17 Titles to Diversify Teens' Summer Reading | We Are Kid Lit Collective

Part of We Are Kid Lit Collective's 2023 Summer Reading selections, this list for teens includes not just fiction, but also poetry, essays, biographies, and more for readers to dive into over the summer months.

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School Library Journal has proudly partnered with We Are Kid Lit Collective to share and promote the group's annual summer reading recommendations. In the last couple of weeks, SLJ published individual posts featuring their recommendations for picture books, transitional books, middle grade, and young adult titles.

Part of We Are Kid Lit Collective's 2023 Summer Reading selections, this list for teens includes not just fiction, but also poetry, essays, biographies, and more for readers to dive into over the summer months.


Acevedo, Elizabeth. Inheritance: A Visual Poem. illus. by Andrea Pippins. HarperCollins/Quill Tree, 2022.
Based on Acevedo’s famous spoken-word poem, the lyrical text of this book blends self-love and Afro-Latinidad culture to confront anti-Blackness that exists in ourselves and communities.

Ferguson, Jen. The Summer of Bitter and Sweet. HarperCollins/Heartdrum, 2022.
When asexual Métis teenager Lou breaks up with her white boyfriend, it creates a tense situation, as he’s working alongside her in her family’s popular ice cream stand in western Canada. The breakup, along with her father’s release from prison and the return of her best friend after years of absence, forces Lou to confront her family and community’s history of sexual violence and trauma.

Hughes, Kiku. Displacement. illus. by author. First Second, 2020. 
Kiku is on vacation when she’s suddenly pulled back to the 1940s, when her grandmother and other Japanese Americans were displaced from their homes and sent to prison camps. She is stuck in that time period for longer and longer periods of time and relies on her prior knowledge for survival, but is it enough?

Jonnie, Brianna with Nahanni Shingoose. If I Go Missing. illus. by Neal Shannacappo. Lorimer, 2020. 
If Brianna goes missing, if her Indigenous sisters or her cousins go missing, we need to remember that it will not be by choice, and someone must look for them.

Katouh, Zoulfa. As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow. Little, Brown, 2022. 
Salama Kassab’s home is in Homs, Syria. When the war began, she gave up her studies as a pharmacy student to volunteer at the hospital. She’s lost her family, but not her hope. Her days are filled with the physical and mental trauma of war, and it seeps into her mind, along with the colors, flowers, and drawings of might life. Salama’s is a story of how much she leaves behind when she makes the decision to move forward.

Khorram, Adib. Kiss & Tell. Dial, 2022.
Canadian teen Hunter, the frontman of a popular boy band, is hurting after his breakup with his longtime boyfriend, the twin brother of a fellow band member. Then he meets up-and-coming drummer Kaivan, of Iranian heritage, and the two boys fall in love. This smart novel explores racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and the pressures faced by young people who live in the public eye.

Legorreta, Conchita Hernández. I Grew Up Latinx & Disabled — & I’m Creating The Change I Want To See.” Refinery 29, 2020.
Legorreta is a disability rights activist and cofounder of the National Coalition of Latinx with Disabilities. In this essay, she relates how she—a blind, undocumented, Latinx woman—experiences a lack of access to basic rights, resources, and information.

Little Badger, Darcie. Elatsoe. illus. by Rovina Cai. Levine Querido, 2020. 
Ellie’s cousin is killed in an auto accident and he visits her in a dream to tell her he was murdered. This prompts the Lipan Apache teenager with supernatural powers to enlist her best friend and her faithful ghost dog to find and expose the murderer before her cousin’s spirit steps in to seek violent revenge.

McBride, Amber. Me (Moth). Feiwel & Friends, 2021. 
Moth’s entire family has died in a highway accident, and now everyone seems to ignore the Black teenager except for Sani, a Navajo/Diné aspiring musician in search of his roots and answers to his chronic depression. The two set off from their Virginia home on a road trip south and west in this heartbreaking verse novel.

Man, Chella. Continuum (Pocket Change Collective). illus. by Ashley Lukashevsky. Penguin Workshop, 2021.
In this short memoir, artist, designer, and actor Man describes his experience as a deaf, transgender, Jewish and Chinese young adult learning to accept himself, and to navigate the world in his own way.

Miller-Lachmann, Lyn & Tanisia "Tee" Moore. Film Makers: 15 Groundbreaking Women Directors (Women of Power series). Chicago Review, 2022.
These 15 phenomenal women have succeeded in a male-dominated field, the film and television industry. Each of the women in this collective biography has made a positive impact both on and off the screen. Film buffs can use the selected filmography in the back matter to help them see the fruits of each talented director's labor.

Rivera. Gabby. Juliet Takes a Breath. Dial, 2019. 
When Juliet Palante starts her internship with a white feminist author in Portland, a summer of self-discovery, race and identities conversations, and love awaits her.

Smith, Tommie & Derrick Barnes. Victory. Stand! Raising My Fist for Justice. illus. by Dawud Anyabwile. Norton, 2022. 
In this graphic memoir, track champion Smith recounts his Gold Medal victory in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics juxtaposed with the personal experiences of racial discrimination and violence that led him and Bronze Medalist John Carlos to raise their fists on the victory platform, a protest seen by millions around the world.

Theoharis, Jeanne. The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks. (ReVisioning History for Young People). adapt. by Brandy Colbert & Jeanne Theoharis. Beacon, 2021.
This biography of Rosa Parks dispels many of the myths we’ve come to know about her, while detailing her true role in the Civil Rights movement in both Birmingham, AL, and Detroit, MI.

Yoshino, Genzaburō. How Do You Live? trans. by Bruno Navasky. Algonquin, 2021.
Copper’s father has passed away and he and his mother have moved to a slightly less affluent neighborhood. As Copper, named after Copernicus, gets to know his new friends and his school, he turns to his uncle for much needed guidance. His uncle often writes letters to Copper that guide how he lives his life. Originally published in Japan in 1937.

Vyam, D., S. Vyam, S. Natarajan, & S. Anand. Bhimayana: Experiences of Untouchability. Navayana, 2011. 
A biography of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, who fought for justice for Dalits (untouchables) and is known as the Martin Luther King, Jr. of India. The artists and storytellers collaborated on this work to create a storybook that expresses freedom on every level.

Zhao, Xiran Jay. Iron Widow. Penguin, 2021.
In a China of the distant future at war with mecha invaders, young women are physically abused and sacrificed to give energy to male pilots. Zetian vows revenge against the pilot who killed her sister. After killing him, she ends up paired with a notorious criminal pilot with whom sheand her longtime boyfriendboth fall in love, and the three join forces to destroy the misogynistic dictatorship under which they live.  

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