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Multicultural Adolescent Literature By Genre

The goal of this list is to organize high quality adolescent literature by genre and age level. Please note that many books will fit into several genres, so I chose the category that seemed most appropriate to me. Each genre is organized by approximate age range within adolescence

Genres

Graphic Novels


New Kid by Jerry Craft

  • Age range: 8-12 (grade 3-7)
  • Synopsis: Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?Universal Pictures has acquired film rights to New Kid, with LeBron James’ The Spring Hill Company on board to develop and produce. Craft will be an Executive Producer.
El Deafo by CeCe Bell
  • Age range: 8-12 (grades 3-7)
  • Synopsis: In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful and very awkward hearing aid. The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear (including some things she wasn't intended to hear), but it also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is.After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become "El Deafo, Listener for All." More importantly, Cece declares a place for herself in the world and finds the friend she's longed for.
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Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham
  • Age range: 8-12 (grades 4-6)
  • Synopsis: When best friends are not forever . . .Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen's #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group―or out?
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A Girl Called Echo by Katherina Vermette
  • Age range: 11-15 (grades 8-12)
  • Synopsis: Echo Desjardins, a 13 year-old Métis girl, is struggling with her feelings of loneliness while attending a new school and living with a new family. Then an ordinary day in Mr. Bee's history class turns extraordinary and Echo's life will never be the same. During Mr. Bee's lecture, Echo finds herself transported to another time and place–a bison hunt on the Saskatchewan prairie and back again to the present. In the following weeks, Echo slips back and forth in time. She visits a Métis camp, travels the old fur trade routes, and experiences the perilous and bygone era of the Pemmican wars.
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Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash
  • Age range: 14-17 (grade 9-12)
  • Synopsis: Maggie Thrash has spent basically every summer of her fifteen-year-old life at the one-hundred-year-old Camp Bellflower for Girls, set deep in the heart of Appalachia.A split-second of innocent physical contact pulls Maggie into a gut-twisting love for an older, wiser, and most surprising of all (at least to Maggie), female counselor named Erin. But Camp Bellflower is an impossible place for a girl to fall in love with another girl, and Maggie’s savant-like proficiency at the camp’s rifle range is the only thing keeping her heart from exploding. When it seems as if Erin maybe feels the same way about Maggie, it’s too much for both Maggie and Camp Bellflower to handle, let alone to understand.
  • Additional Resources
Tomboy by Liz Prince
  • Age range: 13-18 (grade 8-12)
  • Synopsis: Growing up, Liz Prince wasn’t a girly girl, but she wasn’t exactly one of the guys either (as she learned when her little league baseball coach exiled her to the distant outfield). She was somewhere in between. But with the forces of middle school, high school, parents, friendship, and romance pulling her this way and that, the middle wasn't an easy place to be. Tomboy follows award-winning author and artist Liz Prince through her early years and explores―with humor, honesty, and poignancy―what it means to "be a girl." From staunchly refuting "girliness" to the point of misogyny, to discovering through the punk community that your identity is whatever you make of it, Tomboy offers a sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking account of self-discovery in modern America.
  • Additional Resources
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi (autobiography)
  • Age range: 14-18 (GN380L)
  • Synopsis: In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.
Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.




