Kids are more likely to engage in literature when they relate to what they read, and it gives them a sense of belonging, says Mariana Souto-Manning, Ph.D., a professor of early childhood education at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Add these all-inclusive titles:
The First Rule of Punk by Celia Pérez
Spirited Malú is a 12-year-old who stands out from the crowd thanks to her love of rock music and skateboarding. Kids will cheer her on as she struggles to fit in at a new school. $17.
by Robin Yardi
The Mexican-American fourthgrade protagonist is determined to track down two talking skunks who stole his bicycle. Readers are sure to LOL at the humorous, action-packed tale, and they may also identify with Mateo’s insecurity about not speaking Spanish. $18.
Canned and Crushedby Bibi Belford
Eleven-year-old Sandro Zapote is on a mission to raise money for his younger sister’s heart surgery by collecting cans. The funny, feel-good read also helps kids explore more serious issues, such as illegal immigration and unemployment. $8.
Moving Target by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
The tale follows Cassie Arroyo, a 12-year-old whose life transforms overnight from boring to totally bonkers after a member of a secret organization shoots her father— and Cassie discovers that she may be the next target. $7.