Happy New Year, everyone! It’s the first Tuesday of 2023, so I’m ready to talk about all the new releases hitting the shelves today.
As always, these titles will have inclusive characters (think racial and cultural diversity, LGBTQ+ representation, diverse family structures, disability representation, and more), and fall into a range of genres in both fiction and nonfiction categories.
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Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park, Illustrated by Ho Baek Lee
A Korean American girl celebrates food and family in this cheerful board book about cooking a special meal by Newbery Medalist Linda Sue Park.
In bouncy rhyming text, an excited and hungry child tells about helping her mother make bee-bim bop: shopping, preparing ingredients, setting the table, and finally sitting down with her family to enjoy a favorite meal.
The energy and enthusiasm of the young narrator are conveyed in the whimsical illustrations, which bring details from the artist’s childhood in Korea to his depiction of a modern Korean American family.
An American Story by Kwame Alexander, Illustrated by Dare Coulter
#1 New York Times Bestselling and award-winning author of The Undefeated, Kwame Alexander, pens a powerful picture book that tells the story of American slavery through the voice of a teacher struggling to help her students understand its harrowing history.
From the fireside tales in an African village, through the unspeakable passage across the Atlantic, to the backbreaking work in the fields of the South, this is a story of a people’s struggle and strength, horror and hope. This is the story of American slavery, a story that needs to be told and understood by all of us. A testament to the resilience of the African American community, this book honors what has been and envisions what is to be.
With stunning mixed-media illustrations by newcomer Dare Coulter, this is a potent book for those who want to speak the truth. Perfect for family sharing, the classroom, and homeschooling.
Chloe’s Lunar New Year by Lily LaMotte, Illustrated by Michelle Lee
It’s almost Lunar New Year, and Chloe can’t wait to celebrate! But first, Chloe and her family must prepare for the new year. They buy new shoes, lay out good-luck oranges in a bowl, decorate the red envelope, and make a crispy turnip cake. Everyone comes together to cook a fantastic feast, saving a plate for A-má, of course. Chloe enjoys the festive celebration and yummy food, but most of all, she loves spending time with her family.
Lily LaMotte and Michelle Lee have created a tender, warm, and uplifting holiday story about tradition and the importance of being with those you love.
The backmatter contains educational facts about the Lunar New Year celebration in Taiwan and a fun recipe for a yummy fortune cake!
Dim Sum, Here We Come! by Maple Lam
From author-illustrator Maple Lam comes a new picture book about a Chinese American girl and her younger sister as they attend their weekly dim sum family gathering. A celebration of the traditional Chinese customs passed on from generation to generation: togetherness, love, family—and FOOD!
Today is Sunday and that means its dim sum time with my whole family! I can’t wait to see everyone, especially Grandma.
I’m going to eat lots of shrimp dumplings, rice noodle rolls, egg tarts, and my favorite—char siu buns. We will have to order enough for us all to share.
So what are you waiting for? Dim sum, here we come!
A Flag for Juneteenth by Kim Taylor
On June 19, 1865, in Galveston, General Gordon Granger of the Union Army delivered the message that African Americans in Texas were free. Since then, Juneteenth, as the day has come to be known, has steadily gained recognition throughout the United States. ln 2020,a powerful wave of protests and demonstrations calling for racial justice and equality brought new awareness to the significance of the holiday.
A Flag for Juneteenth depicts a close-knit community of enslaved African Americans on a plantation in Texas, the day before the announcement is to be made that all enslaved people are free. Young Huldah, who is preparing to celebrate her tenth birthday, can’t possibly anticipate how much her life will change that Juneteenth morning. The story follows Huldah and her community as they process the news of their freedom and celebrate together by creating a community freedom flag.
A Boy and His Mirror by Marchánt Davis, Illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo
The bestselling illustrator of I Am Enough brings to life the story of a boy whose mirror gives him a whole new way of seeing himself.
Chris loves his long, curly hair, so why do his classmates tease him about it? When he looks for answers in his mirror, something wonderfully wild and weird happens: a lady appears with wise words that make him feel like a king! But when he starts acting like a king at school, it’s time for another visit to the mirror.
Actor Marchánt Davis’s uplifting picture book debut encourages us all to look beyond hairstyles—reminding us that styles come and go—and to celebrate one another for who we are. #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator Keturah A. Bobo’s stunning art brings Chris and his mirror to vibrant life.
What Does Brown Mean to You? by Ron Grady
This joyously affirming picture book follows a young boy throughout his day as he plays, paints, and bakes, making positive associations with the color of his skin.
To Benny, brown is more than just a color. Brown is his Gram’s coffee and his Gramp’s morning kiss. Brown is the wooden spoon he uses for mixing and baking. It’s the ground that grows the tomatoes he loves and it’s the log he plays on. Brown is the fuzzy blanket he takes to his room at the end of the day. Brown is him and brown is love.
In tender, lyrical text and warmly exuberant illustrations, What Does Brown Mean to You? celebrates all the brilliant and beautiful shades of brown, encouraging children to explore and see the beauty of their skin reflected in their families, communities, and the world around them.
Beyonce: A Little Golden Book Biography by by Lavaille Lavette, Illustrated by Anastasia Williams
Created in partnership with Ebony Jr., this captivating Little Golden Book biography celebrates Beyoncé’s rise from a shy little girl to a world-famous superstar.
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Beyoncé performed in various singing and dancing competitions as a child. She rose to fame in the late 1990s as the lead singer of Destiny’s Child, one of the best-selling girl groups of all time. Beyoncé continues to inspire and demonstrate that dreams—no matter how big—can be achieved through hard work and determination. Michelle Obama has called her a “role model for us all.”