Historical Fiction


More Than Anything Else by Marie Bradby; Illustrator: Chris K. Soentpiet

  • Age range: 5-11 (570L)
  • Synopsis:
A fictionalized story about the life of young Booker T. Washington. Living in a West Virginia settlement after emancipation, nine-year-old Booker travels by lantern light to the salt works, where he labors from dawn till dusk. Although his stomach rumbles, his real hunger is his intense desire to learn to read. Sylvia & Aki by Winifred Conkling
  • Age range: 8-11 (760L)
  • Synopsis: Young Sylvia Mendez never expected to be at the center of a landmark legal battle. Young Aki Munemitsu never expected to be sent away from her home and her life as she knew it. The two girls definitely never expected to know each other, until their lives intersected on a Southern California farm in a way that changed the country forever. Who are Sylvia and Aki? And why did their family stories matter then and still matter today? This book reveals the remarkable, never-before-told story—based on true events—of Mendez vs. Westminster School District, the California court case that desegregated schools for Latino children and set the stage for Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education at the national level.
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Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • Age range: 9-11 (950L)​
  • Synopsis
It's 1936, in Flint, Michigan. Ten-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy on the run, but he's on a mission. His momma never told him who his father was, but she left a clue: posters of Herman E. Calloway and his famous band, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression! Bud's got an idea that those posters will lead to his father. Once he decides to hit the road and find this mystery man, nothing can stop him. Bud, Not Buddy is full of laugh-out-loud humor and wonderful characters, hitting the high notes of jazz and sounding the deeper tones of the Great Depression. The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
  • Age range: 9-13 (610 L)
  • Synopsis:
The letter waits in a book, in a box, in an attic, in an old house in Lambert, South Carolina. It's waiting for Candice Miller. When Candice finds the letter, she isn't sure she should read it. It's addressed to her grandmother, who left Lambert in shame. But the letter describes a young woman. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery enfolding the letter-writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle. So with the help of Brandon Jones, the quiet boy across the street, she begins to decipher the clues. The challenge will lead them deep into Lambert's history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and one great love; and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets. Can they find the fortune and fulfill the letter's promise before the answers slip into the past yet again? Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
  • Age range: 10-14 (920L)
  • Synopsis:
Set in Mississippi at the height of the Depression, this is the story of one family’s struggle to maintain their integrity, pride, and independence in the face of racism and social injustice. And it is also Cassie’s story—Cassie Logan, an independent girl who discovers over the course of an important year why having land of their own is so crucial to the Logan family, even as she learns to draw strength from her own sense of dignity and self-respect. Paperboy by Vince Vawter
  • Age range: 10-14 (940L)
  • Synopsis:
An 11-year-old boy living in Memphis in 1959 throws the meanest fastball in town, but talking is a whole different ball game. He can barely say a word without stuttering, not even his own name. So when he takes over his best friend’s paper route for the month of July, he knows he’ll be forced to communicate with the different customers, including a housewife who drinks too much and a retired merchant marine who seems to know just about everything. The newspaper route poses challenges, but it’s a run-in with the neighborhood junkman, a bully and thief, that stirs up real trouble–and puts the boy’s life, as well as that of his family’s devoted housekeeper, in danger. The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • Age range: 11-14 (920L)
  • Synopsis:
Enter the world of ten-year-old Kenny and his family, the Weird Watsons of Flint, Michigan. When Momma and Dad decide it's time for a visit to Grandma, Dad comes home with the amazing Ultra-Glide, and the Watsons head South to Birmingham, Alabama... toward one of the darkest moments in America's history. A hilarious, touching, and tragic novel about civil rights and the impact of violence on one African American family. A Spy in the House (The Agency: Book One) by Y. S. Lee
  • Age range: 12-15 (grade 7-9)​
  • Synopsis: Orphan Mary Quinn lives on the edge. Sentenced as a thief at the age of twelve, she’s rescued from the gallows by a woman posing as a prison warden. In her new home, Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls, Mary acquires a singular education, fine manners, and surprising opportunity. The school is a cover for the Agency – an elite, top-secret corps of female investigators with a reputation for results – and at seventeen, Mary’s about to join their ranks.With London all but paralyzed by a noxious heat wave, Mary must work fast in the guise of lady’s companion to infiltrate a rich merchant’s home with hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the Thorold household is full of dangerous secrets, and people are not what they seem – least of all Mary .Packed with action and suspense, and evoking the gritty world of Victorian London, this first book in the Agency series debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits.
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Code Talker: A Novel about the Navajo Marines of WWII by Joseph Bruchac
  • Age range: 12-15 (7-9 grade)
  • Synopsis: Throughout World War II, in the conflict fought against Japan, Navajo code talkers were a crucial part of the U.S. effort, sending messages back and forth in an unbreakable code that used their native language. They braved some of the heaviest fighting of the war, and with their code, they saved countless American lives. Yet their story remained classified for more than twenty years.But now Joseph Bruchac brings their stories to life for young adults through the riveting fictional tale of Ned Begay, a sixteen-year-old Navajo boy who becomes a code talker. His grueling journey is eye-opening and inspiring. This deeply affecting novel honors all of those young men, like Ned, who dared to serve, and it honors the culture and language of the Navajo Indians.
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The Weight of our Sky by Hanna Alkaf
