Topical Reads

The materials below can be found in our catalog or through the links provided.

 Asian-American

​Youth

"Hot Pot Night" by Vincent Chen - Modern retelling of a the classic Stone Soup tale – A young Taiwanese child suggests that an apartment full of people have a community hot pot night where all the families contribute something to the dish

"Drawn Together" by Minh Le - Son and grandfather who do not speak the same language, find a way to communicate through art.

"The Name Jar" by Yangsook Choi - Unhei has recently moved to America from Korea.  Anxious if her new classmates will be able to pronounce her name, she decides to pick a new name for herself by the next week by trying out new names – that is until her classmates learn how special her name is.

"American Born Chinese" by Gene Yang - Graphic Novel Memoir Gene's youth and growing up in America, written and illustrated with humorous wit, true experiences, and emotional arcs to illustrate a young Chinese boy's growth in America.

"Listen, Slowly" by Thanhha Lai - Born and raised in California, Mai takes a sudden trip to Vietnam with her grandmother where she learns more about her culture, family history, and becomes more in touch with her roots. 

Teens

"Parachutes" by Kelly Yang - Privileged teen Claire suddenly finds herself transported to California from Shanghai; away from her parents, privilege, and everything she's ever known. Tackling many intense social issues, this book is an own voices look into the commonality and contrast that exist between all teenagers.

"I'll Be the One" by Lyla Lee - Skye Shin is determined to break into the world of K-Pop despite the negative opinions of others who tell her what she shouldn't do because of her size. She rails against the fat-phobic standards of the entertainment industry and never gives up on her dream of being on the stage.

"A Very Large Expanse of Sea" by Tahereh Mafi - A year after 9/11, 16-year-old Shirin is tormented by hateful comments and prejudices. She struggles to let down her guard, even after meeting Ocean James, the first person in a long time who treats her with respect and compassion.

"The Night Diary" by Veera Hiranandani - This historical middle-grade fiction takes place in 1940's India. Half-Hindu half-Muslim Nisha's family searches for refuge in their newly independent homeland. Written through letters to her mother, Nisha adjusts to change and tries to put her life back together.

"Something in Between" Melissa de la Cruz - Jasmine is a high achieving student who strives to make her parents as proud as possible. She studies hard and finds herself the recipient of college scholarships. However her joy is short-lived when these opportunities lead to the revelation of a large family secret: the family's visas expired years ago and they might be deported.

Adults

"Arsenic and Adobo" by Mia P. Manansala - First in a new cozy mystery series, this title follows Lila as she attempts to save her Tita Rosie's restaurant. When a food critic dies, Lila must find a way to exonerate herself.

"Interior Chinatown" by Charles Yu - In this satire of Hollywood's treatment of Asian Americans, Willis Wu is determined to move up from "Generic Asian Man" to "Kung Fu Guy." This unconventional novel explores pop culture, immigration and assimilation while delivering a compelling personal story.

"The Dating Plan" by Sara Desai - Daisy Patel and Liam Murphy begin a fake engagement to get her parents off her back and fulfill the terms of Liam's grandmother's will. As they begin dating to legitimize their relationship to their families, they get more than they bargained for in this second chance romance.   

"The Souls of Yellow Folk" by Wesley Yang - In this essay collection, Yang explores topics of race and gender from the mindset of the Virginia Tech shooter to the tiger mother parenting phenomenon and the pursuit of the American dream.

"Minor Feelings" by Cathy Park Hong - Part memoir, part history lesson and cultural critique, "Minor Feelings" is an unapologetic exploration of the Asian American experience. Hong uses her experiences growing up as the child of Korean immigrants to examine how society's expectations affect her racial identity. 

 Disabilities

​The Virginia Beach Public Library is committed to serving all members of our community. Please check out the books below and our Disability Services page for more information.

​Youth

"The Remember Balloons" by Jessie Oliveros - This picture book touches on the experience of watching a loved one lose their precious memories due to dementia and the grandson who helps him remember. 2019 Schneider Family Award Honor Book.  

"Rescue and Jessica" by Jessica Kensky - Told from the perspective of the service dog Rescue, this book is about his life as a service dog to Jessica Kensky, a disabled survivor of the Boston marathon bombing, and the hope he gave her for the future. 2019 Schneider Family Book Award Winner.  

"Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille" by Jen Bryant - This picture-book biography tells the story of Louis Braille, the inventor of the Braille alphabet. 2017 Schneider Family Book Award Winner.  

"A Boy and A Jaguar" by Alan Rabinowitz - An autobiographical children's book about a boy who overcomes his stutter and fulfills his promise to speak for animals, and people, who cannot speak for themselves. 2015 Schneider Family Book Award Winner. 

"Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin" by Jen Bryant - This picture book biography of self-taught African American folk artist Horace Pippin demonstrates the determination of a wounded soldier to paint again. 2014 Schneider Family Book Award Winner.  

"The Pirate of Kindergarten" by George Ella Lyon - Ginny, a girl with double vision must wear an eye patch to help her focus in Kindergarten and thus becomes the pirate of Kindergarten. With it, Ginny can read, run, and snip her scissors, just like the other kids in her class. 2011 Schneider Family Book Award Winner.  

"Django" by Bonnie Christensen - "Django" is the biography of musician Django Reinhardt, one of the world's most renowned jazz guitarists and a survivor of an accident that severely burned his hands and threatened to end his career. 2010 Schneider Family Book Award Winner.  

