Summer is here and you might be hoping your tween or teen including reading some books in their summer plans. Now, more than ever, we need to encourage our kids to read books with diverse characters and life experiences. We have rounded up 15 our favorite young adult books on diversity to add to your teen’s summer reading list!
Young Adult Books on Diversity
My teen daughter is an avid reader. A few summers ago, we came up some book suggestions for tweens. Today, we are sharing books that speak to diversity of color, gender and backgrounds. One of the best ways to combat prejudices and biases is to get educated. One simple way we can do this by reading.
Last week, Keri and I shared the kick off to the Summer Reading Challenge for Adults. Stick around to the end of this post for a summer reading printables for kids. This is a great way to set up a summer reading challenge and reward system for your kids!
Some of these young adult books on diversity are more mature than others. So you will want to work with your kids to determine which books are appropriate for each child. Depending on the age of your child, you might want to read one of these books together. All of these books make for great, deep conversations about the challenges many different people face every day.
Here are our favorite 14 young adult books on diversity:
When I asked my daughter for book suggestions on diversity, her first suggestion was >To Kill a Mockingbird. This is a must-read book for everyone. It has been years since I have read it, but I still remember the story very well. I plan to re-read> To Kill a Mockingbird this summer. This is a classic story that still holds up to the issues that are happening in society today.
A Newbury Honor winner, >Brown Girl Dreaming tells the story of a young black girl growing up in South Carolina and New York in the 60’s and 70’s. It is told in poems and is appropriate for 5th grade and older. This is a great option for a younger teen reader.
My daughter read >The Hate You Give after a few of her friends recommended it. This book has also been made into a movie and I would like to watch it together. The Hate You Give is a very relevant book to today’s current events. It deals with all too real events including police brutality and systemic racism. It is one of those books you could read together with your teen or each read it on your own and then discuss it together.
Another gripping book, >Dear Martin about racial inequality. If you like the Hate You Give, this is another book you will want to read. There are a lot of parallels in Dear Martin to current situations in the US.
A book I have read by not my daughter yet, Carry On is a must read for adults and older teen alike. This true story is about two friends who grow up in inner city Cleveland and a journalist who stays connected with them for their high school and adult years. Knowing that this story took place 15 minutes from me certainly hits home too.
Carry On really helped me understand why it is just not that easy to get out of poor and difficult childhood upbringings. While this book is sad especially knowing that is is true, it is also very uplifting and inspiring! I have recommended this book to others including my husband who have found the book really good. There are some mature topics so this is a book for older teens.
Another Newbury Honor Winner, >Inside Out and Back Again is a great book for younger teens. Told in verse, this book tells the story of a young girl fleeing her country with her mom for a new life in the US. I am adding it to my sixth grader’s summer reading list. It is so important for kids to understand the struggles that refugees face every single day (even when they end up in a better place).
If you have not seen the movie, maybe start with the book. Or even if you have seen Hidden Figures, the book is even better. Read the story of a group of four brilliant African American women who contributed to some of NASA’s greatest achievements. Learn how these women had to be segregated from their white counterparts while working towards the same goals. For a summer reading idea, have your teen read the book and then watch the movie together!
A story of a young girl growing up in the South during the Depression. This story deals with segregation, prejudices and the Klu Klux Klan. Another easier reading level book for younger teens but certainly a book for all ages.
Did you read Ann Martin’s book series “The Babysitter’s Club”? One of my favorite book series as a young girl and then my daughter also has loved the series. This book by Ann Martin is an entirely different book than her famous book series. Reign Rain is about an autistic girl and the experiences and feelings of those around here. This is a must read to understand more about Asperger’s and Autism. It allows the reader to really understand what it might be like to be in an autistic child’s shoes.
The >Sun is Also a Star about the a relationship between a white guy and a Jamaican born young woman. The two fall in love but immediately face a tough situation as the young woman’s family is facing deportation. The Sun is Also a Star has been made into a movie although it did not get the best reviews. A good book that many teens would enjoy reading.
>Dreamland Burning is a story about the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. Admittedly, this is not a story in history I have heard about before. There are parallels to this story and current day and it reminds us how far we have and have not come.
Each Tiny Spark is realistic fiction book with a Cuban young teen as the main character. There are main important topics covered including ADHD, PTSD, discrimination and immigration.
This is a good option for older tweens and younger teens.
One book that my daughter really enjoyed is >You’re Welcome Universe. We learn about what it might be like to be a deaf teen navigating some common issues with teen friendship. This book does have some mature language. The main character is Indian-American and she has two mothers are also deaf. This is a good book for mature or older teens.
>14 // I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up to Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition)
Malala Yousafzai became the youngest-ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, at age seventeen. This young girl shows that one loud voice can bring about change. There is a >young readers edition of I Am Malala that might be appropriate for younger teens and tweens, although my thirteen year old has read both versions.
Malala was shot point blank on her way to school. She preserved and overcame difficult experiences to bring about change and hope in her community and the world. What a powerful example of how just one person’s actions can change the world.
Why Read Young Adult Books on Diversity
While these are young adult book suggestions, any of these books are great for parents and adults too! Some of the best books are young adult novels. I think it is important to read about the struggles of tweens and teens to better understand our own kids. Plus, we can learn so much about other people’s experiences through books!
Do you have any young adult book on diversity to recommend?
Download the Summer Reading Tracker Pages and then incentive your kids with some fun reading rewards! Then, head over to Keri Lynn Snyder and get some helpful tips for establishing a summer reading routine with your kids!
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Time for the Wednesday Link Up Party!
Jaclyn from Coffee, Pancakes, and Dreams
Brittany from Dreams and Coffee
Mary Leigh from Live Well Play Together
Tiffany from Lake Life State of Mind
Lindsay from Lindsay’s Sweet World
Keri from Cultivate an Intentional Life
Holley from Bee Simply Organized