December is a time to celebrate all we have accomplished, and think about what we want for the future. For our December Book Corner, we have selected books that feature characters and influential figures from diverse cultural, ethnic and neurological backgrounds. These books highlight the importance of honesty, faith, and self-empowerment.
Just Like Me
By Louise Gooding, illustrated by Angela Chang, Caterina delli Carri, Cathy Hookey and Melissa Iwai
If you are looking for a book on self-empowerment, look no further. “Just Like Me” by Louise Gooding features 40 neurologically and physically diverse successful individuals such as Simone Biles and Selena Gomez. Each individual is provided with a background story, their condition and a motivational quote. Accompanied with vibrant illustrations, both the author and illustrators come from neurodiverse backgrounds. “Just Like Me” reminds anyone that their differences do not defy them; it is what makes them unique. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
You are Revolutionary
By Cindy Wang Brandt, illustrated by Lynnor Bontigao
Parenting author and podcaster Cindy Wang Brandt and illustrator Lynnor Bontigao team up for “You Are Revolutionary,” a children’s picture book that instills confidence and self-motivation. Throughout the book, Brandt highlights various strengths and character traits. Whether your child is loud, quiet, artistic or good at math, Brandt recognizes that all kids have the ability to stand up to injustices and make transformative change in the world. Ages 4-7.
By Karla Arenas Valenti, illustrated by Dana Sanmar
Inspired by the Mexican card game, la Lotería, “Lotería” is a children’s fantasy book also inspired by the author’s Mexican heritage. The main character, Clara, has been marked by Life and Death for la Lotería, a perilous game of chance that will determine her destiny—a long and prosperous life or an untimely death. As each card is dealt, each one reveals a new twist in Clara’s fate. But all she cares about is the disappearance of her cousin Esteban, and she’ll do whatever it takes to save him. And although it seems her fate was sealed as soon as the cards were dealt, Clara just might have what it takes to shatter the game and choose a new path. With whimsical illustrations from Dana Sanmar, “Lotería” instills the resilience and the power of having faith. Appropriate for ages 8-12.
By Tina Wells, illustrated by Brittney Bond
Best-selling author and entrepreneur Tina Wells releases her latest middle grade book, “Honest June.” Middle schooler June has always been a people-pleaser who avoided telling the truth in order to make her family and friends happy. One day, a fairy godmother blesses June with the ability to only tell the truth. Now, June has no choice but to be honest with her family and friends on top of juggling the adventures of middle school. In addition to featuring Black characters and Black joy, “Honest June” teaches all children how to be assertive while staying true to themselves. “Honest June” is on sale Dec. 28. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
Salaam, With Love
By Sara Sharaf Beg
Inspired by her own experiences, author Sara Sharaf Beg introduces her debut novel, “Salaam, with Love.” This coming-of-age novel follows Dua, a Pakistani American Muslim teenage girl. During the holy month of Ramadan, Dua’s parents decide to celebrate in Queens with their extended family. Although Dua struggles at first in the household, she attempts to connect with her aloof, engaged-to-be-married cousin, Mahnoor and Hassan, a cute drummer in a Muslim band. Throughout Ramadan, Dua learns to embrace her family, friendships, and Islamic faith. On sale Jan. 4. Appropriate for ages 12 and up.
Your Kid is Coming Back: A Feel-Good Reminder for Parents with Shared Custody
By Brynne MacEachern and Flynn Ruff, Illustrated by Rifai Suhaanda
Written by single mom Brynne MacEachern and her six-year-old daughter, Flynn, this heartfelt picture book is not so much for kids as it is for parents who are dealing with the challenges of shared custody. Brynne originally wrote “Your Kid is Coming Back” for herself, to confront the grief she felt when beginning shared custody of her daughter, but then she realized her book could help other parents going through a similar journey, too. The cheerful illustrations are accompanied by journal prompts and blank pages to help parents work through difficult moments, like the first holiday celebration without your kid, and the loving reminder that “your kid is coming back.”
For more book suggestions, check out our November Book Corner.