Saturday, September 18, 2010

What About Our Boys?

Today I'm happy to announce, I have a guest post from the one and only Jeannine (from the blog, Write On). She wrote an excellent guest post so I won't go into too much detail about her and her blog but I will say this; she is an aspiring picture book author and it's going to happen. She has diverse tastes in books and is a very warm, funny and heartfelt person. I consider her one of my blogging godmothers :) To learn more about Jeannine check out her blog and the Blogger Spotlight

I'm almost at the point where I don't want to tell people I'm a writer. The first thing they ask is of course " Do you have any books out?" The answer is not yet!! A lot of people have started asking me "What books can I get for my son to read?" (The person who asks this is usually African -American.) Oh, this is a toughie. I'm pretty good when it comes to picture books. That is my area of expertise. But when it comes to middle grade, I have no clue. I also inevitably feel really guilty because I know that there isn't a ton of stuff out there for boys of color, any color. So I thought I would do some research. There are some good lists out there. As I scroll down each list however and take out the books featuring African-American boys as slaves, the lists get smaller and smaller and smaller. Slavery is an important part of our history. Kids should know about it. BUT, do girls only want to read about how women got the right to vote? NO!! Do Jewish kids only want to read about the Holocaust? NO!! Somehow, publishers seem to think that those are the books our kids want to read. So I don't mean to be snooty or unfair when I skip right over those books. I just wanted to find out what books are out there about boys being boys.

Boys going on adventures, getting into trouble, playing sports. You know, just being a kid. With the creation of Tu Books (an imprint of Lee and Low) we do have a reason to start getting excited. Their goal is to fill in the colorless gap in the world of science fiction/fantasy. HIP HIP HOORAY!! There are so many writers out there who are writing those types of books, so hopefully change is-a-coming. Maybe we'll even have a black or Hispanic vampire, or maybe not. We're all tired of vampires aren't we???

I'm excited that Miss Attitude has given me this opportunity to share some great books for boys of color. The following list includes boys of various racial backgrounds. It's important that all children, not just minority children, read different types of books with different types of characters. We're a global society folks, our bookshelves, our friends, our daily lives should be a reflection of the fact. These are just a few of the books I found. It's a good start. Enjoy the list and I hope we can keep it growing. Until next time.

Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything In It
Donovan's Double Trouble
8th Grade Superzero
The Frog Scientist
Sacred Mountain
Junebug In Trouble
The Prince of Fenway Park
NERDS: M is for Mama's Boy
Chess Rumble
Code Talker
Quest for the Simurgh
Night of the Living Lawn Ornaments
The Immortal Fire
The Taker and the Keeper
We Could Be Brothers (soon to be released)

I'm sad to say I've only read two of the books (Codetalker and 8th Grade Superzero. I highly recommend both) mentioned! Some were already on my list, the rest will be added ASAP.

What boy books would you recommend? Specifically, any with PoC that are YA/MG?


  1. I don't read very many books with male main characters but I used to like the My Name is America series, which were fictional journals of boys during American History... there were a few POC titles:

    The Journal of Jesse Smoke: A Cherokee Boy
    The Journal of Wong Ming-Chung: A Chinese Miner
    The Journal of Joshua Loper: A Black Cowboy
    The Journal of Ben Uchida (Japanese American boy during WW2)

    There was also one I didn't really enjoy called The Journal of Biddy Owens about the Negro Leagues, because I don't like sports! But a reader who likes baseball might enjoy it.

  2. Another good one for boys is Moonshadow: Rise of the Ninja, by Simon Higgins.

    BTW-- Night of the Living Lawn Ornaments is the third of a series--the first is Boots and Pieces. And Immortal Fire is also a third book--The Shadow Thieves is the first one.

    (I'm keeping a list at my place of my reviews of sci fi/fantasy with kids of color, if anyone's interested. I'm hoping to get to 50 by the end of the month....)

  3. Thanks for giving me space to chat. You have so many readers I know we will begin to generate a great list.

  4. Rosa Guy has a couple of books about a NYC teen named Imamu Jones who solves mysteries, The Disappearance and New Guys On The Block.