  • Synopsis: A music loving teen with OCD does everything she can to find her way back to her mother during the historic race riots in 1969 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in this heart-pounding literary debut.Melati Ahmad looks like your typical movie-going, Beatles-obsessed sixteen-year-old. Unlike most other sixteen-year-olds though, Mel also believes that she harbors a djinn inside her, one who threatens her with horrific images of her mother’s death unless she adheres to an elaborate ritual of counting and tapping to keep him satisfied.But there are things that Melati can’t protect her mother from. On the evening of May 13th, 1969, racial tensions in her home city of Kuala Lumpur boil over. The Chinese and Malays are at war, and Mel and her mother become separated by a city in flames.With a 24-hour curfew in place and all lines of communication down, it will take the help of a Chinese boy named Vincent and all of the courage and grit in Melati’s arsenal to overcome the violence on the streets, her own prejudices, and her djinn’s surging power to make it back to the one person she can’t risk losing.*** CONTENT WARNINGS: Racism, on-page death, graphic violence, OCD and anxiety triggers. If you are affected by any of these things, please do consider setting the book aside until you feel more able to take them on. ***
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Jazz Owls by Margarita Engle (also verse)
  • Age range: 12-17 (1300L)
  • Synopsis:
Thousands of young Navy sailors are pouring into Los Angeles on their way to the front lines of World War II. They are teenagers, scared, longing to feel alive before they have to face the horrors of battle. Hot jazz music spiced with cool salsa rhythms beckons them to dance with the local Mexican American girls, who jitterbug all night before working all day in the canneries. Proud to do their part for the war effort, these Jazz Owl girls are happy to dance with the sailors—until the blazing summer night when racial violence leads to murder. Suddenly the young white sailors are attacking the girls’ brothers and boyfriends. The cool, loose zoot suits they wear are supposedly the reason for the violence—when in reality the boys are viciously beaten and arrested simply because of the color of their skin. Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
  • Age range: 12-17 yrs (middle adolescence)
  • Synopsis: Ida Mae Jones dreams of flight. Her daddy was a pilot and being black didn’t stop him from fulfilling his dreams. But her daddy’s gone now, and being a woman, and being black, are two strikes against her. When America enters the war with Germany and Japan, the Army creates the WASP, the Women Airforce Service Pilots—and Ida suddenly sees a way to fly as well as do something significant to help her brother stationed in the Pacific. But even the WASP won’t accept her as a black woman, forcing Ida Mae to make a difficult choice of “passing,” of pretending to be white to be accepted into the program. Hiding one’s racial heritage, denying one’s family, denying one’s self is a heavy burden. And while Ida Mae chases her dream, she must also decide who it is she really wants to be.
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House of Purple Cedar by Tim Tingle
  • Age range: 13 and up
  • Synopsis: A Choctaw tale of tragedy, white and Indians, good and evil, revenge and forgiveness, even humor and magic realism."The hour has come to speak of troubled times. It is time we spoke of Skullyville." Thus begins Rose Goode's story of her growing up in Indian Territory in pre-statehood Oklahoma. Skullyville, a once-thriving Choctaw community, was destroyed by land-grabbers, culminating in the arson on New Year's Eve, 1896, of New Hope Academy for Girls. Twenty Choctaw girls died, but Rose escaped. She is blessed by the presence of her grandmother Pokoni and her grandfather Amafo, both respected elders who understand the old ways. Soon after the fire, the white sheriff beats Amafo in front of the town's people, humiliating him. Instead of asking the Choctaw community to avenge the beating, her grandfather decides to follow the path of forgiveness. And so unwinds this tale of mystery, Indian-style magical realism, and deep wisdom. It's a world where backwoods spiritualism and Bible-thumping Christianity mix with bad guys; a one-legged woman shop-keeper, her oaf of a husband, herbal potions, and shape-shifting panthers rendering justice. Tim Tingle--a scholar of his nation's language, culture, and spirituality--tells Rose's story of good and evil with understanding and even laugh-out-loud Choctaw humor.
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Call Me Ahab: A Short Story Collection by Anne Finger
  • Age range: Young adult
  • Synopsis:
Imagine a Hollywood encounter between Helen Keller and Frida Kahlo, “two female icons of disability.” Or the story of “Moby Dick, or, The Leg,” told from Ahab’s perspective. What if Vincent Van Gogh resided in a twentieth-century New York hotel, surviving on food stamps and direct communications with God? Or if the dwarf pictured in a seventeenth-century painting by Velazquez should tell her story? And, finally, imagine the encounter between David and Goliath from the Philistine’s point of view. These are the characters who people history and myth as counterpoints to the “normal.” And they are also the characters who populate Anne Finger’s remarkable short stories. Affecting but never sentimental, ironic but never cynical, these wonderfully rich and comic tales reimagine life beyond the margins of “normality.” A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  • Age range: Late adolescence
  • Synopsis: A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.
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Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Age range: Late adolescence
  • Synopsis: Toni Morrison’s magnificent Pulitzer Prize–winning work—first published in 1987—brought the wrenching experience of slavery into the literature of our time, enlarging our comprehension of America’s original sin. Set in post–Civil War Ohio, it is the story of Sethe, an escaped slave who has lost a husband and buried a child; who has withstood savagery and not gone mad. Sethe, who now lives in a small house on the edge of town with her daughter, Denver, her mother-in-law, Baby Suggs, and a disturbing, mesmerizing apparition who calls herself Beloved.Sethe works at “beating back the past,” but it makes itself heard and felt incessantly: in her memory; in Denver’s fear of the world outside the house; in the sadness that consumes Baby Suggs; in the arrival of Paul D, a fellow former slave; and, most powerfully, in Beloved, whose childhood belongs to the hideous logic of slavery and who has now come from the “place over there” to claim retribution for what she lost and for what was taken from her. Sethe’s struggle to keep Beloved from gaining possession of the present—and to throw off the long-dark legacy of the past—is at the center of this spellbinding novel. But it also moves beyond its particulars, combining imagination and the vision of legend with the unassailable truths of history.
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The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
  • Age range: Late adolescence
  • Synopsis: A gorgeous novel by the celebrated author of When the Emperor Was Divine that tells the story of a group of young women brought from Japan to San Francisco as “picture brides” nearly a century ago. In eight unforgettable sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces the extraordinary lives of these women, from their arduous journeys by boat, to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; from their experiences raising children who would later reject their culture and language, to the deracinating arrival of war. Once again, Julie Otsuka has written a spellbinding novel about identity and loyalty, and what it means to be an American in uncertain times.
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Traditional Literature


