Crossed Any Borders To Read?

During the last Twitter #kidlitchat, I asked, "What's a recent Kid/YA book you've read featuring a protagonist of a different race than yours?" I thought I'd kick off another year on the Fire Escape by sharing the responses, some of which were new to me.

One caveat is that almost all of the responses came from white authors, partly because those of us who aren't white often cross racial/ethnic lines to read in English. It's the rule of reading for us rather than the exception. Also, I only included books published in the last two years; feel free to add more in the comments including titles and authors.

Middle Grade
  • The Prince of Fenway Park by Julianna Baggott
  • The Magical Midadventures of Prunella Bogthistle by Deva Fagan
  • The Broken Bike Boy and the Queen of 33rd Street by Sharon Flake
  • Brendan Buckley's Universe And Everything In It by Sundee T. Frazier
  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
  • Paris Pan Takes The Dare by Cynthea Liu
  • Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters by Lenore Look 
  • The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex
  • Ryan and Jimmy and the Well in Africa that Brought Them Together by Herb Shoveller
  • Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) by Lisa Yee
Young Adult
  • Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel- Fattah
  • Kendra by Coe Booth
  • All The Broken Pieces by Ann Burg
  • The Marvelous Effect by Troy CLE
  • Mare's War by Tanita S. Davis
  • November Blues by Sharon Draper
  • Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim
  • Liar by Justine Larbalestier
  • The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon
  • Journey of Dreams by Marge Pellegrino
  • Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins
  • Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon
  • Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
  • Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
  • The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner  
  • Moribito by Nahoko Uehashi
  • My Big Fat Manifesto by Susan Vaught
Gosh, it's good to be back on the Fire Escape, despite the winter chill. I've missed blogging! Don't forget to sign up for the January 21-day Comment Challenge over at Mother Reader.


Wendy said…
Read recently: The Rock and the River, Journey of Dreams, All the Broken Pieces...
deowriter said…
I am signed up for the comment challenge. I read this fall, Brenden Buckley's Universe and Everything in It. Great book and was sorry that the cover stopped me from picking it up (thought it would not be a good read.)
Jill Murray said…
So so many amazing books but I really want to name Coe Booth's Tyrell, and also Kendra, anywhere I can!

I crossed that line to /write/ both my books too... I'm an "outsider" to my own fiction :-D
Rasco from RIF said…
Thank you, Mitali. This type list which we try to grow daily is valuable to RIF in many ways on most days of any week. Not only in our ongoing assistance to RIF programs in the field but also the day to day calls from parents and teachers asking for this type information, many of whom are not affiliated previously with RIF in any manner. I encourage readers to list more books in your comments or write me directly:
Christine M said…
I can think of two off the top of my head, one was your own SECRET KEEPER and the other is Tanita Davis's MARE'S WAR (which I'm currently reading)
Tricia said…
I really wanted to try some different titles last year, so I read SKUNK GIRL and DOES MY HEAD LOOK BIG IN THIS?, both of which I loved. I also finally read REVOLUTION IS NOT A DINNER PARTY, which I should have read long ago. And who could forget Grace Lin's unforgettable WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON?
Stacy Dillon said…
The most recent is "All the Broken Pieces" by Ann Burg.
Meg Lippert said…
I too read North of Beautiful and loved it. Marcelo and the Real World is the February book we'll be exploring on our blog, StorySleuths. And BTW the October StorySleuths focus book was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which I see you quoted from in your Thanksgiving post.

Straying from the novel/YA genre, I recently read Ryan and Jimmy and the Well in Africa that Brought Them Together, a PB about a Canadian boy who raised money for a well in Uganda, met his pen pal, Jimmy, a Ugandan who had escaped from being conscripted by rebels, and was able to emigrate to Canada and was adopted by Ryan's parents. Awesome story. Also connects to your previous post about children without birth certificates--Jimmy didn't know his birthday--both his parents had died at the hands of the rebels--but a mentor in Uganda got him a passport by creating a birthday for him.

