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Multicultural Literature For Children and Young Adults

Inclusive Literature

Nye, Naomi Shihab. Habibi. 1997. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0689801491.

Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye is a book that involves modern day conflict with old - fashioned customs. This book is about a Palestinian girl from St. Louis whose family is from Jerusalem and is moving back there.The author shows the streets and ways of Israel, while at the same time, telling an exciting story of a teenage girl's life and relationships. This book shows the hatred between the Israelis and Arabs, and how a few kind actions can change a person forever. Though the book is slightly biased against Israeli solders, and shows them as cruel and violent when they try to kill one of Liyana's best friends Khaled, the author ends with love and friendship between an Arab community and a young Jewish boy. This friendship shows the hope of a better future in Jerusalem and that peace shall come. You are guided through the streets of an ordinary Arab town, and learn about the culture and food of a traditional Arab family. The book shows bravery from the characters as they overcome the challenges of biases and serotypes towards the Jews and Arabs.

The author works hard to give an exiting story of a teenage girl living in a new world. Not only does the book portray biases and problems in the world, but it is a fun story of a girl's life and feels. You get to read a interesting book to pass the time, and learn about a new culture at the same time. It is a quick read that is suitable for any age from 10-17. I would recommend to anyone that would like to read an enjoyable book about the life of an Arab family.

It deserves the many awards it has received, like the Jane Addams Children's Book Award and the ALA Best Book for Young Adults award. Habibi truly is an amazing book.


Garcia, Rita Williams. No Laughter Here. 2002. New York: HaperCollins. ISBN 0688162479.

In this groundbreaking novel, Coretta Scott King Honor winner Rita Williams-Garcia uses her vividly realistic voice to explore an often taboo practice that affects millions of girls around the world every year. Readers will identify with headstrong, outspoken Akilah, whose struggle to understand what's happened to Victoria reveals a painful truth in an honest and accessible way.

Even though they were born in different countries, Akilah and Victoria are true best friends. But Victoria has been acting strange ever since she returned from her summer in Nigeria, where she had a special coming-of-age ceremony.

Akilah's name means "intelligent," and she is determined to find out what's wrong, no matter how much detective work she has to do. But when she learns the terrible secret Victoria is hiding, she suddenly has even more questions. The only problem is, they might not be the kind that have answers. By the end, readers realize some wounds heal slowly, and some not at all. Williams-Garcia uses Akilah's innocence and curiosity to address a delicate human rights issue about which she feels passionate. The text includes an author's note with suggestions for finding additional information on FGM.




Trueman, Terry. Inside Out. 2003. New York: Harpertempest. ISBN 0066239621

Zach, age 16, is sitting in a coffee shop waiting for his mother to pick him up when two armed teenagers burst in to rob the place. Everyone else is terrified, but Zack doesn't freak out--he's schizophrenic, so he's not even sure the gunmen are real. He can't trust his senses, and the two imaginary "psychokiller enemies" whose voices he hears whispering evil thoughts in his head are what really make him quake. Zach has already attempted suicide, and he needs his medicine--which is rapidly wearing off-to maintain any kind of hold on reality. Compared with what's going on in Zach's mind, as he narrates his tale, the robbers aren't really threatening to him at all. So he has no trouble volunteering to be a hostage when the situation escalates, and in the process learns more about the two young gunmen. Two brothers desperately seeking money to help their impoverished, cancer-ridden mother, they are terrified themselves, and they end up turning to Zach for help when a police standoff develops.

Trueman deals with a terrible illness and life-or-death issues. The tragic twist at the end of Inside Out. when it is revealed that Zach, who behaved so heroically in the coffee shop, has killed himself several months later, is bound to disturb readers (you certainly wouldn't want to use this book with schizophrenics). But this inside look at the mind of a schizophrenic, melodramatic as it sounds, is also a quick and riveting read, and will give readers a memorable if perturbing insight into mental illness.



Peters, Julie Anne. Keeping You a Secret. 2003. :Megan Tigley. ISBN 0316702757.

Now that her senior year has arrived, Holland Jaeger finds life is not so simple. Her mother is pressing her to go to law school. This is not Holland's dream, however her mother seems intent on living vicariously through Holland's life. She wants only the best for Holland. Therefore it is up to Holland to get the best grades, apply to the best schools, and meet everyone's expectations.

When Holland finds herself attracted to a new student, she realizes she's going to have a very serious problem with her current boyfriend; he's too needy. Since they began having sex, that is all he seems to want to do. The new student, Cece, is an 'out-and-proud' lesbian, and Holland finds herself in the greatest relationship ever. What price will she pay when she decides to follow her heart?

Julie Anne Peters views are honest and handled well. Teen sex is not ignored; instead it is handled honestly with both the pros and cons taken into consideration. Birth control is discussed without being preached. All of these were issues we hated listening to as kids, but they are important nonetheless.