The Alliance for the Study and Teaching of Adolescent Literature at Rhode Island College




- Selected Book List - Multicultural Young Adult Literature -

Ammon, Richard. 1996. An Amish Christmas. New York: Atheneum.
This wonderfully illustrated picture book shows how Christmas is celebrated in school and at home. The reader learns many things about Amish traditions. Did you know that an Amish Christmas is a two day event and students return to school the next day so they can get out earlier in the Spring for plowing? Also the Amish exchange gifts but do not have a Christmas Tree or decorations. This book is filled with many interesting facts that you will learn about an Amish Christmas. (picture book - 32p.)

Ammon, Richard. 1989. Growing Up Amish. New York: Atheneum.
This non-fiction chapter book focuses on the life of Anna and her Amish family. The story follows the home life, work, and schooling of the Amish. Life on the farm without electricity and tractors, and old-fashioned clothing, are just some of the unique things in this community. This book includes recipes, songs, poems, and indoor games to help students appreciate the Amish way of life. (non-fiction- 102p.)

Angelou, Maya 1969, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, New York: Random House Publishing.
A touching story about the authors struggle to find her place in traditions, whether it be her grandmothers southern living or her parents coastal living. (nonfiction)

Bertrand, Diane Gonzales. 1995. Sweet Fifteen. Houston, Texas: Pinata Books.
This story explores a family coming to grips with the death of a father and a husband all with the help of a family friend. Everyone must learn to adapt to their new family roles in this novel that centers around the quinceanera, a Hispanic coming of age tradition for girls. (fiction)

Bode, Janet, and Stan Mack. Hard Time. Delacorte Press, 1996. ISBN 0-385-32186- 4. 201p. 12 and up. Nonfiction.
This powerful real life book is about teens who have been incarcerated for various crimes. They share their stories about their difficult home lives and about their violent lives on the streets. Janet Bode and Stan Mack also includes thoughts about the rising juvenile crime rate by such people as emergency room doctors and juvenile officers. The authors are trying to raise the awareness level about how quickly the rate of violence is increasing among teens today.

Bode, Janet 1989, New Kids in Town (1st ed.). New York, Scholastic Inc.
In this collection of interviews with teenagers who immigrated to the United States Ms. Bode captures the fear and excitement experienced by the culturally diverse group she interviews. In each of the stories the children explain how and why they came to the United States, what life was like before and after they came. They tell of their struggle to embrace American culture while hanging on to their own culture. (nonfiction)

Bode, Janet. 1991. Beating the Odds. New York: Franklin Watts.
These are the stories of real teenagers struggling with cultural issues related to growing up in an ever changing, complicated environment. The powerful stories are sure to inspire readers to overcome obstacles and succeed. (nonfiction)

Bode, Janet. 1997. Food Fight. New York: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers.
This engaging and informative book is divided into three parts and begins by addressing preteens who may be struggling with anorexia, bulemia or compulsive overeating, or know someone who shows signs of an eating disorder. Part two is directed towards parents and adults on signs to look for. Part three is a wealth of organizations to contact for help. (nonfiction)

Borntrager, Mary Christner. 1989. Rebecca. PA: Herald Press.
The fiction book is a story about Rebecca who is Amish and falls in love with James who is a Mennonite boy. She is torn because she is very loyal to her family and the Amish culture and traditions. Rebecca encounters many tragedy’s throughout her life such as a terrible fire and car-buggy wreck. (fiction - 176p.)

Breathed, Berkeley. 1993, Goodnight Opus Boston: Little Brown and Company.
This delightful picture book examines the consequences of ignoring his grandmothers admonition to get his head from the clouds and keep the earth neath his shoes. (picture book)

Bryan, Ashley. 1997. Ashley Bryan's ABC of African American Poetry. Simon & Schuster: New York.
This is not a traditional ABC book, but an A-Z look at a collection of 25 poems written by African Americans which were chosen by Ashley Bryan. Selections are not complete poems but fragments that are complete in their own way. Poetry Collection.

Carlson, Lori M. (editor). 1994. American Eyes: New Asian-American Short Stories for Young Adults. New York. Fawcett Juniper. Short Story Collection.
This is a collection of short stories about young Asian-Americans. The theme is home in most stories. The characters are struggling with their different cultures and wondering where they fit in.