I joined the comment challenge too so here's my first one of 100. I'll be back!
I didn't remember right away that Marcelo of Marcelo in the Real World is Hispanic -- maybe because I am, too. Also recently read: The Prince of Fenway Park by Julianna Baggott (for the Cybils mg sff; mc is mixed-race).
Mitali Perkins said…
Thanks for the additions! I'll update the list tomorrow. Loving the comments challenge :).
Doret said…
I recently read Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel- Fattah.

I also signed up for the comment challenge. Trying to get my lurkers to delurk with commenters.
I've read only two books on your list, Paris Pan Takes the Dare, and Moribito. I really need to do better. My to-be-read pile is so humongous though! I think Grace Lin's book is probably next when I get to a bookstore...
Melissa Wiley said…
Mitali, thanks for this great list. I've just added several titles to my library list.

Prince of Fenway Park was a delight! And I'm not just saying that because Julianna is a pal of mine. ;)
Melissa Sarno said…
Thanks for sharing about the comment challenge! I decided to participate.

I read a great YA book 'Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis that featured a young African American protaganist. Was surprised to realize that there weren't a lot more that I've read recently. Definitely hope to change that in the new year.
Caroline said…
Thanks for this list! I also read Does My Head Look Fat in This, as well as The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, which I think is more than two years ago now. North of Beautiful is one of the books near the top of my to-be-read pile.
a. fortis said…
Wow, I'm sorry I missed the Twitter chat--sounds like it was a great one. Like others, I think my most recent read with a protagonist of a different race--or rather culture/ethnicity--was Does My Head Look Big in This? It was a REALLY interesting read for me because of the contrasting types of Islam portrayed, and comparing that to the brand of Islam that some of my family members practice was fascinating. It definitely felt like a different world, the world of Australian-Palestinian-Muslims. :)

In a way, though, I feel like I'm often crossing borders when I read, as someone of mixed ethnicity! In a way the experience of a more ethnically homogenous upbringing is foreign to me...

Again, excellent food for thought. Also, thanks for stopping by our blog celebration for Tanita!
Carmela Martino said…
Thanks for this list, Mitali. I have LIAR sitting in my TO READ pile right now.
You posed a great question, and one which has made me realise that I can't think of a single character in all the (picture) books I'm reading with my girls that is not white. That comes as a bit of a shock. I think a trip to the library is in order.
Sandra Stiles said…
I've only read six from that list but want to explore more of them. My favorite so far was "All the Broken Pieces." I look forward to reading more from your list. However, I didn't see yours on the list and I've had 3 copies stolen from my room. So I wasn't the only one that loved it. It's okay though. If a kid wants a book so bad they steal it from me then I am glad to let it go.
Anonymous said…
These are the trans-cultural titles I've read not mentioned on your lists. It's simply a listing, not a comment on quality. I've forgotten several.

Middle Grade:

Lucky Breaks (Patron)


After Tupac and D. Foster (Woodson)
Keeping Corner (Sheth)
Secret Keeper (Perkins)
Outside Beauty (Kadohata)
The Possibility of Sainthood (Freitas)
Absolutely Maybe (Yee)
Mexican White Boy (de la Pena)

Heather Zundel said…
Samurai Shortstop by Alan Gratz (amazing!)
Dragonfly by Julia Golding
House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer (a little older but absolutely wonderful)
Little Sister by Kara Dalkey (same story. Absolutely transportive).

I highly recommend Little Sister.
CLM said…
Just read a YA novel that qualifies for this group: in Duplikate by Cherry Cheva, an obsessive college bound teen slowly realizes that she blew off her best friend, Asian Jake Cheng, for a boyfriend who made her want his dreams rather than her own (although personally, I didn't see why she couldn't have had an independent desire to go to Yale, but maybe that is my NNHS background showing).