YA Anthologies Offer Necessary Representation | Great Books

Short story and essay collections for teens can be a classroom tool, an introduction to a new author or genre, and an opportunity for readers to feel seen. These selections celebrate diversity and intersectionality, exploring identity in new and dynamic ways.

In recent years, YA anthologies have been growing in number and popularity. Short story and essay collections allow adolescent readers to try out a new genre or author with little risk, or read a story by a favorite author who may be experimenting with something new. For readers who don’t always find themselves represented in books, these inclusive titles offer more chances to feel seen and validated. Anthologies can also be a useful tool for the classroom. As most offer stories and essays by many different authors with often wildly different styles, teachers can use them to discuss voice, characterization, and more.

This selection of upcoming and recent YA anthologies celebrates diversity and intersectionality, exploring identity in new and dynamic ways. The featured titles are all quite different, but they all have a central message to reassure their readers: Whatever your experiences, no matter where you come from, what challenges you’ve faced, or who you love, you are not alone.

Come on In, Me Too, Out Now covers

Alsaid, Adi, ed. Come On In: 15 Stories About Immigration and Finding Home. Inkyard. Oct. 2020. ISBN 9781335146496.
Gr 7 Up–This thoughtful and timely anthology explores the excitement and difficulties of immigration through stories by 15 YA authors. These unique entries touch upon departures, arrivals, and the pain of separation, painting a multidimensional picture of life as a modern immigrant.

Caldwell, Patrice, ed. A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope. Viking. Mar. 2020. ISBN 9781984835659.
Gr 7 Up–This groundbreaking collection celebrates Black speculative fiction and uplifts the voices of Black women and nonbinary individuals. This volume has it all, with stories exploring time travel, a family curse centered on falling in love, a group of teen soucouyants flying above the city, vampires, and much more. These fantastical stories celebrate a range of Black cultures, mythologies, and identities.

Carpenter, Nora Shalaway, ed. Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America. Candlewick. Oct. 2020. ISBN 9781536212105.
Gr 9 Up–Authors who grew up in rural parts of America buck the stereotypes of the countryside through stories, poetry, graphic shorts, and personal essays. Each piece reaffirms that there is no universal rural experience, celebrating the complexities of growing up in a small town, whether it is in Alaska, Virginia, or New Mexico.

Chapman, Elsie & Caroline Tung Richmond, eds. Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Love and Food. Simon Pulse. 2019. ISBN 9781534421851.
Gr 7 Up–This selection of interconnected short stories, set in the neighborhood of Hungry Hearts Row, explores the magic and healing power of food and community. With tales crossing genres from horror to romance to fantasy, featuring restaurants and recipes of all kinds, this unique and powerful collection is one not to miss.

Constantine, Alysia, ed. Short Stuff. Duet. Jun. 2020. ISBN 9781945053894.
Gr 8 Up–In this compilation of four short stories, five authors explore LGBTQIA+ relationships and romance. This low-angst, high-romance collection is a welcome addition to the small but growing canon of LGBTQIA+ story collections for teens.

Cordova, Zoraida & Natalie C. Parker, eds. Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite. Imprint. Sept. 2020. ISBN 9781250230010.
Gr 7 Up–Vampires have never had more bite. In this new collection perfect for the vampire resurgence, readers will find a unique mix of vampire stories, borrowing from all different kinds of mythologies. Whether readers are Team Slayer, Team Vamp, or something else, they’re sure to find something to enjoy in this exuberant collection.

[Read: 23 Latinx YA Picks for Latinx Heritage Month and All Year Long]

Vampires Never Die, Foreshadow, and Black Enough covers

Gurtler, Janet, ed. You Too?: 25 Voices Share Their #MeToo Stories. Inkyard. Jan. 2020. ISBN 9781335929082.
Gr 9 Up–Twenty-five YA authors share sexual assault and harassment experiences from their childhood and teen years in this sobering collection of essays that will assure survivors that they are not alone and give insight to teens on the magnitude of the #MeToo movement. Readers will come away from this collection confident in the truth of their own experiences.

Jensen, Kelly, ed. Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy. Algonquin. Aug. 2020. ISBN 9781616209674.
Gr 8 Up–This empowering and revolutionary anthology explores what it is like to live in a body and move in the world, covering topics such as fat positivity, disability, gender identity, and much more through the perspectives of writers, models, actors, musicians, and artists. Essays, lists, comics, informative texts, and illustrations celebrate the complexities of anatomy and existence.

Mitchell, Saundra, ed. Out Now: Queer We Go Again. Inkyard. May 2020. ISBN 9781335018267.
Gr 8 Up–A follow-up to 2018’s All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages, this work not only tackles the present day, but also delves into a variety of genres and identities. Stories include a tale about a boy whose dad sets him up with a date to the school dance, an exploration of gender identity over teapots, and an alien love story. This collection is full of surprises.

Mandanna, Sangu, ed. Color Outside the Lines: Stories About Love. Soho Teen. 2019. ISBN 9781641290463.
Gr 7 Up–This compendium of short fiction explores the challenges of interracial relationships and the difficulties of falling in love outside cultural lines. With entries on topics ranging from British colonization to a gay retelling of the Hades myth, there is never a dull moment. Readers will welcome the diversity of these love stories.

Pan, Emily X.R. & Nova Ren Suma, eds. Foreshadow: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading and Writing YA. Algonquin. Oct. 2020. ISBN 9781643750798.
Gr 9 Up–In a unique format, this volume features 13 dynamic stories from underrepresented voices, originally posted on the online platform Foreshadow, paired with meditations on the craft of writing YA by selected authors. Aspiring writers will enjoy the juxtaposition of writing tips and story.

Zoboi, Ibi, ed. Black Enough: Stories of Being Young and Black in Amer­ica. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. 2019. ISBN 9780062698735.
Gr 8 Up–An exploration of the vast range of experiences of being a Black American teenager in the past and present. With contributions by popular Black YA authors examining serious themes and simple moments of Black joy, this is a must-have for any collection.

Kelsey Socha is a librarian at the Westfield Athenaeum in Westfield, MA. She graduated with an MLS from Simmons University in 2017. In her free time, she enjoys drawing comics and hiking the mountains of Western Massachusetts.

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