MP’s Diversity Booklist

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Injustice in the world touches all of us. George Floyd didn’t live here. Yet our children likely know his name.  

It’s hard to see videos like the widely-aired footage of George Floyd pleading for mercy, calling for his Mama. You see it, you hear it, and you wish to do something to make a difference. But how? 

A peaceful demonstration popped up last weekend in Carbondale. Valleywide voices joined the national chorus advocating with the Black Lives Matter movement. Some families traveled to Denver to join larger protests. Meanwhile, other local parents looked for ways to help their children understand the bigger picture. We live in a culturally rich place where friendships span the Latin x and Anglo communities but do we really get the experience of other cultures? Can we live in our Roaring Fork paradise and raise good citizens of the world?

With these questions in mind, MOUNTAIN PARENT created a Diversity Booklist for all ages.  Literature helps us see the world through another’s point of view. It helps us open our minds and hearts. It teaches respect for other cultures, other people, other beliefs. Through stories, we grow to understand and value differences. It helps us become better at being our own unique selves. This is how we can change the world, one story at a time. As they say, the pen is, indeed, mightier than the sword. 

Our local libraries and bookstores are now offering quarantine pick-up services (LEARN MORE BELOW), so you can find the following titles here in our community.

Illustrated Children’s Books:

Diversity Booklist  – Across the Bay

Across the Bay
Carlos Aponte

Carlitos lives in a happy home with his mother, his Abuela, and Coco the cat. Life in his hometown is cozy as can be, but the call of the capital city pulls Carlitos across the bay in search of his father. Jolly piragüeros, mischievous cats, and costumed musicians color this tale of love, family, and the true meaning of home.*

* blurb and artwork by Penguin Random House

Diversity Booklist  – Thank you, Omu

Thank You, Omu!
Oge Mora

Everyone in the neighborhood dreams of a taste of Omu’s delicious stew! One by one, they follow their noses toward the scrumptious scent. And one by one, Omu offers a portion of her meal. Soon the pot is empty. Has she been so generous that she has nothing left for herself? Debut author-illustrator Oge Mora brings to life a heartwarming story of sharing and community in colorful cut-paper designs as luscious as Omu’s stew, with an extra serving of love. An author’s note explains that “Omu” (pronounced AH-moo) means “queen” in the Igbo language of her parents, but growing up, she used it to mean “Grandma.” This book was inspired by the strong female role models in Oge Mora’s life.

2020 Coretta Scott King Award

* blurb and artwork by Little, Brown and Company

Diversity Booklist  – Pride Colors

Pride Colors
Robin Stevenson

“A bright red heart, a little star. I love you just the way you are.” Through gentle rhymes and colorful photographs of adorable children, Pride Colors is a celebration of the deep unconditional love of a parent or caregiver.  It ends by explaining the meaning behind each color in the Pride flag: red = life, orange = healing, yellow = sunlight, green = nature, blue = peace and harmony, and violet = spirit.

* blurb and artwork by Thrift Books

Diversity Booklist  – I am Perfectly Designed

I am Perfectly Designed
Karamo Brown

One of the Fab Five from the Netflix Queer Eye series, Karamo Brown has created an ode to modern families. A boy and his father take a joyful walk through the city, discovering all the ways in which they are perfectly designed for each other. This book captures the magic of building strong childhood memories and celebrates the bond between parent and child, a tale of acceptance, kindness, and inclusion. 

* blurb and artwork by Henry Holt

Novels for Elementary Grades:

Diversity Booklist  – Lety Out Loud

Lety Out Loud
Angela Cervantes

Lety Munoz sometimes has trouble speaking her mind. Her first language is Spanish and she likes to take her time putting her words together. Lety loves volunteering at the Furry Friends Animal Shelter because the dogs and cats there don’t care if she can’t find the right word. When the shelter needs a volunteer to write animal profiles, Lety jumps at the chance. But grumpy classmate Hunter also wants to write profiles – so now they have to work as a team. Hunter’s not much of a team player, though. He devises a secret competition to decide who will be the official shelter scribe. They’ll each write three profiles. Whoever helps get their animals adopted the fastest wins. The loser scoops dog food. Lety reluctantly agrees, but she’s worried. If the shelter finds out about the contest, they might kick her out of the program. Then she’ll never be able to adopt Spike, her favorite dog at the shelter. Can Lety find her voice before it’s too late?