Traditional literature includes stories that are passed down within a culture such as myths, legends, folktales, and fairytales. These may be considered fiction or nonfiction, depending on who is telling the story. Jouanah: A Hmong Cinderella by Jewel Reinhard Coburn and Tzexa Cherta Lee; Illustrator: Anne Sibley O’Brien

  • Age range: 8-12
  • Synopsis:
Jouanah: A Hmong Cinderella takes readers to the remote mountains of Southeast Asia, to the traditional home of the Laotian Hmong. All essential Cinderella elements are here—startling transformation, a kind-hearted but mistreated central character, and an evil stepfamily. However, let us not forget the fairy godmother, a handsome Elder’s son who comes to the rescue, the dainty shoe, and the most important element of all—love! Gorgeous artwork remains faithful in the depiction of the Hmong lifestyle and the high mountain villages. Readers will make a place in their hearts for this newest and loveliest addition to children’s literature. African Myths and Folktales by Carter Godwin Woods
  • Age range: 9-12
  • Synopsis: How was the earth formed, and where did animals come from? Why does the hippopotamus live in water, and why do cats chase rats? Imaginative answers to these and other age-old questions can be found among the rich oral traditions of Africa. Generations of listeners have delighted in these fanciful explanations of the natural, moral, and spiritual worlds, which unfold amid a realm of talking animals, magic drums, tricksters, and fairies.Known as the "Father of Black History," Carter Godwin Woodson was among the first scholars to promote the history and achievements of African-Americans. His compilation of fables about a jealous blind man, a disobedient daughter, a rivalry among brothers, and other timeless predicaments is punctuated with thought-provoking proverbs and gentle humor. Told in simple language, these tales will enchant readers and listeners of all ages. Over sixty evocative illustrations appear throughout the book.
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The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan
  • Age range: 12-17 (910L)
  • Synopsis (written by the author):
This book is a collection of 75 clay figurines inspired by Grimm's fairy tales, theatrically photographed and accompanied by short excerpts from each story. The Singing Bones takes its title from a Grimm's fairy tale about the bone of a slain boy that, once carved into a flute, sings of fate and injustice. It's a theme that runs through many European fairy tales, and reflects the generational memory of oral story-telling – as dark as it is playful – leading to Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm's 1812 collection Children's and Household Tales. Interestingly this work was not intended for children, yet became a source of persistent fascination for readers of any age and the inspiration for many artists and illustrators over subsequent centuries. My own book features 75 sculptural works that I constructed and photographed between 2012 and 2015. The Near Witch by V.E. Schwab
  • Age range: 13-17
  • Synopsis: The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. There are no strangers in the town of Near. These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. But when an actual stranger, a boy who seems to fade like smoke, appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true. The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy. Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.SEE LESS
Tales of the Peculiar by Ransome Riggs
  • Age range: Grades 7-9
  • Synopsis: Wealthy cannibals who dine on the discarded limbs of peculiars. A fork-tongued princess. These are but a few of the stories in Tales of the Peculiar—the collection of fairy tales known to hide information about the peculiar world, including clues to the locations of time loops—first introduced in the #1 bestselling Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series. You are invited to learn these secrets of peculiar history, with a collection of original stories in this deluxe volume of Tales of the Peculiar. Featuring stunning illustrations from world-renowned artist Andrew Davidson, this compelling, rich, and truly peculiar anthology is perfect for fans and those new to the series, as well.
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Yee
  • Age range: Grade 7 and above
  • Synopsis:Genie Lo is one among droves of Ivy-hopeful overachievers in her sleepy Bay Area suburb. You know, the type who wins. When she’s not crushing it at volleyball or hitting the books, Genie is typically working on how to crack the elusive Harvard entry code.But when her hometown comes under siege from Hellspawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are dramatically rearranged. Enter Quentin Sun, a mysterious new kid in class who becomes Genie’s self-appointed guide to battling demons. While Genie knows Quentin only as an attractive transfer student with an oddly formal command of the English language, in another reality he is Sun Wukong, the mythological Monkey King incarnate—right down to the furry tail and penchant for peaches.Suddenly, acing the SATs is the least of Genie’s worries. The fates of her friends, family, and the entire Bay Area all depend on her summoning an inner power that Quentin assures her is strong enough to level the very gates of Heaven. But every second Genie spends tapping into the secret of her true nature is a second in which the lives of her loved ones hang in the balance.
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A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman
  • Age range: 13-17 (grade 8 and 9)
  • Synopsis: Star-crossed lovers, meddling immortals, feigned identities, battles of wits, and dire warnings: these are the stuff of fairy tale, myth, and folklore that have drawn us in for centuries. This young adult novel is an excellent choice for accelerated tween readers in grades 7 to 8, especially during homeschooling. It’s a fun way to keep your child entertained and engaged while not in the classroom.Fifteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.Compiled by We Need Diverse Books’s Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, the authors included in this exquisite collection are: Renée Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong.A mountain loses her heart. Two sisters transform into birds to escape captivity. A young man learns the true meaning of sacrifice. A young woman takes up her mother’s mantle and leads the dead to their final resting place.From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these stories will beguile readers from start to finish. For fans of Neil Gaiman’s Unnatural Creatures and Ameriie’s New York Times–bestselling Because You Love to Hate Me.
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Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
  • Age range: 14-17 (grade 9-12)