Harry Belafonte: A Little Golden Book Biography by by Lavaille Lavette, Illustrated by Anastasia Williams
Created in partnership with Ebony Jr., this Little Golden Book biography celebrates the life and legacy of singer, performer, and activist Harry Belafonte.
When Harry Belafonte was a little boy, he moved from Harlem, New York, to live with his grandmother in Jamaica. There, Harry fell in love with Calypso music. It was the seed that blossomed into a life dedicated to inspiring people through music. This moving biography chronicles his life and career—as an actor, a singer, and a civil rights activist who has always sought to make a difference while encouraging people to treat each other with respect and kindness.
Gigi and Ojiji (I Can Read Level 3) by Melissa Iwai
Gigi, a biracial six-year-old girl, learns about her Japanese culture from her grandfather when he comes to visit. Perfect for social emotional learning.
Gigi can’t wait for her Ojiji—Japanese grandpa—to move in. Gigi plans lots of things to do with him, like playing tag, reading books, and teaching Roscoe, the family dog, new tricks.
But her plans don’t work out quite the way she’d hoped. And her grandpa doesn’t seem to like Roscoe. Will Gigi find a way to connect with her Ojiji?
This exciting new I Can Read series is brought to you by author-illustrator Melissa Iwai, whose popular books include Soup Day and Dumplings for Lili.
Awesome Orange Birthday: A Branches Book (The Party Diaries #1) by Mitali Banerjee Ruths, Illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel
This series is part of Scholastic’s early chapter book line, Branches, aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!
Priya is excited to plan her aunty’s birthday party. She will donate the money she makes to help the cutest endangered animal on the planet, the quokka! But the party is this Saturday! With so many items on her to-do list, can she get it all done in time? Priya sends out handmade invitations, makes DIY decorations, and sets an orange-only snacks menu — including pumpkin samosas! Will Priya’s very first party be a success?
Sincerely Sicily by Tamika Burgess
Sicily Jordan’s worst nightmare has come true! She’s been enrolled in a new school, with zero of her friends and stuck wearing a fashion catastrophe of a uniform. But however bad Sicily thought sixth grade was going to be, it only gets worse when she does her class presentation.
While all her classmates breezed through theirs, Sicily is bombarded with questions on how she can be both Black and Panamanian. She wants people to understand, but it doesn’t feel like anyone is ready to listen—first at school and then at home. Because when her abuela starts talking mess about her braids, Sicily’s the only one whose heart is being crumpled for a second time.
Staying quiet may no longer be an option, but that doesn’t mean Sicily has the words to show the world just what it means to be a proud Black Panamanian either. Even though she hasn’t written in her journal since her abuelo passed, it’s time to pick up her pen again—but will it be enough to prove to herself and everyone else exactly who she is?
Suitehearts #1: Harmony and Heartbreak by Claire Kann
The first in a new series about magical matchmakers, Suitehearts #1: Harmony and Heartbreak is a feel-good light romance about two 13-year-old cousins and their first solo attempts at creating enchanted love connections. Perfect for young readers who love Whatever After, The Jumbies, and The Princess Diaries.
Cousins Rose and Cora Seville aren’t your typical eighth graders. They are matchmakers-in-training, learning how to magically make love connections out of San Francisco’s Hotel Coeur, where they live in the penthouse suite. As young Fledglings, Rose and Cora must perfect their charms and enchantments to pass a test that will determine their future, but they are not prepared for all the drama ahead!
Confident, cool Rose, the most promising Fledgling of her generation, thinks her magic can help her handle any assignment that’s thrown at her. But when she is faced with a bitter rival and headstrong Kindling, will she be able to rise to the challenge?
My Selma: True Stories of a Southern Childhood at the Height of the Civil Rights Movement by Willie Mae Brown
Combining family stories of the everyday and the extraordinary as seen through the eyes of her twelve-year-old self, Willie Mae Brown gives readers an unforgettable portrayal of her coming of age in a town at the crossroads of history.
As the civil rights movement and the fight for voter rights unfold in Selma, Alabama, many things happen inside and outside the Brown family’s home that do not have anything to do with the landmark 1965 march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Yet the famous outrages which unfold on that span form an inescapable backdrop in this collection of stories. In one, Willie Mae takes it upon herself to offer summer babysitting services to a glamorous single white mother―a secret she keeps from her parents that unravels with shocking results. In another, Willie Mae reluctantly joins her mother at a church rally, and is forever changed after hearing Martin Luther King Jr. deliver a defiant speech in spite of a court injunction.
This Is How I Roll: A Wish Novel by Debbi Michiko Florence
Let the good times roll with this rom-com about sushi rolls, secret crushes, and chasing your dreams!
Susannah Mikami dreams of becoming a famous sushi chef like her dad. And this summer, she plans to learn everything about his traditional kitchen. Only he refuses to teach her, and won’t tell her why. Is it because he doesn’t want her to embarrass him in front of the documentary crew filming at his restaurant? Or worse, because she’s a girl? Either way, Sana decides he’s not the only one who can keep secrets.
So when she meets Koji, a cute boy who wants to help her cook up some trouble in the kitchen — and film online tutorials to show the world her mad skills — Sana is all in. But sneaking around means lying to her parents, something Sana’s never done before. Can she take the heat, or will she get out of the kitchen for good?
Which new releases have you been looking forward to? Be sure to share in the comments below!
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