"The Deaf Musicians" by Pete Seeger and Paul DuBois Jacobs - After losing his hearing, jazzman Lee learns to make music in a new way with the help of new friends he meets at the School for the Deaf, Max, a saxophone player and Rose, a bassist. 2007 Schneider Family Book Award Winner.  

"The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin" by Julia Finley Mosca - "The Girl Who Thought in Pictures" tells the story of Temple Grandin. Diagnosed with autism, Grandin became one of the most well-known scientists in modern times who made groundbreaking improvements for farms around the globe. 2018 NSTA Best STEM Books, 2018 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book Selection, 2017 Dolly Gray Literature Award Winner 

"So B. It: A Novel" by Sarah Weeks - Living with her mentally-disabled mother, Heidi does not know anything about her or her mother's past; however, when a strange word in her mother's vocabulary begins to haunt her, Heidi sets out on a cross-country journey in search of the secrets to who she is.  2007 Dolly Gray Book Award Winner.  

"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon - Due to his Autism, Christopher lives on patterns and routines until one day his neighbor's dog is killed, threatening the carefully constructed world he lives in and setting him on a mission to find answers.  2004 Dolly Gray Book Award Winner.  

Teen 

"Cursed" by Karol Ruth Silverstein - The story focuses on ninth-grader Erica (Ricky) and how she handles the pain and challenges of juvenile arthritis.  

"The Silence Between Us" by Alison Gervais - Shortly after seventeen -year old Maya, who is deaf, moves to Colorado, and the challenges of attending a hearing school. 

"Each Tiny Spark" by Pablo Cartaya - Emily Torres, who has Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) works on repairing and building her relationships with family and peers. 

"Rain Reign" by Ann M. Martin - Rose Howard, an autistic fifth grader who has Asperger's syndrome, feels a strong connection with her dog and experiences the challenges in interacting with her peers and family. 2016 Schneider Family Book Award Winner. 2016 Dolly Gray Book Award Winner.  

"Anger is a Gift" by Mark Oshiro - Moss, an African American teenager fights for social justice. The book addresses racial, sexual, ethnic diversity and characters include those who are physically disabled. 2019 Schneider Family Book Award Winner 

"Silent Days, Silent Dreams" by Allen Say - A fictional biography of James Castle, a world-renowned artist who was also deaf, mute and autistic. 2018 Schneider Family Book Award Winner.  

"You're Welcome, Universe" by Whitney Gardner - When Julia, a teenager who is deaf, seeks an outlet with her talents for graffiti art. 2018 Schneider Family Book Award Winner.  

"When We Collided" by Emery Lord - The story focuses on the relationship between Jonah, a teenager who struggles with grief and the impacts of a dysfunctional family, and Vivi, who suffers from bipolar disease but does not want to accept the fact that she needs medication. 2017 Schneider Family Book Award Winner.  

"The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B" by Teresa Toten - Adam struggles with his Obsessive -Compulsive Disorder in addition to adjust to his parent's recent divorce along with the issues he faces as a teenager. 

"The Courage to Compete: Living with Cerebral Palsy and Following My Dreams" by Abbey Curran - Memoir by Miss Iowa USA, Abbey Curran about living with cerebral palsy and seeking her dreams. 

Adult

"The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving: A Novel" by Jonathan Evison - When Ben Benjamin, a man who has lost everything, learns to become a caregiver and accepts his first client, Trevor, a teen in the advanced stages of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, he quickly realizes how little he knows about being a caregiver. Throwing out the rule book, Ben and Trevor become close friends regardless of their rocky start and the traditional boundaries between patient and caregiver begin to blur.  

"Laughing at my Nightmare" by Shane Burcaw - In this autobiographical work, Burcaw describes the challenges he faces as a twenty-one-year-old with spinal muscular atrophy, handling his situation with humor and a "you-only-live-once" perspective on life. In addition to talking about everyday issues that are relatable to teens, he offers an eye-opening perspective on what it is like to have a life-threatening disease. 

"Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability" by Jennifer Bartlett - "Beauty is a Verb" is a ground-breaking anthology of disability poetry, essays on disability, and writings on the poetics of both. 

"The Speed of Dark" by Elizabeth Moon - Living with autism in a world where diseases can now be cured at birth has provided Lou with the option of surgical cure to "fix" him. However, he is unsure of whether he wants to lose who he is in an order to be just like everyone else.  

"Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic" by Martha Beck - This book follows the Beck family as they cope with the news that Martha is expecting a son with Down Syndrome, choose to keep the baby, and relearn what is important and meaningful in life.  

"Good Kings Bad Kings" by Susan R. Nussbaum - A science-fiction book that focuses on a group of teens living in a fictional institution for juveniles with disabilities. There, they forge friendships, build trust, find love, and break rules yet do not have control over their own lives overall.  

"Carry On: A Story of Resilience, Redemption, and an Unlikely Family" by Lisa Fenn - An ESPN producer covers the story of legally blind Dartanyon Crocket and Leroy Sutton, who lost his legs in an accident. The three band together as the boys share their story. 

"All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel" by Anthony Doerr - Beautifully written by best-selling author Anthony Doerr, "All the Light We Cannot See" tells the story of a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as they try to survive the devastation of World War II. 

