Books, Articles, and Videos for Learning, Exploration, and Discussion

Recommended by The Rev. Stephanie Green (UC-Berkeley)

Please see letter from Stephanie regarding her selections below or here.

African American and Black Literature

Baldwin, James. Notes of a Native Son.
Baldwin, James. The Fire Next Time.
Butler, Octavia. Kindred. (Speculative fiction)
Carbado, Devon W., Dwight A. McBride and Donald Weise. Black Like Us: A Century of
Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual African American Fiction.
Gates, Jr., Henry Louis Gates. Three Classic African-American Novels: William Wells Brown,
Clotel; or The President’s Daughter. Frances E. W. Harper, Iola Leroy; or Shadows
Uplifted. Charles W. Chesnutt, The Marrow of Tradition.
Griggs, Sutton E. Imperium in Imperio.
Jacobs, Harriet. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.
Kincaid, Jamaica. A Small Place.
Larsen, Nella. Quicksand and Passing.
McKay, Claude. Home to Harlem.
Rankine, Claudia. Citizen: An American Lyric.
Woodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming. (Middle Reader great for adults, too.)

Asian American Literature

Jen, Gish. Typical American.
Nguyen, Viet Thanh. The Refugees.
Okubo, Miné. Citizen 13660. (On Japanese American internment)

Latinx Literature

Viramontes, Helena María. Under the Feet of Jesus.
González, Rigoberto. Butterfly Boy.
Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street.

Native American Literature

Orange, Tommy. There There.

Multi-Cultural, Multi-Racial America

Batstone, David and Eduardo Mendieta, Eds. The Good Citizen. (See especially Barbara
Christian, “The Crime of Innocence.”)
Smith, Anna Deavere. Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992.
Takaki, Ronald. A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America.
Kids, Grandparents and Aging
Anderson, John David. Finding Orion.
Holm, Jennifer L. The Fourteenth Goldfish. (Hilarious and profound.)
Holm, Jennifer L. The Third Mushroom.
Medina, Meg. Merci Suárez Changes Gears.
Nesbet, Anne. The Orphan Band of Springdale. (US, on the verge of WWII)

Large Families (Multiple Siblings)

Birdsall, Jeanne. The Penderwicks Series. (Five books, white New England blended family)
Glaser, Karina Yan. The Vanderbeekers. (Mixed race)
Glaser, Karina Yan. The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street. (Mixed race)
Taylor, Sydney. All-of-a-Kind Family. (Jewish classic)


Historical Fiction

Anderson, Laurie Halse. The Seeds of America Trilogy: Chains; Forge; Ashes. (Three novels:
American Revolutionary War/Slavery)
Holm, Jennifer L. Full of Beans. (Great Depression)
Holm, Jennifer L. Turtle in Paradise. (Great Depression)
Ireland, Justine. Dread Nation. (Speculative fiction with zombies / US Reconstruction period)
Levine, Gail Carson. Dave at Night. (Harlem Renaissance/Jewish main character)
Murdock, Catherine Gilbert. The Book of Boy. (Middle Ages)
Nesbet, Anne. Cloud and Wallfish. (East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall)
Nesbet, Anne. The Orphan Band of Springdale. (US, on the verge of WWII)
Gidwitz, Adam. The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog.
(Middle Ages—with elements of fantasy/magical realism)

Novels in Verse

Acevedo, Elizabeth. The Poet X. (Afro-Latino/Dominican-American. R: high school youth)
Alexander, Kwame. Booked; The Crossover; Rebound. (Three novels. African American)
Engle, Margarita. Forest World. (Cuban-American)
Woodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming. (North/South African American)
Environmental Interest or Focus
Hiaasen, Carl. Hoot; Chomp; Scat; Squirm; Flush (Five funny novels; Florida setting; non-series)
Thunberg, Greta. No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference.

Books Set in New York City

Acevedo, Elizabeth. The Poet X. (Dominican American. Readership: high school youth)
Glaser, Karina Yan. The Vanderbeekers. (Mixed race)
Glaser, Karina Yan. The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street. (Mixed race)
Hashimi, Nadia. The Sky at Our Feet. (Afghan American Boy/ White Girl with chronic illness)
Levine, Gail Carson. Dave at Night. (Harlem Renaissance/Jewish main character)
Taylor, Sydney. All-of-a-Kind Family. (Jewish American)
Woodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming. (African American: North / South settings)

Some Favorite Children’s Picture Books

Alva, Alfredo and Deborah Mills. La Frontera: El Viaje con Papá. My Journey with Papa.
Blackall, Sophie. Hello Lighthouse.
Dearborn, Sabrina (Ed.). A Child’s Book of Blessings. (From diverse cultures and traditions)
de la Peña, Matt. Last Stop on Market Street.
Giardino, Alexandria. Ode to an Onion: Pablo Neruda and His Muse.
Khan, Hena. Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes.
Ladwig, Tim (Illustrator). The Lord’s Prayer (with picture story of a Black father and daughter)
Love, Jessica. Julian Is a Mermaid.
Morales, Yuyi. Dreamers.
Pitman, Gayle E. A Church for All.
Ruurs, Margriet and Nizar Ali Badr (artist). Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey.
Strickland, Tessa, Kate DePalma, David Deon. Barefoot Books: Children of the World.
Tutu, Desmond. God’s Dream.

A letter from the Rev. Stephanie Green regarding these selections

Dear Friends,
I offer book lists with the invitation to read, to look through windows and into mirrors and towalk with care into worlds through sliding glass doors. The book list is in no way complete—but it offers places to start from different points of interest, or challenge, or curiosity that is not held back by indifference, historical regret, or simply not knowing how to ask. Questions lead to more questions. May we never stop asking questions simply because we are afraid—or can’t be bothered–to reframe what we think we know. Let us read for love; let us meet each other in and through books on the Way of Love. In entering into one another’s stories and listening to our
fellow citizens (and citizens of the world), we can make a new way together. If you need a song
for this word-filled work: #BuildonLove.

The Rev. Stephanie Green

“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar
or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through
in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author.
When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature
transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own
lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of
self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.
“For many years, nonwhite readers have too frequently found the search futile….When children
cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are
distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in
the society of which they are a part. Our classrooms need to be places where all the children
from all the cultures that make up the salad bowl of American Society can find their mirrors.
“Children from dominant social groups have always found their mirrors in books, but they, too,
have suffered from the lack of availability of books about others. They need the books as window
onto reality, not just on imaginary worlds. They need books that will help them understand the
multicultural nature of the world they live in, and their place as a member of just one group, as
well as their connections to all other humans. In this country, where racism is still one of the
major unresolved social problems, books may be one of the few places where children who are
socially isolated and insulated from the larger world may meet people unlike themselves. If they
see only reflections of themselves, they will grow up with an exaggerated sense of their own
importance and value in the world—a dangerous ethnocentrism….
“[L]iterature, no matter how powerful, has its limits….It could, however, help us to understand
each other better by helping to change our attitudes towards difference. When there are enough
books available that can act as both mirrors and windows for all our children, they will see that
we can celebrate both our differences and our similarities, because together they are what make
us all human.”
–Rudine Sims Bishop, The Ohio State University. “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors.”
Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Classroom, Vol. 6 (3). Summer 1990.