13 hard-hitting novels, immersive poetry and magnetic thrillers for teens | We Are Kid Lit Collective

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Part of We Are Kid Lit Collective’s 2022 summer reading selections, this list of YA books features a range of authors, formats, and subjects.

School library journal proudly associated with We Are Kid Lit Collective to share and promote the group’s annual summer reading recommendations.

This week, SLJ will publish individual articles containing their recommendations for picture books, transitional books, middle-level and young adult titles. A PDF of the full list is also available for download.

Part of We Are Kid Lit Collective’s 2022 summer reading selections, this list of YA books features a range of authors, formats, and subjects.

The We Are Kid Lit Collective works to create materials and opportunities to recognize the humanity of Indigenous Peoples and People of Color (IPOC) in children’s literature. Their work is grounded in the principles of social justice, equity and inclusion and centers IPOC voices in children’s literature to identify, challenge and dismantle white supremacy and internalized and systematic racism. .

Their target audience includes educators, librarians, caregivers and young people. They are looking for ways to improve the literacy of IPOC children, promote books written by and about IPOC, and encourage caretakers to bring a critical literacy lens to their work.

Àbíké-Íyímídé, Faridah. Ace of Spades. (Feiwel & Friends, 2021). English.
Devon is shocked when he is selected to be prefect of the elite private school he attends, but Chiamaka knows she deserves it. It’s their last year and the privileges that come with this new title are exciting. But that quickly dissipates when Devon and Chiamaka’s deepest secrets are exposed to the whole school. Who, or what, is behind these efforts to ruin them socially and academically?

Ak’abal, Humberto; illustrated by Amelia Lau Carling; translated by Hugh Hazelton. Aquí era el paraíso: Selección de poemas de Humberto Ak’abal / Here Was Paradise: Selected Poems of Humberto Ak’abal. (Earthwood, 2020). Bilingual (Spanish; English).
A selection of poems based on the Mayan poet’s memories of his childhood days in the village of Momostenango, Guatemala. Ak’abal is recognized as one of the greatest indigenous poets in the Americas.

Allaire, Christian. The power of style: how fashion and beauty are used to reclaim cultures. (Annick Press, 2021). English.
This beautifully illustrated non-fiction book shows the many ways in which the clothes, jewelry, and other adornments we wear are personal expressions of our cultures and our true selves.

Johnson, George M. We are not broken. (Small, Brown, 2021). English.
Award-winning black non-binary author and activist George M. Johnson delivers a powerful memoir of their childhood that reflects the joys and tribulations of growing up in their grandmother’s house.

Liu, Jennie. Like spilled water. (Carolrhoda Laboratory, 2020). English.
When her younger brother suddenly dies of suspected suicide after failing to do well in his college entrance exams, Na, a 19-year-old student at a vocational school in China, must drop out and rush home to take care of herself. of his devastated parents. There, she discovers the truth about both his death and his arranged marriage.

Morales, Ricardo Levins. Color for justice, color for calm. https://www.rlmartstudio.com/product-category/coloring-pages/ (self-published, 2020). English; Spanish.
Artist Ricardo Levins Morales designed these meditative coloring sheets so everyone can use their art as social medicine. The pages can be downloaded from his site and are available for free to anyone who needs to color for peace or for justice.

Nelson, Vaunda Micheaux; Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. No Crystal Stair: A documentary novel about the life and work of Harlem bookseller Lewis Michaux. (Carolrhoda Laboratory, 2012). English.
Nelson combines meticulous research with a storyteller’s flair to document the life and times of his great-uncle Lewis Michaux, an extraordinary civil rights-era African-American literacy pioneer.

Rose, Randy. Greenwood Angel. (Feiwel & Friends, 2021). English.
The year is 1921, and two black teenagers, the rule-following Angel and the rebellious Isaiah, seem to have nothing in common other than a desire to succeed and contribute to their thriving black neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, known as of Greenwood. But somehow, a romance blossoms between the two in the days before armed white people enter the city to slaughter and destroy Greenwood and its people.

Takei, George; Justin Eisinger; & Steven Scott; illustrated by Harmony Becker. They called us enemies. (TopShelf Productions, 2019). English.
Japanese American writer and actor George Takei recounts his childhood in an American incarceration camp during World War II. The graphic novel personalizes this imprisonment by detailing the struggles of Takei’s family facing an uncertain future in their own country.

Thakur, Sophia. Somebody give a pen to this heart. (Candlewick, 2020). English.
In this collection of poems, slam poetry artist Sophia Thakur explores the life of a young mixed-race woman trying to make sense of life and all it has to offer.

Williams-Garcia, Rita. A session at Saint-James. (Tree Quill, 2021). English.
Williams-Garcia weaves a story of Thisbe, a young black woman made invisible by slavery in St. James Parish, Louisiana, in this deeply researched historical fiction novel. Readers become aware of the particularities of slavery in this region of the country and how violent oppressions and abuses based on race, gender and sexual orientation were enacted.

Wong, Alice, ed. Making Disability Visible: 17 first-person stories of today (suitable for young adults). (Delacorte, 2021). English.
Asian-American activist Alice Wong edited this collection to share some of the many first-person stories of people with disabilities. These are unexpected, honest, illuminating and something we all need to read.

Yo, Paula. From a whisper to a rallying cry. (Norton, 2021). English.
A compelling account of the 1982 murder of Chinese American Vincent Chin, the verdicts that drove the Asian American community to the streets in protest, and the groundbreaking civil rights trial that followed.


2022 WE ARE MEMBERS OF THE KID LIT COLLECTIVE: Sam Bloom, Edith Campbell, Sujei Lugo Vázquez and Lyn Miller-Lachmann.

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