Diversity Materials

absolutelytrueThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Author: Sherman Alexie

Publication Information: New York : ittle, Brown, 2007.

Ages: Middle School/High School


Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.


This is a story of adolescence. A story that every person who has every been a teen or a teen who is different in any way should read. Novel does contain subject matter that some readers may not want to read about however, the whole book is not about masturbation. It is about Junior and what it is like to be a young person. I live in Spokane, Washington the hometown of the author and the setting for the story. He tells the truth. I see these students in our schools and I am sure every middle school and high school student in America has felt like Junior. This book should be read not for the sexual content but for the coming of age story it is. It is a shame that even in 2013 we still have books being questioned for its content and not looked at for its message.

Content Area:

English, American Indians, Sexuality, Teen Choices


We offer a class that all students take titled Teen Choices. I would use this book in that class as it deals with many of the subjects discussed in that class such as bullying, being different, being a teen, emotions, violence. Students can relate to this book and it is a wonderful novel to use to elicit conversations that pertain to the life of a teen.

Digital Content:

Author Website




  • National Book Award, Young People’s Literature, for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
  • American Library Association Odyssey Award as the year’s “best audiobook for children or young adults”, read by Alexie (Frederick, MD: Recorded Books, LLC, 2008,

All My Noble Dreams and then What Happens

Author: Gloria Whelan

Publishing Information: New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, c2013.

Ages: 12-16 Middle School/High School

all my noble dreams


Rosalind lives in British-controlled India.  She is the only daughter in a well-off family whose father is in the British Government. Rosalind runs a small school for the village boys that is not controlled by the government. Her father would not approve if he found out about the school. Her father does not approve of her following of Gandhi and finding out about the school would aggravate him more. This is the second book in the Small Acts of Amazing Courage series.  The book also tells of what happened to Hari, the infant that Rosalind rescued in the first book and how her aunts are now doing living in India.  As Rosalind gets drawn further into British life, she finds her two worlds colliding and the struggle to remain true to herself and what she believes.


Although this book is second in a series it can be read as a stand alone book. I have not read the first book but plan too. I read this book in two days and it is absolutely engaging. The vocabulary is easy to understand and is a perfect read for middle school students. The subject matter is different and explores different cultures and times. Rosalind is a truly remarkable, strong female character that I think even young men would like reading about. She is tough, adventurous and ready to change the world! I highly recommend this book. The author of this book who is 89 years young shows us all that you can keep writing and producing wonderful books no matter your age!


English, Social Studies, Culture


I see this book being used in Social Studies classes to examine different cultures around the world. Student could read the book then look at British culture or Indian culture and produce projects. They could examine the fashion of the time, the food, customs, family life. The possibilities are endless.

Digital Content:

Author Website:


My Mixed-up Berry Blue Summer


Author: Jennifer Gennari

Publication information: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012.

Ages: Middle School


Twelve-year-old June Farrell spends the summer at her Vermont home getting used to the woman her mother is planning to marry and practicing her pie-baking skills, as she hopes to win the blue ribbon at the fair.


This book was recommended to me by one of my students. She did not tell me anything about it just that I should read it. I enjoyed this wonderful story. It shows the different ways a family is made and when you are a teenager it can be difficult to deal with how others view your family. This book shows how people fear differences and the ignorance that comes from fear. I enjoyed that the author developed a wonderful little story with so many different messages about humanity, prejudice and differences.

Content Area:

Tolerance, Teen Choices


Again this book could be used in my school’s Teen Choices class. When reading this novel discussions about what makes a family, tolerance and prejudice. In groups of 4 students could make posters promoting positive messages that could be hung around the school.

Digital Content:

Author Website


Bank Street Best Children’s Books of the Year 2013
A 2013 Rainbow List selection by the American Library Association

Under the Persimmon Tree


Author: Suzanne Fisher Staples

Publisher: New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005

Ages: Middle School

Summary: Intertwined portraits of courage and hope in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Najmah, a young Afghan girl whose name means “star,” suddenly finds herself alone when her father and older brother are taken by the Taliban and her mother and newborn brother are killed in an air raid. An American woman, Elaine, whose Islamic name is Nusrat, is also on her own. She waits out the war in Peshawar, Pakistan, teaching refugee children under the persimmon tree in her garden while her Afghan doctor husband runs a clinic in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan.Najmah’s father had always assured her that the stars would take care of her, just as Nusrat’s husband had promised that they would tell Nusrat where he was and that he was safe. As the two look to the skies for answers, their fates entwine. Najmah, seeking refuge and hoping to find her father and brother, begins the perilous journey through the mountains to cross the border into Pakistan. And Nusrat’s persimmon-tree school awaits Najmah’s arrival.

Analysis: I three students who experienced life in Iraq after September 11, 2001. Their stories inspired me to read this book and experience the emotions they too must have had. I would love to use this book in our English classes to further expose our students to the events that some of their classmates have experienced prior to coming to America and starting their new lives.

Content Area: Diversity

Digital Content:


Awards: Under the Persimmon Tree is a 2006 Bank Street – Best Children’s Book of the Year.

Does My Head Look Big in This?


Author: Randa Abdel-Fattah

Publisher: New York : Orchard Books, c2007, c2005.

