- Girls have faced challenges, and sometimes been treated unfairly, because of the ways they were different from others throughout history. In Rebel With a Cause: the Daring Adventure of Dicey Langston by Kathleen Kudlinski, 14-year old Dicey has a secret — she and her family are Patriots, which means they support freedom for the 13 Colonies, while they are surrounded by neighbors who are loyal to England. But when Dicey finds out a Loyalist leader is planning to raid the Patriot camp where her brothers are secretly stationed, she risks her safety and even her life to set out and warn them in this illustrated book based on a true story.
- You probably know that Jews and other minorities suffered persecution in Europe during World War II — they were singled out, lost their jobs, and were eventually rounded up and shipped off to prison camps where many of them died, even though they had not committed any crimes. But injustices were occurring against those who were different in the U.S. during that time, too. Because of Japan’s involvement in the war, many Japanese citizens in the U.S., including children, were imprisoned just because of their race and national origin. Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky by Sandra Dallas tells the story of 12-year-old Tomi, who is removed with her family to an internment camp because her father is suspected of being a Japanese spy, even though her family has been in the U.S. for generations.
- By 1955 in the southern United States, slavery had been outlawed but African American families were still treated as second-class citizens. Thirteen-year-old Rose plans to escape the South soon to move north with her mother and aunt — but before she does, a Black boy in a nearby town is killed for supposedly whistling at a white woman, and his murderers are found not guilty. That’s when Rose realizes she wants to be part of making a change in the South in Midnight Without a Moon by Lynda Williams Jackson, which is based on a real-life trial before the civil rights movement.
- The Anna Wang series by Andrea Cheng features Asian-American Anna’s adventures with family, friends, and school. In the fourth book in the series, The Year of the Three Sisters, Anna and her friend Andee arrange for their Chinese pen pal to visit the U.S. as an exchange student. While the two girls expect their pen pal, Fan’s, visit to be tons of fun, all Fan wants to do is work and study. That’s because in China, her family lives in harsh conditions, and Fan sees the opportunity to visit the U.S. as her chance to improve her family’s life back home. But despite her different expectations of how the visit would go, Anna learns that her friendship with Fan really can cross cultures and continents.
- The title of Holly Goldberg Sloan’s newest book, Short, refers to main character Julia, who is short for her age. But when she is cast as a Munchkin in a local theater’s production of the Wizard of Oz, she finds inspiration with fellow “Munchkin” Olive, an adult with dwarfism who doesn’t let her size define who she is, and in her artistic neighbor, Mrs. Chang. This is a great book for anyone who needs help letting their own “inner star” shine!
- Can you imagine a world where magical differences could tear a family apart? In Eleanor Glewwe’s Wildings, magical Rivka’s twin brother is ripped from her home to be raised by non-magical parents when he is unable to develop his own magical abilities. But Rivka refuses to forget her brother, and even though her society believes their differences should separate them, she believes the bond of family is even stronger.
If you’re ready to “get real” about differences, check out these awesome non-fiction books!
- There is not a single difference that can stop you from being great! Throughout history, girls and women of all ages, colors, and cultures have made their mark on the world. To meet a few of them, check out Girls Can Do Anything by Caitlin Doyle. It features short biographies of over 200 women who have made an impact on sports, politics, art, and more, from the Japanese Murasaki Shikibu (the first novelist!) to the Catholic Hildegard of Bingen to modern-day Black pop icon, Beyonce. Read the book cover to cover, or skip around to the stories that interest you most. Either way, you’re sure to find lots of inspiration — and when you do, the book even includes blank pages for you to write down the names of other great women you admire!
- One of the first differences we usually notice about other people are their bodies: are they short or tall, fat or thin, black or white, male or female? We are much more than the bodies that we live in, but our bodies are also an important part of our experiences. The Great Big Body Book by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith takes a look at ALL these differences and more in this illustrated book where you’ll see all types of bodies, from birth to old age!
What about you? Have you read any of the books above? What are YOUR favorite books about differences? Let me know by leaving a comment below!
Lacey Louwagie is an adult writer and editor who got her first editing job with New Moon Girls in 2002. She is currently a reporter for a legal news organization, which means she reads a lot of lawsuits! She has also been a teen services librarian and coordinates book-related goodies for New Moon Girls. She is the author of “Rumpled,” a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin for ages 14 and up, and the co-editor of “Hungering & Thirsting for Justice: True Stories from Young Adult Catholics.”