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Read Outside the Margins: Chapter Three

From Vietnam, to Chile, to outer space, the third and final chapter of Read Outside the Margins is taking you to far off places! Travel across the globe with beautifully illustrated adventures, tales that will touch your heart, and stories that will show you the world as you’ve never seen it before. Grab your suitcase, take the quiz below, and get ready to explore new sights and cultures with a book just for you!


The Name Jar - Yangsook Choi (picture book, preschool)
I loved reading this sweet story with my students when I worked at a preschool. When Unhei arrives at school in the U.S. for the first time, she’s surprised to find that she’s expected to pick a new American name! Unhei’s journey to find home and comfort in a new land, while still cherishing her Korean heritage, will introduce kids to concepts like immigration, culture, and identity.


Esperanza Rising - Pam Muñoz Ryan (chapter book, late elementary school)
I could not get enough of historical fiction when I was a kid -- there’s something magical about traveling back in time through text. Author Pam Muñoz Ryan uses her writing to tell a story inspired by her own grandmother’s past, moving from wealth and status in Mexico to poverty and hardship in a labor camp in California. Although the book has some serious themes, it remains an accessible and engaging read, and tells an immigration story that often goes untold.


The Boy and the Bindi - Vivek Shraya (picture book, elementary school)
My heart swelled with each beautifully illustrated page of this story. Vivek Shraya tells the story of a boy who becomes enamored with his mother’s bindi. Rather than enforcing the strict gender code that bindis carry, his mother opens up the cultural significance of the bindi, allowing him to feel connected to his history and explore his sense of self.


Dawn - Octavia Butler (novel, high school)
My absolute favorite kinds of sci-fi books are ones that reimagine what what aliens can be -- and Butler is the master of this kind of reinvention. Dawn takes place on a biological spaceship circling the moon where the Oankali aliens have rescued a group of humans from the crumbling earth. The book tackles complex questions of what it means to be human, how place interacts with one’s humanity, and what it means to consent in an environment of manipulation. It’s not a light read, but it will have you thinking for days after you close the spine.


Ten Women - Marcela Serrano (novel, middle school)
What do a nerdy teen, a middle aged social pariah, and a housekeeper have in common? It might be more than you think. Ten Women tells the stories of ten women who represent the different demographics of Chile who are brought together by their therapist to share their life stories. Through each tale, links, and threads are made between the women to paint a broader picture of the variety of unique lives of Chilean women.

What We All Long For - Dionne Brand (novel, high school)
I’ve never been to Toronto, but Dionne Brand brings this bustling multicultural city to life in a such a real way that I feel like I’ve lived there myself after reading this book. This haunting and heartbreaking novel follows the interconnected stories of four twentysomethings caught between cultural worlds and struggling with their immigrant identities. Brand weaves separate narratives together so skillfully that these stories will stick with you long after the cliffhanger conclusion.

Thank you for following us on our journey through Read Outside the Margins! If you're just joining us, the goal of Read Outside the Margins is to shine the spotlight on stories that students from all walks of life can connect with and actually want to read. You can read more about our mission here.

From growing up, to family bonds, to trips around the world, we hope that you found at least one new story to make part of your life.  



Read Outside the Margins: Chapter Two


Sometimes a family is two parents and their 2.5 kids, and sometimes it’s a group of super-powered teens and a dinosaur. Not everyone’s relatives look like the Bennet bunch or the Addams clan, so we're bringing a diverse range of family-centric stories to the table. With stories of tight-knit families growing into their shared future, fractured families finding solace in one another, and found families redefining what “home” is, our list has there is something for everyone. Find out which book is your perfect match with the quiz below!

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Tar Beach - Faith Ringgold (picture book, preschool)
Ringgold’s picture book is a love letter -- to New York, to family, and to the magic of childhood itself. My mother and I read this story all the time when I was young, and I was just as enchanted reading it for this blog as I was back then. For a fun activity, check out Ringgold as she reads her own work here


Abuela - Arthur Dorros and Elisa Kleven (picture book, preschool) 
I never read any of Elisa Kleven’s books when I was a kid, but when I discovered her illustrations a few years ago, I instantly fell in love. Her brilliant combinations of color and pattern are the perfect pair to Arthur Dorros’ magical story about Rosalba and her beloved Abuela. Follow along as the two take flight and explore the sights and sounds of New York City from the sky -- and don’t miss the chance to practice your Spanish at the same time!

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Cloudia & Rex - Ulises Farinas and Erick Freitas (comic book, elementary school) 
The power of the gods in fun-sized packages! Cloudia & Rex follows siblings Cloudia and Rex as they set off on a road trip with their newly widowed mother. When the gGods bestow their powers upon the sisters, they are flung into a journey of discovery, sacrifice, and reconciliation. Ultimately a story about the power of family and healing, I found myself laughing at their uniquely teenage problems, and tearing up at their ultimate dedication to one another.


Runaways - Brian K. Vaughan, Adrian Alphona, and Takeshi Miyazawa (comic book, middle school)
When your parents turn out to be super-powered evil masterminds, your friends become your family. From alien powers to a telepathic link with dinosaurs, the group of friends grapples with how to use the powers passed down to them to undo the chaos their parents created. Despite existing in a world of wizards and aliens, the comic is one of the most realistic depictions of found family that I’ve encountered, dysfunctions and all.


Fun Home - Alison Bechdel (graphic novel, high school) 
Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home has become a classic -- and rightly so. The autobiographical story tracks Bechdel’s journey coming into her lesbian identity against her father’s downward spiral with his own identity as a gay man. The “tragicomic” broke my heart and put it back together so many times with it’s starkly honest portrayal of internalized homophobia, mental illness, and parent-child relationships. Once you finish the book, you can relive the whole thing with the Original Broadway Cast Recording.


The Inexplicable Logic of My Life - Benjamin Alire Sáenz (novel, high school)
Seventeen-year-old Salvador knows who he is -- or at least he thinks he does. But when tragedies strike both his own family and that of his best friend Sam, Sal is sent into an identity-crisis tailspin. Surrounded by a wonderful cast of characters, from his gay adoptive father to his beloved grandmother, Sal grapples with grief, masculinity, and identity before ultimately redefining what it means to be a family. Once I dove into Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s poetic writing, I could hardly put this book down.

The goal of Read Outside the Margins is to shine the spotlight on stories that students from all walks of life can connect with and actually want to read! Read more about our mission here! Don’t miss the rest of the series, catch up on Chapter 1!