2021 Notable Books for a Global Society

The latest list of Notable Books for a Global Society has been announced. Selected by the International Literacy Association, these 25 books are chosen for “enhancing student understanding of people and cultures throughout the world.” Books range from K-12. Here is the 2021 List:

All Because You Matter by Tami Charles, illustrated by Bryan Collier

The Arabic Quilt by Aya Khalil, illustrated by Anait Semirdzhyan

The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person by Frederick Joseph

The Cat Man of Aleppo by Karim Shamsi-Basha and Irene Latham, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

The Eagle Huntress: The True Story of the Girl Who Soared Beyond Expectations by Aisholpan Nurgiav with Liz Welch

Efren Divided by Ernesto Cisneros

Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person to Ever Run a Marathon by Simran Jeet Singh, illustrated by Baljinder Kaur

Finish the Fight: The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote by Veronica Chambers and the staff of The New York Times

Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar

Loretta Little Looks Back by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, illustrated by Oge Mora

The Only Woman in the Photo: Frances Perkins and Her New Deal for America by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Alexandra Bye

The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by John Parra

​Sharuko: El Arqueólogo Peruano/Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello by Monica Brown, illustrated by Elisa Chavarri

She Was the First!: The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm by Katheryn Russell-Brown, illustrated by Eric Velasquez

Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte

The Talk: Conversations about Race, Love & Truth edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson

The Teachers March!: How Selma’s Teachers Changed History by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace, illustrated by Charly Palmer

This Is My America by Kim Johnson

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade

When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice by Mahogany L. Browne, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Olivia Gatwood, illustrated by Theodore Taylor III

Peter Spier Dies at 89

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The New York Times has the news of Peter Spier passing away. He is the author of dozens of books that span the 1950s through the 1990s. His subjects included windmills, animal stories, and Noah’s Ark, for which he won the Caldecott Medal in 1978. He received a Caldecott Honor and a National Book Award for Children’s Books in 1962 for The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night.

Patricia McKissack Dies at 72

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Patricia McKissack has died at age 72. She has a new book out just this year that is an amazing collection of games and songs from her childhood. Her husband and collaborator, Fred McKissack, died four years ago.

Her heart stopped, her son said, but “in a way, I think my mother died of a broken heart.” Fredrick McKissack Jr. said his mother and father were “best friends and partners. When Dad died, the life drained from her. She tried to keep her spirits up and was coming up with ideas for new books, but she wasn’t the same.”

The McKissacks were the vanguard of diversity in children’s books. When I was director of a very small library in central Wisconsin, I purchased every book they put out, knowing that it would bring high quality along with diversity into our very white community.  They were a huge part of transforming libraries across the country into places where all children can see themselves reflected.


Yumi Heo Has Died

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Author and illustrator, Yumi Heo has died after battling cancer. She was the creator of over 30 books for children. I am most familiar with her picture books which had a style and feel that were distinctively her own. One of my favorites is Sometimes I’m Bombaloo, which captured the complex emotions of childhood perfectly.

Publisher’s Weekly has a full obituary for her.


Natalie Babbitt Has Died

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Natalie Babbitt, author of the incredible Tuck Everlasting, has died of lung cancer. She died on October 31 at the age of 84. Tuck Everlasting celebrated its 40th anniversary last year.

From the Publisher’s Weekly obituary:

In a statement, Samuel F. Babbitt shared this reflection: “Natalie was a remarkable woman. While more than fulfilling her roles as wife and mother, she sharply observed her fellow humans, shaping stories that helped her and her readers grapple with both the trivial and fundamental trials of life. Words were precious things to her, and she chose them, shaped their facets, and set them on the page like a master jeweler.”

Brian Wildsmith Dies

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The Bookseller has the news that Brian Wildsmith has died at the age of 86. He was the author and illustrator of more than 80 books.

Author Michael Rosen said of Wildsmith: “Floods of colour exploding across the pages with a name to match: Wildsmith. He was a wild smith. I remember feeling envious: why hadn’t I had books as wild and lush as these?”

Anna Dewdney Dies

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The author of the popular Llama Llama series, Anna Dewdney, died on September 3rd in her home after a 15-month battle with brain cancer. She was 50 years old.

Her Llama Llama books captured the toddler experience with humor and an engaging rhyme and rhythm.

Publisher’s Weekly has a full obituary.


Lois Duncan Dies

I Know What You Did Last Summer Killing Mr. Griffin

Lois Duncan has died at age 82. She was the author of many popular novels for teens, novels that were must-buys for libraries I worked in early in my career.

From the PW article:

Beverly Horowitz, senior v-p and publisher of Delacorte Press, who knew Duncan for many years and oversaw the paperback publication of many of her books, paid tribute to Duncan’s lasting impact on the publishing industry. “Lois Duncan’s thriller suspense novels led the charge for expanding the YA market, not only in terms of the honesty of her portrayals of teen characters, but also in terms of opening up YA retail accounts,” she said. “Booksellers came to acknowledge the power of the teen reader. Librarians knew teens loved her books. At the time they were published, Lois’s I Know What You Did Last Summer and Killing Mr. Griffin were super bestsellers as Dell Laurel-Leaf paperbacks. Teenagers were wandering malls and open-front bookstores just as Waldenbooks and B. Dalton Bookseller began to carry paperbacks front of store. Young shoppers realized there were entertaining and easy-to-carry books just for them. When I Know What You Did Last Summer became a major motion picture release, Lois was widely recognized as being before her time, and the teen subject was a huge success.”

Peggy Fortnum Dies

Peggy Fortnum - Paddington:

The illustrator for Paddington Bear has died at the age of 96 according to an article in the Washington Post. She was a British illustrator who brought to life the bear so fond of marmalade. With his floppy hat and duffel coat, Paddington will live on in many of our minds exactly the way that Fortnum depicted him.