So you read this book by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan, now you’re on the hunt for books like Save Me a Seat? Welcome!
Recommending readalikes can be a tricky process, but as I said in the first post in this series, I enjoy the process of finding similar threads running through even books that appear different on the surface. Today’s pick is a much-loved book about two boys — one Indian, one American — bullied or mocked for different reasons, who become unlikely friends in the cafeteria of their middle-school. If you haven’t read it yet, you should. This was one of the first middle-grade boy books I ever read (and I loved it!) — the audiobook is really good, with two narrators, one of Indian descent, and the other American. If you like audiobooks, signing up with this link will give you two free months of listening (I’ll get one free month)!
Here’s my readalike criterion: Each book I recommend must have at least three strong similarities with the beloved title. For each recommended book, I’ll also highlight major differences to keep in mind, just in case they might put you off. If you or your kids loved this book, here are more books like Save Me a Seat.
Ready? Let’s go.
Books Like Save Me a Seat
A Place at the Table
- Two girls (one Pakistani, the other American — with a Jewish dad and British mom) form an unlikely friendship
- Food is at the heart of this novel
- A lot of the action happens at school!
- There’s a hint of immigrant struggle as both mothers are taking the US citizenship exams
- Elizabeth eventually has to stand up to another girl for Sara
- Lots of Pakistani, Jewish, and British culture
- Girls, instead of boys
- Funny, but maybe not as funny as Save Me a Seat
Karma Khullar’s Mustache
- Karma is half-Indian and also brings daal in a tiffin to school
- Karma also gets made fun of because of her food choices and the fact that lunch spills a lot
- Although her grandmother is dead, Karma is always thinking of what her grandmother would want her to do
- Kids at school make fun of Karma because of her mustache
- Karma is really good at math, much like Ravi is at all subjects besides his accent when he speaks English
- There’s just one protagonist in this book
- Karma’s issues with friends are a bit different from Ravi’s situation
Pie in the Sky
- Jingwen, his mom, and little brother move to Australia and both boys barely speak any English
- Jingwen gets bullied by kids at his school and has to take extra lessons for his English
- The boys do a lot of sneaky baking — food is a major theme
- Male protagonist who’s adjusting a new culture
- Jingwen is Asian, but not Indian like Ravi
- Jingwen’s brother also plays a major role in the story
- While this is also a “boy book,” it is illustrated (a plus, if you ask me)
A Thousand Questions (Out October 6)
- Dual POV book with two characters from different cultures (Mimi is American with a Pakistani mother, while Sakina was born and raised in Pakistan)
- Both girls join forces to help each other solve a pressing problem
- Food is heavily centered in this book
- Mimi learns to adjust to life in Pakistan, although she’s only there for the summer
- Girl protagonists
- Set in summer, not during the school year
Drita, My Homegirl
- Drita is an immigrant from Kosovo, while Maxie is an African-American
- Drita’s English is also pretty poor in the beginning
- Maxie and her friends initially bully Drita
- Both girls are forced into a group project that leads to an unlikely friendship
- It’s also a dual POV narration
- Both female protagonists
- Not much of a food focus
- Not #OwnVoices
The Truth As Told by Mason Buttle
- Mason is a big kid, like Joe is!
- Joe has auditory processing difficulties and Mason has learning difficulties
- Mason becomes friends with Calvin Chumsky, reminiscent of Joe and Ravi’s relationship
- Both Mason and Calvin get bullied a lot, although Mason helps defend Calvin
- There’s a big grief element, so it might be heavier for readers who enjoy funny books
- There’s also a mystery element, which might be fun for some readers
- Food is not too big a focus, besides basic snacking, and there isn’t much culture to explore
Your turn! Which books like Save Me a Seat would you recommend and why? I’d love to hear from you. Also, I would love your help with this series. Which middle-grade, chapter books, or picture books, or even YA books would you love readalikes for? Let me know!