MCCBD 2019 Feature: Own Voices Middle Grade Latinx Novels

The Children’s Book Council is excited to partner again with the team of Multicultural Children’s Book Day to celebrate diverse books all month long! Throughout January, 10 authors will be featured on the Multicultural Children’s Book Day blog where they have created lists of diverse books ranging from picture books, middle grade, and young adult novels under a variety of topics. Check our space for previews of these lists and links to the see the full lists and access the book giveaways on the Multicultural Children’s Book Day site. 

Please welcome Lila Quintero Weaver to #ReadYourWorld Book Jam 2019! The Multicultural Children’s Book Day blog is giving away one copy of Lila Quintero Weaver’s newest middle grade book, My Year in the Middle. Please click the link below for the full list to access the Rafflecopter giveaway.


My Year in the Middle by Lila Quintero Weaver

In a racially polarized classroom in 1970 Alabama, Lu’s talent for running track makes her a new best friend — and tests her mettle as she navigates the school’s social cliques.
“Miss Garrett’s classroom is like every other at our school. White kids sit on one side and black kids on the other. I’m one of the few middle-rowers who split the difference.” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]


Merci Changes Gears by Meg Medina

Merci Suárez is a scholarship kid at an exclusive private school in south Florida, complete with mean girls. Luckily, Merci’s family, anchored by a kindly grandfather, is close and supportive. But lately, something has gone seriously wrong with abuelo’s memory. As these challenges multiply, Merci seeks out better friends, stronger reasons to hope, and fortified resolve. [middle grade, ages 9 and up]


The First Rule of Punk by Celia Perez

Against her wishes, Malú has moved to Chicago, where she adapts by putting together a punk-rock band for the school’s fall festival. When the principal nixes their performance, Malú and her bandmates concoct a clever workaround. This fun and engaging novel is saturated with cultural references to Mexico, punk music, and the making of zines. [middle grade, ages 9 and up]

Click here for the full list and book giveaway.

Announcing the 2019 CBC Diversity Outstanding Achievement Award Winners

New York, NY – September 28, 2018 – The CBC Diversity Committee is proud to announce the winners of the inaugural CBC Diversity Outstanding Achievement Awards. These awards will be given annually to professionals or organizations in the children’s publishing industry who have made a significant impact on the publishing and marketing of diverse books, diversity in hiring and mentoring, and efforts that create greater awareness with the public about the importance of diverse voices.

The winners were announced at the CBC Annual Meeting in New York City on September 27, and an official ceremony and conversation with the winners will take place on October 24 at a CBC Forum event. The winners will each select an organization to receive one thousand dollars’ worth of children’s books in their name.

Shifa Kapadwala, the CBC Diversity Committee’s moderator, said: “The committee had the great joy and responsibility of reviewing nominations from across the children’s publishing community. In making their selections, the committee has summarized the accomplishments of these inspiring people and organizations.”

Author Interview with T.R. Simon

Candlewick Press sat down with T.R. Simon to discuss her new book ‘Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground’

CP:  How do the maturing Carrie and Zora see the world differently as they approach their teens?

T.R.S:  In book two of the Zora and Me trilogy, Zora and Carrie are now twelve going on thirteen. Although they are still children, they have encountered the sorrow of death along with the pride and joy that life in Eatonville affords them. What begins to alter them now is a slowly growing awareness of the past. While Eatonville could seem idyllic, tucked away from the daily brutality of the Jim Crow South, it is not free from the shadow of American history, particularly from the history of slavery. The history of slavery is a hard thing for young people because it requires them to confront the brutality of hate and the despair of powerlessness. Zora and Carrie grapple with the conflicted feelings that learning about Eatonville’s history brings up while simultaneously realizing that life is necessarily, for good and for bad, informed by the past.

CP:  Why did you choose to tell this book with dual narratives?

T.R.S:  I struggled with how to powerfully connect the fact of Jim Crow to the institution of slavery. Ultimately, I decided that the most effective way to do that was to show them side by side. Reconstruction was the attempt of newly freed slaves to enact self-determination, and Jim Crow was a formalization of the backlash to Reconstruction. If you don’t understand how slavery operated and the ideas of race that made slavery go, you can’t understand Jim Crow as the logical social extension of that violently inhumane practice.

Full Circle

By Kathleen Burkinshaw

Every year in May, 20 Hiroshima city employees gather at the Cenotaph in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. After a moment of silence at 8:15am (time the bomb was dropped), they begin to remove the 114 leather bound volumes that now hold over 305,000 handwritten names of each person that was in Hiroshima that day and has since died (unknown victims also have a dedicated page).

I think of the compassion and reverence that these employees hold for the atomic bomb victims.  They use white gloves to carefully remove one volume at a time, place them on a white sheet, and delicately air them out page by page.  After that, they move these registers inside to be protected from the upcoming humid, rainy season.  Lastly, they add the names of Hiroshima survivors who have passed away within this last year (regardless of where they were when they died). At the August 6th memorial service, they will return these volumes to again rest under the protection of the cenotaph arch.


