelists writing books containing LGBT characters and stories to find their work shrinkwrapped in plastic and given an 18-plus rating in Russia, in order to comply with the law, which brings fines for individuals and organisations who break it. Schwab’s Russian publisher, Rosman, took a different approach: cutting a flirtatious scene in the second novel in the series – in which two male characters are reunited after three years apart – down to just a few lines. Rosman did not respond to questions from the Guardian, but told Russian press that “we only did this so that we wouldn’t violate the ban on gay propaganda for minors … but we kept the romantic plotline as a whole”, the Moscow Times reported.

NOT. OKAY. No, this is more than not okay. This is appalling. This is discriminatory and homophobic. And this is probably a move from V. E. Schwab’s Russian publisher to sidestep the country’s “gay propaganda” law—a ruling that simply needs to be rescinded—but it doesn’t excuse the fact that they altered the book without consulting the author.

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What these novels have in common is a shared interest in the psychology of their main characters. Though they are set in fantastical worlds, their protagonists’ struggles are recognizable. They may have access to incredible science and sorcery, but they suffer from the same mundane troubles as humans on Earth today. They’ve lost their families; they are troubled by difficult romantic relationships; they feel like outcasts in their communities. And they aren’t always the epic heroes of their own adventures. They might have grand destinies, or they might just be fighters on the line along with thousands of others.

These four book series are shaping the future of science fiction on TV.

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Dhonielle Clayton, author of the upcoming The Belles (and co-author of the Tiny Pretty Things series with the co-writer of this article, Sona Charaipotra), sees online activism as part-and-parcel of being a YA author today. “The status quo is no longer acceptable, and women of color have been working to make the industry shift,” Clayton tells Bustle. “We will not be quiet. We will not go away. If the word ‘toxic’ was colloquially used in the 1960s, white people would’ve labelled the Civil Rights movement as such. This is what happens when you challenge white supremacy and its systems, and yes, children’s books are tools of white supremacy.”

Bustle published a careful, detailed look on how YA Twitter is trying to dismantle white supremacy one book at a time.

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

Unmissable Weekly: August 13, 2017

Bookish and Awesome’s weekly round-up of buzz-worthy news from around the bookternet in bite size. Click on the links to be directed to the full articles.

SLJ's Top 100 Must-Have YA Booksvia

Studies in the past have found that children’s books are dominated by male characters, that history books are overrun by male authors writing about male figures, and that literary fiction is less likely to win a prize if it focuses on a female character.

A new wave of books aimed at children might just be doing its small bit to change that. Thousands of little girls – boys as well, but likely mainly girls – will be settling down for bed this evening with a new kind of bedtime story, one in which the heroines are not fictional, but real. From Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls to Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World, sales of books about inspirational women have boomed this year – and look set to grow.

Who run the world? GIRLS!

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Nick Jonas will star with Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland in Lionsgate’s post-apocalyptic thriller Chaos Walking.

Mads Mikkelsen also stars in the film, playing a villain, and Demian Bichir and Kurt Sutter recently joined the project.

Heads up, Patrick Ness fans! You have your Davy Prentiss Jr., as well as the Mayor himself and Ben and Cillian.

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“There are a lot more stories to be told, and we’re ready to tell them,” Lionsgate CEO says of their golden goose-franchises Twilight and The Hunger Games.

Ummmmmmmmmm…

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While two of the top 10 titles can be considered “diverse” (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and Eleanor & Park), only a total of seven books in the top 50 feature protagonists or subjects from marginalized cultures. Even though the We Need Diverse Books movement was already in full swing by the time this poll was posted, the majority of responders didn’t include diverse titles in their top 100 picks. Diaz has written a follow-up piece to address this gap.

Here’s the SLJ list of the librarians-voted Top 100 Must-Have YA Books, with the addition of 42 editors-selected diverse titles. No surprises, mate.

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

Unmissable Weekly: August 6, 2017

Bookish and Awesome’s weekly round-up of buzz-worthy news from around the bookternet in bite size. Click on the links to be directed to the full articles.

Regina Hall 01via

Indies First, held on Small Business Saturday, brings together authors, readers, and publishers in support of independent bookstores. Authors and local celebrities volunteer at events across the country, and publishers offer special terms on books and exclusives.

