A Long (but Incomplete) List of Diverse Reads

Diversity is an ongoing topic in the world of young adult literature, one which often brings forth fruitful discussions and (unfortunately all too often) exposes some of its participants as harboring prejudiced beliefs that they haven’t examined or attempted to change. But in many cases, it does help to highlight books which have told stories about minority characters, whether that be because of their race and/or ethnicity, their gender, their sexuality, their religion, their disability, or a myriad of other personal traits. I have taken it upon myself to collate a list, using resources from YA Interrobang and Diversity in Kidlit (along with my own reading experiences), of diverse YA novels that feature diverse protagonists or some other significant element of diversity.

Obviously, some novels feature multiple diverse elements or characters and have thus been sorted into the categories I feel are most appropriate, although this should not be taken as an indication that the other elements are less important to the novel (e.g. I feel that the Asian-inspired world of Huntress is as important to note as the sexualities of the lead characters). Also, in most cases I tried hard to vet the books and include only those written by authors I felt were either writing about their own experiences, or had done the proper amount of interpersonal research about the sorts of people they were writing about. If I have overlooked something or included a book which is considered offensive in some way, please let me know.

All novels that I have read and will personally recommend and/or vouch for are marked with asterisks.

Racial/Ethnic/Religious Diversity

Fake ID by Lamar Giles (black male lead)

When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds (black male lead)

Pointe by Brandy Colbert (black female lead)

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley* (interracial queer relationship, black female lead)

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (black female lead, autobiographical)

On a Clear Day by Walter Dean Myers (black female lead)

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon (centered around community grief for a murdered black boy)

Orleans by Sherri L. Smith (black female lead)

X by Ilyasaha Shabazz & Kekla Magoon (Malcolm X biography)

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson* (Brazilian female protagonist, bisexual male love interest, story set in future Brazil)

Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson* (black female protagonist)

Sister Mischief by Laura Goode* (Jewish lesbian female protagonist, Indian female secondary character, heavy focus on racism, sexism, and homophobia)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie* (Native American male lead – Spokane tribe)

I am Apache by Tanya Landman (Apache female lead)

Shadows Cast by Stars by Catherine Knutsson (Metis female lead)

Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac (Apache female lead)

The Lesser Blessed by Richard Van Camp (First Nations male lead)

Wolf Mark by Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki male lead, Muslim female secondary character)

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth (Tuscarora male lead)

Silver Phoenix and Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon* (Chinese female lead)

Serpentine by Cindy Pon (Chinese female lead)

Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani (Japanese female lead)

Romiette and Julio by Sharon Draper* (black female protagonist, Hispanic male protagonist, interracial relationship)

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero (Mexican-American female lead)

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer (Mexican-American male lead)

The Summer of the Maripozas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Mexican-American female lead)

Illegal by Bettina Restrepo (Mexican female lead)

The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani (Indian female protagonist)

Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger (Sikh female protagonist)

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman (Indian female protagonist)

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (queer female Indian protagonist)

Rain is Not My Indian Name by Cynthia Leitich Smith (multiracial half-Native female lead)

Mexican White Boy by Matt de la Pena (half-Mexican male lead)

The Shattering by Karen Healey* (half-Maori lesbian protagonist, Samoan male protagonist)

Liar by Justine Larbalestier* (biracial half-black bisexual female lead)

The Legend trilogy by Marie Lu* (multiracial Asian male protagonist)

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (biracial half-Korean female lead)

We Were Here by Matt de la Pena (biracial half-Mexican male lead)

The Kidney Hypothetical: Or How to Ruin Your Life in Seven Days by Lisa Yee (Chinese-Jewish male lead)

Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah (Palestinian-Australian Muslim female lead)

Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Adbel-Fattah (Lebanese-Australian Muslim female lead)

She Wore Red Trainers: A Muslim Love Story by Na’ima B. Robert (Muslim male protagonist, Muslim female protagonist)

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saleed (Pakistani-American Muslim female lead)

I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister by Amelie Sam (Muslim female lead, set in France)

Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham (Muslim female lead)

Sexuality

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden* (queer female protagonist)

Ash by Malinda Lo* (lesbian lead)

Huntress by Malina Lo* (Asian lesbian protagonists)

Wildthorn by Jane Eagland* (lesbian lead)

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth* (lesbian lead, queer secondary characters)

If You Could be Mine by Sara Farizan* (Iranian lesbian lead)

Kiss the Morning Star by Elissa Janine Hoole* (queer female lead)

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray* (lesbian protagonist, transgender secondary female character, multiple characters of color)

The Difference Between You and Me by Madeline George* (queer female protagonists)

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King* (lesbian lead)

Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler (Korean lesbian protagonist)

Adaptation and Inheritance by Malinda Lo* (bisexual female protagonist, Asian male lead)

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour* (multiracial queer female lead)

Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin (queer female lead)

Frenemy of the People by Nora Olsen (bisexual female protagonist, lesbian lead)

Far From You by Tess Sharpe (bisexual female lead)

Bi-Normal by M.G. Higgins (bisexual male lead)

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz (black bisexual female lead)

Over You by Amy Reed (bisexual female lead)

Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block* (bisexual female protagonist, transgender boy secondary character, various queer characters and characters of color)

About a Girl by Sarah McCarry (bisexual female lead)

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis (bisexual female protagonist)

Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue* (multiple queer protagonists)

Clariel by Garth Nix (asexual female lead)

Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey* (asexual secondary character, inspired by Maori legends)

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce* (asexual female lead)

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz* (Mexican-American gay male protagonists)

Hero by Perry Moore (gay male protagonist)

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan* (gay male protagonist with depression)

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (Hispanic gay male protagonist, content warning: suicidal idealation)

Gender

Lizard Radio by Pat Schmatz (genderfluid protagonist)

I Am J by Cris Beam (transgender boy lead)

Being Emily by Rachel Gold (transgender girl lead)

Some Assembly Required by Arin Andrews (transgender boy lead, autobiographical)

Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition by Katie Rain Hill (transgender girl lead, memoir)

Pantomime and Shadowplay by Laura Lam* (intersex bisexual lead)

Disability

Crazy by Amy Reed (bipolar female protagonist)

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd* (male Indian protagonist with Asperger’s Syndrome)

Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz (autistic male protagonist)

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork (Latino autistic male protagonist)

Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara (female protagonist with depression)

100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith (male protagonist with epilepsy)

Among Others by Jo Walton (physically disabled female protagonist with PTSD)

Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin (autistic male protagonist)

Don’t Touch by Rachel M. Wilson (female lead with OCD)

Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly (female lead with Asperger’s, anxiety, and ADHD: content warning: internalized ablism)

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler (female lead with anorexia)

Rogue by Lyn Miller-Lachmann (autistic female lead)

Stranger by Rachel Manija Brown & Sherwood Smith (physically disabled male lead, multiple characters of color and queer characters)

The Elementals by Saundra Mitchell (physically disabled male protagonist)