"The Music of Silence: A Memoir" by Andrea Bocelli - Using a third-person narrative, opera singer Bocelli, who lost his vision as a young boy, describes his childhood in Italy, interests, education, and music career. Originally published in Italian.  

"Disability Visibility: First Person Stories From the 21st Century" by Alice Wong - "Disability Visibility" is a collection of writings of the joys and frustrations experienced by artists, lawyers, politicians, and everyday people with disabilities. 

 Hispanic Heritage

​Picture Books

"The Heart of Mi Familia" by Carrie Lara and illustrated by Christine Battuz - A child from two cultures describes the joy and differences in her family at her grandma's house and at her abuela's house as they come together to celebrate her brother's birthday. 

"Paletero Man" by Lucky Diaz, illustrated by Micah Player - Follow along with our narrator as he tracks down the man selling paleteros, but by the time he catches up with him, his pockets are empty. Where is his dinero? The book gives readers a fun and colorful experience in a Hispanic neighborhood in summertime.

"The Day Abuelo Got Lost" by Dianne De Anda and Alleanna Harris - Luis has a special relationship with his grandfather and must learn new ways to spend time together once Abuelo begins to lose his memory. Told from first person perspective, it is a touching story about what happens when an elder has dementia, and how no matter what, he is always loved.   

"The Way to Rio Luna" by Zoraida Cordova - Danny Monteverde hopes he can find his sister Pili, who has escaped from the group home where they live, in a magical land based on a favorite story about a place called Rio Luna. One day he finds a mysterious map and a way to get there- a wonderful fantasy based in Hispanic folklore.

"Tia Isa Wants a Car" by Meg Medina, illustrated by Claudio Munoz - Based on a true story, Tia Isa and her niece save enough money to buy a used car and take the entire family to the beach. This story illustrates the joy of a Cuban family as they share the experience of a dream come true for Tia Isa and for everyone!

Youth

"Each Tiny Spark" by Pablo Cartaya - Email Torres struggles with ADHD, her controlling abuela, her mom's consuming work schedule and her dad's distance after a return from a deployment. A Schneider Family honor book award featuring a Hispanic main character with a disability, handled by the author with grace and respect.

"Merci Suarez Changes Gears" by Meg Medina - The Newbery Award winning book for 2019, this story features a feisty, heart winning girl in a warm Cuban American family in Florida as she learns how to navigate middle school, changes in her family and the ups and downs of friendship. This book was one of our fifth grade Battle of the Books choices.

"Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes" by Juan Filipe Herrera - This is a wonderful collection of inspirational portraits of 20 Hispanic and Latino American men and women. They give readers a picture of the many people who have made contributions to athletics, arts, politics, science, and humanitarianism. 

"Stella Diaz Dreams Big" Angela Dominguez - Stella is a fourth grader who is in lots of activities and wants to be successful at everything. However, once she realizes that she has to keep up with her schoolwork, she has to learn how to manage her extracurricular adventures!

"Tales our Abuelitas Told: A Hispanic Folktale Collection" by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy - Ten traditional tales revisited by the authors. This presents the tales with information about their origins and twists on the tales that showcase the lively spirit and rich heritage of Latino people.

Teen

"With the Fire On High" by Elizabeth Acevedo - Since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni has had to make tough decisions and do what's best for her daughter and her abuela.  But in the kitchen, she can let it all go.  She dreams of becoming a chef.  Can she find a way?

"I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter" by Erika L. Sánchez - After losing her sister, Olga, in an accident, Julia's mother channels her grief of losing a perfect daughter into pointing to all the ways Julia has failed her family.  But Julia quickly finds out there is more to her sister than she knew, and is determined to discover the truth.

"The Other Half of Happy" by Rebecca Balcárcel - Quijana is a girl in pieces.  One-half Guatemalan, one-half American.  Quijana must figure out which parts of herself are most important, and which pieces come together to make her whole in this coming-of-age story.

"Never Look Back" by Lilliam Rivera - A creative retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, this tale follows Eury as she processes the tragedies she experienced in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria, with the help of bachata-singing charmer Pheus.

"The First Rule of Punk" by Celia C. Pérez - This is a tale about friendship, finding your place, and rocking out.  Zines, punk rock, and more abound as Malú battles her school administration for the right to express herself.

Adult

"Inventing Latinos: A New Story of American Racism" by Laura Gomez - This book explores the development of the Latino identity and the role the US has played in the process. Provides readers with an understanding of how past events have led to present issues.

"The Undocumented Americans" by Karla Cornejo - This title reveals the stories of undocumented people including the author, one of the first undocumented students admitted to an ivy league school, sharing their hopes, fears, and resilience.

"Silver, Sword, and Stone: Three Crucibles in the Latina American Story" by Marie Arana - The history of Latinx people told through the forces that shaped the land and its people.

"Sabrina & Corina: Stories" by Kali Fajardo-Anstine - This collection tells the stories of several Latina women navigating their lives in the American West.

"Afterlife" by Julia Alvarez - Antonia has her life turned upside down as she copes with the death of her husband, disappearance of her sister, and the appearance of an undocumented teenager.

"Cantoras" by Carolina De Robertis - Five women meet as they flee from Uruguay finding a haven in Cabo Polonios. The novel tells their stories across 35 years of their lives together and between their home and haven.