Jason Reynolds was named the 2017 Indies First spokesperson.

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Girls Trip star Regina Hall has joined The Hate U Give, Fox 2000’s adaptation of the Black Lives Matter YA novel of the same name.

Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg is starring along with Russell Hornsby in the adaptation of Angela Thomas’ debut novel that George Tillman Jr. will direct.

Meet the Carter family!

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“I don’t like it when I see my books sold cheaply,” Pullman said. “But I’d like to think I’m speaking on behalf of all authors who are caught in this trap. It’s easy to think that readers gain a great deal by being able to buy books cheaply. But if a price is unrealistically cheap, it can damage the author’s reputation (or brand, as we say now), and lead to the impression that books are a cheap commodity and reading is an experience that’s not worth very much.”

There is no way to quote this article without oversimplifying Pullman’s argument, so please head over to The Guardian.

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Celebrity scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson has assembled a team of brilliant minds to help him with an immersive and completely customizable video game entitled Space Odyssey. The team includes Bill Nye (the Science Guy), American Gods author Neil Gaiman, and Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, among others in science and literature.

This screams, without a doubt, “nerd”—I mean, the Kickstarter goal is pi ($314,159)! But I have questions, mainly a why is there no woman in this “legendary team” and b what other projects that are not Winds of Winter is George R. R. Martin going to work on?

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

Monthly Bookish Awesomeness: July 2017

In which I recap what went down in the last four weeks here and outside the blog.

Hello waffles! How is it the last day of July already? I feel like I just danced the night away in a New Year’s Eve countdown last month.

So, I’ve seen Game of Thrones earlier and okay. I’d been pretty chill since this season premiered (we’re on the 7th now in case you’ve lost track) but, dang, the recent episode is SO good! ‘The Queen’s Justice’ is the strongest episode yet in terms of plot and character development. Although, I’m still getting used to the velocity with which everything is moving (it’s pretty alarming after having watched Arya practically spent one season traveling to Braavos). But Benioff and Weiss definitely nailed this one down by shifting the focus from the war to quieter scenes, playing at key moments with nuanced dialogues and outstanding performances. I’ve always loved Lena Headey and Diana Rigg in this show, and episodes like this is why.

Otherwise, this month-end “report” doesn’t look too . . . charming. I finished three books and wrote two reviews and zero personal content. But hey, Bookworms Unite! was a success and that is something, right?

Books I Read

Serafina and the Twisted Staff 01Serafina and the Splintered Heart 02

  • Serafina and the Twisted Staff by Robert Beatty – Compellingly readable and exceedingly satisfying, this is a delightful sequel to its predecessor. This is also probably my favorite in the trilogy.
  • Serafina and the Splintered Heart by Robert Beatty – It’s always bittersweet to say goodbye to a cast of characters you’ve followed in a series. But Beatty once again hits all the marks. This is vastly imaginative and utterly enjoyable.
  • Keep the Faith by Ana Tejano – Basically, NICOLAS TAMAYO WHERE ART THOU?
  • The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo – This is only a sampler (and in fact, the three stories here aren’t new) but, gosh, Leigh Bardugo you guys! The writing is spare, with the mark eerie cadence of fairy tales—at once sumptuous and unsettling. Plus, the illustrations are absolutely gorgeous.

Other Stuff I Posted

Book Birthdays

Serafina and the Splintered Heart 01   The Art of Starving 01   Because You Love to Hate Me 01   The Library of Fates 01

Happy book birthday to Serafina and the Splintered Heart (Disney Hyperion), The Art of Starving (HarperTeen), Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy (Bloomsbury USA Children’s), The Library of Fates (Razorbill), and Little Monsters (Delacorte Press), which all found a place in the shelves this month!

Book Radar

See What I Have Done 01   A Map for Wrecked Girls 01   Wicked Like a Wildfire 01   Warbringer 01

August means Wonder Woman: Warbringer (29th, Random House BFYR) will be out in the wild! Along with See What I Have Done (1st, Atlantic Monthly Press), Little and Lion (8th, Little, Brown and Company), A Map for Wrecked Girls (15th, Dial Books), and Wicked Like a Wildfire (15th, Katherine Tegen Books).

