Dear bloggers and book lovers, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! I know this time of year can be both relaxing and stressful, so I hope you are practicing good self-care. One of my favourite things about the holiday season is reflecting on the books I’ve read. I covered YA + junior fiction and adult fiction + nonfiction in two separate posts, since I simply had too many favourites this year!
TITLE: El Deafo
AUTHOR: Cece Bell
PUBLISHER: Harry N. Abrams
RELEASE DATE: September 2, 2014
GENRE: Junior Graphic Novel, Memoir
PAGE COUNT: 233
El Deafo is an utterly adorable Own Voices graphic novel based on author Cece Bell’s own childhood experience of severe deafness. One of the many wonderful things about this book is how it avoids representing deafness as a disability. Although Cece faces plenty of adversity in the form of loneliness, being misunderstood, and toxic friends, she ultimately uses her Phonic Ear hearing aid as a superpower to become the hero, El Deafo. This is a universally relatable and informative story for junior and middle grade readers that inspires compassion and respect for differently-abled people. Continue reading
This year, I have enjoyed reading more representations of mental illness in adult and YA books. I love when these narratives contribute to breaking down stigmas, and validating real experiences. As a children’s book lover, I was curious to research what picture books are available for young readers struggling to understand a family member’s depression.
TITLE: A Time to Dance
AUTHOR: Padma Venkatraman
PUBLISHER: Nancy Paulsen Books
RELEASE DATE: May 1, 2014
GENRE: Young Adult Fiction
PAGE COUNT: 320
A Time to Dance is unlike any other book I’ve read. Delivered in flowing verse, Venkatraman combines a lovingly detailed representation of disability with sumptuous insights to her own culture and religion. The result is a story for all ages that celebrates the beauty in all things. Its uplifting message has resonated with me long after reading, and impacted my perspectives on disability and religion. Continue reading
TITLE: American Born Chinese
AUTHOR: Gene Luan Yang
PUBLISHER: First Second
RELEASE DATE: September 1, 2006
GENRE: Junior Graphic Novel
PAGE COUNT: 240
Fusing mythology with a contemporary coming of age story, American Born Chinese confronts Asian stereotypes and cultural alienation. These topics may sound heavy, but Yang weaves his story around these themes effortlessly, like a present-day Aesop’s fable while remaining fresh and fun.
Jin Wang is the only Chinese American at his new school. When the new kid from Taiwan tries to befriend him, Jin is scared that being seen with a FOB (Fresh Off the Boat) will destroy his chances of fitting in. Meanwhile, cool all-American teen Danny is scared his Chinese cousin Chin-Kee will ruin his rep with his popular crush. Continue reading
AUTHOR: Raina Telgemeier
RELEASE DATE: September 13, 2016
GENRE: Junior Graphic Novel
PAGE COUNT: 256
Ghosts is a heartwarming graphic novel that celebrates life… even after death. Featuring a cast of differently abled and racially diverse characters, it is a colourful and timely story that will inspire conversation between parents and junior readers.
Cat is an introvert while her little sister Maya loves to sing and dance her heart out. However, Maya’s cystic fibrosis means she is often out of breath. When their family moves to the coastal town of Bahía de la Luna for Maya’s health, Cat is sad to swap sunshine and friends for a foggy town obsessed with the afterlife. After all, ghosts aren’t real… Right? Continue reading
AUTHOR: Vince Vawter
PUBLISHER: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
RELEASE DATE: May 14, 2013
GENRE: Junior Fiction
PAGE COUNT: 240
Set in ’50s suburban Memphis, Paperboy is a gripping Own Voices coming-of-age story. 11-year-old Little Man has battled with a debilitating stutter all his life. His unique view of the world takes us on an adventure beyond the walls people raise to defend their inner truths. Paperboy is about not judging a book by its cover.
Little Man is our irresistible first person narrator. When his best friend goes away for a month, Little Man offers to cover his newspaper delivery route. This seemingly trivial favour is a terrifying challenge. When he musters the courage to speak to strangers, he discovers much more to his neighbourhood than meets the eye. Continue reading
AUTHOR: Alex Gino
PUBLISHER: Scholastic Press
RELEASE DATE: August 25, 2015
GENRE: Junior Fiction, LGBTQI+
PAGE COUNT: 195
You may be surprised to hear that a children’s book would be my pick above many of the LGBTQI+ books written for adults. Why? George’s representation of a transgender child captures the feeling of being “born this way”. It talks about gender in a way that young readers can understand, and which also has the power to educate adults.
Fourth-grader, George, is determined to be Charlotte in the class production of Charlotte’s Web. This is the chance she’s been waiting for to tell the world she’s a girl. But when the teachers refuse to even let her audition for a girl’s role, her flamboyant best friend Kelly comes up with a daring plan to make George’s dreams comes true. Continue reading
In 2016, I broke out of my reading rut and found some new favourites. Are any of these your favourites? I’d love to hear about the highlights of your year in the comments below!
Last year I tried to read outside of my comfort zone more. In the process, I feel like I grew as a reader and found new passions. The aim of my 2017 reading resolutions are to continue growing as a person with greater love and understanding.