Ten Books to Diversify Your School’s Reading List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish in which book bloggers list their top ten picks for whatever the current prompt is.

Wow, it’s been ages since my last Top Ten Tuesday! Where is the handbook for this?

With the recent horrifying incident in Charlottesville and this article and that regarding YA Twitter, lists that talk about diversity in literature are relevant more than ever. And since today’s prompt is all about required reading, I thought I’d tweak it a bit and give you Ten Books to Diversify Your School’s Reading List. Or, you know, the school you graduated from. Because you’re already a 20-something adult. Like me. But I digress! I cannot stress this enough. We still need diverse books and there’s still a lot of work to do. We can start by taking a cue from Kate McKean and “support the things [we] want to exist in the world.” (Hint: one easy way is to request these titles from your local libraries if they don’t already have them. Or if you have the money, maybe it’s time to update your shelves at home.)

NOTE: The list is in chronological order of publication and I included #ownvoices from the information I can find in the internet.

*Click the cover to be directed to the book’s Goodreads page.*

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian 01   Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe   We Should All be Feminists 01

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Spokane-Coeur d’Alene-AmericanI would like to begin with a work that probably is on your reading list. Although, there’s a good chance that this oft-banned book has been removed from it. So. Call for a repeal!

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Mexican-American, gay. By now, you should be well aware of my inexorable love for this breathtaking and breathtakingly poignant story of two Mexican-American boys who learn the wonders and power of friendship.

We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Nigerian. Allow me to convince you with a quotation from the author herself:

“But by far the worst thing we do to males – by making them feel they have to be hard – is that we leave them with very fragile egos. The harder a man feels compelled to be, the weaker his ego is.
And then we do a much greater disservice to girls, because we raise them to cater to the fragile egos of males.
We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller.
We say to girls, ‘You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man. If you are the breadwinner in your relationship with a man, pretend that you are not, especially in public, otherwise you will emasculate him.'”

Brown Girl Dreaming 01   Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda   Challenger Deep 01

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
African-American, lesbian. Jacqueline Woodson has won multiple awards not for nothing. In Brown Girl Dreaming, she recounts her childhood—growing up as a black girl both in the North and the South—in these beautiful and moving vignettes. The author looks at race, family, self-discovery, and how stories helped her find her voice. It is faintly elegiac but also deeply comforting.

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
I mean. C’mon. You definitely saw this one coming. It’s about a closeted gay whose identity is at risk of being exposed by a classmate and who is also maybe falling in love with a boy he’s been exchanging e-mails with. But more than anything, it’s a thoughtful, adorable tale of coming out and coming of age with a spot-on voice.

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
This National Book Award-winning novel is a keen observation on schizophrenia.

Fans of the Impossible Life 01   All American Boys 01   History is All You Left Me 03   The Hate U Give 01

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa
Lesbian. In 2015, I pronounced this as a title champions of the We Need Diverse Books campaign should be talking about. It’s 2017 and I still often find myself shoving it to people. Intersectional diversity, you guys! Plus, fine storytelling.

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
African-American (Reynolds). Police brutality and systemic racism are at the center of this 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor book.

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Puerto Rican-American, gay. Silvera brings a lot to the table and he’s a name you’d always find in my arsenal of book recommendations. In his latest, he delivers a surprisingly quiet, thoughtful exploration of friendship, grief, love, and loss. His MC also happens to be gay with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). 

The Hate U Give by Angie C. Thomas
African-American. I have yet to pick this one up but by all accounts from people whose opinion I value, Thomas’ debut is an important contribution to YA.

Complement this with SLJ’s 42 Diverse Must-Have YA Titles for Every Library and Elizabeth Campbell’s 50 Years of Young Adult Literature +.

Have you read any of these? Tell me about your lists!

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

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11 thoughts on “Ten Books to Diversify Your School’s Reading List

    1. Ack, I posted too soon. I was just about to say that I recently finished reading We Should All Be Feminists. It was a wonderful book that I’d definitely like to see more people check out.

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      1. RIGHT? Adichie is smart and thoughtful and, just, so eloquent I basically had to quote everything she said. Thank you for visiting—sorry, I can’t find your name, is it Poinsettia? And whoa. I haven’t even heard most of the titles in your list. Guess it’s funny how reading lists work.

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    1. Simon vs! *Insert heart-eyes emojis.* Louise! You should definitely give Silvera’s books a go. Maybe start with History, since it’s more accessible compared to More Happy Than Not. I mean, MHTN is my favorite from the author so far, but I can see how the former can be an easier gateway. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

      PS. I saw TKAM in your list and—I LOVE THAT BOOK SO MUCH!!

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  1. Ahh I love your list! I’ve read and loved so many of these including Simon vs, The Hate U Give, Ari & Dante, and Fans of the Impossible Life. Oh and the Part Time Indian! 💕 I definitely think diverse books need to be EVERYWHERE and widely read so they can help change the world.

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    1. Well, OBVIOUSLY, we share the same impeccable taste in literature. For the most part. (I know you didn’t think highly of Winger. *Cries in the corner.*) But yeah. Diverse books should be EVERYWHERE. All the diverse books please!

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