 LGBTQIA+

​Picture Books

"I’m Not a Girl: A Transgender Story" by Maddox Lyons & Jessica Verdi - Hannah is uncomfortable with the frilly dresses and other clothes her mom wants to buy for her. She tells her mom she wants a boy’s swimsuit because she is a boy. She shares with some people she is really a boy, and they help her understand she is transgender. This helps Hannah know that there are others like her. This book is a great opportunity to begin to talk about the gender we are born with, and the gender we feel we truly are. This book is co-written with a 12-year-old trans boy. 

"Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story about Gender and Friendship" by Jess Walton - Thomas, Errol’s teddy bear, is sad. Thomas feels she is really a girl and wants to be called Tilly. Errol is happy to accept the change. With sweet illustrations, this book teaches acceptance and understanding about gender identity at a very simple level. 

"It Feels Good to Be Yourself" by Teresa Thorn - A beautiful book with art by a transgender artist, this is an informational picture book that offers a view of the many ways people can be who they believe they truly are. The absence of a story helps children understand the variations in gender identity with honesty and gentleness. The author and illustrator include resources and the reasons they created this book. 

"Julian at the Wedding" by Jessica Love - Julian, from Julian is a Mermaid, returns in this delightful story about a wedding celebrating love with two brides. There are new friends who trade clothing and play. This is a beautiful book to share with children about the full embrace of love and commitment. 

"When Aidan Became a Brother" by Kyle Lukoff - Aidan was born a girl, but soon understands he is “another kind of boy”. As the family prepares for the arrival of a new baby, Aidan considers how his parents may welcome his new sibling in a more gender- free way, shares his ideas, and receives his family’s love and acceptance. This is an Own Voices book with a transgender main character who shares his heartfelt self and ideas about becoming a brother. 

Youth

"King and the Dragonflies" by Kacen Callender - Kingston James “King” is 12, and his brother Khalid has just died. His best friend, Sandy has gone missing. This book probes the grief of an African American young person with the understanding and empathy of learning that his best friend, son of a racist sheriff, is gay. As King searches for visits with his brother, whom he thinks comes back as a dragonfly, he also must deal with questions about his own identity, a struggle he has kept private since he fears he would have been rejected by Khalid. A beautiful book for young readers just exploring these questions.

"The Other Boy" by M. G. Hennessey - Shane was born a girl, but since he was three, he’s known he is a boy.  Moving to a new school allows him to live his reality. Now he is 12, and will be starting hormone therapy, but trouble arrives when a school bully finds photos of Shane as a girl. Shane also has divorced parents, one of whom supports him, while the other thinks Shane’s self- identity is a phase. We consider this a worthy read about a transgender person just growing into early adolescence. 

"The Pants Project" by Cat Clarke - Liv (not Olivia) identifies as transgender. He is still identified at school as she and challenges the middle school’s dress code. Why only skirts and not pants? This book is a hopeful story with a happily-ever-after realistic ending. It will prompt discussions on gender identity, bullying and acceptance. 

"Power to the Princess" by Vita Murrow - Adapting folklore can be a challenging task but this collection of stories featuring some of our favorite princess types turns into a case for a new vantage point for girls and women. Meet the Snow Queen, Rapunzel, Belle, and more, with strength and more varied love lives. The Little Mermaid meets a capable human woman, and the two decide to marry, while Rapunzel becomes an architect who designs accessible buildings. Not all characters are LGBTQIA+, but the book presents females in outstanding ways, for all youth readers to admire. 

"The Best at It" by Malik Pancholy - Rahul Kapoor is struggling as he faces bullying and sexual identity as a seventh grader in small-town Indiana. After battling depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms, Rahul, with the support of his family and friends, comes out as gay to his parents. This is a sensitive story filled with raw emotion and real characters. It is an excellent book for readers who are questioning their emerging sexuality and trying to assess their own talents as they move through early adolescence.

"She/He/They/Them: Understanding Gender Identity" by Rebecca Stanborough - Part of a series aimed at middle-schoolers this book is perfect for youth looking to better understand gender pronouns. Whether seeking knowledge for themselves, peers, or for understanding their world, youth will learn the term meanings and why they are used. This book may also answer questions about their own gender identity.

Teen

"The Stonewall Riots: Coming Out in the Streets" by Gayle E. Pitman - The Stonewall riots in 1968 were a series of protests and violent demonstrations that many people say were the beginning of the LGBTQIA+ rights movement in the U.S. The author uses photos of objects such as banners, court documents, a policeman’s club, and leaflets, as well as first-hand accounts of witnesses to the story. Various perspectives provide a close look at this event, what led up to it, and its effect on society. 

"Transgender rights and issues" by Andrea Pelleschi - Discussed from multiple viewpoints, this book explores transgenderism and how it relates to cultural events and past, current and future societies. Included are a glossary and multiple resources for further research and exploration for general interest. 

"Felix Ever After" by Kacen Callender - From Stonewall and Lambda Award-winning author Kacen Callender comes a revelatory YA novel about a transgender teen grappling with identity and self-discovery while falling in love for the first time. Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.

"Leah on the Offbeat" by Becky Albertalli - Leah Burke is an anomaly in her friend group: the only child of a young, single mom; her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she's bisexual, she hasn't mustered the courage to tell her friends-- not even her openly gay BFF, Simon. When her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways, it's hard for Leah to strike the right note. And with prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. If only real life was as rhythmic as her drumming...

