What The Hell Happened To Darius Miles? by Darius Miles for The Players Tribune

Darius Miles is a retired NBA player who was selected right out of his East St. Louis high school to play for the Los Angeles Clippers. This first person narrative of his rise and fall from the NBA is honest, vulnerable and hopeful. Miles tells the tale of going from the violence and hopelessness of East Saint Louis, to private jets and more money than he could imagine. He shares the highs, lows and lessons learned.

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Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of The Universe

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be. Goodreads

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The House You Pass On The Way by Jacqueline Woodson

Thirteen-year-old Staggerlee used to be called Evangeline, but she took on a fiercer name. She's always been different--set apart by the tragic deaths of her grandparents in an anti-civil rights bombing, by her parents' interracial marriage, and by her family's retreat from the world. This summer she has a new reason to feel set apart--her confused longing for her friend Hazel. When cousin Trout comes to stay, she gives Staggerlee a first glimpse of her possible future selves and the world beyond childhood.

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Odd One Out by Nic Stone

Courtney “Coop” Cooper and Jupiter “Jupe” Charity-Sanchez have lived next door to one another and been best friends since they were little. They have an unbreakable bond, that for Coop has evolved into feelings deeper than friendship. Jupe however only has eyes for girls. The arrival of new girl Rae Chin, has both Coop and Jupe crushing. The trio becomes friends, and all three begin to try to navigate feelings, answer questions about those feelings and discover who they are and how they will love. This story has three sides, and Jupe, Coop and Rae each share theirs as they get honest with themselves and each other.

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All American Boys by Jason Reynolds

Rashad is absent again today.

That’s the sidewalk graffiti that started it all…

Well, no, actually, a lady tripping over Rashad at the store, making him drop a bag of chips, was what started it all. Because it didn’t matter what Rashad said next—that it was an accident, that he wasn’t stealing—the cop just kept pounding him. Over and over, pummeling him into the pavement. So then Rashad, an ROTC kid with mad art skills, was absent again…and again…stuck in a hospital room. Why? Because it looked like he was stealing. And he was a black kid in baggy clothes. So he must have been stealing.

And that’s how it started.

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NationalSamantha LaBarbara
Lost and Found Cat - The True Story of Kunkush's Incredible Journey by Doug Kuntz & Amy Shrodes

Sura and her family, like many in Iraq and other war torn countries, had to flee in hopes of  finding a safer life.   Sura and her children  leave most of their possessions behind when they left Mosul, but they were not leaving their beloved cat, Kunkush. They packed him away secretly for the long and frightening journey with them to Greece. When they finally landed on the island of Lesbos, a terrified Kunkush ran off into the forest. Will Sura and her heartbroken family ever find Kunkush?

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NationalSamantha LaBarbara
The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hicks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson

Meet the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963, in this moving picture book that proves you’re never too little to make a difference.
Nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks intended to go places and do things like anybody else.
Audrey Faye Hendricks was confident and bold and brave as can be, and hers is the remarkable and inspiring story of one child’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.

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NationalSamantha LaBarbara
Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

From the outside, Brendan Chase seems to have it pretty easy. He’s a star wrestler, a video game aficionado, and a loving boyfriend to his seemingly perfect match, Vanessa. But on the inside, Brendan struggles to understand why his body feels so wrong—why he sometimes fantasizes having long hair, soft skin, and gentle curves. Is there even a name for guys like him? Guys who sometimes want to be girls? Or is Brendan just a freak?

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GenderSamantha LaBarbara
The Other Boy

The first middle grade book about a trans boy, The Other Boy is about 12-year-old Shane Woods, a regular guy who likes baseball, graphic novels, and hanging out with his best friend. But when a classmate threatens to reveal his trans status Shane has to find the courage to show the world he’s the same guy he was before.  Book Riot

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GenderSamantha LaBarbara
Morris Mickelwhite and The Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino and Isabelle Malenfant

Morris is a little boy who loves using his imagination. But most of all, Morris loves wearing the tangerine dress in his classroom’s dress-up center. The children in Morris’s class don’t understand. Dresses, they say, are for girls. And Morris certainly isn’t welcome in the spaceship some of his classmates are building. Astronauts, they say, don’t wear dresses. One day when Morris feels all alone and sick from their taunts, his mother lets him stay home from school. Morris dreams of a fantastic space adventure with his cat, Moo. Inspired by his dream, Morris paints the incredible scene he saw and brings it with him to school.

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GenderSamantha LaBarbara
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Meeno

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

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ReligionSamantha LaBarbara
Amina's Voice by Hena Khan

A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family’s vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community in this sweet and moving middle grade novel from the award-winning author of It’s Ramadan, Curious George and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns.

Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.  Goodreads

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ReligionSamantha LaBarbara
Yo Soy Muslim: A Father's Letter To His Daughter by Mark Gonzales

Written as a letter from a father to his daughter, Yo Soy Muslimis a celebration of social harmony and multicultural identities. The vivid and elegant verse, accompanied by magical and vibrant illustrations, highlights the diversity of the Muslim community as well as Indigenous identity. A literary journey of discovery and wonder, Yo Soy Muslim is sure to inspire adults and children alike.  Amazon

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ReligionSamantha LaBarbara
If I Ever Get Out Of Here by Eric Gansworth

Lewis "Shoe" Blake is used to the joys and difficulties of life on the Tuscarora Indian reservation in 1975: the joking, the Fireball games, the snow blowing through his roof. What he's not used to is white people being nice to him -- people like George Haddonfield, whose family recently moved to town with the Air Force. As the boys connect through their mutual passion for music, especially the Beatles, Lewis has to lie more and more to hide the reality of his family's poverty from George. He also has to deal with the vicious Evan Reininger, who makes Lewis the special target of his wrath. But when everyone else is on Evan's side, how can he be defeated? And if George finds out the truth about Lewis's home -- will he still be his friend?

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Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Ghost. Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team—a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves.

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Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don't own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.

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The First Part Last by Angela Johnson

Bobby is your classic urban teenaged boy -- impulsive, eager, restless. On his sixteenth birthday he gets some news from his girlfriend, Nia, that changes his life forever. She's pregnant. Bobby's going to be a father. Suddenly things like school and house parties and hanging with friends no longer seem important as they're replaced by visits to Nia's obstetrician and a social worker who says that the only way for Nia and Bobby to lead a normal life is to put their baby up for adoption. 

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AgeSamantha LaBarbara
Planet Middle School by Nikki Grimes

For twelve years, Joylin Johnson's life has been just fine, thank you very much. A game of basketball with the boys-especially her friend Jake-was all it took to put a smile on her face. Baggy jeans, T-shirt, and hair in a ponytail were easy choices. Then suddenly the world seemed to turn upside down, and everything changed at once. Her best girl friend is now flirting with her best guy friend. Her clothes seem all wrong. Jake is acting weird, and basketball isn't the same. And worst of all, there is this guy, Santiago, who appears from . . . where? What lengths will Joy go to-and whom will she become-to attract his attention?

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AgeSamantha LaBarbara
Nino Wrestles The World by Yuyi Morales

Fwap! Slish! Bloop! Krunch! He takes down his competition in a single move!
No opponent is too big a challenge for the cunning skills of Niño―popsicle eater, toy lover, somersault expert, and world champion lucha libre competitor!

Niño Wrestles the World is in English with Spanish vocabulary, and is a fun, colorful story about a boy wrestling with imaginary monsters (including an Olmec Head and La Llorona) and adversaries like his younger sisters. This is a joyful picture book about imagination, play, and siblings.

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AgeSamantha LaBarbara