Carlson, Lori M., and Oscar Hijuelos. Cool Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Growing Up Latino in the United States. Henry Holt and Company, 1994. ISBN 0- 8050-3135-9. 113 p. 16 and up (est.). Poetry Collection.
This is a poetry collection about Latino Americans and their lives in America. It shares the positive and negative aspects of their experiences. This collection speaks about the difficulties of Latino people trying to adjust to a different culture and a different language than they were accustomed to in their home country.

Cannon, A. E. 1990. The Shadow Brothers. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.
Marcus and his Navaho foster brother, Henry, have always been close.However, as they get older Marcus feels Henry slipping away with his sudden interest in the most popular girl in school and his Navaho heritage back on the reservation. Marcus fears losing Henry’s companionship and leadership. (fiction)

Coleman, Evenly. 1986, White Socks Only, Albert Whitman and Company.
A grandmother tells her granddaughter of an incident that took place in Mississippi while getting a drink of water at a fountain that said Whites only. This however caused the black community to pull together.

Cox, Clinton. 1991. Undying Glory: The Story of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment. New York: Scholastic, Inc. Nonfiction.
This is the story of the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts. They were the first black soldiers to fight in the Civil War. These soldiers were not easily accepted and were treated as second class soldiers. These soldiers proved their fighting ability and courage with their attack on Fort Wagner.

Cumpian, Carlos.1994. Latino Rainbow, Chicago: Children’s Press Inc.
This is a collection of poetry introducing the rich heritage of U.S. Latino culture and history. These poems focus on Latinos and Latinas who have made a solid contribution to the growth of America. The Latin Americans used in this book are musicians, artists politicians, and activists. (poetry)

Curtis, Christopher Paul. 1995. The Watsons Go To Birmingham, 1963. New York: Banton Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers.
A hilarious, touching, and tragic novel about the civil rights movement and its impact on an African American family. Ten-year old Kenny Watson and his family take us readers on a trip from Flint, Michigan to Birmingham, Alabama. Students will identify with the humor in growing up and getting along with friends and family. (fiction)

Dawson, Mildred. 1993. Over Here It’s Different: Carolina’s Story. New York: MacMillan.
This book relates, in text and photographs, the experiences of an eleven-year-old girl who emigrated from the Dominican Republic at age seven. It also describes the two worlds she lives in as an American trying to preserve her heritage. (Non fiction)

Dengler, Marianna. 1996. The Worry Stone. Ill. Sibyl Graber. Flagstaff: Northland.
This is the story of an old woman who helps a young boy deal with his feelings of loneliness by sharing with him the legend of “the worrystone.” The telling of the Indian legend connects the two characters and is the beginning of their friendship. (Picture Book)

Dorros, Arthur. 1991. Abuela. New York: Dutton’s Children’s Books.
A young girl and her grandmother take an imaginary adventure where they fly to see their relatives and the grandmother's childhood home. Contains a touching view of a grandmother and the grandchild that loves her. (picture book)

Feelings, Tom. 1993. Soul Looks Back In Wonder. New York: Dial Books.
A number of famous poets, including Darryl Holmes, Eugene B. Redmond, Langston Hughes, Lucille Clifton, and Maya Angelo, celebrate the African-American spirit. They capture young people's sense of self esteem/identity, conflicts (gangs), dreams, and creativity. The authors put together the poetry to pass on the heritage of strength, beauty, love, and knowledge to the upcoming generations, through their poetry writings. (poetry)

Fenner, Carol. 1995. Yolonda's Genius. New York: Aladdin Paperbacks.
Yolonda is an intelligent girl who can take care of herself. In Chicago, Illinois no one messes with her and her little brother, Andrew. Andrew is quiet and can't read, but he has a special gift of identifying with sound… especially with his harmonica. When they move to Grand River, Michigan, Andrew's harmonica is smashed. The music stops. Yolonda knows Andrew is a "genius" and strives to help him regain his talent and special gift. A compelling story of family relationships and determination. (fiction)

Flournoy, Valerie. 1985. The Patchwork Quilt. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.
Using scraps cut from the family's old clothing, Tanya helps her grandmother and mother make a beautiful quilt that tells the story of her family's life. (Picture book)

Freedman, Russell. 1987. Indian Chiefs. New York: Holiday House.
Here you will find the stories of six western Indian chiefs who led their people during a historical moment of crisis. This true account of the lives of these men is chronicled from the early 1840’s as the pioneers began their journeys west in search of land, Native American land. Because most Indians chose to fight for what they believed was rightfully their, these stories in history were created. (Nonfiction)

