We are excited to wrap up this very unusual year with our annual tradition of WITSummer Books. Like in past years, WITS is giving a selection of diverse, high-interest books to each student in our programs. In addition to selecting titles that reflect the diversity of our student population, WITS is committed to promoting books by BIPOC authors and illustrators. Below are a few titles we are especially excited to share with our students. Links are to purchase through Semicolon: Chicago’s only Black woman owned bookstore, and the books can all also be found at the Chicago Public Library or your local library. If you don’t have a library card, click here for information on how to get one.
Many of our WITS students love picture book biographies, so we are thrilled to share “Sharuko: El Arqueólogo Peruano Julio C. Tello / Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello” with them. Written by Monica Brown and Elisa Chavarri, both of Peruvian descent, this is the story of Julio C. Tello, an archeologist whose discoveries showed that Peru’s Indigenous cultures had been established thousands of years ago. For another picture book biography by Monica Brown, try “Side by Side/Lado a Lado: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez/La Historia de Dolores Huerta Y Cesar Chavez” For more of Elisa Chavarri’s stunning illustrations, try “Rainbow Weaver/Tejedora del groceries.”
You may be familiar with “Alma and How She Got Her Name” if you’ve been following our WITS Kindergarten Online program. Alma Sofia Esperanza Jose Pura Candela tells her Daddy that her name is too long and “doesn’t fit.” Will her father’s stories of family members who she is named after convince Alma that it fits her just right? Check out “Fry Bread” if you are as captivated by Martinez-Neal’s illustrations as we are.
Many of our WITS students love graphic novels! We’re excited to give some of our students “Sea Sirens (A Trot & Cap’n Bill Adventure)” by Amy Chu, illustrated by Janet K. Lee. Trot, a Vietnamese American tween, loves surfing with her often-disgruntled cat, Cap’n Bill, while her grandfather fishes off the pier. One day a huge wave pulls them under and they begin an epic underwater adventure!
In “Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks” by Jason Reynolds, each chapter is a stand-alone-worthy story about middle schoolers: all walking home from school on the same day. Walking the line between middle grade and YA, Reynolds is second to none for creating genuine, funny, smart stories about kids who you know, or you wish you knew. For more by Reynolds, check out the Track series.
We are able to provide books like these and more to our students with your help! By contributing to WITSummer Books, you help WITS provide students with curated sets of brand-new, culturally relevant books. Books put learning, adventure, and fun directly in students’ hands even as we continue to connect virtually.