    Walter Dean Myers is kind of a legend for his YA books about African-American and occasionally Hispanic boys. For a boy who likes sports, I would recommend Hoops and The Outside Shot.

    Speaking of sports, Marie G Lee has a great YA football novel with a Korean-American main character, called Necessary Roughness.

  5. you can find some listed on this post on my blog

    There's also YA books by Ernest Hill, Walter Mosley, Derrick Barnes, Paul Yee, Luis Rodriguez, Alex Sanchez, Christopher Paul Curtis, David Hernandez, Oscar Hijuelos and Jamie Adoff.
    I'm currently reading an ARC of Pull, a YA book by new Black male author B.A. Barnes.

  6. Any of the Jackson Jones books by Mary Quattlebaum are good for MG boys. The main character is a boy of color, and the books are fun and short and easy to read. :)

  7. Rick Riordan's new fantasy novel--the beginning of a new series--called "The Red Pyramid," has a bi-racial brother and sister as main characters. The brother has much more of the African-American look of his father, the sister, more Caucasian like her mother. I'm not much of a Riordan fan, but I would think boys of color would enjoy the character and the book.

  8. Chris Crutcher has written a couple with nonwhite protagonists (all his protagonists are male, iirc)--Whale Talk is the one I remember most, but there were some others. He mostly writes athletes, but I really liked his books anyway (I also hate sports :p). Seconding the My Name Is America books.

  9. This isn't a book I've read yet, but 47 by Walter Mosley sounds really interesting to me. I know this isn't about people of color, but John Green's books are cool. They are boy books about girls. Operation Redwood is a middle grade book with a half Chinese main character.

  10. OK, Pull is written by B.A. Binns, a female author. Please excuse the previously posted erroneous information.

    And Belated Happy Birthday, Ari!!

  11. Everything and anything written by Walter Dean Myers. I'm not one who thinks that authenticity can only come from AA authors, though, so I'd also recommend Paul Volponi's books, a NYC schoolteacher/writer.

    Then, you have to mix it up, so some books that a young boy might like that are just good adventurous reads are the Alex Rider series, the Artemis Fowl series, and of course, the Harry Potter series.

    Also, don't be afraid to have them read adult non-fiction. My son was big on sports biographies at that age. Still is.

  12. -anything by Laurence Yep, Sherman Alexie (his few YA books that is), Joseph Bruchac
    -Sharon M Draper has a few books with male lead characters
    -Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins
    -both the Earthsea and Powers series by Ursula Le Guin
    -Kite Fighters or Archer's Quest by Linda Sue Park
    -Sounder by William Armstrong
    -Under the Blood-Red Sun by Graham Salisbury
    Also, haven't read it yet, but there is a Native American vampire novel which has good reviews--The Night Wanderer by Drew Hayden Taylor (written by a Native American, so no Stephenie Meyer territory).

  13. These are all great suggestions. I'm going to compile a list and post it on my blog. Thanks everyone!!!

  14. I'd like to add a few to the mix, too - I am a recent reader, though, so it is possible that you have already addressed some of these. If so, I'd love to get links to those entries!

    For beginning readers, The Stories Julian Tells is narrated by a young black protagonist. It does not deal explicitly with race.

    For YA, Holly Black's new book, White Cat is told in the first person by a biracial, black and white, teenage boy. He lives in an alternate universe where some people have the power to curse others, and curse working is outlawed.

    I also wonder if you've read Tyrell, by Coe Booth? I prefer her other book, Kendra, but Tyrell is very engaging.

  15. We Were Here, by Matt de la Pena. Total author crush!

  16. It's already on that list, but I fully recommend NERDS. Just so you know M is for Momma's Boy is the second in the series (the first is just NERDS). This group of kid spies has some great funny scenes and there's plenty of action. The first book focuses on Jackson, one of the caucasian members of NERDS, but the second book is about Ducan, the African-American boy. There's also a Latino boy and an Asian girl in the cast.

  17. I know Cynthia Liu ( is putting together a list on this eact topic right now. And this was also recently address in Elizabeth Bluemle's recent post. She put together a list of titles last year -- see


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