A 2020 Pura Belpré Honor Book

* blurb and artwork by Scholastic Books

Diversity Booklist  – The Other Half of Happy

The Other Half of Happy
Rebecca Balcárcel

Quijana is a girl in pieces. One-half Guatemalan, one-half American. When Quijana’s Guatemalan cousins move to town, her dad seems ashamed that she doesn’t know more about her family’s heritage. One-half crush, one-half buddy: When Quijana meets Zuri and Jayden, she knows she’s found true friends. But she can’t help the growing feelings she has for Jayden. One-half kid, one-half grown-up: Quijana spends her nights Skyping with her ailing Grandma and trying to figure out what’s going on with her increasingly hard-to-reach brother. In the course of this immersive and beautifully written novel, Quijana must figure out which parts of herself are most important, and which pieces come together to make her whole. This lyrical debut from Rebecca Balcárcel is a heartfelt poetic portrayal of a girl growing up, fitting in, and learning what it means to belong.

A 2020 Pura Belpré Honor Book

* blurb and artwork by Chronical Books

Middle School Readers:

Diversity Booklist  – Genesis Begins Again

Genesis Begins Again
Alicia D. Williams

There are ninety-six things Genesis hates about herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list. Like #95: Because her skin is so dark, people call her charcoal and eggplant—even her own family. And #61: Because her family is always being put out of their house, belongings laid out on the sidewalk for the world to see. When your dad is a gambling addict and loses the rent money every month, eviction is a regular occurrence. What’s not so regular is that this time they all don’t have a place to crash, so Genesis and her mom have to stay with her grandma. It’s not that Genesis doesn’t like her grandma, but she and Mom always fight — Grandma haranguing Mom to leave Dad, that she should have gone back to school, that if she’d married a lighter-skinned man none of this would be happening, and on and on and on. But things aren’t all bad. Genesis actually likes her new school; she’s made a couple of friends, her choir teacher says she has real talent, and she even encourages Genesis to join the talent show. This deeply sensitive and powerful debut novel tells the story of a thirteen-year-old who must overcome internalized racism and a verbally abusive family to finally learn to love herself.

2020 Coretta Scott King Book Award, Newbery Honor Book,  An NPR Favorite Book of 2019

* blurb and artwork by Simon & Schuster

Diversity Booklist  – The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamala

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora
Rita Williams-Garcia

For Arturo, summertime in Miami means playing basketball until dark, sipping mango smoothies, and keeping cool under banyan trees. And maybe a few shifts as junior lunchtime dishwasher at Abuela’s restaurant. Maybe. But this summer also includes Carmen, a poetry enthusiast who moves into Arturo’s apartment complex and turns his stomach into a deep fryer. He almost doesn’t notice the smarmy land developer who rolls into town and threatens to change it. Arturo refuses to let his family and community go down without a fight, and as he schemes with Carmen, Arturo discovers the power of poetry and protest through untold family stories and the work of José Martí. Save the restaurant. Save the town. Get the girl. Make Abuela proud. Can thirteen-year-old Arturo Zamora do it all or is he in for a BIG, EPIC FAIL?

