(Wayne Brezinka for The Washington Post)

Life would be pretty boring if everyone were the same. Same looks. Same likes. Same experiences. Thankfully, that’s not the case. But book lovers have noticed over the past few years that there’s a sameness in children’s literature. Many books contain few if any characters from different races and cultures. So KidsPost has searched for stories from all over the world for this year’s Summer Book Club.

For eight Wednesdays, we will be “Crossing Cultures.” We’ll hear from voices in Sudan, Oman and other far-off places. We’ll also suggest other stories you might enjoy. Most of the books are available in local public library systems. The titles also will be in stock at Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington and at Hooray for Books in Alexandria. Join us, and get ready for eye-opening adventures.

Christina Barron


(Book photos by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

June 24

“Half a World Away”

By Cynthia Kadohata. Ages 8 to 12.

Moving from a Romanian orphanage to a home in the United States should have been a dream come true for Jadan. But the 8-year-old had a tough time adapting. Now 12, Jadan is traveling to Kazakhstan, where his parents plan to adopt a baby. He’s sure the new addition will only make life worse.

July 1

“The Red Pencil”

By Andrea Davis Pinkney. Ages 8 to 12.

What Amira wants most is to attend school. But in Sudan, the odds are against it. Even her mother doesn’t believe girls should be in school. When rebels invade her village, the family must flee to a refu­gee camp. Life at the camp is difficult, but a gift reminds Amira that hope isn’t lost.



July 8

“Listen, Slowly”

By Thanhha Lai. Ages 8 to 13.

Mai expected to spend the summer at the beach near her California home. Instead, she’s traveling with her grandmother, Ba, to Vietnam. Ba has news that her missing husband may be alive. Mai must deal with strange customs and a language she barely speaks so that Ba can be at peace.

July 15

“Chickadee”

By Louise Erdrich. Ages 8 to 12.

Chickadee and Makoons are 8-year-old twins growing up in a Native American family in the 1800s. The boys do everything together until Chickadee is kidnapped by older boys. As he is taken far away, Chickadee never stops thinking about how he can return home.



July 22

“The Turtle of Oman”

By Naomi Shihab Nye. Ages 8 to 12.

The thought of leaving Oman is painful for Aref. He will miss friends, the local sea turtles and, most of all, his grandfather. But he must accompany his parents to live temporarily in Michigan. His grandfather helps him work through the fears he has of what life will be like in this new place.

July 29

“Dancing Home”

By Alma Flor Ada and Gabriel Zubizarreta. Ages 8 to 12.

Margie’s Mexican heritage is something the fifth-grader would like to forget. So when cousin Lupe leaves Mexico and moves into the family’s California home, Margie worries what her friends will think. But Lupe’s worries are even greater.



August 5

“Shooting Kabul”

By N.H. Senzai. Ages 8 to 12.

A family’s escape from Afghanistan becomes heartbreaking when 6-year-old Mariam is accidentally left behind. Her brother Fadi, now living in the United States, is determined to find her. A photo contest with a grand-prize trip to India offers Fadi hope that his family can reunite.

August 12

“The Jumbies”

By Tracey Baptiste. Ages 8 to 12.

Corinne lives on an island with her fisherman father. The girl is fearless. Her courage prompts her to go into the nearby forest that islanders say is filled with strange creatures called jumbies. Corinne doesn’t believe in them, but after her short visit odd things begin to happen.