I have read some great young adult (YA) literature this year. I have been incredibly impressed with the amount of diverse literature that has come out; especially for teenagers. We live in a diverse world; particularly in the United States. There are all kinds of people walking the sidewalks alongside us. Love is diverse in our world. Despite knowing that so much diversity is all around us teenagers are still ignorant to such topics. They are not informed nor are they privy to the fact that it is okay to form their own opinions. That is why access to diverse YA literature is so vital in buildinging an educated generation. With all of the events and hatred that are pulsating in our world the opinions of the next generation are incredibly important. Maybe if we have an open-minded, informed and compassionate generation waiting in the wings the world can become a better place.
Here are four diverse YA books that I read in 2017. You really should give them a try. I am a firm believer that YA books are not just for teenagers. Adults can benefit from their power too.
*Note that all titles in blue are linked to a description. I encourage you to click
If there is one book that left my mind reeling this year it was The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I listened to this book and it was incredibly powerful. Starr witnesses the death of her friend Khalil by the hands of a police officer. With that one line description it is clear that this is a timely book. Several different discussion topics come from this books. Obviously, police brutality in black communities. Inter-racial dating. Gang activity. Political protests and demonstrations. Discovering your voice. This book is brilliant for many reasons. It is in your face while being subtle at the same time. The dialogue and voice of Starr is relateable and honest. There is alot of punch in The Hate U Give. By that I mean it is so powerful that you cannot help but be taken aback by it. It is a one-of-a-kind book. I firmly believe that it should be required reading in all high schools. However, not all educators agree with me. A Texas school district recently banned this very important book. This angers me. It also goes to show that Angie Thomas really did write the truth.
One of the most diverse books I have read in recent memory is Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert. Suzette is diverse character. She is black Jewish convert who has recently decided that she is bisexual. She also belongs to an equally diverse family. Her black mother fell in love with a red-headed Jewish man. Together they live together in a common law marriage with their two children Suzette and Lionel a.k.a Little & Lion. This book contains several important topics. I assure you that all of the diversity in this book does not overwhelm. In fact, they all blend together perfectly. Blended families. Bigotry. Sexuality. Mental health. Race. Trust. There is so much to be gained from this unique book.
Dear Martin is similar to The Hate U Give in that it deals primarily with police brutality. Justyce is a black teen who is trying to rise above the poverty and broken home that he was born into. He is attending a private school and is at the top of his class. As a black teen in a primarily white population he is targeted by the police. In order to try and negotiate the issue of police brutality that is happening all around him he begins writing to Dr. Martin Luther King. Along with police brutality, black lives matter and other common issues of race, there are many important issues that stem from Dear Martin. It is such an important book for today’s teens and it speaks in an honest voice.
I have written about Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sanchez before in a past post. It is worth mentioning again int his post because it includes all Hispanic characters which is rare despite representing a large proportion of the population in the U.S. With this book, the reader gains a better understanding of Hispanic culture and the struggles they have living as immigrants.
Let’s go back in time….
Let me take you back to the first book I remember reading that dealt with homosexuality as a teenager.
When I was a teen living in a small town everyone looked the same. Caucasian. Straight. The only way I was exposed to racial issues, homosexuality and diversity was by the books I read. The selection of YA books was extremely limited in my small town. This was no fault of my local library. There just was not alot of selection at that point. That is not the case anymore. I am so envious of the selection available to teens today. I cannot help but wonder what my teenage brain would have done with such phenomenal literature at my fingertips.
I am really amazed that this book sat on the shelves of my public library. I am amazed because in 2000 a gay cowboy book was published. This book left an impression on me. I remember vividly finding it on the shelf. I remember feeling secretive when I read it. My parents did not monitor the books I read. That is one of the most important things they did in my upbringing; at least in my opinion. I cannot thank them enough for that. I was able to learn about the world thru the safe lens of a book. I was exposed to various perceptions and opinions. Thus I was able to make my own decision and formulate my own opinions. That was a great gift I was given because of diverse YA literature.
Author Harper Lee said it best: