Better with Books: 500 Diverse Books To Ignite Empathy and Encourage Self-Acceptance in Tweens and Teens

Sasquatch. Apr. 2019. 304p. bibliog. further reading. index. pap. $19.95. ISBN 9781632172273.
This exceptionally useful text offers well-curated annotated bibliographies on subjects such as immigration, race and ethnicity, LGBTQIA+ identities,  adoption, religion, and poverty, framed by brief and engaging essays on why each topic matters to readers today. Hart (Avenging the Owl) shares her personal connections to several issues, reflecting on how lacking or having the right story at the right time can make a world of difference to young people. Even with some appropriate overlap among lists and the wise focus on more recent titles, there is a feeling of abundance. Books vary widely in terms of genre and age level (with the occasional adult title featured), and Hart writes with an intersectional lens, considering within-group difference. Interviews with children’s authors, including An Na, Chris Crutcher, Donna Gephart, Beth Vrabel, and Eric Gansworth, are seamlessly integrated and add insight, as do anecdotes from teachers and librarians. An introduction by author Sharon M. Draper and appendixes of additional resources and research further situate the book within the larger landscape of engagement with life-changing adolescent fiction. 
VERDICT Offering valuable reading lists, this beautifully organized work should become a go-to resource for parents, students of young adult literature, teachers, and librarians

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