Last semester, I had the opportunity to teach a diverse literature for children and young adult graduate class, which I absolutely enjoyed. After having made a booklist for the grad students to choose from, I realized how much more focused my view became for diverse and inclusive literature and the amount of excellent books that are available. Looking back (and a little forward) here is a list of what I feel are must-haves for both your TBR and young adult collections:
2018, Katherine Tegen Books.
Based on true-life events of the Boko Haram and the kidnapping of young girls in 2014 in Nigeria, the author weaves a tale of wishes, hatred, heartbreak and survival through one girl’s life from getting into the school where she can learn and move forward to being brainwashed and tortured by the Boko Haram. What’s most beautiful about this book is the different forms of narration. Recommended for HS.
2017, Random House
Adam has had to start life over in a new school and with an experimental drug to help with his schizophrenia. He doesn’t believe he can live a “normal” life, but slowly, the treatment begins to work and he finds himself living in a world with real people. The real world can be a wonderful but tough place to inhabit, and he sees both sides of this. But when the drug treatment begins to fail, he desperately tries to hold on…if he can.
Recommended for HS.
2018, Puffin Books
Nan Sparrow has only known the life of a chimney sweep. When she was little, her Sweeper would tell her wonderful stories, but when he left her all alone, the only things she had left of him was his hat and an old piece of char. But an accident one day brings the char to life, as a golem, and Nan’s world becomes larger when she learns about the history of the golem in Jewish culture and what exactly is Charlie’s role in her life.
2018, Dial Books
Darius is Persian by culture but has been living in an American culture all of his life. He battles depression, a father who seems to want to best for him in an ill-concealed way, and has no friends or social life. But his life is turned upside down when he travels to Iran with his family to meet his ailing grandfather and along the way finds his first true friendship with an Iranian teen, Sohrab. One of the best books I’ve read this year.
2018, Farrar, Strauss, Giroux
Adapted from her best-selling novel, this story becomes more powerful with images. Melinda, is a survivor, but surviving what she went through is difficult at best, especially when she doesn’t want to let anyone know what truly happened. It’s interesting to see how things have changed since this was first written in 199 and how cultural movements like #metoo have changed the landscape.
Recommended: HS; upper JH
Many times, facts in history don’t show up in what students study in schools. This is one such incident that has had multiple impacts on our society today, even though it happened in the 1870s. When a freedmen’s town was surrounded by the KKK hate group, and hundreds of innocent lives were taken, not one person was convicted for this horrific crime. Even worse, it was upheld by the Supreme Court. The author details the history behind it and its implications on human rights
Recommended: HS; JH
2018, Egmont UK
Sam is a lover of science fiction, but one day at the science museum will alter his life. Now, he’s determined to show that he’s a fearless adventurer. Things get even stickier when he believes his house is haunted, but with the help of his friends, they find out just exactly what is happening. This is a great inside look at Chinese family culture and how he introduces his friends into this part of his life.
2019, Simon Pulse
Dino is working the worst day of his life as an employee of his parents funeral home business. Not only does he have to work with the best friend, July, who is now deceased, but also having to deal with the feelings of a relationship that’s still new to him. But things get even crazier when his best friend suddenly comes back to life and his boyfriend decides he wants more than Dino is willing to give. Things get even crazier when more dead don’t die and his relationship begins to fall apart. What’s a young mortician to do?
Recommended: HS/upper JH
2019, Sourcebooks Fire
Lena and Campbell go to the same high school, but they don’t even know each other. But one Friday night football game will change their lives separately and together. When a fights erupts between the two schools, it slowly begins to build momentum to total chaos in a town divided by race. Both girls need to get home, and the only way they can do it is to rely on each other and think beyond the stereotypes both girls have. Told is alternating voices.
2019, Fiewel and Friends
Junior high can be a defining time for anyone, and this is especially true for Riley. Before she heard what they said, she was an athlete, and artist, and a great sister and daughter. But what she overheard in the cafeteria has impacted her very life, and she’s now in treatment for anorexia nervosa. Treatment is painful, but more for for Riley, who wants to get better but is slowly being sabotaged by her roommate. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is believe in yourself