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So many of you have requested books with mixed race characters for your middle grade readers. This is trickier for me as my biracial daughter prefers fantasy, but I’ve gathered some recommendations from friends to put together the list. (Middle grade fiction is usually geared for kids ages 8-13.)
I prefer to highlight books where the character’s racial make-up or culture is not the plot driver of the story. While those stories have their role, it’s just as important for kids to read everyday stories they can relate to, but from a different point of view.
The titles here are all girl protagonists, but there’s at least one character who is biracial or multi-racial. If you have any recommendations for middle grade books with mixed race boys, please share. I’m working on a separate list of books with mixed race boys.
Middle Grade Books with Mixed Race Girls
I read this last year and loved it. Amber is half Japanese (father) and half Italian (mother), living in England. Her life is full of uncertainty. She’s starting a new school, the father-shaped hole in her heart grows bigger, and she’s not sure who she really is. The illustrations by Helen Crawford-White reflect Amber’s hilarious personality.
Biracial Violet lives with her white mother and sister and attends school at a mostly white school in a white town. She feels very different from everyone around her. Her father died when she was young, so she seeks out her paternal grandmother to learn about her African American heritage.
Sonia, who is half Indian and half Jewish American, has a tough time adapting to public school. Her new classmates have plenty of questions about her mixed heritage, but she doesn’t know how to answer them. Amidst all the new school, new friends, and mean girls, Sonia’s father goes missing.
It’s 1969 and seventh-grader Mimi dreams of becoming an astronaut. Half black and half Japanese, Mimi and her family moves to a small, white Vermont town for her father’s new job. As her classmates dwell on her appearance during the turbulent Vietnam War, Mimi has to deal with snubs and insults aimed at her people and her interracial family.
Twelve-year-old Jewel, who is of Jamaican and Mexican descent, has never met her brother Bird. Her parents blame her grandfather for Bird’s tragic death. Her grandfather hasn’t spoken since her brother died, and Jewel is ready to break the silence and dig into her family’s secrets.
Geared towards younger readers (ages 6-10), Amy Hodgepodge is about fourth grader who starts public school after being homeschooled for years. She is African American, white, and Asian and is worried she won’t fit in at school.
Tara Feinstein has full plate: studying for her bat mitzvah, her school robotics project, her boyfriend and best friend getting too cozy, and a ruined heirloom sari. Can she did with all the drama in her life and figure out how to balance her Indian and Jewish identities?
Flying the Dragon by Natalie Dias Lorenzi
Skye is an American kid who’s obsessed with soccer. Her Japanese father has not seen his family since her married Skye’s American mother. Her world changes when her extended family relocate near them for her grandfather’s cancer treatment. All of a sudden, Skye must take Japanese classes instead of focusing on her dream to play for an all-star soccer team.
Biracial twins Minerva and Keira are very close, even if Minerva could pass for white and Keira appears more black. The two visit their grandmother in North Carolina and compete in the Miss Black Pearl preteen pageant. Both sisters realized how different their lives are because of their skin tone and the divide threatens to break their close relationship.
Biracial Ella is the only black student in sixth grade. Her discolored face earns her the not-so-nice name “Camo Face.” Her best friend Z (Zachary) is a fellow misfit. When another black student arrives at school, Ella tries to make friends. However, Z sees the new relationship as a threat.
Fourteen-year-old Clara Luna’s father snuck across the Mexican-US border as a teen and eventually married her white mother. Her paternal grandparents invite her to visit them in Mexico during the summer, where she learns how differently they live compared to her suburban world in Maryland. Spending time with her grandmother awakens the healer inside Clara and teaches her more about her father’s past.
What other books would add to this list?