  • Synopsis: Tender Morsels is a dark and vivid story, set in two worlds and worrying at the border between them. Liga lives modestly in her own personal heaven, a world given to her in exchange for her earthly life. Her two daughters grow up in this soft place, protected from the violence that once harmed their mother. But the real world cannot be denied forever—magicked men and wild bears break down the borders of Liga’s refuge. Now, having known Heaven, how will these three women survive in a world where beauty and brutality lie side by side?
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
  • Age range: Middle adolescence
  • Synopsis: Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her.Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high? Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute. Set in an East Asian-inspired fantasy world filled with both breathtaking pain and beauty, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns possesses all the hallmarks of masterful fantasy: dazzling magic, heartbreaking romance, and a world that hangs in the balance. Fans of Heartless, Stealing Snow, and Red Queen will devour this stunning debut.
Not Your Abuelita's Folktales by Maria J. Estrada
  • Age range: Middle-late adolescence
  • Synopsis: These are not your grandmother’s folktales. . . .“The Extravagant Stranger” Rosa Maria has great plans to marry a rich man and never work a day in her life. One day, an extravagant stranger sweeps her off her feet and promises to give her all she desires. But not everything is as it seems.“Unforgivable” Beto Andrades is deeply in love with his neighbor Sarah Stan. Yet, as an undocumented teen, he doesn’t stand a chance with her. What is worse, her father hates all Mexicans. Will he ever be able to get her attention and help her see how amazing he is?“Magical Bully” Meet Rita, an inquisitive young girl with a budding scientific mind. Her world is perfectly logical, until she encounters a duende, a magical creature.“Never Really Alone” Isella’s boyfriend, Rich, is back from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He isn’t the same anymore, and she wonders if it’s time for them to break up.Four gripping, no-holds-barred, supernatural tales for young adults.
Thorne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahemd
  • Age range: Middle-late adolescence
  • Synopsis: The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, home to djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, are at the boiling point of a power struggle between the iron- fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince. In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. It is up to a handful of heroes to learn the truth behind these killings.Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, “the last real ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat,” just wants a quiet cup of tea. Three score and more years old, he has grown weary of hunting monsters and saving lives, and is more than ready to retire from his dangerous and demanding vocation. But when an old flame’s family is murdered, Adoulla is drawn back to the hunter’s path.Raseed bas Raseed, Adoulla’s young assistant, is a hidebound holy warrior whose prowess is matched only by his piety. But even as Raseed’s sword is tested by ghuls and manjackals, his soul is tested when he and Adoulla cross paths with the tribeswoman Zamia.Zamia Badawi, Protector of the Band, has been gifted with the near- mythical power of the lion-shape, but shunned by her people for daring to take up a man’s title. She lives only to avenge her father’s death. Until she learns that Adoulla and his allies also hunt her father’s killer. Until she meets Raseed.When they learn that the murders and the Falcon Prince’s brewing revolution are connected, the companions must race against time-and struggle against their own misgivings-to save the life of a vicious despot. In so doing they discover a plot for the Throne of the Crescent Moon that threatens to turn Dhamsawaat, and the world itself, into a blood-soaked ruin.
Man Tiger by Eka Kunaiuan
  • Age range: Late adolescence
  • Synopsis: A wry, affecting tale set in a small town on the Indonesian coast, Man Tiger tells the story of two interlinked and tormented families and of Margio, a young man ordinary in all particulars except that he conceals within himself a supernatural female white tiger. The inequities and betrayals of family life coalesce around and torment this magical being. An explosive act of violence follows, and its mysterious cause is unraveled as events progress toward a heartbreaking revelation.Lyrical and bawdy, experimental and political, this extraordinary novel announces the arrival of a powerful new voice on the global literary stage.
When Fox is a Thousand by Larissa Lai
  • Age range: Late adolescence
  • Synopsis: When Fox Is a Thousand is a spirited retelling of an old Chinese folktale. In Larissa Lai’s lyrical and enchanting novel, a fox spirit comes to haunt Artemis Wong, a young woman living in contemporary Vancouver. The Fox brings with her the history of another haunting, that of the T’ang Dynasty poet Yu Hsuan-Chi, who was accused of having murdered the young maid servant who once worked for her.Part history, part fairytale, part urban discontent, this delightful novel cracks open all preconceptions about Asian women, gender, sexuality, family, faith and the flow of time. Smart, funny and fully-imagined, When Fox Is a Thousand will stay with you long after the last page.
Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson
  • Age range: Late adolescence
  • Synopsis: It’s Carnival time and the Caribbean-colonized planet of Toussaint is celebrating with music, dance, and pageantry. Masked “Midnight Robbers” waylay revelers with brandished weapons and spellbinding words. To young Tan-Tan, the Robber Queen is simply a favorite costume to wear at the festival–until her power-corrupted father commits an unforgiveable crime.Suddenly, both father and daughter are thrust into the brutal world of New Half-Way Tree. Here monstrous creatures from folklore are real, and the humans are violent outcasts in the wilds. Tan-Tan must reach into the heart of myth and become the Robber Queen herself. For only the Robber Queen’s legendary powers can save her life . . . and set her free.
Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord
  • Age range: Late adolescence
  • Synopsis: Karen Lord’s debut novel is an intricately woven tale of adventure, magic, and the power of the human spirit. Paama’s husband is a fool and a glutton. Bad enough that he followed her to her parents’ home in the village of Makendha—now he’s disgraced himself by murdering livestock and stealing corn. When Paama leaves him for good, she attracts the attention of the undying ones—the djombi— who present her with a gift: the Chaos Stick, which allows her to manipulate the subtle forces of the world. Unfortunately, a wrathful djombi with indigo skin believes this power should be his and his alone.Bursting with humor and rich in fantastic detail, Redemption in Indigo is a clever, contemporary fairy tale that introduces readers to a dynamic new voice in Caribbean literature. Lord’s world of spider tricksters and indigo immortals is inspired in part by a Senegalese folk tale—but Paama’s adventures are fresh, surprising, and utterly original.




