Ready, set, read! The Seattle Public Library and Seattle Public Schools (SPS) have launched the 2023 Global Reading Challenge with the unveiling of this year’s books.

Now in its 28th year, the Global Reading Challenge is a joint reading incentive program by the Library and SPS. Fourth and fifth graders enrolled in SPS, of all reading abilities, read the books together and team up for trivia competitions. The semi-finals and City final competitions will be in held in person in March 2023. Find out more at

This year’s Global Reading Challenge books are eight titles that represent a wide range of experiences and backgrounds from authors with cultural connections to the stories they tell.

Young readers can find Global Reading Challenge books at their schools and at the Library, where they can check out physical books, or digital copies through their Library Link account. Three of the books are available in Spanish.



  • Rabbit Chase, by Elizabeth LaPensée (fantasy/Anishinaabe culture, graphic novel, 108 pages). Aimée is experiencing bullying for their nonbinary and Anishinaabe identities in school. On a field trip for Indigenous youth, they fall through into another dimension. We loved the mash-up of traditional Anishinaabe stories and Alice in Wonderland, and Aimée’s bright, brave spirit. The author is known for promoting Indigenous viewpoints in video games and that comes through very clearly.
  • J.D. and the Great Barber Battle, by J. Dillard (fiction, 126 pages, available in Spanish). In a semi-autobiographical story set in Mississippi, third grader J.D. teaches himself how to create great hair and begins an entrepreneurial adventure. The book is funny, empowering, and based on a true story, with great illustrations. J.D.’s strong opinions on hairstyles and fearless use of the clippers to help his friends is inspiring.
  • Power Forward, by Hena Khan (fiction/basketball, 126 pages). Zayd Saleem struggles to sneak in basketball practice when he should be at orchestra in his contemporary Pakistani American family. (This was a previous Global Reading Challenge title.) Zayd is hilarious, and so is his loving family. We loved his adventures on the court and in the orchestra.
  • Planet Omar, Accidental Trouble Magnet, by Zanib Mian (fiction/humor, 205 pages). Omar’s big imagination helps him makes friends when his Muslim family moves to a new neighborhood, and he starts a new school. The illustrations are reminiscent of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” and Omar has a great sense of humor. This book is set in Britain, so it’s also a peek into a different culture.
  • Stef Soto, Taco Queen, by Jennifer Torres (fiction, 166 pages, available in Spanish). Stef has a love-hate relationship with her family’s taco truck, Tía Perla. The City is putting in new restrictions on food trucks, and Stef must help her Papi navigate them, or decide to let Tía Perla go. Stef does a lot of soul searching to decide what matters to her rather than caring about her image at school. Tip! The e-book and e-audiobook versions of this book are available for instant download.
  • The Legend of Auntie Po, by Shing Yin Khor (historical fiction/legends, graphic novel, 290 pages). Set in the Sierra Nevadas in 1885: Chinese American Mei tells amazing stories, has a crush on her best friend, Maggie, and works as a cook with her father at a logging camp. The camp is sent into an uproar when racist pressure from the logging company forces the camp director to fire her dad. This imaginative, empowering piece of historical fiction has a Pacific Northwest connection to the logging camp and tackles the hardships caused by the Chinese Immigration Act.
  • Spirit Hunters: Island of Monsters, by Ellen Oh (mystery/horror, 243 pages). Harper Raine is back, and her family is going on a special Caribbean vacation. It’s too bad her grandmother, a Korean Shaman known as a Mudang, can’t see through the darkness that hangs over the island. What terrifying things will Harper find there? Ellen Oh also does a tremendous job weaving traditional Korean beliefs from her heritage into the book and telling a story that you just don’t want to put down.
  • Amari and the Night Brothers, by B.B. Alston (fantasy, 408 pages, available in Spanish). Amari’s summer is about to be full of the most amazing things she never expected, and possibly some answers about what happened to her missing brother. This is a whole new magical world to explore, and Amari is everything you could want in a hero. The book is so long, you only have to read the first half for Global Reading Challenge. The book is so good, we dare you to be able to put it down halfway.

Want more book suggestions for young readers? Find Global Reading Challenge book lists from previous year.


The Global Reading Challenge is made possible by funding from The Seattle Public Library Foundation, the Northwest Literacy Foundation, and Ballard Rotary. We thank our partners at Seattle Public Schools for making this program possible.

The Library believes that the power of knowledge improves people's lives. We promote literacy and a love of reading as we bring people, information and ideas together to enrich lives and build community. 

Contact the Library’s Ask Us service by phone at 206-386-4636 or by email or chat at Staff are ready to answer questions and direct you to helpful resources and information.