Gold Star

Bookworms Unite 01

#BookwormsUnitePH yo!

Bookworms Unite! happened last July 16th and it still overwhelms me to think that my friends and I have now been doing this for three years. Cheers, JM (Book Freak Revelations), Inah (The Bibliophile Confessions), Hazel (Stay Bookish), Salve (Cuckoo for Books), and Jas (Jasmine Pearl Reads)! It is infinitely heartwarming to meet fellow bookworms and I just want to thank every single one of you who came and hung out with us! This is definitely one for the books since it’s the first time we had kits, live reading, and a panel.

Head over to Book Freak Revelations for a full recap and The Bibliophile Confessions for a list of the new things we introduced this year.

Bookworms Unite 02Bookworms Unite 03Bookworms Unite 04

Around the Interwebs

How was your month bookworms? Are there specific titles you’re most looking forward to in August? What was the last book you read? Are you still watching Game of Thrones? What did you think of Episode 3? Grab a cup of coffee (or tea) and let’s talk!

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

Unmissable Weekly: July 30, 2017

Bookish and Awesome’s weekly round-up of buzz-worthy news from around the bookternet in bite size. Click on the links to be directed to the full articles.

Rebel in the Rye 01
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This week on literary film news…

Wonder Woman is holding better than any superhero film in more than 15 years at the North American box office. It has grossed more than $389 million at the domestic box office to date and passed Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 over the weekend.

So far, Wonder Woman 2 is the only release slated for Dec. 13, 2019.

Wonder Woman 2 is a thing that’s happening and I AM SO HERE FOR THIS.

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Apparently, Nicholas Hoult is in “early talks” to star as J.R.R. Tolkien in the forthcoming biopic Tolkien, which will be directed by Dome Karukoski. But wait, I thought Nicholas Hoult was going to play J.D. Salinger? Oh he is? (The proof is below, in the trailer.) And he’s also appearing as Nikola Tesla? I know, Hollywood and all that, but this is really starting to strain credulity.

Is Nicolas Hoult the last man standing in Hollywood? Although, I’ve seen the Rebel in the Rye trailer and I’m sold! So, Tolkien and Salinger are basically twins, is what it is.

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Sony Pictures has optioned movie rights to the Action Lab Comics series Princeless. Created by Jeremy Whitley and Emily Martin, the series follows a young black princess who, instead of waiting for a prince to save her, takes matters into her own hands. She breaks out of her tower, befriends the dragon guarding her, and sets off on a quest to rescue her six older sisters who are also locked in towers and guarded by assassins.

This sounds badass!

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The trailer wastes no time getting into the action and the scares as fans are treated to their first taste of the villain’s voice. From there, it’s a cavalcade of creepy as the voiceover describes the terror of being alone as a child.

“When you’re alone as a kid, the monsters see you as weaker. You don’t even know they’re getting closer… Until it’s too late.”

Watch It with the lights open and, hopefully, someone nearby.

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REVIEW: Serafina and the Splintered Heart by Robert Beatty (+ Giveaway)

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Title: Serafina and the Splintered Heart
Author: Robert Beatty
Format: ARC, 355 pages
Publication: July 4th 2017 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Publisher (thank you Sharon Keefauver and Disney Hyperion!)
Genre: Fiction—Fantasy, Gothic, Historical, Mystery
Other classifications: Middle Grade

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound | Fully Booked

Synopsis

The storms are coming. . . .

Something has happened to Serafina. She has awoken into a darkness she does not understand, scarred from a terrible battle, only to find that life at Biltmore Estate has changed in unimaginable ways. Old friends do unthinkable things and enemies seem all around.

A mysterious threat moves towards Biltmore, a force without a name, bringing with it violent storms and flooding that stands to uproot everything in its path. Serafina must uncover the truth about what has happened to her and find a way to harness her strange new powers before it’s too late.

With only days to achieve the impossible, Serafina fights to reclaim herself as the guardian of Biltmore, friend of Braeden, daughter of her pa, and heroine of the Blue Ridge Mountains and all the folk and creatures that call them home.

Review

I received a review copy from the publisher which in no way swayed my opinion about the work.

