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Although I can often convince myself that buying books is totally ok because it’s, you know, for school, at some point I have to draw the line. So as many awesome middle grade books (meaning about 4th-ish to 7th-ish grade…kinda) there are, I don’t buy very many. If I did magically have an unlimited Amazon gift card, though, I would definitely invest in these:

The Girl Who Circumvented Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

From Amazon: “A fantastical tale that’s somewhere between Lewis Carroll and Terry Pratchett, Cathrynne Valente’s book follows twelve-year-old September, a girl from Omaha, Nebraska, who finds herself whisked away by a fast-talking gentleman called the Green Wind to the world of Fairyland where she has to retrieve a witch’s spoon from the fickle Marquess.”

Heart of a Samurai

Shipwrecks, whaling, a search for home and a delightful exploration of cultures create a swashbuckling adventure. This historical novel is based on the true story of Manjiro (later John Mung), the young fisherman believed to be the first Japanese person to visit America, who against all odds, becomes a samurai.

When You Reach Me

From Amazon: “Shortly after sixth-grader Miranda and her best friend Sal part ways, for some inexplicable reason her once familiar world turns upside down. Maybe it’s because she’s caught up in reading A Wrinkle in Time and trying to understand time travel, or perhaps it’s because she’s been receiving mysterious notes which accurately predict the future. Rebecca Stead’s poignant novel, When You Reach Me, captures the interior monologue and observations of kids who are starting to recognize and negotiate the complexities of friendship and family, class and identity.”

When the Mountain Meets the Moon

From Amazon: “Living in the shadow of the Fruitless Mountain, Minli and her parents spend their days working in the rice fields, barely growing enough to feed themselves. Every night, Minli’s father tells her stories about the Jade Dragon that keeps the mountain bare, the greedy and mean Magistrate Tiger, and the Old Man of the Moon who holds everyone’s destiny. Determined to change her family’s fortune, Minli sets out to find the Old Man of the Moon, urged on by a talking goldfish who gives her clues to complete her journey.”

Moon Over Manifest

From Booklist: “In 1936, Manifest is a town worn down by sadness, drought, and the Depression, but it is more welcoming to newcomers than it was in 1918, when it was a conglomeration of coal-mining immigrants who were kept apart by habit, company practice, and prejudice. Abilene quickly finds friends and uncovers a local mystery.”

The Graveyard Book

From School Library Journal: “Nobody Owens, so named because he “looks like nobody but himself,” grows up among a multigenerational cast of characters from different historical periods that includes matronly Mistress Owens; ancient Roman Caius Pompeius; an opinionated young witch; a melodramatic hack poet; and Bod’s beloved mentor and guardian, Silas, who is neither living nor dead and has secrets of his own. As he grows up, Bod has a series of adventures, both in and out of the graveyard, and the threat of the man Jack who continues to hunt for him is ever present.”

Diversify in YA is a really great book blog that aims to further publicize books that actually, you know, have people other than straight, white people in them (not that we aren’t cool or anything, but straight, white people aren’t what it’s all about all the time).

To participate, just start reading some YA books that feature minority or LGBT characters or were written by minority or LGBT authors, and then write an essay of at least 500 words about your experience. Post that essay on your blog, your facebook, your tumblr, wherever, and then fill out the form that you can find on this page.

Need some ideas for great books to read? Look here and here!

Diversity in YA literature is something that I really, really believe in, and I think you’ll be surprised about how much you can change just by reading something that’s a little bit out of your comfort zone.

Oh yeah! Hello, it’s a contest! Two judges will read every single essay, and a winner will get a bunch of amazing prizes from publishers who are sending donated prizes to Diversify in YA right now!

…John Green is my beyond favorite author. He’s pretty much the embodiment of intelligence, conscientiousness, humor, and talent that I admire in other people. And he’s like, the grand poobah of Nerdfighters. (Sorry, does it sound like I would marry him? Because yes, I totally would, except he’s got like, a wife and kid or something ridiculous.)

And he’s coming out with a new book next year.

And it’s going to be called The Fault in Our Stars.

And he’s going to sign every single pre-ordered copy.

I’m kind of concerned that this will impair his ability to, you know, write future books (what with the extreme carpal tunnel).  Not that I’m not going to pre-order my copy.