Garland, Sherry. 1993. Shadow of the Dragon. San Diego: Harcourt Brace & Company.
Danny Vo is a sixteen-year-old Vietnamese American struggling between fitting in with his American friends and staying loyal to his family’s beliefs and traditions. He faces racism from two perspectives: that of a Vietnamese gang and white supremacist skinheads. He discovers the importance of being true to himself. (fiction)

Giovanni, Nikki 1972, Legacies, My House New York:William Morrow and Co.
The selected poem, Legacies, tells of a little girls struggle between growing up and learning the traditions her grandmother is trying to pass down. The struggle between generations is a silent one because neither the little girl not the grandmother disclose their true feelings.

Good, Merle. 1993. An Amish Portrait: Song of a People. PA: Good Books.
This book is a wonderful collection of Amish songs and poems. (poetry)

Gordeeva, Ekaterina. 1996. My Sergei, New York, NY: Warner Books, Inc.
They were two mismatched kids teamed by the Soviet regime to perform for the good of the state. Ekaterina was a tiny, serious girl of eleven; Sergei was a fun-loving boy of fifteen. Together they won four World Championships, two Olympic gold medals—and the hearts of millions of fans. Katia recalls her story-book romance with Sergei: from first kiss in Russia to young love in Paris…from solemn marriage vows in Moscow to joyous parenthood in America. She shares their experiences as skaters, and her battle to overcome the grief of Sergei’s untimely death. (nonfiction)

Grasser, Ann 1991 Walls:Returning Home! & other poetry. Saginaw, Wordsworth Publishing Inc.
This collection focuses on how each person has different ways to keep their ideas and hopes. The title suggests that people would rather keep walls up than deal with lifes struggles openly. (poetry collection)

Hansen, Joyce. 1986. Which Way Freedom? New York: Walker and Company. Fiction.
This book is based on actual events, however, the characters are fictional. This historical fiction piece tells about African-American participation in the Civil War and tells of one man’s quest for freedom.

Haskins, Jim. 1993. Get on Board: The Story of the Underground Railroad. New York: Scholastic, Inc. Nonfiction.
This book tells many stories of the Underground Railroad. It starts with a history of the Underground Railroad and how it got its name. The book goes on to tell about the people who helped the slaves escape and how they assisted them in this endeavor. The stories of many slaves and how they made it to freedom are told.

Hest, Amy. 1997. When Jessie Came Across the Sea, Italy: Candlewick Press.
Jessie and her grandmother live in a poor village in the valleys of eastern Europe. When, to everyone’s surprise, young Jessie is chosen by the rabbi to travel to America. She must then leave her beloved grandmother behind, and they both feel their hearts will break. The author Amy Hest transcends time, culture, and immigrant heritage in a tribute to the courage and hope of all who seek a better life. Exquisitely illustrated by P.J. Lynch with paintings that glow with warmth and beautiful reality. (picture book)

Hobbs, Will. 1996. Far North. William Morrow and Company.
This wonderfully written fiction book is about a boy named Gabe and his new roommate Raymond. After landing in a bush plane to admire a waterfall in Canada’s Northwest Territory, the engine quits. The boys find they are stranded in the arctic cold. The two 16 year olds boys learn to rely on each other for survival despite the fact they grew up in different places Gabe from Texas, and Raymond a native. (fiction)

Hughes, Langston. 1965. Simple’s Uncle Sam. New York: Hill and Wang.
A book of short satirical essays written by Langston Hughes. He speaks through his dialogues with his main character, Simple, who expresses the concerns of African Americans. His stories are humorous, yet they address the gravity of their problems.

Izuki, Steven. 1994. Believers in America: Poems about Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander Descent. Chicago: Childrens Press.
This lovely book is a collection of poems by Asian and Pacific Islander writers sharing their stories of hardship and courage coming from their homelands to America. (poetry)

Jiminez, Francisco. 1997. The Circuit - stories from the life of a migrant child. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.
An autobiographical account of the author’s childhood and his family. This book gives an accurate description of a hard working migrant family who’s on the move and receiving education on the fly. (non fiction, autobiographical)

Levine, Ellen. 1995, A Fence Away From Freedom, G. P. Putnam’s Sons
During 1941 Japanese American’s were put into camps as a result of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In 1941 Japanese American’s were forced to give up their belongings and live within the worst conditions. These are stories told by those children who survived this ordeal in 1941.