Modern Fantasy


Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia

  • Age range: 8-12 (680L)
  • Synopsis:
Seventh grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he failed to save his best friend when they were in a bus accident together. All he has left of Eddie is the journal his friend wrote stories in. Tristan is dreading the month he’s going to spend on his grandparents’ farm in Alabama, where he’s being sent to heal from the tragedy. But on his first night there, a sticky creature shows up in his bedroom and steals Eddie’s journal. Tristan chases after it–is that a doll?–and a tug-of-war ensues between them underneath a Bottle Tree. In a last attempt to wrestle the journal out of the creature’s hands, Tristan punches the tree, accidentally ripping open a chasm into the MidPass, a volatile place with a burning sea, haunted bone ships, and iron monsters that are hunting the inhabitants of this world. Tristan finds himself in the middle of a battle that has left black American gods John Henry and Brer Rabbit exhausted. In order to get back home, Tristan and these new allies will need to entice the god Anansi, the Weaver, to come out of hiding and seal the hole in the sky. But bartering with the trickster Anansi always comes at a price. Can Tristan save this world before he loses more of the things he loves? Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee
  • Age range: 12-15
  • Synopsis:
SIDEKICK SQUAD, BOOK ONE—Welcome to Andover, where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess Tran is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, whom Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether. Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
  • Age range: 12-17
  • Synopsis:
Paint a mural. Start a battle. Change the world. Sierra Santiago planned an easy summer of making art and hanging out with her friends. But then a corpse crashes the first party of the season. Her stroke-ridden grandfather starts apologizing over and over. And when the murals in her neighborhood begin to weep real tears... Well, something more sinister than the usual Brooklyn ruckus is going on. With the help of a fellow artist named Robbie, Sierra discovers shadowshaping, a thrilling magic that infuses ancestral spirits into paintings, music, and stories. But someone is killing the shadowshapers one by one — and the killer believes Sierra is hiding their greatest secret. Now she must unravel her family's past, take down the killer in the present, and save the future of shadowshaping for generations to come. Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
  • Age range: 13-17
  • Synopsis:
It's 200 years since Cinderella found her prince, but the fairytale is over. Sophia knows the story though, off by heart. Because every girl has to recite it daily, from when she's tiny until the night she's sent to the royal ball for choosing. And every girl knows that she has only one chance. For the lives of those not chosen by a man at the ball … are forfeit. But Sophia doesn't want to be chosen – she's in love with her best friend, Erin, and hates the idea of being traded like cattle. And when Sophia's night at the ball goes horribly wrong, she must run for her life. Alone and terrified, she finds herself hiding in Cinderella's tomb. And there she meets someone who will show her that she has the power to remake her world … An electrifying twist on the classic fairytale that will inspire girls to break out of limiting stereotypes and follow their dreams! Nocturna by Maya Motayne
  • Age range: 13 and above
  • Synopsis: To Finn Voy, magic is two things: a knife to hold under the chin of anyone who crosses her…and a disguise she shrugs on as easily as others pull on cloaks.As a talented faceshifter, it’s been years since Finn has seen her own face, and that’s exactly how she likes it. But when Finn gets caught by a powerful mobster, she’s forced into an impossible mission: steal a legendary treasure from Castallan’s royal palace or be stripped of her magic forever.After the murder of his older brother, Prince Alfehr is first in line for the Castallan throne. But Alfie can’t help but feel that he will never live up to his brother’s legacy. Riddled with grief, Alfie is obsessed with finding a way to bring his brother back, even if it means dabbling in forbidden magic.But when Finn and Alfie’s fates collide, they accidentally unlock a terrible, ancient power—which, if not contained, will devour the world. And with Castallan’s fate in their hands, Alfie and Finn must race to vanquish what they have unleashed, even if it means facing the deepest darkness in their pasts.
  • Additional resources:
War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi
  • Age range: 14-17 (HL790L)
  • Synopsis:
Two sisters are torn apart by war and must fight their way back to each other in a futuristic, Black Panther-inspired Nigeria. The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky. In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate. Across the nation, as the years-long civil war wages on, survival becomes the only way of life. Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, of hope, of a future together. And they’re willing to fight an entire war to get there. Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
  • Age range: 15 and above
  • Synopsis: In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.Presented by James Patterson, Natasha Ngan’s lyrical, searing, visceral fantasy, Girls of Paper and Fire, will remind us how precious freedom is–and the price we must pay to achieve it.
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We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
  • Age range: 14-17 (grades 9-12)
  • Synopsis: At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children. Both paths promise a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class.Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her pedigree is a lie. She must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society.And school couldn’t prepare her for the difficult choices she must make after graduation, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio.Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or will she give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?
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Children of Bood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • Age range: 14-18 (grades 9-12)
  • Synopsis: Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for an enemy.
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Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • Age range: Middle adolescence
  • Synopsis: The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own. Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.
  • Additional resources:
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
  • Age range: Middle-late adolescence
  • Synopsis: While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters—and it is up to one young woman to unravel the mysteries of the past before they destroy the future.Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last best hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much more terrifying than anything she could imagine.Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel the rez, unraveling clues from ancient legends, trading favors with tricksters, and battling dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.As Maggie discovers the truth behind the killings, she will have to confront her past if she wants to survive.Welcome to the Sixth World.
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Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones
  • Age range: Late adolescence
  • Synopsis: A spellbinding and darkly humorous coming-of-age story about an unusual boy, whose family lives on the fringe of society and struggles to survive in a hostile world that shuns and fears them.He was born an outsider, like the rest of his family. Poor yet resilient, he lives in the shadows with his aunt Libby and uncle Darren, folk who stubbornly make their way in a society that does not understand or want them. They are mongrels, mixed blood, neither this nor that. The boy at the center of Mongrels must decide if he belongs on the road with his aunt and uncle, or if he fits with the people on the other side of the tracks.For ten years, he and his family have lived a life of late-night exits and narrow escapes--always on the move across the South to stay one step ahead of the law. But the time is drawing near when Darren and Libby will finally know if their nephew is like them or not. And the close calls they've been running from for so long are catching up fast now. Everything is about to change.A compelling and fascinating journey, Mongrels alternates between past and present to create an unforgettable portrait of a boy trying to understand his family and his place in a complex and unforgiving world. A smart and innovative story-- funny, bloody, raw, and real--told in a rhythmic voice full of heart, Mongrels is a deeply moving, sometimes grisly, novel that illuminates the challenges and tender joys of a life beyond the ordinary in a bold and imaginative new way.
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Poetry and Verse Novels


Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

  • Age range: 8-10 (800L)
  • Synopsis:
Inspired by the author's childhood experience as a refugee—fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to Alabama—this coming-of-age debut novel told in verse has been celebrated for its touching child's-eye view of family and immigration. This middle grade novel is an excellent choice for tween readers in grades 5 to 6, especially during homeschooling. It’s a fun way to keep your child entertained and engaged while not in the classroom. For all the ten years of her life, Hà has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, Hà discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food . . . and the strength of her very own family. Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Age range: 10-14
  • Synopsis:
When Lonnie was seven years old, his parents died in a fire. Now he's eleven, and he still misses them terribly. And he misses his little sister, Lili, who was put into a different foster home because "not a lot of people want boys — not foster boys that ain't babies." But Lonnie hasn't given up. His foster mother, Miss Edna, is growing on him. She's already raised two sons and she seems to know what makes them tick. And his teacher, Ms. Marcus, is showing him ways to put his jumbled feelings on paper. Told entirely through Lonnie's poetry, we see his heartbreak over his lost family, his thoughtful perspective on the world around him, and most of all his love for Lili and his determination to one day put at least half of their family back together. The Poet Slave of Cuba by Margarita Engle (also a biography)
  • Age range: 12-18
  • Synopsis:
Born into the household of a wealthy slave owner in Cuba in 1797, Juan Francisco Manzano spent his early years by the side of a woman who made him call her Mama, even though he had a mama of his own. Denied an education, young Juan still showed an exceptional talent for poetry. His verses reflect the beauty of his world, but they also expose its hideous cruelty. Powerful, haunting poems and breathtaking illustrations create a portrait of a life in which even the pain of slavery could not extinguish the capacity for hope. Turtle under Ice by Juleah del Rosario
  • Age range: 12 and above (grades 7-9)
  • Synopsis: Rowena feels like her family is a frayed string of lights that someone needs to fix with electrical tape. After her mother died a few years ago, she and her sister, Ariana, drifted into their own corners of the world, each figuring out in their own separate ways how to exist in a world in which their mother is no longer alive.But then Ariana disappears under the cover of night in the middle of a snowstorm, leaving no trace or tracks. When Row wakes up to a world of snow and her sister’s empty bedroom, she is left to piece together the mystery behind where Ariana went and why, realizing along the way that she might be part of the reason Ariana is gone.Haunting and evocative—and told in dual perspectives—Turtle Under Ice examines two sisters frozen by grief as they search for a way to unthaw.
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Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  • Age range: 12 and above (grades 7-9)
  • Synopsis: A cannon. A strap. A piece. A biscuit. A burner. A heater. A chopper. A gat. A hammer. A tool for RULE. Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he?As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator?Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if Will gets off that elevator.Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds.
  • Additional resources:
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • Age range: 13 and above (grade 7 and above)
  • Synopsis: A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.
  • Additional resources:
October Mourning by Leslea Newman
  • Age range: Grades 9-12
  • Synopsis: On the night of October 6, 1998, a gay twenty-one-year-old college student named Matthew Shepard was kidnapped from a Wyoming bar by two young men, savagely beaten, tied to a remote fence, and left to die. Gay Awareness Week was beginning at the University of Wyoming, and the keynote speaker was Lesléa Newman, discussing her book Heather Has Two Mommies. Shaken, the author addressed the large audience that gathered, but she remained haunted by Matthew’s murder. October Mourning, a novel in verse, is her deeply felt response to the events of that tragic day. Using her poetic imagination, the author creates fictitious monologues from various points of view, including the fence Matthew was tied to, the stars that watched over him, the deer that kept him company, and Matthew himself. More than a decade later, this stunning cycle of sixty-eight poems serves as an illumination for readers too young to remember, and as a powerful, enduring tribute to Matthew Shepard’s life.Back matter includes an epilogue, an afterword, explanations of poetic forms, and resources.
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Crank by Ellen Hopkins
  • Age range: Grades 9-12
  • Synopsis: Life was good before I met the monster. After, life was great, At least for a little while. Kristina Snow is the perfect daughter: gifted high school junior, quiet, never any trouble.Then, Kristina meets the monster: crank. And what begins as a wild, ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul—her life.
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The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber
  • Age range: Late adolescence
  • Synopsis: You're the author of the greatest plays of all time.But nobody knows.And if it gets out, you're dead.On May 30, 1593, a celebrated young playwright was killed in a tavern brawl in London. That, at least, was the official version. Now Christopher Marlowe reveals the truth: that his "death" was an elaborate ruse to avoid a conviction of heresy; that he was spirited across the English Channel to live on in lonely exile; that he continued to write plays and poetry, hiding behind the name of a colorless man from Stratford—one William Shakespeare.With the grip of a thriller and the emotional force of a sonnet, this remarkable novel in verse gives voice to a man who was brilliant, passionate, and mercurial. A cobbler's son who counted nobles among his friends, a spy in the Queen's service, a fickle lover and a declared religious skeptic, Christopher Marlowe always courted trouble. In this memoir, love letter, confession, and settling of accounts, Ros Barber brings Christopher Marlowe and his era to vivid life in The Marlowe Papers.
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Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson
  • Age range: Late adolescence
  • Synopsis: The award-winning poet reinvents a genre in a stunning work that is both a novel and a poem, both an unconventional re-creation of an ancient Greek myth and a wholly original coming-of-age story set in the present.Geryon, a young boy who is also a winged red monster, reveals the volcanic terrain of his fragile, tormented soul in an autobiography he begins at the age of five. As he grows older, Geryon escapes his abusive brother and affectionate but ineffectual mother, finding solace behind the lens of his camera and in the arms of a young man named Herakles, a cavalier drifter who leaves him at the peak of infatuation. When Herakles reappears years later, Geryon confronts again the pain of his desire and embarks on a journey that will unleash his creative imagination to its fullest extent. By turns whimsical and haunting, erudite and accessible, richly layered and deceptively simple, Autobiography of Red is a profoundly moving portrait of an artist coming to terms with the fantastic accident of who he is.
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Watercolor Women, Opaque Men by Anna Castillo
  • Age range: Late adolescence
  • Synopsis: In this updated edition of Ana Castillo’s celebrated novel in verse, featuring a new introduction by Poet Laureate of Texas Carmen Tafolla, we revisit the story’s spirited heroine, known only as “Ella” or “She,” as she takes us through her own epic journey of self-actualization as an artist and a woman. With a remarkable combination of tenderness, lyricism, wicked humor, and biting satire, Castillo dramatizes Ella’s struggle through poverty as a Chicano single mother at the threshold of the twenty-first century, fighting for upward mobility while trying to raise her son to be independent and self-sufficient. Urged on by the gods of the ancients, Ella’s life interweaves with those of others whose existences are often neglected, even denied, by society’s status quo. Castillo’s strong rhythmic voice and exploration of such issues as love, sexual orientation, and cultural identity will resonate with readers today as much as they did upon the book’s original publication more than ten years ago. This expanded edition also includes a short preface by the author, as well as a glossary, a reader’s guide, and a list of additional suggested readings.
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Contemporary Realistic Fiction


Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami

  • Age range: 8-12 (580L)
  • Synopsis: Every day, nine-year-old Yasmin borrows a book from Book Uncle, a retired teacher who has set up a free lending library next to her apartment building. But when the mayor tries to shut down the rickety bookstand, Yasmin has to take her nose out of her book and do something.
But what can she do? The local elections are coming up but she’s just a kid. She can’t even vote! Still, Yasmin has friends — her best friend, Reeni, and Anil, who even has a black belt in karate. And she has grown up family and neighbors who, no matter how preoccupied they are, care about what goes on in their community. Then Yasmin remembers a story that Book Uncle selected for her. It’s an old folktale about a flock of doves trapped in a hunter’s net. The birds realize that if they all flap their wings at the same time, they can lift the net and fly to safety, where they seek the help of a friendly mole who chews a hole in the net and sets them free. And so the children get to work, launching a campaign to make sure the voices of the community are heard. An energetic, funny and quirky story that explores the themes of community activism, friendship, and the love of books. Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender
  • Age range: 8-12 (1010L)
  • Synopsis: Being born during a hurricane is unlucky, and twelve-year-old Caroline has had her share of bad luck lately. She's hated and bullied by everyone in her small school on St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, a spirit only she can see won't stop following her, and — worst of all — Caroline's mother left home one day and never came back.
But when a new student named Kalinda arrives, Caroline's luck begins to turn around. Kalinda, a solemn girl from Barbados with a special smile for everyone, becomes Caroline's first and only friend, and the person for whom Caroline has begun to develop a crush. Now, Caroline must find the strength to confront her feelings for Kalinda, brave the spirit stalking her through the islands, and face the reason her mother abandoned her. Together, Caroline and Kalinda must set out in a hurricane to find Caroline's missing mother, before Caroline loses her forever. Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
  • Age range: 8-12
  • Synopsis: Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except, now that she's in middle school, everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the "cool" girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more "American." Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? But even as Amina grapples with these questions, an act of hatred against her local mosque raises the stakes of being a proud Muslim girl in America.
Amina's Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani American and highlights the many ways in which one girl's voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other. M.C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia Hamilton
  • Age range: 9-11 (560L)
  • Synopsis: Written by celebrated author Virginia Hamilton, this is the story of M.C. Higgins, a young boy who lives with his family near Sarah's Mountain, who must come to terms with who he is and what he wants in life. When M.C.'s great-grandmother escaped from slavery long ago, she came to the mountain and made it her home. And now, it's M.C.'s home, but not for long. As Mayo Cornelius Higgins sits on his gleaming, forty-foot steel pole, towering over his home on Sarah's Mountain, he sees, stretched before him, rolling hills and shady valleys. But behind him lie the wounds of strip mining, including a mountain of rubble that may one day fall and bury his home.
M.C. dreams of escape for himself and his family. And, one day, atop his pole, he thinks he sees it — two strangers are making their way toward Sarah's Mountain. One has the ability to make M.C.'s mother famous. And the other has the kind of freedom that M.C. has never even dreamed of. When the two mysterious strangers appear, M.C. finally learns how to save himself and his family. La Línea by Ann Jaramillo
  • Age range: 10-14 (650L)
  • Synopsis: Miguel has dreamed of joining his parents in California since the day they left him behind in Mexico six years, eleven months, and twelve days ago. On the morning of his fifteenth birthday, Miguel's wait is over.
Or so he thinks. The trip north to the border—la línea—is fraught with dangers. Thieves. Border guards. And a grueling, two-day trek across the desert. It would be hard enough to survive alone. But it's almost impossible with his tagalong sister in tow. Their money gone and their hopes nearly dashed, Miguel and his sister have no choice but to hop the infamous mata gente as it races toward the border. As they cling to the roof of the speeding train, they hold onto each other, and to their dreams. But they quickly learn that you can't always count on dreams—even the ones that come true. A Step from Heaven by An Na
  • Age range: 11 + (670L)
  • Synopsis: From master storyteller An Na comes the Printz Award–winning novel about a Korean girl who tells her firsthand account of trying to find her place and identity in America from the day she leaves Korea as a child to her rocky journey through the teenage years.
At age four, Young Ju moves with her parents from Korea to Southern California. She has always imagined America would be like heaven: easy, blissful, and full of riches. But when her family arrives, she finds it to be the opposite. With a stubborn language barrier and cultural dissimilarities, not only is it impossible to make friends, but even her family’s internal bonds are wavering. Her parents’ finances are strained, yet her father’s stomach is full of booze. As Young Ju’s once solid and reliable family starts tearing apart, her younger brother begins to gain more freedom and respect simply because of his gender. Young Ju begins to lose all hope in the dream she once held—the heaven she longs for. Even as she begins to finally fit in, a cataclysmic family event will change her idea of heaven forever. But it also helps her to recognize the strength she holds, and envision the future she desires, and deserves. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
  • Age range: 12 +
  • Synopsis: Maddy is allergic to the world; stepping outside the sterile sanctuary of her home could kill her. But then Olly moves in next door. And just like that, Maddy realizes there's more to life than just being alive. You only get one chance at first love. And Maddy is ready to risk everything, everything to see where it leads.'Powerful, lovely, heart-wrenching, and so absorbing I devoured it in one sitting' – Jennifer Niven, author of All the Bright PlacesAnd don't miss Nicola Yoon's #1 New York Times bestseller The Sun Is Also a Star, in which two teens are brought together just when the universe is sending them in opposite directions.
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The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales
  • Age range: 12-15 (830L)
  • Synopsis: Sofia comes from a family of storytellers. Here are her tales of growing up in the barrio, full of the magic and mystery of family traditions: making Easter cascarones, celebrating el Dia de los Muertos, preparing for quincea–era, rejoicing in the Christmas nacimiento, and curing homesickness by eating the tequila worm. When Sofia is singled out to receive a scholarship to an elite boarding school, she longs to explore life beyond the barrio, even though it means leaving her family to navigate a strange world of rich, privileged kids. It’s a different mundo, but one where Sofia’s traditions take on new meaning and illuminate her path.
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45 Pounds (More or Less) by Kelly Barson
  • Age range: 12+
  • Synopsis: Here are the numbers of Ann Galardi’s life:
She is 16. And a size 17. Her perfect mother is a size 6. Her Aunt Jackie is getting married in 2 months, and wants Ann to be a bridesmaid. So Ann makes up her mind: Time to lose 45 pounds (more or less). Welcome to the world of informercial diet plans, wedding dance lessons, endless run-ins with the cutest guy Ann’s ever seen—and some surprises about her not-so-perfect mother. And there’s one more thing—it’s all about feeling comfortable in your own skin—no matter how you add it up! The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • Age range: 12 and above
  • Synopsis: In his first book for young adults, bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by acclaimed artist Ellen Forney, that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.
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They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
  • Age range: 14-17 (grades 9-12)
  • Synopsis: On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.In the tradition of Before I Fall and If I Stay, They Both Die at the End is a tour de force from acclaimed author Adam Silvera, whose debut, More Happy Than Not, the New York Times called “profound.”
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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Age range: 14-17 (grades 9-12)
  • Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
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The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Age range: Late adolescence
  • Synopsis: Meet the Ganguli family, new arrivals from Calcutta, trying their best to become Americans even as they pine for home. The name they bestow on their firstborn, Gogol, betrays all the conflicts of honoring tradition in a new world—conflicts that will haunt Gogol on his own winding path through divided loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs.In The Namesake, the Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri brilliantly illuminates the immigrant experience and the tangled ties between generations.
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On Beauty by Zadie Smith
  • Age range: College
  • Synopsis: Having hit bestseller lists from the New York Times to the San Francisco Chronicle, this wise, hilarious novel reminds us why Zadie Smith has rocketed to literary stardom. On Beauty is the story of an interracial family living in the university town of Wellington, Massachusetts, whose misadventures in the culture wars—on both sides of the Atlantic—serve to skewer everything from family life to political correctness to the combustive collision between the personal and the political. Full of dead-on wit and relentlessly funny, this tour de force confirms Zadie Smith’s reputation as a major literary talent.
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Biography, Memoir, and Other Nonfiction


Biographies should be non-fiction, otherwise they generally fit into the historical fiction genre. However, when certain details are unknown, authors may embelish or invent them. This is called creative nonfiction. Resist: 35 Profiles of Ordinary People Who Rose Up Against Tyranny and Injustice by Veronica Chambers

  • Age range: 8-12
  • Synopsis: You may only be one person, but you have the power to change the world.
Before they were activists, they were just like you and me. From Frederick Douglass to Malala Yousafzai, Joan of Arc to John Lewis, Susan B. Anthony to Janet Mock—these remarkable figures show us what it means to take a stand and say no to injustice, even when it would be far easier to stay quiet. Resist profiles men and women who resisted tyranny, fought the odds, and stood up to bullies that threatened to harm their communities. Along with their portraits and most memorable quotes, their stories will inspire you to speak out and rise up—every single day. My Family Divided: One Girl’s Journey of Home, Loss, and Hope by Diane Guerrero
  • Age range: 9-12 (730L)
  • Synopsis: Before landing a spot on the megahit Netflix show Orange is the New Black; before wow-ing audiences as Lina on Jane the Virgin; and before her incredible activism and work on immigration reform, Diane Guerrero was a young girl living in Boston. One day, while Guerrero was at school, her undocumented immigrant parents were taken from their home, detained, and deported. Guerrero's life, which had been full of the support of a loving family, was turned upside down.
Reflective of the experiences of millions of undocumented immigrant families in the United States, Guerrero's story in My Family Divided, written with Erica Moroz, is at once heartbreaking and hopeful. Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community by Robin Stevenson
  • Age range: 9-13 (1170L)
  • Synopsis: For LGBTQ people and their supporters, Pride events are an opportunity to honor the past, protest injustice, and celebrate a diverse and vibrant community.
The high point of Pride, the Pride Parade, is spectacular and colorful. But there is a whole lot more to Pride than rainbow flags and amazing outfits. How did Pride come to be? And what does Pride mean to the people who celebrate it?