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Front Desk Read-Alikes

Here are more books about resourceful and courageous kids like Mia Tang. 

Updated List

Cover of Ahmed Aziz’s Epic Year

An Indian American boy endures a family move from Hawaii to frigid Minnesota and, with the help of three life-changing books he reads in school, he learns to like reading, and ultimately, himself.

Cover of The Boy at the Back of the
Onjali Q.

After learning Ahmet, a new classmate, has fled a war and was separated from his family along the way, a determined group of his classmates band together to reunite Ahmet with his loved ones.

Cover of The Insiders

Twelve-year-old Héctor Muñoz, fleeing from bullies, discovers a magical closet that not only provides him sanctuary, but also unites him with two other kids facing similar problems at their own schools.

Cover of Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero

A coming-of-age tale about a boy who discovers a love of poetry after finding his late father's journal. This explores the indomitable spirit of a ten-year-old boy and the superhero strength it takes to grow up.

Cover of The Magical Reality of Nad
Bassem Youssef and
Catherine R. Daly
Douglas Holgate

Inspired by the author's real life experiences, this novel follows sixth grade Egyptian immigrant Nadia as she navigates the ups and downs of friendships, racism, and some magic, too.

Cover of Martin McLean, Middle Scho

Martin McLean has always been surrounded by people who can express themselves, but he's not great at speaking up unless he's at a Mathletes competition. Then his Tío Billy introduces him to the world of drag, inspiring Martin to create a fabulous drag queen alter ego. 

Cover of Measuring Up

Twelve-year-old Cici has just moved from Taiwan to Seattle, and the only thing she wants more than to fit in at her new school is to celebrate her grandmother, A-má's, seventieth birthday together. Cici cooks up a plan to bring A-má to her by winning the grand prize in a kids' cooking contest to pay for A-má's plane ticket.

Cover of Miss Impossible (Best Baby

Malia, Dot, and Bree are psyched to land their highest paying job yet--until they get to the house and realize they're babysitting Zelda Hooper, Bree and Malia's archnemesis since preschool. Zelda relishes the chance to tease them on her home turf. Is she really evil or just misunderstood?

Cover of A Song Only I Can Hear

Rob Fitzgerald is a shy wallflower who's prone to panic attacks and would rather hang out with his granddad all day. He starts getting mysterious text messages from an unknown number with challenges designed to encourage him to venture outside his comfort zone. 

Cover of Starfish

Bullied and shamed her whole life for being fat, twelve-year-old Ellie finally gains the confidence to stand up for herself, with the help of some wonderful new allies.

Cover of Unsettled

Young Nurah reluctantly moves with her family from Karachi, Pakistan, to Peachtree City, Georgia, but, after some ups and downs, begins to feel at home.

Cover of The Vanderbeekers to the R
Karina Yan

The Vanderbeeker kids find themselves racing to save their mother's baking business from city closure. 

Cover of While I Was Away
Waka T.

When twelve-year-old Waka's parents suspect she can't understand basic Japanese, they make the decision to send her to Tokyo to live for several months with her strict grandmother. Waka is plucked from her life in rural Kansas and flown across the globe, where she faces the culture shock of a lifetime.

2020 Read-Alikes List

Cover of Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to
Ashley Herring
Little, Brown and Company

When a tornado rips through town, twelve-year-old Ivy Aberdeen's house is destroyed and her family of five is displaced. Ivy feels invisible and ignored in the aftermath of the storm--and what's worse, her notebook filled with secret drawings has gone missing. Mysteriously, Ivy's drawings begin to reappear in her locker with notes from someone telling her to open up about her identity. Ivy thinks--and hopes--that this someone might be her classmate, another girl for whom Ivy has begun to develop a crush. Will Ivy find the strength and courage to follow her true feelings?

Cover of Benefits of Being an Octop
Sky Pony Press

Seventh-grader Zoey Albro focuses on caring for three younger siblings and avoiding rich classmates at school until her fascination with octopuses gets her on the debate team and she begins to speak out. This relatable look at life in poverty for a kid today--and how hard it is to break out of the cycle--is perfect for fans of Joan Bauer and Cynthia Voigt.

Cover of Lety Out Loud
Scholastic Press

Lety Muñoz's first language is Spanish, and she likes to take her time putting her words together. She loves volunteering at the Furry Friends Animal Shelter because the dogs and cats there don't care if she can't always find the right word. When the shelter needs a volunteer to write animal profiles, Lety jumps at the chance. But grumpy classmate Hunter also wants to write profiles and he's not much of a team player. He devises a secret competition to decide who will be the official shelter scribe. Lety reluctantly agrees, but she's worried that if the shelter finds out about the contest, they'll kick her out of the volunteer program. Can Lety find her voice before it's too late?