"The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue" by Mackenzi Lee - Henry "Monty" Montague was bred to be a gentleman. His passions for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men, have earned the disapproval of his father. His quest for pleasures and vices have led to one last hedonistic hurrah as Monty, his best friend and crush Percy, and Monty's sister Felicity begin a Grand Tour of Europe. When a reckless decision turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt, it calls into question everything Monty knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

"The Prince and the Dressmaker" by Jen Wang - Prince Sebastian hides form his parents his secret life of dressing up as the hottest fashion icon in Paris, the fabulous Lady Crystallia, while his friend Frances the dressmaker strives to keep her friend's secret.

"Carry On" by Rainbow Rowell - Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he'll be safe. Simon can't even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can't stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. Simon is the most powerful magician the world has ever known, he never gets to relax and savor anything. 

"Late to the Party" by Keylly Quindlen - From author Kelly Quindlen comes a poignant and deeply relatable story about friendship, self-acceptance, and what it means to be a Real Teenager. Late to the Party is an ode to late bloomers and wallflowers everywhere.

"You Should See Me in a Crown" by Leah Johnson - Since her first day of high school, senior Liz Lightly has tried to hide the things that make her different. Her height, being black, queer, and not having enough money made her stand out in the mostly white, affluent small town. Now in her senior year, she needs to fit in so that she can win the $10,000 prom queen scholarship prize. How is she going to do this and stay true to herself? 

"The Black Flamingo" by Dean Atta - A fierce coming-of-age verse novel about identity and the power of drag, from acclaimed poet and performer Dean Atta. Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo, Jason Reynolds, and Kacen Callender.

"Pet" by Akwaeke Emezi - There are no monsters anymore, or so the children in Lucille are taught. Jam and her best friend, Redemption, have grown up with the lesson that the city is safe for everyone. But when Jam meets Pet, a creature who some might call monstrous but, in reality, is anything but, she must reconsider what she's been told. Pet has emerged from one of her mother's paintings to hunt a true monster--and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption's house. No one has encountered monsters in years, though, and Jam's quest to protect her best friend and uncover the truth is met with doubt and disbelief.

"The Falling in Love Montage" by Ciara Smyth - Two girls embark on a summer of montage-worthy dates (with a few strings attached) in this hilarious and heartfelt lesbian rom-com that's perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Jenny Han. Ciara Smyth's debut is a delightful, multilayered YA rom-com that will make you laugh, cry, and absolutely fall in love.

"The Gravity of Us" by Phil Stamper - Cal Lewis's volatile father has been picked to become an astronaut for NASA's mission to Mars. This means leaving Brooklyn-- and Cal's career plans as an aspiring journalist-- to move to Houston, Texas. Now life is a media circus, and Cal and his parents struggle to be the "perfect American family." He meets and falls head over heels for Leon, whose mother is also an astronaut. As the frenzy around the mission mounts, Cal suspects secrets are being kept from the families that could change everything.

"I Wish You All the Best" by Mason Deaver - When Ben de Backer, a nonbinary teen is rejected by their parents, they are taken in by their older sister and her husband. Ben’s sister, her husband and Ben’s therapist are the only ones they have come out to.  Suffering from the trauma of their parents’ rejection. With the help of art class, routine, and new friend Nathan, Ben can find peace and comfort. As Ben and Nathan’s relationship begins to hint at more than just friendship, Ben struggles to find the confidence to share and trust again. 

Adult

"This Book is Gay" by James Dawson - This book covers a range of LGBTQIA+ topics that may be hard to find in other places. The author includes facts, experiences and often inaccurate perceptions of the LGBTQIA+ community and its members. Multiple perspectives present frank, unreserved answers to “what”, “why”, “how” questions with humor and enthusiasm. While intended for mature young adults, this candid guidebook appeals to a wide range of readers.

"The Stonewall Reader" by Jason Baumann - The events at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich, NY are the catalyst for the modern LGBTQIA+ rights movement. Published for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, this anthology chronicles the events and leaders five years before and five years after. Within the pages is a collection of first accounts, diaries, periodicals and more, from the expansive collection at the New York Public Library’s archives.   

"How to They/Them: A Visual Guide to Nonbinary Pronouns and the World of Gender Fluidity" by Stuart Getty - In this easy-going, conversational book Getty explains nonbinary pronouns with informal writing, cartoons and a format that invite the reader to listen and understand. Complex terms are simplified and explained. Personal narratives describe experiences that give insight into social etiquette. Serious, important issues are discussed yet Getty presents them in a way accessible to anyone. 

"Vera Kelly Stories (Who is Vera Kelly? and Vera Kelly is Not a Mystery)" by Rosalie Knecht - These Cold War historical fiction mysteries feature Vera Kelly, a sharp witted, determined heroine. Who is Vera Kelly? alternates between 1966 when Vera is working as a CIA spy, and 1957. Flashbacks to Vera’s past tell us about her abusive mother, struggles to discover who she is and how to cope.  Knecht’s second novel has Vera going into business as a private detective. She takes a case involving a missing child, bringing up dark memories, and Dominican Republic politics. 

"Call Me by Your Name" by André Aciman - Call Me by Your Name is a coming of age love story told by 17-year-old Elio, a dreamy romantic. While spending the summer at his parents’ Italian villa on the coast Elio falls hard for the 24-year-old bold American hired by his father to help do research. The powerful romance that ensues is deep and transformative. 

