Diversity in literature has been a hot topic for quite some time now, especially in the world of children’s literature. And recently it’s been heating up even more! Perhaps you’ve heard about the BookCon controversy or participated in last week’s #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. While there are differing opinions as to what causes the sad lack of diversity, we can all agree that we love diverse lit. So today, I’m going to share my favorite diverse YA reads and highlight ones I can’t wait to read! Take a look:
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before I recently read Jenny Han's latest and it is now one of my favorite books. Lara Jean, the book’s protagonist, is half-Korean and as a Korean myself, I connected with her on a cultural and emotional level. Jenny weaves in Korean traditions and food in a seamless manner that enables these elements to blend in and be a part of the story, rather than plot devices.
Hannah Moskowitz’s Gone Gone Gone is another contemporary YA I love. It’s an incredibly moving and raw story about two high school boys who navigate their growing relationship amidst the aftermath of 9/11 and sniper shootings. This isn’t just a story about two boys falling in love. It’s not about the fact that one of them is African-American. This is a story about loss, displacement and the power of connecting with another person.
Marissa Meyer’s Cinder and Colleen Houck’s Tiger’s Curse, are two of my favorites on the sci-fi/fantasy end of things, both of which are series starters. Cinder is an inventive retelling of Cinderella starring a multi-ethnic heroine who also happens to be part cyborg. Readers will love Marissa's characters and world. Meanwhile, Tiger’s Curse features Ren, an Indian love interest/hero, and also takes place in India. Houck brings India to life and Ren is oh so swoonworthy. Seriously.
Colleen Hoover's Maybe Someday falls on the New Adult spectrum and I'm afraid to explain why I love this book and why it's on this list because the whole story hinges on one plot twist. But I'll tell you that the story features characters with disabilities and I'm a firm believer that diversity encompasses everything, not just race and sexuality. At any rate, go read this book. Now.
Those are only a sample of my favorite YA books featuring diverse characters and I have a whole bunch more just waiting to be read! Here are a few books I can't wait to dive into:
Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine - Come on, it’s a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera that takes place in a slaughterhouse — what’s not to love? And that cover is gorgeous! I love seeing people of color gracing the shelves. Be sure to join me in reading this when it releases August 5!
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley - This was recently selected as a Book Expo America Buzz Book and I cannot wait to read it! Set in 1959, this powerful book tackles tough subjects such as race, sexuality, power and growing up. Despite being a historical read, its themes are still relevant and I look forward to seeing how the story unfolds. Release date: September 30, 2014.
The Walled City by Ryan Graudin - I have heard nothing but splendid things about Ryan Graudin and her writing. Her debut, All That Glows, is quickly becoming a reader favorite and I am so, so excited for The Walled City, which hits shelves on November 4. With Asian influences, diverse characters and the promise of action, this is bound to be a winner!
Alpha Goddess by Amalie Howard - Although this title came out back in March, I am as eager to read it as I am the others. With a premise based around Hindu mythology and a gorgeously striking cover, I pretty much fell in love with it immediately and knew I had to have it. Now I just need to find some spare time so I can read it!
So now that I’ve shared some of my diverse YA picks, I want to know yours! Which diverse reads do you love most and which ones are you dying to read? Sound off in the comments, and for more YA books and buzz, click on over to our Everything YA page!