I added my mother’s name to one of those leather-bound volumes in July 2015, when my husband, daughter and I visited Hiroshima six months after she passed away.  As I stood in front of the cenotaph, I believed my mom had come full circle. She returned, in a sense, to her beloved papa, her family, and her friends. And yes, I felt the pain of the horrific suffering and loss that happened on that very ground, as well as in the years that followed for the survivors whether physical, emotional, or both. But, in my heart I also felt the strength of the survivors like my mom who kept moving forward when the world they knew ceased to exist.

A Different Kind of Diversity in Reading

By Janet Tashjian

As a longtime autism advocate, I spend a lot of time thinking about diversity. My son Jake—who’s illustrated two of my series for Macmillan—is on the autism spectrum and also has a language-based learning delay, which has made reading especially difficult. But stories are so important to us that Jake and I found a way to improve his reading—and to help kids around the world be better readers.

When Jake was in fourth grade and books started getting harder (i.e., fewer pictures), he decided to draw his vocabulary words on index cards to learn them. Our garage is filled with boxes and boxes of these index cards with stick figure drawings illustrating words like “royalty,” “embarrassed,” and “military.” Friends would see the cards and laugh at Jake’s cartoons—not only because of his sense of humor but for the spot-on accuracy of how his drawings illuminated his vocabulary words.


As a novelist, I asked myself the quintessential writing question: What if? What if I wrote a novel about a kid who has a difficult time reading but still loves books and stories? What if Jake illustrated the novel with his stick figures? What if we could help other reluctant readers in the process of helping Jake?

My son and I collaborated on what would become My Life As A Book, which is now a series of seven novels in twenty-six languages. (My Life As A Youtuber is the latest.) It’s not the success of this middle-grade series that humbles me, however; it’s the can-do attitude of a kid with special needs taking control of his own learning process.


Over the past seven years, Jake and I have traveled the country doing author-and-illustrator visits to elementary and middle schools, talking to students about the different ways people learn. In our series, our main character is a visual learner, so drawing is the way he processes information. When Derek reads, he imagines the story as a movie in his head, the same way experts teach children with reading disabilities to picture stories. When we visit schools, I’m always amazed at the different ways people learn: kids with auditory processing issues, children with tactile and sensory concerns, or some kids who really need infographics to make sense of data. Diversity of learning is an important topic in education today, one that I’ve studied firsthand to help Jake make sense of and learn to process information in his own way. (My path to learning includes copious amounts of coffee and chocolate.)

Having a series that’s a staple in ESL and Special Ed classes—not to mention enjoyed by neurotypical middle-grade readers who just want a funny story—thrills me to no end. More important, it’s given my son purpose, along with a career doing something he loves. Sometimes working through things that are most difficult for us can lead us to discover not only solutions to our own obstacles but to other people’s as well. Great job, Jake Tashjian. You make me proud.


Janet Tashjian is the author of the popular My Life series including My Life as a Book, My Life as a Stuntboy, My Life as a Cartoonist, My Life as a Joke, My Life as a Gamer, and My Life as a Ninja, as well as the Einstein the Class Hamster series, illustrated by her son, Jake Tashjian. Jake and Janet live in Studio City, California.

Author Q&A with Sayantani DasGupta

Why is diversity in science fiction and fantasy so critical?

I grew up on science fiction and fantasy – Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time to The Hobbit to Star Wars, Star Trek, and Carl Sagan’s amazing show, Cosmos. Science fiction taught me to imagine big, to envision things beyond my reckoning. It taught me to dream. But of course, science fiction and fantasy back then didn’t let me see anyone who looked like me in a central role. As a brown skinned, immigrant daughter, I loved science fiction and fantasy. But science fiction and fantasy didn’t really love me back.

I think over the years, we’ve seen a vast improvement in terms of representation in many genres of children’s fiction. My own kids got to read a much more diverse array of books than I ever did. But not across all genres, unfortunately. My son, in particular, was a huge fantasy reader – if there wasn’t a talking bird, or flying horse, or a wizard in the tale, he wasn’t having it! Yet, the same gaps in representation I found as a young lover of science fiction and fantasy are still around 30+ years later. That’s a problem, because if all books are in the business of building our imaginations, then sci-fi and fantasy are in the business of building radical imagination. And if there’s ever been a time during which we need a collective radical imagination, it’s now. That’s part of the reason I wrote The Serpent’s Secret.

Something Personal

By Soman Chainani

Writing THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD & EVIL series is like running a fantasy corporation. Six years into writing, five books later, I wake up every day and juggle over 150 characters, 40 plot lines, and a world so big it feels like it’s outgrowing my own head. But it’s what I was born to do – write big worlds and sophisticated stories that can keep up with a clever child’s imagination. 


