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One World, Many Stories

Summer reading programs are kicking off soon at the libraries where I work, and this year's theme is "One World, Many Stories."

As I've mentioned before, I believe multicultural stories aren't just for people of color and I love that so many kids will have the opportunity to learn about the big, beautiful world we all share.

Here's a short list of books about people from the four corners the world, including right here in the USA.

Picture Books

Angel City by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Carole Byard
An African-American man adopts a Latino boy and when tragedy strikes this unlikely family, love is what keeps them going. Not for younger readers, but older children can appreciate the book’s message of tolerance and compassion.

D Is for Dragon Dance
by Ying Chang Compestine, illustrated by YongSheng Xuan
Vibrant illustrations celebrate the traditions of Chinese New Year one letter at a time.

Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People by Monica Brown, illustrated by Julie Paschkis
Neruda found inspiration in the world around him and the power of words made him a hero to the people of Chile.

Peek! A Thai Hide-and-Seek by Minfong Ho, illustrated by Holly Meade
Ho brings a cultural twist to the timeless game with a little girl and her daddy playing Jut-Ay, the Thai equivalent of peek-a-boo.

Sugar Cane: A Caribbean Rapunzel by Patricia Storace, illustrated by Raul Colon
The island setting and use of local folklore is an excellent way to introduce readers to Caribbean culture.

Middle Grade Books

The Arrival by Shaun Tan
The simple story of an immigrant arriving to a new land is brought to new heights with Tan’s intricately illustrated, yet wordless, graphic novel.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
Esperanza’s life turns upside down when she must leave her home in Mexico and become a farm laborer in California.

The Legend of Hong Kil Dong: The Robin Hood of Korea by Anne Sibley O'Brien
Presented in a graphic novel format, this story follows the adventures of a young man who becomes a warrior and magician to fight corrupt officials.

No Laughter Here by Rita Williams-Garcia
Akilah discovers that while her best friend Victoria was in Nigeria, she forced to get an operation called female circumcision. The book approaches the topic with compassion and believability.

Running with the Reservoir Pups
by Colin Bateman
Eddie moves to Belfast and falls in with a street gang called the Reservoir Pups in this hilarious and slightly surreal novel.

Young Adult Books

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Yang’s brilliantly conceived graphic novel of three different tales are interwoven into one Asian American teen’s search for identity.

A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt
Simone knows she's adopted and it's never bothered her. But then she meets her birth mother, a Hasidic Jew, and learns life is more complicated than she thought.

Cuba 15
by Nancy Osa
Violet didn’t expect to get excited about having a traditional Cuban quinceanero; she didn’t expect to want to learn more about her Cuban heritage; and she certainly didn’t expect that her sudden interest in all things Cuban would cause a rift in the family.

Lives of Our Own by Lorri Hewitt
Hewitt tells the novel in alternating chapters as two girls, one white and one black, try to integrate the Old South Ball.

A Step from Heaven by An Na
Na's delicately written novel follows Young as she moves from Korea to the United States, but the promise of a better life in America fails to appear.

What are some of your favorite stories from around the world? Or from your own backyard?