"On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous" by Ocean Vuong - Semi-autobiographical, this book is combination memoir, epistolary fiction and coming-of age story. Told from the perspective of Little Dog, a Vietnamese American in his late twenties, the book is a letter to his mother who is illiterate. Little Dog tells of his family’s history, his experiences with his abusive, over-worked mother and grandmother after leaving Vietnam to go to America, loneliness, love and search for self-acceptance.

"Another Country" by James Baldwin - Originally published in 1962 Another Country is a provocative look at sexual, racial, political, and artistic passions in 1952 Greenwich Village, Harlem, and France. Baldwin tells the story of Rufus Scott, a jazz musician who committed suicide, and the emotional, intense reactions of his close circle of friends. Digital versions are available including an audiobook read by the author and released on the 75th anniversary of his birth. 

"Tipping the Velvet" by Sarah Waters - In this Victorian Era historical fiction novel, our antagonist is Nancy Astley, an oyster girl working with her family. Nan is infatuated with Kitty Butler, a music hall performer and male impersonator. Soon Nan takes off to London to become Kitty’s lover and stage partner.  When Kitty marries their manager to protect her reputation, Nan, devastated, falls into a myriad of secret partnerships, trysts and other dangerous situations. Eventually Nancy finds true love with an unselfish socialist with whom she discovers security and purpose. 

"We are Everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride in the History of Queer Liberation" by Matthew Riemer and Leighton Brown - This is a coffee table size conversation starter We are everywhere written by Matthew Riemer and Leighton Brown, authors of Instagram encyclopedia @lgbt_history, is like going through a collective yearbook of the Queer Liberation Movement. What better way to feel true human connection than flipping through pictures, historical records and personal stories of the underrepresented within the LGBT deflating historical amnesia. This masterfully done visual history album is a must read for any level of ally or activist. 

"The Love Study" by Kris Ripper - Declan hasn’t had a long-term relationship with anyone since he left his last boyfriend at the alter six years ago. His fear of commitment has even influenced his decision to stay working for a temp agency. His friends convince him to appear with popular YouTuber, Sydney’s advice show.  Declan is to go on several blind dates and discuss them via livestreams with Sydney. Ranging from boring to mediocre discussions reveal Declan’s sweet, rambling demeanor and eventually his crush on Sydney. 

 Mental Health

​Youth

"Being Edie is Hard Today" by Ben Brashares and Elizabeth Bergeland - Edie feels that no one understands her, so she'd prefer to be an animal. She has a great imagination. This story is about being yourself, even when you feel sad, or lonely or anxious, and that connecting with others is essential.

"Big Feelings" by Alexandra Penfold - A group of children share many feelings with each other in this book of rhyming text, and discover they are not alone.

"Breathe with Me: Using Breath to Feel Strong, Calm, and Happy" by Mariam Gates - A book that teaches children how to use breathing techniques when they are in stressful situations, and how to maintain awareness of their feelings.

"Understanding Myself: A Kid's Guide to Intense Emotions and Strong Feelings" by Mary Lamia Ph.D. - A source book for kids seeking to learn more about their emotions, how to recognize them and how to deal with feelings if they get too hard to handle.

"Violet Shrink" by Christine Baldacchino - Violet has many uncomfortable feelings around crowds, noises and large gatherings. In this novel, the author provides warm and gentle advice for this main character through other caring adults who help Violet with her social anxiety. 

Teen

"(Don't) Call Me Crazy" edited by Kelly Jensen - This collection of essays, comics, lists and illustrations begin the conversation about mental health and what it means to be affected by it; whether personally or peripherally.

"Heads Up" by Melanie Siebert - This book explores the pioneers who fought for more compassionate care for those struggling with mental health disorders. It includes in depth information on diagnosis and treatment options as well as the dangers of keeping silent about these issues.

"Life Inside My Mind" edited by Jessica Burkhart - Contemporary authors discuss their personal journeys with mental health issues including addiction, trauma, depression and anxiety.

"Darius the Great is Not Okay" by Adib Khorram - Iranian-American high school student Darius struggles with depression as he tries to navigate his new relationship with his grandparents and finding his place in the world.

"Little & Lion" by Brandy Colbert - Over the course of an eventful summer, Little tries to understand her brother's Bipolar Disorder diagnosis while uncovering who she is and who she is becoming. She learns about compassion and what it means to be a mental health ally.

"How it Feels to Float" by Helena Fox - Biz is trying so hard to maintain her grip on reality but questions whether or not it's worth it. Faced with racing thoughts that often turn dark, she tries to rely on her support system but worries about revealing the depth of her pain and grief over the death of her father.

"The New David Espinoza" by Fred Aceves - David Espinoza is done with being bullied and decides to begin working out to increase his self-confidence. However, he turns to steroid use and things go from bad to worse. This is frank look at body image and dysmorphia and how it can affect all people.

Adult

"Maybe You Should Talk to Someone" by Lori Gottlieb - Gottlieb is a therapist who reflects on how the struggles of her patients mirror her own as she embarks on the process of seeking therapy herself. This insightful and humorous look at both sides of the therapist/patient relationship reminds readers that our mental health struggles are part of the human condition.

