Suggested Reading List for All Ages | September 2020

NOMA’s Learning and Engagement team is excited to present monthly suggested reading lists for all ages based on a theme or exhibition in partnership with Octavia Books. Direct links for ordering books are found in the listings below. For September, we are looking at the theme of Connection.

NOMA Book Club: September Selection

For Adults — NOMA Book Club Spotlight

The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig 
Berkeley, 2016, ISBN: 9780451474636

When critically wounded Captain Cooper Ravenel is brought to a private hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side in 1945, young Dr. Kate Schuyler is drawn into a complex mystery that connects three generations of women in her family to a single extraordinary room in a Gilded Age mansion. The portrait miniature belonging to Captain Ravenel depicts a young woman who looks remarkably like Kate. This collaborative novel presents stories from three generations written by three authors.

Virtually join NOMA’s book club for a free curatorial program with Mel Buchanan, RosaMary Curator of Deocrative Arts on Thursday, August 17 at 12:00 pm and join the book club for a discussion of The Forgotten Room on Tuesday, September 29 at 12:00 pm. If you are interested in participating in any of the book club programs, please contact us at for more information. You can also find the full list of selected 2020 book club titles on NOMA’s website

For Young Adults (ages 14+)

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
Balzer + Bray, 2020, ISBN: 9780062990297 

Michael is a mixed-race gay teen growing up in London. All his life, he’s navigated what it means to be Greek-Cypriot and Jamaican—but never quite feeling Greek or Black enough. As he gets older, Michael’s coming out is only the start of learning who he is and where he fits in. When he discovers the Drag Society, he finally finds where he belongs—and the Black Flamingo is born. Told with raw honesty, insight, and lyricism, this debut explores the layers of identity that make us who we are—and allow us to shine.

For Ages 9–12

Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lai
HarperCollins, 2015, ISBN: 9780062229182

A California girl born and raised, Mai can’t wait to spend her vacation at the beach. Instead, she has to travel to Vietnam with her grandmother, who is going back to find out what really happened to her husband during the Vietnam War. Mai’s parents think this trip will be a great opportunity for their out-of-touch daughter to learn more about her culture. But to Mai, those are their roots, not her own. Besides barely speaking the language, she doesn’t know the geography, the local customs, or even her distant relatives. To survive her trip, Mai must find a balance between her two completely different worlds.

For Kids

A Tree in the Sea by Holly Kern and Illustrated by Blaine Kern
River Road Press, 2017, ISBN: 9781941879146
Suggested ages: 2–6 

Colorful, bright, and engaging, world-renowned float designer Blaine Kern’s illustrations capture the whimsy and fun of wife Holly Kern’s fanciful story about overcoming differences and the joys of friendship.

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Illustrated by Rafael López
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2018, ISBN: 9780399246531
Suggested ages: 5–8

Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

(This book is also available in Spanish, as El Día En Que Descubres Quién Eres!)

We welcome any questions or feedback about NOMA’s suggested reading lists. We would love to hear from you, so please feel welcome to contact us at