A 2018 Pura Belpré Author Honor Book

* blurb and artwork by Penguin Random House

Diversity Booklist  – The Stars Beneath Our Feet

The Stars Beneath Our Feet
David Barclay Moore

It’s Christmas Eve in Harlem, but twelve-year-old Lolly Rachpaul and his mom aren’t celebrating. They’re still reeling from his older brother’s death in a gang-related shooting just a few months earlier. Then Lolly’s mother’s girlfriend brings him a gift that will change everything: two enormous bags filled with Legos. Lolly’s always loved Legos, and he prides himself on following the kit instructions exactly. Now, faced with a pile of building blocks and no instructions, Lolly must find his own way forward. His path isn’t clear—and the pressure to join a “crew,” as his brother did, is always there. When Lolly and his friend are beaten up and robbed, joining a crew almost seems like the safest choice. But building a fantastical Lego city at the community center provides Lolly with an escape—and an unexpected bridge back to the world. 

2018 Coretta Scott King – John Steptoe award for new talent 

* blurb and artwork by Penguin Random House

High School / Adult Fiction

Diversity Booklist  – The Nickel Boys

The Nickel Boys
Colson Whitehead

When Elwood Curtis, a black boy growing up in 1960s Tallahassee, is unfairly sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, he finds himself trapped in a grotesque chamber of horrors. Elwood’s only salvation is his friendship with fellow “delinquent” Turner, which deepens despite Turner’s conviction that Elwood is hopelessly naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. As life at the Academy becomes ever more perilous, the tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Based on the real story of a reform school that operated for 111 years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers.

2020 Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction

* blurb and artwork by Penguin Random House 

Diversity Booklist  – To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird
Harper Lee

If you or your teen have not taken up this classic, or if you have not revisited it since high school, you might consider forming your own Six-Foot Staycation book club with your child. Though it was written in the 1960s and takes place in the 1930s, To Kill A Mockingbird continues to reveal truths about the American justice system, issues that are startlingly prescient at this time.

Jean Louise “Scout” Finch is a tomboy growing up in the fictitious town of Maycomb, Alabama during the Great Depression. When her widowed father Atticus Finch agrees to defend an African-American man falsely accused of raping a young, white woman, their family receives threats from their small, Southern community. Scout and her brother Jem explore their own prejudices as they try to learn more about the legendary local recluse, Boo Radley.  

Locally Sourced

Find these titles here at home:

Explore Booksellers

“Open” Daily 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
(970) 920-5336
221 East Main Street, Aspen

C-19 Update:
In compliance with Pitkin County’s social distancing orders, Explore Booksellers is open only for personalized service.
Call the store to request titles (970) 920-5336.
Or peruse books at Explore’s website HERE.
The bookstore staff will ship to you, or you can arrange same-day pick up on their front porch.

Bookbinders Basalt

10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
(970) 279-5040
760 E Valley Rd, Basalt (Willits)

C-19 Update:
Bookbinders Basalt is following Eagle County’s retail guidelines which will be in effect through June. They are happily taking three customers at a time in the store. Customers must wear face coverings and use provided hand sanitizer.  LEARN MORE.

Pitkin County Library

120 N Mill St, Aspen
 (970) 429-1900

C-19 Update:
Pitkin County Library is processing hold requests from their collection. The library will telephone you when your materials are ready to be picked up and may be picked up from carts in the foyer at the library’s main entrance on Mill Street. LEARN MORE HERE

Garfield County Libraries

C-19 Update:
All Garfield County Libraries are now open on weekdays with limited hours. Patrons must wear a face mask to enter. Strict social distancing will be enforced. FIND HOURS AND BRANCH INFORMATION HERE.

Basalt Library

C-19 Update:
The Basalt Regional Library remains closed to the public until further notice. The following services are available:
Book Return – Monday-Thursday, 12:00 – 6:00 PM.
Curbside pick-up – Monday-Thursday, 12:00 – 6:00 PM.
Call a BRL librarian – Monday-Friday, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
970-927-4311 MORE HERE

Six-Foot Staycation

More Six-Foot Staycation

About Kathryn Camp

MOUNTAIN PARENT Editor & Designer • When Kathryn is not at her desk with MP, she cycles, snowboards, skis, writes fiction and keeps bees in downtown Carbondale with her teenage children, husband Rich, and their wayward husky-coyote Zelda.