Mathis, Sharon Bell. 1975. The Hundred Penny Box. New York: Puffin.
Michael's love for his great-great-aunt who lives with them leads him to intercede with his mother, who wants to toss out all her old things. Michael’s great-great-aunt has a box filled with a penny for every year of her life. She is able to tell stories of her life by looking at each penny. (Fiction)

Mazer, Anne. 1995. Going Where I’m Coming From: Memoirs of American Youth. New York: Persea Books.
These personal narratives are told from various authors who dealt with immigration, growing up within two cultures, and self discovery. There is a story for everyone to relate to no matter who you are or where you live in America. (nonfiction)

McKissack Fredrick and Patricia. 1990. James Weldon Johnson "Lift Every Voice and Sing". Childrens Press: Chicago.
This is a biography of the author, civil rights leader, and co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Mr. Johnson wrote about equility and human rights in his poems, speeches, and other writings. James Weldon Johnson is best known for writing the song, "Lift Every Voice and Sing". nonfiction.

McKissack Patricia. 1993. The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural. Scholastic: New York.
This is a collection of scary stories rooted in the African-American history and the oral story telling tradition. It's an exhilarating group of stories to have your imagination run wild with fear and suspense. (fiction)

McKissack Patricia, and McKissack, Fredrick, Jr. 1994. Black Diamond. New York: Scholastic.
This nonfiction account of the Negro Baseball League chronicles baseball from 1845 to 1962. It investigates the continual change in the status of African American players. From the start, players who were black could not play in the major leagues. This prejudice included Cuban players.

Mochizuki, Ken. Baseball Saved Us. Illustrated by Dom Lee. Scholastic, 1993. ISBN 0-590-80805-2. 29p. 5 and up (est.). Picture Book - Fiction.
After the attack of Pearl Harbor, when World War II began, Japanese Americans were taken to internment camps. “Shorty” and his family were taken to such a place in this skillfully illustrated picture book. Their times are difficult and the children begin to lose the respect that used to be so common in their culture outside of the camps. In order to turn this around, the people develop a baseball program and spirits are raised somewhat.

Myers, Elisabeth P. 1970. Langston Hughes, Poet of His People. Champaign, Illinois: Garrard Publishing Co.
This easy-to-read text is a biographical account of the poet and storyteller, Langston Hughes. It includes many black and white photographs. Langston Hughes spoke to and for the people of Harlem, “his” people.

Myers, Walter Dean. 1997. Harlem. New York: Scholastic Press.
Vivid artwork complements the poem “Harlem in this stunning picture book. This father/son collaboration belongs in every library. A great introduction for an African American history unit.

Myers, Walter Dean. 1993. Brown Angels: An Album of Picture and Verse. New York: HarperCollins.
A collection of poems, accompanied by photographs, about African American children and their families living around the turn of the century. (Poetry)

Nye, Naomi Shihab 1992, This Same Sky:A Collection of Poems from around the World New York:Four Winds Press.
These poems from a wide variety of cultures are organized into categories which reflect the aspects of our shared humanity. They are; Words and Silences, Dreams and Dreamers, Families, This Earth and Sky in Which We Live, Losses, and Human Mysteries. (poetry collection)

O’Dell, Scott. 1960. Island of the Blue Dolphins. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
This is the story of Karana, an Indian girl who lived for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphin in the Pacific. When her people move away, she is left behind. As she waits for rescue for many years, her story of survival is told. (Fiction)

Oughton, Jerrie.1995. Music From A Place Called Half Moon. New York, NY: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.
This is a bittersweet tale of a coming-of-age story as well as a social problem novel. It is about a thirteen year old Edie Jo as she faces her small town’s bigotry in the 1950’s. Even though she is unsure of how she feels, the friendship she develops with a gentle Indian boy named Cherokee Fish is unforgettable. It is a summer full of sharing secrets and dreams, even though the North Carolina town struggles with the terms of integration. (fiction)

Polacco, Patricia. 1994. Pink and Say. New York: Philomel Books. Picture Book.
This picture book tells the story of two young Union soldiers, one African- American, and the one white. These two develop a relationship when Pinkus, the African-American soldier stumbles upon the other injured soldier. Pinkus takes him home to his mother where she helps to care for him. They are all in danger of being captured by the Confederate soldiers. Eventually, they are caught and split apart.

