Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

Ever since the John Hancock incident in elementary school, Amina has experienced stage fright. Happy to stay in the background, she enjoys hanging out with her best friend Soojin.  But she finds things are different now in middle school. Things are changing, and Amina finds some of these changes difficult and she is unsure of how to handle them. Her older brother,  Mustafa gets into a bit of trouble.  Her father’s older brother is visiting from Pakistan, and he voices his unfavorable opinion about Amina singing.  Soojin wants to hang out with Emily, one of the more popular girls at school.  While Amina wants desperately  to keep her friendship with Soojin as it is. When her mosque is vandalized, Amina and her community are devastated by the hateful act. With the support of her family, friends, and community, Amina perseveres.

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

Prince Sebastian has a secret life. By day he is Prince Sebastian, heir to the throne of Brussels.  At night, he lives a secret life as Lady Crystallia, a Paris fashion icon!  Sebastian hires Frances to be his dressmaker and keep his secret.  Their friendship develops, and Frances’s skill as a designer is noticed by the fashion world.  How long will Frances be willing to put her dreams of becoming a famous fashion designer on hold to protect Sebastian’s secret?

The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Hendrix

Hendrix’s biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer is visually stunning.  Hendrix mixes his artistic talents with the narrative of Bonhoeffer’s life and the timeline of events in Germany as Hitler gains power.  Bonhoeffer was a religious young German who studied theology and believed that we are judged on how we treat “others”. During Hitler’s rise to power, Bonhoeffer struggles with the love for his country and the evil deeds of the Nazis. Bonhoeffer seeks many ways to help the Jews and his country escape the grip of the Nazis but he is faced with many obstacles.  Finally, he becomes a Nazi spy for the Abwehr Circle.  The Abwehr Circle has a different agenda than spying on the enemy allied powers. This group of men plans to assassinate Adolf Hitler, but to do so they must stay one step ahead of the SS and Hilter’s paranoia.

El Deafo by Cece Bell

Cece Bell’s graphic novel/autobiography tells of her experience of learning to function in the hearing world after meningitis leaves her hearing impaired.  She shares her challenges and disappointments as well as her victories.  Cece creates an alter ego “El Deafo.”  El Deafo is a superhero, and as El Deafo Cece imagines herself conquering some of the obstacles that are presented to her.  El Deafo is humorous and inspiring.

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Strange things start happening in Sunny’s life when her friends reveal to her that they have magical abilities and they suspect that she has them as well. Sunny discovers that she is a “free agent” of the Leopard People.  Besides her regular studies at school, Sunny begins learning magical history, juju, spells, and other magic with her three friends Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha.  All of this she must keep from her overprotective and strict family. Things become even more complicated when the four friends discover that they have been selected by the magical council to take on a serial killer.

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

Six students are placed in the ARTT  (a room to talk) room by their teacher, Mrs. Laverne.  It’s a room without adults, a room where the six of them can talk about anything they want.  Haley narrates the story of Amari, Ashton, Esteban, Holly, Tiago, and herself.  Through their afternoons spent together, the six become close and soon trust each other enough to talk about tough issues and their insecurities. They discuss feelings and issues from Esteban’s father being sent to a detention center by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to bullying and racial profiling.  Each of the six has a gift to share with the rest of the group that brings strength to the others in the ARTT room. The stories they share with each other gather empathy and the group’s support.  Harbor Me is an example of the importance and power of friendship.

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Jerome is a ghost.  The unarmed, twelve-year-old boy was shot and killed in a Chicago neighborhood vacant lot by a white police officer.  Now Jerome can only be seen by Sarah Moore, the young daughter of the officer who shot him.  Sarah discovers that her father made some serious mistakes the night Jerome was shot.  Jerome isn’t sure why he keeps hanging around his family, his friend Carlos, and Sarah, but with the help of the ghost of Emmett Till, he will learn what he needs to do to help others.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Zelie remembers the magic, and she remembers the horrific night when magic was taken away.  The night her mother and other maji were executed on the orders of the hardened and ruthless King Saran. The night that left her people distraught and hopeless. Since that terrible incident, Zelie and her brother, Tzain, work hard to take care of their father.  Then one day while Zelie is selling fish at the market a young girl, Amari, runs into Zelie. Amari is being chased by the king’s guard.  Amari begs for Zelie’s help, and Zelie gives in against her better judgment.  Zelie, Amari, and Tzain find themselves on a dangerous journey to bring magic back with Amari’s brother, Inan, in pursuit hoping to carry out the king’s orders to terminate their mission.

Calling All Minds: How to Think and Create Like an Inventor by Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin is a world-renowned scientist, inventor, and expert on visual thinking. Temple has autism. In her book Calling All Minds,  she shares creative projects with directions on how to complete them, information on inventors, the history of inventions and patents, and lots of other interesting information. Most of all, Temple Grandin encourages and inspires her readers to create, to invent, and to learn from their mistakes.