We met Leila Marchbanks, founder of A Book at the Table, back in June when she was nominated for our 100 Nights of Rest offering. As a team of book lovers, her passion spoke to us; as a brand striving to provide a safe space in nature for people of all backgrounds, her mission inspired us.
Leila started A Book at the Table to share her extensive research with educators and bring diverse literature to classrooms across the country. The mission is simple: every child deserves to see themselves and their complex interactions with the world in the books they read. Her language arts curriculum intentionally expands past the traditional protagonists and encourages kids to invest not only in their own unique experiences, but in the experiences of other people and cultures, too.
As kids head back to learning—whether it be in the physical classroom or virtually at home—here are two inclusive reading lists curated by A Book at the Table. The first is aimed at preK and kindergarten age, and the second is for 6th graders.
For reading lists by grade, visit A Book at the Table.
PreK and Kindergarten Reading List
According to A Book at the Table, “If the titles reflect the diverse groups of people in the world around them, children can learn to respect not only their own cultural groups, but also the cultural groups of others. Multicultural children’s literature will help a child understand that despite our many differences, all people share common feelings and aspirations.”
The Day You Begin by Jaqueline Woodson
We all feel like outsiders sometimes, but often when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.
All About Families by Felicity Brooks
This glorious celebration of family diversity shows little children that families come in all shapes and sizes.
Listening with My Heart by Gabi Garcia
We talk to kids a lot about how to be friends to others, but not much about how to be friends to themselves.
I Am Enough by Grace Byers
This is a lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another. We are more than enough. We just need to believe it.
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
A story that teaches the most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love one another.
Round is a Mooncake; A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Thong
A little girl’s neighborhood becomes a discovery ground of shapes. Many of the objects are Asian in origin, other universal.
Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall
A blue crayon mistakenly labeled as “red” suffers an identity crisis in a book about being true to your inner self and following your own path.
Mary Wears What She Wants by Keith Negley
This bold, original picture book encourages readers to think for themselves while gently challenging gender and societal norms.
Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns by Hena Kahn
A book that magnificently captures the world of Islam, celebrating its beauty and traditions for even the youngest readers.
Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi
With bold art and thoughtful yet playful text, Antiracist Baby introduces the youngest readers and the grown-ups in their lives to the concept and power of antiracism.
For even more suggestions for preK and Kindergarten, see here.
6th Grade Reading List
According to A Book at the Table, “Sixth grade is a time of major growth and self-realization; a year of significant transition for students as they use the skills they have previously learned and apply them to more complex learning in deeper and more rigorous ways. Students improve their ability to make inferences, recognize underlying themes, and gain an understanding of figurative language. Novels studied in class need to reflect experiences of the students themselves to make an impact.”
This Is My America by Kim Johnson
Every week, seventeen-year-old Tracy Beaumont writes letters to Innocence X, asking them to help her father, an innocent Black man on death row. After seven years, Tracy is running out of time. Then the unthinkable happens.
Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams
The story of a thirteen-year-old who must overcome internalized racism and a verbally abusive family to finally learn to love herself.
Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga
A lyrical novel about a young girl who must leave Syria to move to the United States. This story is affirming and hopeful, exploring what it means to lose and find home, and most importantly, find yourself.
Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
A celebration of the healing that can occur when a group of students share their feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. Together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.
Born A Crime (Young Readers Edition) by Trevor Noah
This fascinating memoir of The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah blends drama, comedy, and tragedy to depict the day-to-day trials in a country where racism barred Black people from social, educational, and economic opportunity.
The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore
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.
Ivy Aberdeens Letter To The Word by Ashley Herring Blake
In the wake of a destructive tornado, one young girl develops feelings for another in this stunning, tender novel about emerging identity.
I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina
The first graphic novel for young readers to focus on police brutality. As in Hamlet, the play Alfonso is set to star in before his death, the dead shall speak—and the living yield even more surprises.
Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone? A gripping novel about the mystery of one teenage girl’s disappearance and the traumatic effects of the truth.
The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Riviera
Set in the South Bronx, this bold and romantic coming-of-age novel explores dysfunctional families, the consequences of good and bad choices, and courage it takes to question everything you ever thought you wanted
For even more suggestions for 6th grade, see here.