My reading list this summer includes a graphic novel, a New York Times Best Seller adapted for young adult readers, and a young adult fiction series. The books have vastly different storylines, but they all ask the reader to self reflect on their own personal identity. Gender Queer: a Memoir, Caste, and the Akata Witch series are all critically important reads and I want to encourage teachers, coaches, parents, and other caregivers to teenagers to add these to their libraries this summer. Readers of all ages will benefit.
Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe- I am excited for this book because it is my first time reading a graphic novel. When opening the first few pages it feels more like art, than a book, and author Maia Kobabe masterfully tells eirs story of eirs journey of identifying as nonbinary and asexual. The illustrations are beautiful and the story addresses questions about gender identity in a way that all people can relate to. This graphic novel is the number one most likely to be banned book in the country, however I feel strongly that it should be in every classroom and library to help students, parents, or caregivers better understand themselves and their loved ones.
Caste, Adapted for Young Adults by Isabel Wilkerson- This summer I am looking forward to diving into the adapted version of Isabel Wilkerson’s best selling book, Caste. Wilkerson explores the unspoken caste system in our society and how this system divides us through race and class. The book has an overarching theme of which groups have power in society and which groups do not. We plan to use this book for our Civic Literacy unit at Coastside Leadership Academy next fall and serve as a jumping off point for our students to think about the world we live in beyond themselves.
Akata Witch Series by Nnedi Okorafor- The Akata Witch trilogy follows main character Sunny Nwazue and her friends as they navigate the world of juju, or magic. Sunny is the only American born member of her Nigerian family, and they moved back to Nigeria when she was 9, leading her to feel out of place in both her homes. She has West African features but is albino, and discovers that she is even more different from her family when she is introduced to her magical powers. Sunny is a gifted athlete and witch, and she is challenged in all three books to take on mystical characters to protect her family, friends, and the entire world. Author Nnedi Okorafor weaves together her Nigerian culture and imagination into this Young Adult series. The first two books were page turners, and I can’t wait to read the third on the beach during vacation.
Check out these books on bookshop.org. I wish you all a reflective and restful summer, full of good reading!