42 Diverse Must-Have YA Titles for Every Library

SLJ editors have chosen the following 42 works as must-have diverse YA titles for every teen librarian’s collection.
My fascination with YA polls began when Time published its call for the 100 Best Young Adult Books. An avid fan of teen lit, I of course participated. And I was just as dismayed as most of the librarian community to see the results: a hodgepodge of non-YA children’s lit and classics, and the usual suspects—John Green, Judy Blume, and Laurie Halse Anderson (deservedly so). I hoped that a poll of must-have YA made for librarians would yield better (and more diverse) results. And it did—as you can see here. But despite the recent call for the diverse books in the librarian community, these results still don’t completely reflect the community of teens whom librarians serve. And they don’t offer enough windows and mirrors for the young people who deserve to see themselves and their peers in the books made for them. As we celebrate 50 years of YA (launched by Booklist), let’s celebrate the, diverse titles and milestones (see this wonderful list compiled by Edith Campbell) that should be highlighted along with works long-considered part of the classic YA canon. Taking into account the books that were voted in by SLJ readers and considering the plethora of YA fiction and nonfiction published since the poll was first posted, School Library Journal editors have chosen the following 42 works as must-have YA titles for every teen librarian’s collection, in addition to our Top 100 YA. Did we miss any of your favorites? Please add them in the comments.
Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah. Scholastic. 2007. Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum. Viking. 2015. Tyrell by Coe Booth. Scholastic. 2006. Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices edited by Lisa Charleyboy & Mary Beth Leatherdale. Annick. 2016. The Reader by Traci Chee. Putnam. 2016. Ball Don’t Lie by Matt de la Peña. Delacorte. 2005. Forged by Fire by Sharon M. Draper. Atheneum. 1997. If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan. Algonquin. 2013. The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle. S. & S. 2016. The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake. Hyperion. 1999. Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert. Disney-Hyperion. 2015. Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes. Dial. 2001. Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose. Farrar. 2009. Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World edited by Kelly Jensen. Algonquin. 2017. Like No Other by Una LaMarche. Penguin/Razorbill. 2014. Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan. Knopf. 2003. “March Trilogy” by John Lewis & Andrew Aydin. illus. by Nate Powell. Top Shelf. Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx by Sonia Manzano. Scholastic. 2015. Burn, Baby, Burn by Meg Medina. Candlewick. 2016. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. S & S. 2017. A Step from Heaven by An Na. Boyds Mills. 2001. Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection ed. by Hope Nicholson. AHComics. 2015. “Prophecy” series by Ellen Oh. HarperTeen. Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. Viking. 2011. Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older. Scholastic. 2015. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez. Calorhoda Lab. 2015. Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip Through the Motown Sound by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Roaring Brook. 2015. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo. Flatiron Bks. 2016. X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz & Kekla Magoon. Candlewick. 2015. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin. Roaring Brook. 2014. Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin. Roaring Brook. 2017. Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story by Caren Stelson.  Carolrhoda. 2016. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson.  HarperTeen. 2015. Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared To Dream by Tanya Lee Stone. Candlewick. 2009. Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. Scholastic. 2011. This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. First Second. 2014. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. HarperCollins. 2017. Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune  by Pamela S. Turner. illus. by Gareth Hinds. Charlesbridge. 2016. Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson. Bloomsbury. 2017. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. Delacorte. 2015. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. Delacorte. 2016.
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JRW

Not a fan of This One Summer. I find the bits about Native Americans troubling.

Posted : Aug 22, 2017 08:35


Dee Price

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your --- By Meg Medina All American Boys. The Boy In The Black Suit, and As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Posted : Aug 20, 2017 09:16


Alisha

Kiffe kiffe tomorrow by Faiza Guene Falling Boy by Allison McGhee Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner Aristotle and Dante Discover the secrets of the universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz Huntress Malinda Lo Five Flavors of Dumb by Anothny John She is not invisible Marcus Sedgwick Hurricane dancers Margarita engle

Posted : Aug 19, 2017 09:43


Kim Lawson

What a great selection! I would like to add that Robert Mackey's YA books entertain, educate and should be in libraries everywhere. Dr Antonio's adventures in Costa Rica is a trilogy ... Trouble with Howlers, Trouble on the High Seas and Trouble Down Under. Your local library can order them from Amazon. The Other Side of the Wall will be ready in September. Another great adventure story!

Posted : Aug 19, 2017 07:03


Teffanie

Dirt by Teffanie Thompson. Brown Girl Books, 2016

Posted : Aug 19, 2017 10:21


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