As a youth services staff member, I have a soft spot for middle grade books. After the creation of We Need Diverse Books a few years ago, I’ve started paying closer attention to what stories and perspectives are being told in children’s books. While the numbers are still overwhelmingly white (as reported by Lee & Low’s annual 2019 Diversity in Publishing survey), I think the past few years have given more awareness to great books that feature all children. This reading list contains just a few recent publications that you may not have heard of but you definitely should add to your to-be-read pile, as they’re perfect for adults and children alike!
These books are all realistic fiction to help narrow down your selection and I don’t think my list covers every book, which just speaks to how many great books there are. As usual, the links below go to the VPL catalogue where you can request these titles and read more about them!
The Best At It by Maulik Pancholy. This wonderful book is about twelve year old Rahul Kapoor, a seventh grader who wants to stand up to his bullies by proving that he is the best at something. Now all that’s left for him to do is to figure out what that special something is. This heartwarming story has wonderful gay representation and great discussions about mental health. I’m not the only one that thinks so, as this book is a Stonewall Honor Book and generated 3 starred reviews from trade reviews like Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews.
Manga can seem intimidating for new readers because of long series, such as One Piece that has over 100 volumes. It’s hard for readers to get into the form if you don’t know where to start. As an avid manga reader, I decided it would be great to recommend some series that are really short or even stand-alone volumes so any reader can pick them up! Despite some (untrue) preconceptions about how most series typically focus on high school drama or are way too sports-focused, there are so many great mangas that have hidden depth.
For the first recommendation, I have to recommend Yoko Nogiri’s Love in Focus series. It is one of my all-time favourites and only has 3 lovely volumes. It features Mako, an aspiring photographer who takes after her grandfather. Mako travels to the countryside and finds herself in a new dorm where she makes new friends who share her passion for photography. While there is a bit of a love triange in this one, I adored the art style and Mako’s thoughts and experiences with photography especially as it relates to her connection with her grandfather. It’s a series that’s ideal for binge-reading, so I recommend requesting all 3 volumes at once.
Yes, that title was meant to be read out loud in your best host voice! ABC’s The Bachelor has been running for so many years and in the last few months, it has really surfaced again in popularity as we all need some new entertainment during self-isolation. While this post may seem timely, I started watching the show a few years ago and have become obsessed with it. I know that there is a very rare chance that the show could actually help people find love but there has been enough success stories (though they do not outnumber the many failures) that I am hooked each season. Of course, I have to admit that the drama between contestants is definitely a part of what makes the show so compelling.
The show is largely seen as a guilty pleasure or unsophisticated viewing but if I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure. I also really enjoyed Roxane Gay’s essay in Bad Feminist (when I read the book years ago!) on the franchise where she discusses that you can love something and still critique it. That said, I thought it would be fun to discuss some books about the franchise because one of my favourite things is combining my TV hobbies with my reading hobbies. Continue reading