Cover of Efrén Divided

Efrén Nava's Amá is his Superwoman--or Soperwoman, named after the delicious Mexican sopes his mother often prepares. Both Amá and Apá work hard all day to provide for the family, making sure Efrén and his younger siblings Max and Mía feel safe and loved. But Efrén worries about his parents; although he's American-born, his parents are undocumented. When Amá doesn't return from work and is deported across the border to Tijuana, México, Efrén must channel his inner Soperboy to help take care of and try to reunite his family.

Cover of Rick
Scholastic Press

Eleven-year-old Rick Ramsey has generally gone along with everybody, just not making waves, even though he is increasingly uncomfortable with his father's jokes about girls, and his best friend's explicit talk about sex; but now in middle school he discovers the Rainbow Spectrum club, where kids of many genders and identities can express themselves--and maybe among them he can find new friends and discover his own identity, which may just be to opt out of sex altogether.

Cover of You Don't Know Everything,
Scholastic Press

When her new baby sister is born deaf, Jilly makes an online connection with a fellow fantasy fan, who happens to be Black and deaf, and begins to learn about the many obstacles that exist in the world for people who are different from her. Alex Gino uses their trademark humor, heart, and humanity to show readers how being open to difference can make you a better person, and how being open to change can make you change in the best possible ways.

Cover of Class Act
Quill Tree Books

Eighth grader Drew Ellis recognizes that he isn't afforded the same opportunities, no matter how hard he works, that his privileged classmates at the Riverdale Academy Day School take for granted, and to make matters worse, Drew begins to feel as if his good friend Liam might be one of those privileged kids and is finding it hard not to withdraw, even as their mutual friend Jordan tries to keep their group of friends together.

Cover of It Ain’t So Awful, Falaf
Clarion Books/Hougton Mifflin Harcourt

Eleven-year-old Zomorod (Cindy), originally from Iran, tells her story of growing up Iranian in Southern California during the Iranian Revolution and hostage crisis of the late 1970s. As the new kid on the block, Cindy finds fitting in difficult and has to deal with anti-Iran sentiments. 

Cover of I'm Ok
Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Ok, a Korean American boy, tries a get rich quick scheme of starting a hair braiding business and winning the school talent competition to hide the fact that he is struggling with the loss of his father and the financial hardships he and his mother must now bear.

Cover of Indian No More
Charlene Willing McManis and
Traci Sorell
Tu Books

When Regina's Umpqua tribe is legally terminated and her family must relocate from Oregon to Los Angeles, she goes on a quest to understand her identity as an Indian despite being so far from home. Regina finds a whole new world in her neighborhood on 58th Place. She's never met kids of other races, and they've never met a real Indian. For the first time in her life, Regina comes face to face with the viciousness of racism, personally and toward her new friends.

Cover of From the Desk of Zoe Washi
Katherine Tegen Books

Avid baker Zoe Washington receives a letter on her twelfth birthday from her biological father, who is in prison for a terrible crime. A crime he says he never committed. Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family.

Cover of Everything Sad Is Untrue:
Levine Querido

At the front of a middle school classroom in Oklahoma, a boy named Khosrou (whom everyone calls "Daniel") stands, trying to tell a story. His story. But no one believes a word he says. Khosrou's stories, stretching back years, and decades, and centuries, are beautiful, and terrifying, from the moment his family fled Iran in the middle of the night, back to the sad, cement refugee camps of Italy, and further back still to the Jasmine-scented city of Isfahan. Like Scheherazade, Daniel weaves a tale to stake his claim to the truth.

Cover of The Best At It
Balzer + Bray

Rahul Kapoor is heading into seventh grade in a small town in Indiana. The start of middle school is making him feel increasingly anxious, so his favorite person in the whole world, his grandfather, Bhai, gives him some well-meaning advice: Find one thing you're really good at and become the BEST at it. This is a story about friendship, family, and the courage it takes to live your truth.

Cover of Prairie Lotus
Linda Sue
Clarion Books

Hanna, a young half-Asian girl, lives in a small town in America's heartland in 1880. She is determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father's shop, and making at least one friend. Hanna's adjustment to her new surroundings, which primarily means negotiating the townspeople's almost unanimous prejudice against Asians, is at the heart of the story. 

Cover of Stef Soto, Taco Queen
Little, Brown and Company

Stef Soto, a Mexican-American girl, hopes to break free from her overprotective parents and embarrassing reputation from her family's taco truck business. But she soon learns that family, friendship, and the taco truck are important and wonderful parts of her life.

Cover of Other Words for Home
Balzer + Bray

Jude never thought she'd be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives. At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven't quite prepared her for starting school in the US--and her new label of "Middle Eastern," an identity she's never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises--there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.