What do Oakland in 1968, a refugee camp in Kenya and the Furry Friends Animal Shelter have in common? They are all settings for books selected for The Seattle Public Library's 2021 Global Reading Challenge, which officially blasts off Monday, Nov. 2, when the seven selected books are revealed on spl.org/GlobalReadingChallenge.

Now in its 26th year, the Global Reading Challenge is a reading incentive collaboration between the Library and Seattle Public Schools that encourages fourth and fifth graders of all reading abilities to form teams, read the books together and take part in a citywide trivia competition in February. All programs will be virtual in 2021.

“Though the Global Reading Challenge looks different this year, the goal of encouraging children to read, connect and learn from diverse books is as important as ever,” said Jenny Craig, Global Reading Challenge Librarian at The Seattle Public Library.

This year, the program has selected seven books instead of the usual 10, to make the program accessible to more children. All titles are either by #ownvoices authors, meaning an author from an under-represented group writing about their own experiences from their perspective, or an intentional collaboration designed to elevate BIPOC (Black, Indigenous or person of color) voices. 
“Most of the books have big messages, but they are also funny and absorbing reads,” said Craig.

2021 Global Reading Challenge books

  • “Finding Langston” by Lesa Cline-Ransome: When Langston's mother dies, he and his father go to Chicago to start again. Facing bullying and loneliness, he finds refuge in the public library and the stirring words of Langston Hughes.
  • “Lety Out Loud” by Angela Cervantes: Lety is an English Language Learner (ELL) student volunteering at Furry Friends Animal Shelter for the summer, and tries out for the position of Shelter Scribe. A classmate who is often cruel to her has challenged her for the position. Who will become the official scribe?
  • “New Kid” by Jerry Craft: Jordan Banks loves drawing cartoons, but now his parents are sending him to a new private school. How will he navigate his old friends and new classmates? What will it be like as one of the only kids of color at school?
  • “One Crazy Summer” by Rita Williams-García: Three sisters go to California one summer to visit their mother. Oakland in 1968 is exciting, with the Black Panther party creating community and advocating for civil rights. Will Delphine get answers to the questions in her heart?
  • “Sadiq and the Desert Star” by Siman Nuurali: Third grader Sadiq is looking for new clubs to join. Inspired by a story that his father tells him and an upcoming school field trip, Sadiq looks to the stars.
  • “Sasquatch and the Muckleshoot” by Joseph Bruchac and Adam Gidwitz: On a mission to protect mythical creatures, Elliot and Uchenna travel to the Pacific Northwest to find the elusive Sasquatch. They end up learning about Sasquatch history and culture from Muckleshoot tribal members.
  • “When Stars Are Scattered” by Omar Mohamed and Victoria Jamieson: Omar and Hassan fled Somalia, leaving their mother behind. Now they are growing up in a refugee camp in Kenya. Hassan barely talks. Omar wants to go to school, but can't consider leaving Hassan alone. What does the future hold?

Children can check out Global Reading Challenge books through their school library or with their Library card. They can also can use Library Link with their student ID number to check out e-books and e-audiobooks.

Join us for a Global Reading kickoff event with respected Nulhegan Abenaki elder Dr. Joseph Bruchac, coauthor of “Sasquatch and the Muckleshoot,” from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7. Register ahead of time. Renowned for his storytelling and musical ability, Dr. Bruchac will share stories from the Nulhegan Abenaki tradition and talk about his Global Reading Challenge book.
Check back for more Global Reading Challenge programs and events at spl.org/calendar.
The Global Reading Challenge is made possible by funding from The Seattle Public Library Foundation, Northwest Literacy Foundation, and Toni Myers and Skip Kerr. The Library would also like to thank the generosity of the publishers who have made this year’s digital materials possible:  Capstone | Picture Window Books, Dreamscape Media, Scholastic, and Recorded Books, LLC | Recorded Books, Inc.

Find out the latest updates on The Seattle Public Library’s services and plans for reopening at the Library’s Road to Reopening page.

The Seattle Public Library also has many free online services, resources and programs available while its physical buildings remain closed. You can find out more here or by contacting the Library by phone at 206-386-4636. Staff are ready to answer questions and direct you to helpful resources and information during this challenging time.