Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Book picks for kids: Middle-school tale packs a diversity message

Plus a fascinating historical tale for adults.

Book picks for kids (and adults):

Looking for some reading inspiration? Here’s a peek at what KCLS staff and the young readers in their lives are digging into this month!

All KCLS libraries are open. Plan your next visit at

For adults:

King of the Armadillos” by Wendy Chin-Tanner

We meet Victor Chin in 1950s New York. 8-year-old Victor and his 13-year-old brother, Henry, have recently immigrated from China to join their father but left their mother behind. When Victor is diagnosed with Hansen’s disease (leprosy), he’s sent to a government hospital in Louisiana. At first, Victor dreams of running away. But as he slowly establishes relationships and discovers a passion for making music, he finds kinship and freedom in his new home. When a cure looms on the horizon, Victor must step into adulthood and decide what his future holds while weighing familial duties. This gem touches on many hidden facets of American history; life in a leprosarium as well as Chinese American, Jewish and immigrant experiences. Most fascinating of all is that many of the details in this work are based on the real life of the author’s father.

For kids:

The Door is Open,” edited by Hena Khan

Notable South Asian American authors deliver a powerful message in this collection of interconnected stories: Diverse communities have the right to exist, unite and thrive. Readers follow the lives of a handful of middle-schoolers in fictitious Maple Grove, New Jersey, through chess tournaments and holiday dances, religious rites and baptisms, and badminton practice and cooking lessons. Food and dress are described in such detail that one can almost smell spices and feel embroidered fabric. When their deteriorating community center is threatened with closure, the kids spread the word, urging residents to raise funds for repairs. Despite varied origins, religions and traditions, the children find agency and power in a united voice to speak out against anti-Asian/South Asian and Islamophobic incidents. Created for middle-graders, this is a timely and powerful read for everyone.




Jenna Zarzycki is an adult services librarian at KCLS who works in south King County. She adores talking about books to anyone who will listen and regularly contributes to KCLS’ BookMatch and booklist services. Jenna likes fantasy, romance and narrative nonfiction best, although any book has the possibility to become a new favorite. KCLS Children’s Librarian Robin Howe serves her Kent Library community with tuneful Story Times and creative programs. She enjoys connecting young patrons to KCLS’ rich resources, and when she’s not reading aloud or jumping up and down to Sleeping Bunnies, she’s probably knitting, traveling or making soup


More book picks for kids (and other book news):

Meet the new KCLS director — and learn her favorite books and authors

Local authors chosen for Dolly Parton giveaways (and how to sign up!)

“Gut Reaction”: Mother/daughter collaborate on painful but hopeful tale

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About the Author

Jenna Zarzycki and Robin Howe