Continuing my series of OwnVoices books for kids, check out these excellent #ownvoices beginning chapter books.
What does OwnVoices mean? OwnVoices is when an author writes about a person or group of which the author also shares their identity. This is particularly important with regard to diversity and continues to be a growing movement.
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OwnVoices Beginning Chapter Books for Growing Readers Ages 6 – 8
by Saadia Faruqui, illustrated by Hatem Aly
Yasmin is an exuberant girl who is interested in everything from exploring to building to fashion. This book tells four short stories from Yasmin’s life, all in chapters with lively, full-color illustrations. Each story shows Yasmin as a creative problem solver even when things get hard. Her Pakistani American culture
is embedded throughout the story such as the foods Yasmin’s family eats like naan or how she calls her father Baba. I LOVE the diversity, the gutsy main-character, and the beautiful design of the entire book.
Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest Episode 1: The Quest for Screen Time
by Marti Dumas
What kid doesn’t want more screen time? Jaden has a plan for convincing his parents that he needs more time — and he’s going to use his big brain and his fellow kindergarteners to help. Kids love this funny book series.
Have Fun, Anna Hibiscus!
Anna Hibiscus lives in amazing Africa but in this story, she goes by herself to visit her Granny in Canada where it’s snowy and cold
. Anna gets to wear warm clothes and eat new foods. She even gets comfortable with Granny Canada’s dog and makes new friends. This is a delightful story of a sweet girl on an exciting new adventure.
Too Small Tola
Reading this book transports one into the lively, family-filled world of amazing Anna who lives in Africa. Written in a series of vignettes, we read how Anna keeps getting into trouble for her twin little brother’s mischief, about her beloved grandfather’s passing, and how Anna helps everyone remember her grandfather. It’s a lovely book filled with charm, personality, and a strong sense of place.
by Atinuke, illustrated by Onyinye Iwu
Tola lives in Nigeria in an apartment with her sister, brother, and Grandmommy. Even though she is small, she helps her Grandmommy at the market and carries water in from the pump when their building’s water doesn’t work. (The electricity doesn’t work often either.) Readers feel the love in Tola’s close-knit family and experience her life in her Nigerian community with kind-hearted neighbors and diversity of religion (Eid and Easter) and see that even when you’re small, you can make a difference.
Jasmine is jealous that the older kids in her family have important jobs on the mochi making day — she wants to do what the older boys and men are doing, pound the mochi rice. Her kind father figures out a way for Jasmine to join in. And even though it didn’t work out how she wants, her family is proud of her and decides it’s okay to change the rules. Not only is the story’s message sweet, Jasmine’s Japanese-American culture and warm family community shine through.
I love the playful writing, whimsical illustrations, and rich Pakistani-American culture in this beginning chapter book. One of the best things about Omar is his HUGE imagination! In fact, he faces his new experiences in life with a rich, creative mind filled with dragons, Ferraris, and zombie aliens. He uses his imagination to deal with moving AND starting a new school. Neither of which is very easy. Luckily, at his new school, he makes a best friend right away. Unluckily, he also draws the attention of a mean bully. When he and his family experience racism from their new neighbor and from the bully, in both situations the resolution lies with the other people getting to know Omar and his family, leading to kindness and understanding.
Not only is this a great STEM story about a young boy who finds the stars
to be fascinating, but it’s also a story with diversity because Sadiq’s Muslim family
is originally from Somalia. After a field trip to the planetarium, Sadiq and his friends start a space club and work together to raise money for a DIY telescope. Growing readers will enjoy the friendship, teamwork, STEM topics, and diversity.
Growing up is challenging and in the first novel, The Year of the Book, Anna turns to books for company while she learns how to make friendships in real life. The subsequent books in the series are just as realistic and well-written. I highly recommend them.
Jada’s starts the school year hoping to find new friends, hopefully, ones that love rocks like she does. She misses her best friend but feels excited when her class studies geology. Unfortunately, one bossy girl in Jada’s group project makes fun of Jada’s interest in rocks. This is a well-written STEM story that shows the challenges of getting along with others and staying true to yourself. Plus, you’ll like that the main character (of color) is a big science nerd!
Loosely based on the author’s own childhood, 3rd grader Stella is very, very quiet in both Spanish and English. She feels separate, just like the word alien that describes her green card status being born in Mexico and moving to Chicago as a baby. A fish research project for school helps Stella find her voice and overcome her fears.
by Hena Khan
Filled with Urdu and Pakistani culture, this is a short beginning chapter book about a boy who loves basketball
. Unfortunately, he skips violin lessons and lies to his parents in order to go to extra basketball practices. Zayd learns some hard lessons both about honesty and communication with his family which, in the end, makes his life better.
Mary and the Trail of Tears A Cherokee Removal Survival Story
Amirah lives in Mexico and loves cooking and baking. When her neighbor gives her an old cookbook titled The Power of Sprinkles, Amirah knows it’s the perfect cookbook for her upcoming birthday cake. Strangely, the cookbook transports her to the Magical Land of Birthdays where she meets other kids with her exact same birthdate as her who are from different areas of the world. Together they have an exciting, magical adventure that includes finding a missing B-Bud girl, parties, unicorns, and of course, cake.
Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey
by Erin Entrada Kelly
If your readers like sweet stories about relatable kid topics like fear over climbing a tree, avoiding a school bully, missing her dad who is working far away, having a parent from the Philippines, and noticing the world around you, you’ll enjoy Marisol’s story.
Marisol names everything — even the tree in her back yard that she is too scared to climb. She loves playing and riding bikes with her best friend Jada, even if it’s hard to ride past the mean dog. As we get to know Marisol, we can’t help but cheer her on as she eventually faces her fears about climbing the big tree in her backyard (named Peppina).
Shai and her two friends are preparing for a dance contest. She’s pushing her friends hard to be perfect instead of having fun. Will she learn what’s important and what isn’t? Relatable with an appealing plot and characters.
STAT: Standing Tall and Talented: Home Court
by Amar’e Stoudemir, illustrated by Tim Jessell
Based on the real story of Amar’e Stoudemire, this is the story of when he was 11, a skateboarder, a basketball player, and a worker with his dad’s landscape company. When other kids start trash-talking his friends, he uses his intelligence and basketball skills to find a solution.
by Andrea L. Rogers
This is a historical fiction beginning chapter book that may be too mature for most growing readers.
It is all true and well-written but it’s very realistic making it more challenging for sensitive readers who may be affected by the death, murder, and trauma that happens when the Cherokee Nation’s homes were taken by force.
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