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We Need Diverse Books for Teens

The We Need Diverse Books movement began in 2014 as a call to reform the publishing industry. It is now a nonprofit organization which promotes young people's literature that is reflective of many diverse backgrounds. The titles below represent a sample of books showcasing main characters of color, LGBTQIA characters, and characters with disabilities or mental illnesses. For more suggestions, visit Where To Find Diverse Books or the Walter Award

Characters of Color

The boy in the black suit by Jason Reynolds

Soon after his mother's death, Matt takes a job at a funeral home in his tough Brooklyn neighborhood and, while attending and assisting with funerals, begins to accept her death and his responsibilities as a man.

The closest I've come by Fred Aceves

Marcos Rivas is desperate to escape the projects, his neglectful mother, and her abusive boyfriend, but when he is picked for a class at his high school targeting smart students who are underperforming, he initially resists.

The hate u give by Angie Thomas

After witnessing her friend's death at the hands of a police officer, Starr Carter's life is complicated when the police and a local drug lord try to intimidate her in an effort to learn what happened the night Kahlil died.

When her sister, considered the perfect Mexican daughter by her parents, dies, Julia tries to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family despite her own grief and her mother's penchant for pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

Mexican whiteboy by Matt de la Peña
Saints and misfits by S. K. Ali

Fifteen-year-old Janna Yusuf, a Flannery O'Connor-obsessed book nerd and the daughter of the only divorced mother at their mosque, tries to make sense of the events that follow when her best friend's cousin--a holy star in the Muslim community--attempts to assault her at the end of sophomore year.

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Kiko Himura yearns to escape the toxic relationship with her mother by getting into her dream art school, but when things do not work out as she hoped Kiko jumps at the opportunity to tour art schools with her childhood friend, learning life-changing truths about herself and her past along the way.

When Dimple met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel meet at a Stanford University summer program, Dimple is avoiding her parents' obsession with "marriage prospects" but Rishi hopes to woo her into accepting an arranged marriage with him.

LGBTQIA

Fifteen-year-old Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante and they become friends, Ari starts to ask questions about himself, his parents, and his family that he has never asked before.

When Jo Gordon and her evangelist father move to small-town Rome, Georgia, she hides her sexuality to fit in with her new stepfamily until she falls for popular girl Mary Carlson, who proves to be the ultimate temptation.

If I was your girl by Meredith Russo

Amanda Hardy only wants to fit in at her new school, but she is keeping a big secret, so when she falls for Grant, guarded Amanda finds herself yearning to share with him everything about herself, including her previous life as Andrew.

More happy than not by Adam Silvera

After enduring his father's suicide, his own suicide attempt, broken friendships, and more in the Bronx projects, Aaron Soto, sixteen, is already considering the Leteo Institute's memory-alteration procedure when his new friendship with Thomas turns to unrequited love.

None of the above by I. W. Gregorio

Kristen discovers that she is intersex and possesses male chromosomes, a diagnosis that is leaked to the whole school, throwing Kristin's entire identity into question.

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

Struggling with family problems and still living in a FEMA trailer years after Hurricane Katrina, lesbian teenager Ramona welcomes the return of her childhood friend Freddie but her shifting feelings for him cause her to question her sexual identity.

"Sixteen-year-old, not-so-openly-gay Simon Spier is blackmailed into playing wingman for his classmate or else his sexual identity--and that of his pen pal--will be revealed"--.

Mark and Kate sit next to each other in school but are barely acquainted until they meet at a San Francisco club during Pride Week and connect over each one's forbidden love.

Disabilities

Ollie, who has seizures when near electricity, lives in a backwoods cabin with his mother and rarely sees other people, and Moritz, born with no eyes and a heart defect that requires a pacemaker, is bullied at his high school, but when a physician who knows both suggests they begin corresponding, they form a strong bond that may get them through dark times.

The beginning of everything by Robyn Schneider

"Star athelete and prom king Ezra Faulkner's life is irreparably transformed by a tragic accident and the arrival of eccentric new girl Cassidy Thorpe."--.

Deenie by Judy Blume

A thirteen-year-old girl seemingly destined for a modeling career finds she has a deformation of the spine called scoliosis.

Pinned by Sharon Flake

Adonis is smart, intellectually gifted and born without legs; Autumn is strong, a great wrestler, and barely able to read in ninth grade--but Autumn is attracted to Adonis and determined to make him a part of her life whatever he or her best friend thinks.

Run by Kody Keplinger

Bo Dickinson is a seventeen-year-old girl from a bad family, but she is also over-protected, legally blind, Agnes Atwood's best friend--so when Bo calls in the middle of the night, desperate to get out of town, Agnes helps her to steal the Atwoods' car and the two girls go on the run, even though Agnes is not sure exactly what they are running from.

Say what you will by Cammie McGovern

A girl confined to a wheelchair by cerebral palsy and a boy stymied by an obsessive-compulsive disorder are assigned to spend time together in what becomes a blossoming friendship that neither expected.

You're welcome universe by Whitney Gardner

When Julia gets kicked out of the Kingston School for the Deaf for putting up an illegal mural, she is moved to a mainstream school in the suburbs where she starts putting up more art, but she soon finds that someone is showing off their skills by adding to her tags.

Mental Illness

At Saint Francis Prep school in Mountain View, New Jersey, Mira, Jeremy, and Sebby come together as they struggle with romance, bullying, foster home and family problems, and mental health issues.

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Energized by a friendship with her brother's gaming teammate, fourteen-year-old Audrey, a girl with an anxiety disorder, finds their subsequent romance challenging her progress.

A humorous account of a New York City teenager's battle with depression and his time spent in a psychiatric hospital.

Made you up by Francesca Zappia

"Armed with her camera and a Magic 8-Ball and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college"--.

This impossible light by Lily Myers

Fifteen-year-old Ivy, feeling a lot of stress about her expanding body, her parents' divorce, and her best friend's distance, develops an eating disorder.

Under rose-tainted skies by Louise Gornall

Will teenaged Norah, who is struggling with agoraphobia and OCD, accept that she could be the right one for sweet, funny Luke?.

"Adam not only is trying to understand his OCD, while trying to balance his relationship with his divorced parents, but he's also trying to navigate through the issues that teenagers normally face, namely the perils of young love"--.

A world without you by Beth Revis

A teenage boy suffering from the delusion that he can travel through time becomes obsessed with saving his girlfriend, a depressed girl with a tragic past who has already committed suicide.

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