But there was something else I was born to do, only I never thought I’d find an outlet to do it: tell my own story.

And my most personal story is about my grandmother, who without sounding too crass, was a person far more significant in my life than my own parents. We shared the same birthday. We both liked gourmet food and fancy hotels, even if we couldn’t afford them. We both were highly suspicious of my grandfather. And most of all, we were deeply, deeply unhappy.

But Nani didn’t want me to be. And something about my own unhappiness made her intolerant of her own.

And so the summer trips began.


The Super Life of Ben Braver by Marcus Emerson (Roaring Brook Press, March 2018). All rights reserved. @macmillanchildrensbooks

MCCBD Feature: Books for Teens Featuring African-American Protagonists

Mike Mullin, author of Surface Tension, shares his book list “​Books for Teens Featuring African-American Protagonists.” Check out the preview below and the full list & 5 book giveaway on the Multicultural Children’s Book Day website.


1. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

I first read this novel the same year I first saw Star Wars, when I was ten or eleven. Both experiences linger in my memory nearly 40 years later. It wasn’t the first time I’d read books with Black protagonists (that would be Ezra Jack Keats’ brilliant picture books), but it was the first time I’d read about the brutality of racism. Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry is set in 1930’s Mississippi—Taylor sets the scene so well that by the time you’re done reading you’ll be able to taste the rust-colored dust of the dirt roads.

Cassie is an indomitable heroine. Every time I read her story, I alternate between feeling terror and elation as she confronts everything from racist insults to horrific threats against her person. But the true brilliance of the novel is the theme of fire running throughout it, beginning with the horribly burnt body of Mr. Berry and ending with a forest fire—it serves as a stark metaphor for the all-consuming nature of racism. [chapter book, ages 11 and up]


2. M.C. Higgins the Great by Virginia Hamilton

I think I loved this book because I identified so strongly with the protagonist: Mayo Cornelius Higgins, a brainy, disaffected young man who watches the world from atop a 40’ steel pole. Like M.C., I climbed everything in sight. (Trees, buildings… I never had a 40’ pole, but I have no doubt I would have tried to climb it. My favorite place was a tree covered in vines—I could climb up, stick my head out the top, and gaze over what looked like a leafy meadow suspended 60’ above the ground.) I also identified with the alliance M.C. builds with his neighbors, the light-skinned, red-headed Killburns. I never tried to build a wall with the Black kids who lived next door to me—Mark, Todd, and Glen—but we did build some wicked BMX ramps together! Years after I first read M.C. Higgins the Great, I met Virginia Hamilton and she signed a copy for me. I wish I’d bought a hardcover, but at that point I was in college and nearly broke. I also wish my handwriting were half as lovely as hers:

If you enjoy M.C. Higgins the Great, don’t miss The Planet of Junior Brown and The House of Dies Drear, my other favorite Hamilton novels. [chapter book, ages 11 and up]


3. Monster by Walter Dean Myers

I could have put lots of Myers books on this list, but this is the one that haunted my dreams for months after I read it. The protagonist, Steve, is facing 25-years to life for a crime he didn’t commit. Myers tells the story entirely through diary entries and a screenplay Steve is writing. But the real story here is Steve’s inner battle, as he struggles to reject the label society has already branded him with: Monster. [young adult, ages 13 and up]

Read the full list and enter the giveaway here.

MCCBD Feature: Middle Grade Spanish/English Bilingual Books

Eric and Natalie Yoder, authors of Short Mysteries You Solve With Math, share their book list “ Middle Grade Spanish/English Bilingual Books.” Check out the preview below and the full list on the Multicultural Children’s Book Day website.


1. One Minute Mysteries: Short Mysteries You Solve With Math/Misterios de un Minuto: Misterios Cortos Que Resuelves con Matematicas by Eric Yoder & Natalie Yoder

Now you can solve mysteries in English, Spanish or both! This award-winning title is now available as a bilingual book. Use it to expand your language and math skills at the same time. Each math mystery takes just one minute to read, and challenges a child’s knowledge in essential, age-appropriate math topics. [chapter book, ages 10 and up]


2. Cool Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Growing Up Latino in the United States edited by Lori Marie Carlson

Growing up Latino in America means speaking two languages, living two lives, learning the rules of two cultures. This book of poetry celebrates the tones, rhythms, sounds, and experiences of that double life. Here are poems about families and parties, insults and sad memories, hot dogs and mangos. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]


3. In My Family/En mi familia by Carmen Lomas Garza

This book is a tribute to the family and community that shaped the author’s childhood and life. Lomas Garza’s vibrant paintings and warm personal stories depict memories of growing up in the traditional Mexican-American community of her hometown of Kingsville, Texas. [chapter book, ages 6 and up]

Read the full list here.

The CBC Diversity initiative was founded in 2012, as part of the Children’s Book Council’s commitment to promoting diverse voices in literature for young people.