Serafina and the Splintered Heart is the third and seemingly final installmentat least for nowin Robert Beatty’s middle-grade mystery series and it delivers.

The book opens with Serafina waking up in a darkness so complete even her eyes, which normally can see just fine at night, cannot pierce. She returns to Biltmore Estate, trying to piece together her memory of the night she was attacked, but everything she witnesses along the way doesn’t add up. The moon is on the wrong phase. Storms are brewing. She stumbles upon a grotesque-looking creature in the forest. And then there’s the sorcerer. But all these are nothing to what she discovers upon arriving at the great house. With a plot like that of The Splintered Heart, writing a reviewwhich is tricky enough by virtue of it being a series finaleis no easy fit. But let me tell you: Beatty once again hits all the marks. His latest is enchanting, atmospheric, and deeply satisfying.

“They watched the stars and the planets sliding slowly over their heads, marking time so precisely that it was barely perceptible, like a great, celestial clock, keeping the time of their inner lives, showing them that out there in the world everything was always changing, but here in the center of the world, where they were lying side by side, everything would always remain the same.”

It’s always bittersweet to come to the conclusion of a story, especially one that spans through three books. But the beauty of the Serafina series lies ultimately on the journey: character development after character development. In The Splintered Heart, the main characters are further thrown into hard situations, both physically and emotionally, and the author gets to show the complexity of each of them. Serafina has come a long way from the lonely, friendless girl who is constantly suspicious of people in the first book. She’s been struggling to belong, searching for herself, and trying to make sense of the world around her for a while now that it’s heartening to see where she ends up as the final act draws to a resolution. There is Braeden, genteel, affectionate, and quick to trust. Witnessing how he grapples with loss and betrayal is absolutely interesting. He and the progress of his arc bag all the waffles! There is Waysa, too, who was introduced in the previous installment. Here, he gets a solid characterization and story line, with Beatty weaving in Cherokee culture in what I think is a carefully researched representation. And there is one more whom I wish I could talk about but, alas, I would rather not spoil you. So I will leave it at this: unlikely alliance, if written well, is one of my favorite tropes, and the author did just that.

“What do you do when you realize you are the monster in your own story?”

The Splintered Heart continues to reinforce positive messages on family, friendship, and bravery. It also gives each of its characters a good amount of agency which clearly affirms that actions have consequences and we are responsible for them, that we are not our past mistakes and we have the capacity for recovery and growth. But I like that Beatty didn’t go for formulaic, an easy trap for series such as this. There are no rehashing of scenes even as the novel revisits themes and reintroduces characters. Instead, it goes full circle. It concludes in a manner that is emotionally rewarding but just loose enough to allow for future sequel(s).

“She’d spent her whole life hiding, but now she just wanted one person, any person, to know she was there.”

Of course, I’d be remiss not to comment on the setting, which plays a huge part in the narrative. I am no expert in history but the author does a wonderful job in crafting a distinct atmosphere set in the backdrop of the opulence of Gilded-Age Biltmore Estate and the rugged beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. And this is true for all the Serafina books. Albeit, The Splintered Heart is less eerie, but no less rich in details.

With a mystery that will have you racing along with the MC, Serafina and the Splintered Heart is vastly imaginative and utterly enjoyable. This series will certainly be a staple in MG lists.

4.0 out of 5

Author

Robert Beatty 01
Robert Beatty lives in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, with his wife and three daughters. He writes full-time now, but in his past lives he was one of the pioneers of cloud computing, the founder/CEO of Plex Systems, the co-founder of Beatty Robotics, and the CTO and chairman of Narrative magazine.

Twitter | Website

Giveaway:

The giveaway, which ends July 31st, is very simple. You just head over to Twitter, follow me @mielsnickey and retweet this:

The prize pack includes one (1) signed finished copy of Serafina and the Splintered Heart, one (1) poster, one (1) journal, and one (1) enamel pin.

Blogger’s note: You can read my reviews of Serafina and the Black Cloak (Book 1) and Serafina and the Twisted Staff (Book 2) here and here, respectively.

Have you read this one yet? Have I convinced you to check out the series? What are some of your favorite MG titles? Or, you know, your recent read. Sound off in the comments below!

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

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