The shift from childhood to adolescence is often the defining moment when kids begin to wonder who they’re going to be. Sometimes it’s easier to see where you’re going once you’ve gained an understanding of where you’ve been. The protagonists in these books struggle with who they are and what they believe. It’s only after taking cultural journeys that they begin to feel pride for their heritage and gain a stronger sense of self.


Ticket to India by N. H. Senzai (Grades 3-7) Ticket to India

Detailed prose is interwoven with journal entries to depict twelve year old Maya’s journey to India to retrieve her grandmother’s lost treasures, which were left behind after the Partition of India. A little known piece of history, the Partition was the partition of the British India Empire, and led to the creation of what is now Pakistan and the Republic of India. Senzai beautifully incorporates the complex history and culture of both India and Pakistan as Maya transforms from a shy, timid girl to a brave and daring heroine.


Listen Slowly by Thanhha Lai (Grades 3-7, Lexile 800) Listen Slowly

This remarkable story follows Mai as she leaves her California home to travel to Vietnam with her grandmother in the hope of uncovering the truth about what happened to her grandfather during the Vietnam War. Gracefully written and at times humorous, readers will fall in love with Mai as she begins to learn about her roots and struggles to find balance between the world she grew up in and the one she’s just now discovering.

This title can be found in Fresh New Realistic Fiction Reads.

Booksource Scout Award

*Listen Slowly has been nominated for a Scout Award, an internal Booksource award. Booksource will nominate books throughout the year and then ask readers to vote on their favorites to determine the winners. The Scout Award is named in honor of the main character of Booksource’s most popular title, To Kill a Mockingbird. Read more about the awards here.


Jasmine Skies by Sita Brahmachari (Grades 4-8, Lexile 900) Jasmine Skies

In this companion novel to Mira in the Present Tense (which can also be read as a standalone), Brahmachari continues Mira’s story as she embarks on an adventure to India to connect with her mother’s side of the family. Told in first person narration, Brahmachari is able to depict both the beauty of Kolkata (Calcutta), and the challenges once faces living there. She is also able to spotlight some of the tension between the traditional and modern life within the city. With a hint of romance and a lot of intrigue, readers will enjoy following Mira as she uncovers family secrets that have kept them apart for many years, and she slowly grows to love two vastly different cultures.


My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paul Freedman (Grades 5-9, Lexile 690) My Basmati Bat Mitzvah

This charming debut novel follows Tara Feinstein as she prepares for one of the biggest rights of passage in the Jewish culture, her bat mitzvah. For Tara, living between her Jewish and Indian identities is a challenge, and she begins to question her faith. Tara struggles to find her place between both cultures as she focuses on attending Hebrew school and learning the meaning behind this storied tradition. With an authentic voice, two cultures are vibrantly brought to life, and with a touch of humor and romance, readers will understand what it means to gain self-acceptance.

This title can be found in Living Between Identities Collection.


The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods (Grades 3-7, Lexile 670) The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond

Woods paints a powerful story about eleven year old Violet, a biracial girl growing up with her white mother and sister in a predominately white town. Violet has always felt a little out of place, so she decides to seek out her paternal grandmother to learn more about her African American heritage and the father who died before she was born. Violet’s road to self-discovery and acceptance is a sweet and heartfelt story that celebrates different kinds of families, and delicately handles issues of racism while leaving readers with a strong sense of hope.

This title can be found in Living Between Identities Collection.


The Truth about My Bat Mitzvah by Nora Raleigh Baskin (Grades 5-9, Lexile 630) Teacher Resources ButtonThe Truth about my Bat Mitzvah

Seventh grader Caroline Weeks grew up with a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father in a nonreligious household. The death of her grandmother (Nana) and the gift of a Star of David necklace, combined with observing her best friend prepare for her bat mitzvah, causes Caroline to question her own faith and heritage. With several flashbacks of Caroline and her grandmother interwoven with scenes from the present, she starts to truly understand and appreciate her Jewish identity.

This title can be found in Living Between Identities Collection.


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