As far as I'm concerned, November means Christmas movies, music, and books! I know it's early in November, but this year, I'm here for it. My tree is going up immediately.
I write books dedicated to diversity, so I thought it would be cool to provide readers with a list of diverse middle grade Christmas books. But there was a problem...
Where the heck are they? Really. I could only find a few, and one of them is mine.
No. Seriously. I'm as shocked as you are. See for yourself. Google it. You'll get middle grade Christmas books, diverse books, and children's diverse Christmas books. But no middle grade diverse Christmas books. Did I just confuse you?
Somebody tell me what's happening. Do readers ages 8-13 not like Christmas chapter books with diverse characters? Do authors not want to write them? I really want to know. Don't get me wrong, there are so many wonderful Christmas books out there that are not diverse. I could tell you about them, but those you don't have to search high and low to find. And there are tons of blog posts about them.
I've been researching this for a few months, as I knew I would be releasing my own middle-grade Christmas story this winter. Many of the books listed as diverse middle grade Christmas books had nothing to do with Christmas but were books you'd enjoy reading during Christmas. Others either weren't diverse or didn't have a diverse main character---still great novels though, like The Girl Who saved Christmas. It's an amazing story, but not diverse.
Come through, Pinterest! That was my thought, but I found that many of the blog posts there didn't include diverse books in their list of holiday books. The horror! The few that did were picture books, not chapter books.
So here's what I found:
An early chapter book. A few years older than the others.
The small kid with big problems returns in the seventh book of this beloved series!
It’s almost Christmas and school is going great for EllRay. He’s “blending in” just the way he likes. So when his father tells him he should be proud to be part of the African-American “community,” EllRay isn’t so sure he wants to call attention to his differences. After all, he’s only one of two boys in his class with brown skin. And then, totally by accident, he insults the other boy—one of his best friends—and all at once EllRay’s back to being the center of attention. And not exactly for good reasons.
With Sally Warner’s trademark sense of humor and spot-on dialogue, EllRay confronts questions about race and how it impacts both himself and everyone around him. Get it here.
Christmas is three weeks away and a mysterious “Santa” has been mailing presents to sixth grader Sophie Washington in this adorable, illustrated chapter book for middle grade readers.
There is no secret Santa gift exchange going on at her school, so she can’t imagine who it could be. Sophie’s best friends, Chloe, Valentina, and Mariama guess the gift giver is either Nathan Jones or Toby Johnson, two boys in Sophie’s class who have liked her in the past, but she’s not so sure. Sophie uncovers clues to find her secret Santa and the final reveal is bigger than any package she’s opened on Christmas morning. It’s a holiday surprise she’ll never forget! Get it here.
What happens when you combine a birthday wish with a Christmas wish? Only the first child born on Christmas day knows.
‘Tis the season to be jolly…until eleven year old Jared arrives at home and finds his apartment door open. How do you find the Christmas spirit when your whole world turns upside down and your sister is missing?
On a cold winter’s morning, through the snow covered streets of Crystal City, Jared makes his way to Mckinney Park. He is given a chance at something remarkable, because of one little girl’s wish.
A heartwarming Christmas story of the kindness of strangers, hope, and miracles. Get it here.
The Stars Beneath Our Feet.
A boy tries to steer a safe path through the projects in Harlem in the wake of his brother’s death in this outstanding debut novel that celebrates community and creativity. Winner of the Coretta Scott King John Steptoe Award for New Talent and soon to be a major motion picture directed by Michael B. Jordan!
It’s Christmas Eve in Harlem, but twelve-year-old Lolly Rachpaul and his mom aren’t celebrating. They’re still reeling from his older brother’s death in a gang-related shooting just a few months earlier. Then Lolly’s mother’s girlfriend brings him a gift that will change everything: two enormous bags filled with Legos. Lolly’s always loved Legos, and he prides himself on following the kit instructions exactly. Now, faced with a pile of building blocks and no instructions, Lolly must find his own way forward.
His path isn’t clear—and the pressure to join a “crew,” as his brother did, is always there. When Lolly and his friend are beaten up and robbed, joining a crew almost seems like the safe choice. But building a fantastical Lego city at the community center provides Lolly with an escape—and an unexpected bridge back to the world.
David Barclay Moore paints a powerful portrait of a boy teetering on the edge—of adolescence, of grief, of violence—and shows how Lolly’s inventive spirit helps him build a life with firm foundations and open doors.
I'm really saddened by the lack of diversity in middle grade Christmas stories. Oh well, at least I wrote one for ya, right? If you know of any that were written in the last four years, please tell me, so I can add them to my list.