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Fall for These Books

In The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
(grades 9-12), life is bleak on the reservation where Junior lives with
his family. Smart and ambitious, the budding cartoonist decides to
pursue his dreams by transferring to an all-white high school 22
miles away. The funny, gritty novel chronicles a year of Junior’s new
life as he grapples with issues of identity, culture, tumultuous family
events, and friends old and new.
Contemporary artist Javaka Steptoe echoes and illuminates the
work of 1980s artistic wunderkind Jean-Michel Basquiat in Radiant
Child (grades 3-5). The collage-style paintings introduce young
readers to the message that art doesn’t always have to be neat and
clean — or even inside the lines — to be beautiful.
The bilingual picture book One of a Kind, Like Me/Único Como Yo,
by Laurin Mayeno and illustrated by Robert Liu-Trujillo (grades 1-2),
follows Danny, who wants to be a princess in tomorrow’s school
parade, as he and his mom race to the thrift store to find his costume.
The story lifts up children who don’t fit gender stereotypes,
and reflects the power of a loving and supportive community.
For more California Reads recommendations, see
cta.org/californiareads; #californiareads