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Join CTA and NEA’s Read Across America on March 2 and all year long to celebrate a nation of diverse readers with recommended books, authors and teaching resources that represent an array of experiences and cultures. CTA’s California Reads is a roundup of recommended, teacher-vetted books for all grade levels, including the following (see for the full list).

Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes (grades 6-8) is a story of two brothers — Trey, who presents as white, and Donte, who presents as Black — and the ways they are forced to navigate the world. At their predominantly white school, an incident leads to Donte’s arrest and suspension. He masters fencing to challenge the school bully to a competition, and learns much about himself in so doing. (See NEA’s Read Across America February calendar at for its African American booklist.)

Cover of The Proudest Blue

The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali, illustrated by Hatem Aly (grades 1-2). Faizah and older sister Asiya attend their first day of the new school year — and Asiya’s first day of hijab, made of a beautiful blue fabric. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah finds new ways to be strong and support her sister.

Cover of Shaking Things Up

Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World by Susan Hood and 13 female illustrators (grades 3-5). Mary Anning was 13 when she unearthed a prehistoric fossil. Ruby Bridges was 6 when she helped end segregation in the South. Maya Lin won a competition to create a war memorial at 21, then appeared before Congress to defend her right to create. Other young women in this inspiring book of poems include Molly Williams, Annette Kellerman, Nellie Bly, Pura Belpré, Frida Kahlo, Jacqueline and Eileen Nearne, Frances Moore Lappé, Mae Jemison, Angela Zhang, and Malala Yousafzai.

This book is a good pick for Women’s History Month in March and International Women’s Day on March 8. See NEA’s Read Across America March calendar ( for other relevant titles.


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