Ages: Middle School/High School

Summary: When sixteen-year-old Amal decides to wear the hijab full-time, her entire world changes, all because of a piece of cloth… Sixteen-year-old Amal makes the decision to start wearing the hijab full- time and everyone has a reaction. Her parents, her teachers, her friends, people on the street. But she stands by her decision to embrace her faith and all that it is, even if it does make her a little different from everyone else.

Analysis: Again inspired by my students this book is one of my new favorites! I have four students who wear their hijab full-time. I have had the privilege of hearing conversations between these girls and our American girls about what wearing a hijab means, don’t they want to be like everyone else and what is their hair like underneath. It is wonderful to see such dialogue between teenagers and the understanding from both sides of the conversation about how a piece of cloth means so much to one student and the other student seeing in at first as just a piece of cloth.

Content Area: Diversity


Winner – Australian Book Industry Awards 2006 – Australian Book of the Year for Older Children

Notable Book – Selected as a Notable Book by the Children’s Book Council 2006

Long listed for the UK Galaxy Book Awards 2006

Short listed for the Grampian Children’s Book Awards UK 2006

Digital Content:

Teacher Notes


Flowers for Algernon


Author: Daniel Keyes

Publisher: Publisher: Mariner Books; 4.1.2005 edition (May 1, 2005)

Ages: Middle School

Summary: Charlie Gordon is a mentally disabled man who just wants to be smart. When he meets two doctors that think they can “make” him smart with brain surgery, Charlie learns that sometimes the one thing you wish for is not really what you need at all.

Analysis: Each year our 8th grade students read the short story verison of this book. This year I read the novel version. I love the message of the story and the manner in which we can teach tolerance of others and diversity with one book. We show the movie after we read the book and preface the movie with the idea that some events are different to make the movie more “Hollywood”.

Content Area: Diversity

Awards: Hugo Award for Best Short Fiction; Nebula Award

Digital Content: 

Brown Girl Dreaming


Author: Jacqueline Woodson


New York :Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA)
Ages: Middle School
Summary: BROWN GIRL DREAMING focuses on Jacqueline Woodson’s memories of growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, moving from Ohio where she was born to South Carolina with her maternal grandparents and then back north to New York. In the backdrop of her family life lies the outlasting effects of the Jim Crow laws — her family still sits toward the back of the bus in the South — and the growing civil rights movement.
Analysis: This book is different in that it is written through a series of poems. Through poetry we meet Woodson’s family and their experiences living in the South. By the end of the novel we feel as though we know every aspect of their lives and their personalities. For readers who do not enjoy reading long novels this is a wonderful book!
Content Area: Diversity
Digital Content: Author Interview
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
Author: Meg Medina
Ages: Middle School
Summary: After the floor in her mother’s apartment collapses, Piddy Sanchez is forced to move to another part of Queens and start a new school. There, Piddy learns that a girl named Yaqui Delgado wants to beat her up. Though Piddy and Yaqui have never met, Yaqui doesn’t consider Piddy a fellow Latina: her grades are too good, her skin too light, and her accent not thick enough. Haunted by Yaqui and her gang, Piddy grows increasingly fearful, feeling like she’s prey to Yaqui’s predator. In this gritty, realistic novel, Medina explores coming-of-age in a tinderbox of racial stereotyping and bullying.
Analysis: This book is definitely for those readers who are a little more advanced and can handle a higher level of understanding. We purchased this book in our library and we have heard from several students how much this book could be about any student that goes from one school to another and does not fit in. Bullying is such a hot topic in today’s schools and any book that we can get in our collection to address the subject is important.

Digital Content:

Elenor and Park


Author: Rainbow Rowell

Publisher:  New York : St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013.

Ages: Middle School

Summary: This is the love story of two very different teenagers who should not fall in love but they do. This story is a timeless tale that I think any of us who have fallen in love with someone completely opposite of yourself can relate too.

Analysis: I read this book in one day. I was taken back to a time when I was in love with someone who was my complete opposite. We would spend time together talking about anything and everything. We kept our relationship a secret. It was a time I now look back on and realize that was I truly experienced love for the first time and heartbreak. Eleanor and Park is a tale that speaks to young love and letting your hear guide you. Even if it goes against everything everyone else thinks is good for you.


All About Romance (AAR) Annual Reader Poll for Best Young Adult Romance (2014)Michael L. Printz Award Nominee (2014)

YALSA Teens’ Top Ten (2014), Milwaukee County Teen Book Award (2014)

Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award (2014)

Digital Content:
Counting By 7’s
Publisher: New York : Dial Books for Young Readers, c2013.
Ages: Middle School/High School
Summary: Twelve-year-old genius and outsider Willow Chance must figure out how to connect with other people and find a surrogate family for herself after her parents are killed in a car accident.
Analysis: Another book I read in one day! When I first started this book I did not think I was going to love this book. However, that all changed the further I read. This book is full of diversity, trials and loss. This book is a wonderful resource for middle school students who are not only struggling with being a teenager but dealing with outside struggles as well. I loved this book so much that I donated a copy of it to the school I work for. I truly believe that this book can help so many readers understand that you can overcome and you can be happy again despite being thrown so many awful curve balls in life.
Digital Content:
Author Website:

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