"Furiously Happy" by Jenny Lawson - In this humorous and authentic memoir, Lawson is unflinching in her candor about her experiences with depression and anxiety and her journey to self-acceptance.

"No One Cares About Crazy People: the Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America" by Ron Powers - The book is both a heartfelt personal story about a family's experience with schizophrenia and an examination of the systemic failures of the American mental health system.

"I'm Telling the Truth, but I'm Lying: Essays" by Bassey Ikpi - In this book of essays, Ikpi describes her life with bipolar disorder and anxiety and how this affects her everyday life and relationships.

"The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath - In this classic novel, inspired by the author's own mental health struggles, the reader follows Esther Greenwood's descent into depression and experiences with mental health treatment in the 1950's.  

"Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget" by Sarah Hepola - In this memoir of newfound sobriety, Hepola rediscovers herself and what she was hiding from herself during her experiences with alcoholism. 

 Racism

​Youth

Birth - Age 5

"Honeysmoke: A Story of Finding Your Color" by Monique Fields - Simone wants to find the perfect color to describe herself. She doesn’t have dark skin like her mom, and she doesn’t have light skin like her dad. She’s somewhere in between. Simone discovers more about her own identity in her search.  

"Shades of People" by Shelley Rotner - Color photographs of young children fill this book that explores the many shades of skin people come in.  

"The Belonging Tree" by Maryann Cocca-Leffler - The neighborhood around a family of squirrels is changing and the parents are not happy. They think the new neighbors are going to be trouble. It takes a young squirrel to speak up and help his parents see that they are wrong. 

"The New Neighbors" by Sarah McIntyre - The young rabbits in the building are excited to meet their new neighbors, the rats. Others aren’t happy at all. Are the rats going to be a problem like the residents think? 

"Where Are You From?" by Yamile Saied Méndez - A young girl doesn’t know what to say to people who ask her where she is from. There is no simple answer. When she asks her abuelo where she is from, his answer is much more than just a place.

Grades K -2

"All Because You Matter" by Tami Charles - This ode to young black and brown children everywhere assures them that they matter.  

"Desmond and the Very Mean Word: A Story of Forgiveness" by Desmond Tutu - Desmond hears some boys call him "a very mean word" which makes him is hurt and angry. By talking to his mentor and working through some real emotions, Desmond finds a way to feel compassion and ultimately, forgiveness. 

"Let the Children March" by Monica Clark-Robinson - In May 1963 while people planned to protest segregation and to hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speak, many were afraid that they would lose their jobs. Thousands of children and teens volunteered to march in their parents' place.  

"Let's Talk About Race" by Lester, Julius - In easy, conversational tone, the author tells his "story" explaining that his race is only one part of who he is. 

"Black Brother, Black Brother" by Jewell Parker Rhodes - Dante, a biracial student at a Massachusetts prep school struggles to navigate institutional racism. 

"Brown Girl Dreaming" by Jacqueline Woodson - In this award-winning autobiography, Jacqueline Woodson tells the story of her childhood and what it was like growing up in the 1960s and 1970s. Written in verse, it reflects her journey as first, a struggling reader then as a writer expressing her voice.  

"New Kid" by Jerry Craft - Jordan has transferred from his old neighborhood school in the Bronx to an expensive new private school. He would really prefer to go to art school, but his parents want him to succeed in other ways. He's one of only a few colored kids and assumptions based on skin color abound. Jordan handles it with grace and humor.

"Kid Activists: True Tales of Childhood from Champions of Change" by Robin Stevenson - Adult activists were kids once too. The childhood stories of 16 activists, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Hellen Keller and Malala Yousafzai are told in this collection. 

"My Year in the Middle" by Lila Quintero Weaver - Blacks and whites don't mix in Alabama in 1970. Lu Olivera, daughter of Argentinian immigrants, finds a friend in black runner, Belinda. Conflicts abound and Lu knows she needs to find the strength to do the right thing.  

"Not Your All-American Girl" by Madelyn Rosenberg - Set in 1984 Virginia, Lauren, who is half-Jewish and half-Chinese doesn't get the lead in the school play because she doesn't look the part. She is crushed and begins to doubt whether her dream of being a singer is possible. Through heart and humor Lauren finds her way with music, button making and friends.

"This Book is Anti-Racist" by Tiffany Jewell - This guidebook geared towards older school-aged children presents tools for young people to build understanding and an anti-racist mindset.

"We Resist, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices" by Wade Hudson - "We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices" is a collection of writing and art from 50 diverse children's authors and illustrators. Poetry, letters, personal essays and art empower and encourage young readers to be leaders, to be kind and tolerant. 

Teens

"The Black Flamingo" by Dean Atta - This novel in verse tells the story of a mixed-race gay teen coming to terms with his identity.

"Dear Martin" by Nic Stone - While trying to make sense of a society marked by racism and negativity, 17-year-old Justyce finds solace and guidance in the letters he writes to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas - The life of 16-year-old Starr Carter is forever changed when she witnesses the shooting death of her best friend Khalil, at the hands of a police officer.

"Here to Stay" by Sara Farizan - A high school basketball star of Middle Eastern descent faces racism and cyberbullying from his classmates.

"I'm Not Dying with You Tonight" by Kimberly Jones & Gilly Segal - Two girls, one black and one white, must set aside their differences and work together to make it home safely after a race riot erupts during a high school football game.

