Monday, January 05, 2009

Diversity Rocks! Book Challenge

When I started the Reading Tub, I wrote the tag line "Turning a page ... opening the world." I thought it captured the potential and reach of reading. There is so much to explore between the covers of a book. Reading can transport you to new places (of this earth and beyond), introduce you to new people (real and not), and expand your everyday world. That idea is what drew me to Ali's Diversity Rocks! book challenge.

One of the things I like about the challenge (aside from the flexibility) is that it will help me take a more thoughtful approach in selecting books I read. Frankly, I don't think about ethnicity or race when I look at a book. I am drawn to a book because the story sounds interesting. Sometimes it is because the illustrations or photographs draw me in without reading a word. Taking the time to learn more of the back story or pay attention to the origin of the stories will round out my reading experience. And that's cool.

Here are the books I've selected for the challenge. Update: In my previous post, I said I would commit to six books. In my original comment on Ali's post announcing the challenge, I have committed to reading nine books ... and secretly hoping to read 12. Here are the first six books on my list (in no particular order). You may recognize a few of these from my TBR pile ...

Give a Goat written by Jan West Schrock, illustrated by Aileen Darragh. This may be a stretch, but it offers a true-life story about a 5th grade class and their effort to think beyond themselves to help a family continents away. From the publisher's website: "Give a Goat is a template for adults and children who want to work together to experience the satisfaction of giving to others and making a difference in the world. "

Out of Bounds: Seven Stories of Conflict and Hope
by Beverley Naidoo. I love Naidoo's work. I read Web of Lies, several years ago and she got me hooked on stories that let you tap into the struggles of immigrant kids and their families. This is a collection of short stories about apartheid in South Africa. This was a book that caught my eye last September.

The Dragon's Child: A Story of Angel Island
by Lawrence Yep with Dr. Kathleen S. Yep. This is a middle-grade story about immigration that one of our parents already reviewed. Their review is compelling, and I want to read it myself.

Mountains to Climb written by Richard Wainwright, illustrated by Jack Crompton. From School Library Journal: "A gentle story about a boy from the Andes mountains and his pet llama, born with one eye, who sail to America to live with his aunt and uncle for 'a year or two.' He helps his fellow Explorers Club members find shelter on a stormy mountain top and rescue their injured advisor. Before he returns to South America, Roberto convinces the Explorers to admit two new members--one boy who is blind and another who has two artificial legs. The portrayal of the two physically challenged boys and their interaction with the others on the camping trip is the book's strength."

Little Leap Forward: A Boy in Beijing
written by Guo Yue and Clare Farrow, illustrated by Helen Cann. This is a book that arrived in the office last fall and was in my last Reading Ahead column. This middle-grade novel is set in in Beijing, China, in 1966. I wsa three in 1966, and I know very little about the Cultural Revolution. The author is a contemporary, and I would like to see how his story unfolds.

Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story
written by Janet Halfmann, illustrated by Duane Smith. This is the story of an escaped slave's journey to freedom. What captured my interest in reading this book was this statement in Cloudscome's review at A Wrung Sponge: "You don't often get exciting stories of heroism and resistance by smart, brave, persistent African Americans who spent their lifetime working for justice and freedom. Robert Smalls is such a man and Seven Miles to Freedom is a thrilling biography for elementary age children."

Rather than pre-select all of my titles just to "fit" the challenge, I am going to opt to add some later. That will allow me to explore and get suggestions from other readers and take advantage of new titles that come in for review.

The Diversity Rocks! book challenge is, well, diverse. There are no genres or age ranges involved. I'm sticking with children's books because that's (a) what I read the most; (b) that's my audience; and (c) it's easy. If you're looking for ideas, read Ali's posts about children's picture books and middle-grade titles.


  1. These look like some interesting books, I can't wait to hear what you think of them!

  2. Thank you so much for posting links to my Writer's Digest 101 Best Website, Sharing with Writers.

    Your readers may also be interested in The New Book Review It is a great place for readers and reviewers to praise their favorite books. (-:

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers
    Also blogging at

  3. This is the person who caused the test.

    This is the comment that led to the person who caused the test:

    "I'll be interested to see what you think of your chosen books, as at first glance, they would not be what I would grab. Some sound almost "preachy". How about choosing a book by an Australian author?"

    This is the result of commenting with Firefox instead of Safari.

    Thank you, Terry!


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