Rana, Indi. 1993. The Roller Birds of Rampur. New York: Fawcett Juniper.
Sheila has always considered herself to be English but after a run in with her boyfriend’s disapproving mother she begins to wonder. She travels to India to stay with relatives and to discover her Indian side. After several conversations with her grandfather Sheila begins to find out who she really is. (fiction)

Rapport, Doreen. Illustrated by E.B. Lewis. 1995. The New King. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.
Prince Rakoto of Madagascar cannot accept his father's' death. The new king orders his Royal Advisors to bring his father back to life. When they cannot, a Wise Woman tells him a comforting life and death tale that allows him to continue his life as king ruling his people as his father taught him. (picture book)

Richter, Hans Peter 1961, Friedrich New York:Puffin Books.
This story of two families whose sons grew up in prewar Nazi Germany explores how a society moved from tolerance for cultural and religious differences to one focused on eliminating any one who did not fit into a specifically defined culture. (nonfiction)

Salisbury, Graham. 1994. Under the Blood-RedSun. New York: Delacorte Press.
Tomikazu (Tomi) Nakaji's biggest concerns are baseball, homework, and a local bully, until life with his Japanese family in Hawaii changes drastically after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Tomi experiences many hard times that he must work through because of the war. (Historical fiction)

Sisula Batezat, Elinor. 1996. The Day Gogo Went to Vote. Little, Brown and Company: Boston. .
This is a picture book about South Africans who are allowed to vote for the first time in a government election. In an inspiring story, about Thembi and her great-grandmother who has not left the house for many years go together to vote. This is an occasion retold from Thembi's view about this unprecedented historical event. picture book

Stanley, Jerry. I Am an American: A True Story of Japanese Internment. Crown, 1994. ISBN 0-517-59787-X. 102p. 9 and up. Nonfiction.
In the beginning of World War II, most of the Japanese Americans were placed in internment camps. This book is a true story about Shi Nomura, a high school senior, and many other Japanese people who had to face the struggle of being robbed of their freedom. This book paints a picture of the injustice that took place during that time of American history.

Stepto, Michele (editor). 1995. African-American Voices. Brookfield, Connecticut: The Millbrook Press. Poetry.
Slaves brought with them songs, stories, and poems from their native lands. Since they were not allowed to read or write, these various disciplines were spread by word of mouth. As time passed, African-Americans wrote poems and songs that expressed their pain and their faith. This book displays some of the literature and helps to demonstrate what being black was like during different times in America.

Swift, Hildergarde Hoyt. 1947. North Star Shining. New York: William Morrow and Co.
This pictorial is accented by verse. The pictures are striking and emotional. Famous as well as unknown African Americans are depicted in poetry and the spirit of their proud, hard heritage is captured for the reader.

Tan, Amy. 1996. The Joy Luck Club. New York: Ivy Publishing.
Four American-born women are faced with the struggle of living their lives according to American traditions or their Chinese heritage. Each daughters story is told, along with the hopes and dreams their mothers had that lead the daughters to discover their heritage and themselves. (fiction)

Taylor, Mildred D. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Puffin Books, 1976. ISBN 0- 14-03.4893 X. 276p. 10 and up. Fiction.
This is a story about a black family that struggles in the South during the Depression. The book takes the reader through one year of Cassie Logan’s family life. Despite the prejudice that she and her family face throughout the book, they continue to remain proud of who they are and of the land that they possess.

Walker, Alice and Catherine Deeter. 1991. Finding the Greenstone. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers.
Johnny, by losing and then finding his glowing green stone, discovers that he can find his own way through changes during adolescents with the love and support of his family and friends. (picture book)

Wood, Nancy. 1993. Spirit Walker. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell.
This collection of Native American poetry expresses the courage, determination, and powerful spirit of the native people. These poems are especially reflective of the ways of the Taos Pueblo Indians and their deep spirituality and connection with the earth as a living whole. The author reveals the Native American perspective on everyday events and objects through spiritual ideas and language. (Poetry Collection)


Go back to the A.S.T.A.L. Home Page.

This web page was last updated on: 21 June 2007

All content on this and all other related pages is Copyright © The Alliance for the Study and Teaching of Adolescent Literature at Rhode Island College.