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YA books about race and identity to diversify your teen's bookshelf

From "New Kid" to "Brown Girl Dreaming"

Written by
Danielle Valente

In light of the events that have unfolded over the past week, parents have started searching for resources and books to address race with their children.  

If you're wondering how to keep your older kids informed, check out these diverse YA books about race, identity and inclusion. 

This Is What I Know About Art by Kimberly Drew 

Part of the Pocket Change Collective series, Drew's new release addresses the link between art and protests through a first-person point of view. Age range not specified. ($8.99

Tyrell by Coe Booth 

Tyrell has experienced a lot of hardships in his young life: an incarcerated father, difficult living conditions in a homeless shelter, feelings of inferiority. He seems to think that his bad break will end by getting a bit of money, but at what cost? Ages 14 and up. ($7.49)    

Midnight without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson

Weaving together history and fiction, Williams Jackson creates the story of Rose Lee Carter, a little girl in Mississippi in 1955. All she wants is to move up north with her family, but in the wake of Emmett Till's senseless death, she realizes she must stay in the south and use her voice to stop injustice. Ages 10 and up. ($6.79)  

New Kid by Jerry Craft 

It's never easy starting over in a new school, especially one that's not particularly diverse and accepting. New Kid follows an artistic teen, Jordan, who must acclimate to an academic environment that doesn't always feel entirely welcoming. Ages 8–12. ($21.99)

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

In this highly-acclaimed book-turned-film, Starr drifts between polar opposite environments: her poverty-stricken neighborhood and her elite prep school. Her life is upended in both worlds after the shooting of her unarmed friend, Khalil. She's the only one who knows what happened and can speak on his behalf, but will it put her life in danger? Ages 14 and up. ($18.99)    

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

A National Book Award and Newbery Honor winner, Brown Girl is a collection of poems from the renowned author that talks about her childhood growing up in both South Carolina and New York in the '60s and '70s, which addresses her sense of identity and belonging. Ages 10 and up. ($10.99)

Monster by Walter Dean Myers

A budding filmmaker's life is put on hold when he's charged for the murder of a Harlem drugstore owner. The teen tries to turn his reality into a film script, but the lines between fact and fiction start to blur. Ages 14 and up. ($8.50

Black Card by Chris L. Terry 

A multi-ethnic punk rock musician has his black card revoked when he stays silent after a racist act. How will he go about getting it back? Age range not specified. ($15.49

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds 

This reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning is designed for younger readers to explore how our history can impact change in our future. Age range not specified. ($15.50

Strong Voices: Fifteen American Speeches Worth Knowing by Tonya Bolden

From Martin Luther King, Jr., “I Have a Dream” and Langston Hughes, “On the Blacklist All Our Lives,” these multicultural and diverse collection sheds light on the most important speeches in our country's history. Ages 8 and up. ($21.99)

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