Our September reads topic is Belonging Belongs with Us. Below, you’ll find books about being new, welcoming others, and life-changing friendships! When you find a book you would like to explore, click on the title and be taken directly to our catalog. Happy reading!
Ways to Welcome – Linda Ashman
This bright and fun picture book is filled with small acts of kindness meant to spread comfort and acceptance to new friends in an unfamiliar place.
Our Favorite Day of the Year – A.E. Ali
This story starts on the first day of school as a teacher welcomes her students and asks them to share their favorite day of the year. Each page talks about each of the student’s favorite holidays and how they are celebrated. This book serves as a lovely example of how to celebrate each person’s culture and experiences in an affirming and inclusive way!
A Place at the Table – Saadia Faruqi
Sara and Elizabeth are classmates in both their school and a new cooking class taught by Sara’s mom. When they are paired up to make a new dish, they learn about one another’s families and experiences which brings essential and unusual understanding.
I’m New Here – Anne Sibley O’Brien
Anne Sibey O’Brien moved to a new country with her family when she was a child, so she shared this story to help others to understand how it feels to be new. Children and adults who are transitioning to a new place often feel ignored, isolated, and that others feel they are less intelligent. Reading this story is a reminder for people of all backgrounds to treat others with kindness and respect as we make our way through unfamiliar territory.
All Are Welcome – Alexandra Penfold
All Are Welcome is an inclusive, uplifting, and informative picture book about a community in which people of all backgrounds and abilities are able to celebrate equally!
New Kid – Jerry Craft
New Kid is a graphic novel by Jerry Craft that tells the story of Jordan Banks who faces a series of microaggressions and culture shocks when he transfers to a private school. Readers will find his story unfortunately relatable, and will foster patience, awareness, and understanding of themselves and others.
The Journey – Francesca Sanna
Sanna writes and illustrates a story she knows firsthand in a colorful and evocative picture book depicting the trials and challenges faced by a family forced to immigrate to a safer country.
Front Desk – Kelly Yang
Kelly Yang’s Front Desk is loosely based on her own experiences as a first-generation American whose ambitious parents manage and live in a motel in southern California. Young Mia, our protagonist, uses her wit, heart, and hard work to help her parents succeed in an unfriendly environment.
What is a Refugee? – Elise Gravel
This book written and illustrated by Elise Gravel teaches young readers about refugees- what can happen to make a group of people unsafe in their home country, what it means to be free, and even includes some illustrations and information about real-life refugees she met while writing this book.
Other Words for Home – Jasmine Warga
This middle-grade book written in verse introduces readers to Jude, an immigrant from her beloved home in Syria as she adjusts to life in the US- missing her brother and father, being new and different, and finding her way.
Sure I’ll be your Black Friend – Ben Philippe
Part memoir- part cultural observation, Ben Philippe shares his experience as a kid who never quite fit in in Haiti, to being an immigrant in Canada, and most recently as the book was in its final stages in the summer of 2020- his observations of the bizarre world of COVID-19 and the supposed racial reckoning in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.
Watch Over Me – Nina LaCour
Mila escapes from her mysterious and complicated past as an educator in a remote family compound which she soon discovers has mysterious secrets of its own. She, her student, and her colleagues learn how to cope with the traumas in their respective pasts, and develop a loving familial relationship in the process.
Charming as a Verb – Ben Phillipe
Phillipe’s humor shines in this fun YA contemporary novel about the unlikely friendship that transpires from a “mutual hustle” between two high school seniors attempting to change their paths in life.
Yes, No, Maybe So – Becky Albertalli
Jamie and Maya are teen canvassers on an unexpected journey going door to door registering voters and learning about one another and the town in which they live. This story is set in Georgia, just before the 2020 election and is an excellent read considering the impact voting rights advocates have made on the state and national level!
The Opposite of Always – Justin A. Reynolds
Jack and Kate meet at a party and a perfect romance forms immediately until Kate reveals she is terminally ill and dies, causing the night they met and fell in love to begin anew… each time. Throughout the book, Jack tries desperately to change certain events hoping they will prevent the inevitable.
Parachutes – Kelly Yang
Parachutes follows Dani and Claire, unlikely roommates and seniors at an elite high school in California. Coming from very different backgrounds, they both face issues in school and in their personal lives that show them they are better facing adversity together than creating it for one another.
Bloom – Kevin Panetta
Despite his parents’ best efforts (and guilt trips), high school graduate Ari has no interest in putting his world-touring band adventures on hold and running their seaside restaurant. That is, until they hire a handsome new baker who shows him a new appreciation for his hometown.
A Very Large Expanse of Sea – Tahereh Mafi
A Very Large Expanse of Sea is set in 2002 at the height of post-9/11 islamophobia. Its protagonist Shirin is doing her best to be invisible and survive high school unscathed, until she meets Ocean, whose kindness and interest in her terrifies her in a new way and she begins to dare to let him into her life.
Clap When You Land – Elizabeth Acevedo
A unique story based on a real-life event, Clap When You Land is about two girls from different countries who experience a shared trauma and discover they are connected in a way they never could have imagined.
American Street – Ibi Zoboi
This blend of narrative fiction and magical realism begins when Fabiola and her mother leave Haiti for the US to live with their cousins. Her mother is unexpectedly detained under mysterious circumstances and Fabiola is forced to navigate her new country on her own. Her journey is shepherded by family, new friends, and strangely real Vodou deities.
The Authenticity Project – Clare Pooley
Eccentric septuagenarian Julian begins a journal he titles “The Authenticity Project” as a journal in which strangers can be more honest versions of themselves than what they present at work, on social media, or to impress others. He leaves it in a cafe after writing about himself, and encourages the next person to pick it up to do the same.
Interpreter of Maladies – Jhumpa Lahiri
This Pulitzer prize-winning collection of short stories shares many nuanced perspectives on life in a new country, culture, and family.
Sigh, Gone – Phuc Tran
A memoir about a young Vietnamese boy growing up in rural America at the dawn of punk, navigating racism, and the difference a great group of friends can make on a person. Each section in this memoir is titled by a different literary work which fantastically suits the period described in Tran’s life!
Crying in H Mart – Michelle Zauner
This memoir of the artist better known as Japanese Breakfast encompasses the grief of losing her mother, feeling disconnected from her heritage, and finding her own identity.
Anxious People – Fredrik Backman
From the publisher’s description: “A poignant, charming novel about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined”- Anxious People introduces its readers to each character involved in the would-be robbery in a way that humanizes even the least loveable stranger.
The Book of Unknown Americans – Cristina Henriquez
This story is one of young love, new beginnings, and the complicated histories each immigrant brings with them to new lands- told through the residents of a small apartment building in Delaware.
The Art of Gathering – Priya Parker
From the publisher: “If we can understand what makes these gatherings effective and memorable, then we can reframe and redirect them to benefit everyone, host and guest alike.” This work serves to remind us of the significance of our interactions, and how we may use them to create a more comfortable world.
Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
Nomad artist Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl arrive in the meticulously-orderly town of Shaker Heights and begin to reveal the community’s dark underside and controversies that have been brewing since before their arrival.
Born a Crime – Trevor Noah
Noah’s memoir details his experience as a child in South Africa and the ways in which his skin color affected the way he was treated. From the publisher: “Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life”
The Reading List – Sara Nisha Adams
In her underwhelming Summer job at a library, Aleisha finds a book list that she begins in her idle time and by the end realizes that they have lessened her anxiety and given her a refuge from troubles.