Authors and publishers are responding to the need for diverse books for middle school. Consequently, there are wonderful new multicultural titles available, many rooted in Latino culture.
These diverse books for middle school serve as mirrors and windows. In other words, some readers will see their culture reflected in the stories and others will gain insight into a culture other than their own.
Five of the novels below are historical fiction and all have engaging, strong protagonists. These books are wonderful multicultural literature!
Strong Latinas in Diverse Books for Middle School
Ana Maria Reyes Does Not Live in a Castle
Ana Maria Reyes Does Not Live in a Castle is middle grade novel by Hilda Eunice Burgos. It is a wonderful story about an 11-year-old Dominican American girl in Washington Heights who is trying to win a scholarship to a private school. She needs to practice her piano piece, but it isn’t easy to do with her large, busy family. School Library Journal says it is “an authentic representation of a successful immigrant, middle class Latinx family who values education, community, and family and stays true to their roots.”
Read more on Amazon: Ana María Reyes Does Not Live in a Castle
Moving Target, by award-winning author Christina Diaz Gonzalez, is an exciting, action-packed mystery. Cassie Arroyo is studying in Rome when someone tries to kill her father. This is a thrilling story with a heroine readers will love!
Read more on Amazon: Moving Target
Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco
Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco by Judith Robbins Rose tells the story of Jacinta, who is paired with a wealthy mentor. With Miss, Jacinta explores aspects of upper-middle-class culture while coping with an increasingly difficult situation at home. This timely, empowering novel looks at the plight of undocumented immigrants and their American-born children. You can read my review of the novel here:
Middle Grade Novel Shares Experiences of Mixed-Status Families
Read more on Amazon: Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco
Merci Suarez Changes Gears
Merci Suarez Changes Gears, from Candlewick Press and author Meg Medina, is the winner of the 2019 Newbery Medal. Readers will fall in love with Merci Suarez! She is a strong, funny sixth-grader dealing with complicated changes at home and at school.
This book is not included in the giveaway.
Read more on Amazon: Merci Suarez Changes Gears
Diverse Books for Middle School: Historical Fiction
The Wind Called My Name
The Wind Called My Name, by Mary Louise Sanchez, is about Margarita, who moves with her family from New Mexico to Wyoming during the Great Depression. It’s a beautiful book, full of culture and with a fair amount of Spanish. The publisher, Lee & Low Books, has an excellent teacher’s guide.
Read more on Amazon: The Wind Called My Name
My Brigadista Year
My Brigadista Year, a historical novel, follows a Cuban teenager, as she volunteers for Fidel Castro’s national literacy campaign. Nora travels into the impoverished countryside to teach others how to read.
Read more on Amazon: My Brigadista Year
Step up to the Plate, Maria Singh
Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh, is a wonderful book by award-winning author Uma Krishnaswami. It’s 1945 and Maria Singh longs to play on the new girls’ softball team at her school. Maria’s father is from India and her mother is from Mexico, and as her family faces prejudice and discriminatory laws, María must stand up for her beliefs.
Read more on Amazon: Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh
Shame the Stars
The historical novel Shame the Stars by Guadalupe Garcia McCall is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in Texas in the early 1900s. As the Mexican Revolution crosses the border and divides their families, Joaquín del Toro and Dulceña Villa must keep their relationship a secret. The book, however, is more than a love story, and deals with themes of racism and violence. This book reaches beyond the middle grades and is appropriate for readers ages 12-18.
Read more on Amazon: Shame the Stars
All The Stars Denied
All The Stars Denied, also by Guadalupe García McCall, is set in Texas during the 1930s. Estrella and her family become the target of efforts to send Mexican Americans to Mexico. Taken to across the border, Estrella must find a way to survive and care for her mother and brother. This historical novel recounts the deportation that swept up hundreds of thousands of Mexican American citizens during the Great Depression. This book reaches beyond the middle grades and is appropriate for readers ages 12-18.
Read more on Amazon: All The Stars Denied
Do you have favorite diverse books for middle school? We would love to learn about them, so please let us know!