In The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
(grades 9-12), life is bleak on the reservation where Junior lives with
his family. Smart and ambitious, the budding cartoonist decides to
pursue his dreams by transferring to an all-white high school 22
miles away. The funny, gritty novel chronicles a year of Junior’s new
life as he grapples with issues of identity, culture, tumultuous family
events, and friends old and new.
Contemporary artist Javaka Steptoe echoes and illuminates the
work of 1980s artistic wunderkind Jean-Michel Basquiat in Radiant
Child (grades 3-5). The collage-style paintings introduce young
readers to the message that art doesn’t always have to be neat and
clean — or even inside the lines — to be beautiful.
The bilingual picture book One of a Kind, Like Me/Único Como Yo,
by Laurin Mayeno and illustrated by Robert Liu-Trujillo (grades 1-2),
follows Danny, who wants to be a princess in tomorrow’s school
parade, as he and his mom race to the thrift store to find his costume.
The story lifts up children who don’t fit gender stereotypes,
and reflects the power of a loving and supportive community.
Get California Reads recommendations, see
Dolores is a new documentary that celebrates community and labor activist Dolores Huerta, and credits her with significant achievements often solely attributed to better- known men. Co-founder of United Farm Workers of America (UFW), Huerta worked side by side with Cesar Chavez and rose within the union to unprecedented levels for a woman back in the day. She negotiated the UFW’s first contract with the grape growers, helped write legislation, and coined the famous slogan “¡Sí se puede!” (“Yes, we can!”).
In July, the California Arts Council designated 14 inaugural cultural districts in the state, among them SOMA Pilipinas in San Francisco. The designation is recognition of Filipinos’ vibrant living culture and historical legacy that marks not only a community, but our state. Filipinos comprise the largest and fastest-growing Asian-Pacific Islander community in California, where 43 percent of the U.S. Filipino diaspora resides. For curriculum guides, check out Filipino American National Historical Society.