"Piecing Me Together" by Renee Watson - An underprivileged teen encounters microaggression and hostility when she is awarded a scholarship to a predominately white private school.

"Punching the Air" by Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam - In this novel in verse, co-written by Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five, a teen finds himself incarcerated for a crime he didn't commit.

"Slay" by Brittney Morris - A secretive teen game developer tries to protect her identity as well as her Nubian themed game, from the threats of a malicious online troll.

"Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, And You" by Jason Reynolds - This remixed edition of author Ibram X. Kendi's award winning book, Stamped from the Beginning, gives young readers an overview of racist and antiracist ideas in America, from their roots in Europe until today.

"This Book is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake up, Take Action, and Do the Work" by Tiffany Jewell - This interactive guidebook helps readers understand the complexities of racism and discrimination and gives them the tools to combat it.

Adults

"The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness" by Michelle Alexander - Seldom does a book have the impact of Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow. Since it was first published in 2010, it has been cited in judicial decisions and has been adopted in campus-wide and community-wide reads; it has been the winner of numerous prizes, including the NAACP Image Award; and it has spent nearly 250 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Most important of all, it has spawned a whole generation of criminal justice reform activists motivated by Michelle Alexander's unforgettable argument that 'we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.'

"Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates - In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation's history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of "race," a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men--bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates's attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son--and readers--the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children's lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.

"Stamped from the Beginning: the Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America" by Ibram X. Kendi - The National Book Award winning history of how racist ideas were created, spread, and deeply rooted in American society. Some Americans insist that we're living in a post-racial society. But racist thought is not just alive and well in America -- it is more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues, racist ideas have a long and lingering history, one in which nearly every great American thinker is complicit. In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. He uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to drive this history: Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and legendary activist Angela Davis.As Kendi shows, racist ideas did not arise from ignorance or hatred. They were created to justify and rationalize deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and the nation's racial inequities.In shedding light on this history, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose racist thinking. In the process, he gives us reason to hope.

"Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison - Both a deeply compelling bestselling novel and an epic milestone of American literature. The book's nameless narrator describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood", before retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be.Originally published in 1952 as the first novel by a then unknown author, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land , Joyce, and Dostoevsky.

"The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison - Published in 1970, The Bluest Eye is the first novel written by Toni Morrison, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature. It is the story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove -- a black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others -- who prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different. This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment.

"Ain't I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism" by Bell Hooks - A classic work of feminist scholarship, Ain't I a Woman has become a must-read for all those interested in the nature of black womanhood. Examining the impact of sexism on black women during slavery, the devaluation of black womanhood, black male sexism, racism among feminists, and the black woman's involvement with feminism, hooks attempts to move us beyond racist and sexist assumptions. The result is nothing short of groundbreaking, giving this book a critical place on every feminist scholar's bookshelf.

"Women, Race & Class" by Angela Y. Davis - A powerful study of the women's liberation movement in the U.S., from abolitionist days to the present, that demonstrates how it has always been hampered by the racist and classist biases of its leaders. From the widely revered and legendary political activist and scholar Angela Davis.

"The Fire Next Time" by James Baldwin - A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin's early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document. It consists of two "letters," written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans, both black and white, to attack the terrible legacy of racism. Described by The New York Times Book Review as "sermon, ultimatum, confession, deposition, testament, and chronicle...all presented in searing, brilliant prose," The Fire Next Time stands as a classic of our literature.

"The Condemnation Of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America" by Khalil Gibran Muhammad - Lynch mobs, chain gangs, and popular views of black southern criminals that defined the Jim Crow South are well known. We know less about the role of the urban North in shaping views of race and crime in American society.Following the 1890 census-the first to measure the generation of African Americans born after slavery-crime statistics, new migration and immigration trends, and symbolic references to America as the promised land of opportunity were woven into a cautionary tale about the exceptional threat black people posed to modern urban society. Excessive arrest rates and overrepresentation in northern prisons were seen by many whites-liberals and conservatives, northerners and southerners-as indisputable proof of blacks' inferiority. In the heyday of "separate but equal," what else but pathology could explain black failure in the "land of opportunity?"The idea of black criminality was crucial to the making of modern urban America, as were African Americans' own ideas about race and crime. Chronicling the emergence of deeply embedded notions of black people as a dangerous race of criminals by explicit contrast to working-class whites and European immigrants, this fascinating book reveals the influence such ideas have had on urban development and social policies.

"Citizen: An American Lyric" by Claudia Rankine - An art exhibit in a book, Rankine blends striking images with her poetry about race, racism, and media.

"Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race" Reni Eddo-Lodge - Speaks to the importance of people of color leading the discussion on structural racism and what can be done to dismantle it.

"Hood Feminism: Note from the Women that a Movement Forgot" Kendall Mikki - Women of color are often excluded from mainstream feminism and Hood Feminism talks about the intersectionality of race, feminism, and how we can do better.

"So You Want to Talk About Race" by Ijeoma Oluo - Discusses and explains the structural racism and oppression of America, how it permeates everything, and how to dismantle it all.

"Just Mercy" by Bryan Stevenson - Highlights the disparity within the justice system towards the disadvantaged.

"Sing, Unburied, Sing" by Jesmyn Ward - An intersectional story about family, race, and America told across three generations.

"An American Marriage" by Tayari Jones - A couple grapples with their relationship in light of a wrongful imprisonment.

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