Read Around the World for Teens & Tweens

Jun 15, 2020 9:05:10 AM Sarah Rymer

Read around the world this summer to some of the countries where IDEAS works! Enjoy this summer reading list for teens and tweens created by IDEAS Associate and global librarian, Libby. Stayed tuned next week for a summer reading list for adults!


Books for Tweens (ages 9-12)

A Wish in the Dark by Christine Soontornvat. Inspired by "Les Miserables" and set in a fantasy world that resembles Thailand, this is the story of young Pong who escapes from prison and the prison warden’s daughter who is bent on tracking him down. 

Everlasting Nora by Marie Miranda Cruz. Along with many others, Nora and her mother live among the graves of Manila’s North Cemetery. When her mother suddenly disappears, Nora sets out to learn where she is and try to save her. 

Lexi Magill and the Teleportation Tournament by Kim Long. Can’t travel abroad by air this summer? Try teleporting, and join Lexi and friends as they race around the world, solving puzzles and riddles, and attempting to figure out who is sabotaging their attempt to win the Wisconsin Teleporting Tournament.

Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai. A 12-year-old Vietnamese American accompanies her grandmother back to Vietnam to learn what happened to her grandfather during the war.

Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins. Naima, a young girl from Bangladesh, disguises herself as a boy and drives her father’s rickshaw to try to earn money to go to school.

The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman. The touching, tense story of homeless street children in India who band together to survive and create their own makeshift family.

The Grand Plan to Fix Everything by Uma Krishnaswami. A story of circumstances that resemble a Bollywood movie when a 2nd generation Indian-American moves back to India with her parents. Fun.

Ticket to India by N. H. Senzai. A Pakistani-American girl uncovers what happened to her grandmother during the partition of Pakistan and India when she travels to visit her family's old home in India.

What Elephants Know by Eric Dionerstein. An orphan boy helps save the elephant camp where he grew up in the borderland area of Nepal, near India. A fascinating story that provides a glimpse of a unique culture.

Where the Streets Had a Name by Randa Abdel-Fattah. 13-year-old Hayaat is sure that if she can just get soil from her family’s old home, her grandmother will get well. But finding a way to travel from Bethlehem, across the Separation Wall, and on to Jerusalem, is no easy task.

Books for Teens (ages 13+)

A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bathena. Zarin has a reputation for being a troublemaker; Porus only has eyes for her. Beginning at the end, with the two of them dead on the side of a highway in Jeddah, this intense novel explores the stories behind the stories everyone tells. Saudi culture is presented through Iranian expat eyes.

Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins. Told from the opposing viewpoints of two teenage boys: A Burmese boy forced into the army and a Karenni boy who wants to fight for freedom. They are enemies. Can they be friends?

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein. Set in Ethiopia in the 1930s, the threat of war with Italy draws the two children of pioneer aviatrix mothers, one white, one black, into conflict as they try to find a path to safety.

Crossing the Farak River by Michelle Aung Thin. In this harrowing yet hopeful story set in Myanmar, after fleeing into the forest to escape soldiers, 14-year-old Hasina, her cousin, and her younger brother return to find their village burnt and their families gone. How will they survive while they wait for their parents to return? Will they return?

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite. When she almost gets kicked out of school at the end of her senior year, Alaine is sent to live with her aunt in Haiti, her parents’ homeland. While learning about the island nation’s history, she also uncovers dark family secrets. Serious, yet snarky.

Forward Me Back to You by Mitali Perkins. Robin longs to find out more about the mother who put him up for adoption. Katina longs to escape the secrets from the past year of high school. On a service trip to India, neither finds what they are looking for but they both find more than they expected.

Lovely War by Julie Berry. Greek gods in a New York City penthouse apartment retell the love stories of four young people caught in the horrors of World War I in Europe. The gods subtly interfere to bring about romance in the midst of blood, destruction, and prejudice. An unusual premise that works.

Our Secret, Siri Aang by Christina Kessler. A young Maasai girl befriends a black rhino baby as she deals with her changing culture and its impacts on her family.

Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal by Margarita Engle. A novel in verse about the Caribbean islanders recruited to build the canal and the discrimination they experienced.

The Green Bicycle by Haifaa Al Mansour. Based on a movie directed by the author. A sometimes depressing yet also hopeful look at a Saudi girl who dreams of buying a bicycle.  

The Servant by Fatima Sharafeddine. Translated from Arabic, this excellent short novel realistically captures the life of a 15-year-old forced to leave school and work as a maid in Beirut.  

Up from the Sea by Leza Lowitz. A novel in poems about a bicultural boy whose village is destroyed by the 2011 tsunami in Japan.


About the Author: Libby is an IDEAS Associate and professional librarian. She currently resides in Jordan and works with libraries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Enjoy other blogs by Libby, such as 3 Life Lessons from Cherry Juice.


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