Because I’m in transit,1 I asked Ari if she would step in for me today and tomorrow, and she kindly said yes. Thanks, Ari!
A little bit about Ari MissAttitude: I’m a teenager who loves to read, dance, laugh, listen to music and just live! I also love my fine brown skin =) I started my blog Reading in Color because I would visit teen book blogs and I never saw reviews of books with poc (people of color). This frustrated me so I decided to start my own blog in an attempt to slightly fill in this gap. I review multicultural fiction about girls and guys, gay or straight, which means books about African Americans, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, I cover them all. I highly encourage everyone to look at their reading habits and evaluate if your reading is really that diverse. Read in Color!
Suggested reading from Ari
Hello everyone! Justine invited me to guest blog for her which is pretty exciting! Justine told me that lots of readers have been emailing her asking for suggestions about books to read with poc (people of color) for YA. I’ve compiled a list of books by gender and ethnicity because it was just easier to organize. Also, just because a book is listed under the ‘for guys’ section or the ‘Latino’ section, doesn’t mean that a Asian girl can’t read it. I highly encourage everyone to read at least a few books with people who look different from them.
There is crossposting, all the guy (or girl) books fit under another category, although I don’t always specify. I did some genres as well (only historical and sci fi, the rest are realistic fiction). In making this list, I realized that I have read almost no books about Native Americans so I definitely need to work on that. I realize that I’m probably going to be leaving off some author or book and I apologize for that, but I can’t get them all. Feel free to leave a comment with a book suggestion, I’ll be sure to add it to my tbr pile!
For guys: Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher, The Hoopster by Alan Lawrence Sitomer, Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos, Tyrell by Coe Booth, The Making of Dr. Truelove by Derrick Barnes, First Semester by Cecil Cross, Sammy & Julianna in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Saenz, Monster by Walter Dean Myers, The Contender by Robert Lipstye, Sunrise over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers
For girls (chick lit, cliques or about girls dealing with cliques): Hotlanta series by Denee Miller & Mitzi Miller, It Chicks series by Tia Williams (more substance than GG), the Del Rio Bay Clique series by Paula Chase (no spoiled rich kids in these books), the Kayla Chronicles by Sherri Winston, Honey-Blonde Chica series by Michelle Serros, Haters by Alicia Valdes-Rodriguez
Sci Fi: A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott, The Black Canary by Jane Louise Curry, 47 by Walter Mosley, The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okroafor-mbachu (check out another one of her books Zarah the Windseeker), Rogelia’s House of Magic by Jamie Martinez Wood, City trilogy by Laurence Yep
Historical Fiction: Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis, Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith, The New Boy by Julian Houston, Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons by Ann Rinaldi, Copper Sun by Sharon Draper, Fire from the Rock by Sharon Draper, Wolf by the Ears by Ann Rinaldi, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M.T. Anderson (series) (all AA, some biracial. I would love to have suggestions of Latino/Asian/Native American historical fiction)
Native Americans: The Brave and The Chief (both by Robert Lipstye), The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Latinos: Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa, White Bread Competition by Jo Ann Yolanda Hernandez, Estrella’s Quinceanera by Malin Alegria (she has other really good books), La Linea by Ann Jaramillo, What the Moon Saw by Laura Resau, In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez (she has many, many books and they’re all fantastic! really, read any of them), Graffitti Girl by Kelly Parra, The Brothers Torres by Coert Voorhees, Adios to My Old Life by Caridad Ferrer, The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales, Amor and Summer Secrets by Diana Rodriguez Wallach (series)
Asians: Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger, Ask Me No Questions by Marina Budhos, Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies) by Justina Chen Headley, American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, Sold by Patricia McCormick, Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa-Abdel Fattah, First Daughter:Extreme American Makeover by Mitali Perkins (read any of her books they’re great! ), Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet by Sherri L. Smith, The Fold by Anna Na, Good Enough by Paula Yoo
African American: Kendra by Coe Booth, The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake, Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia, Jason & Kyra by Dana Davidson, My Life as A Rhombus by Varian Johnson, Romiette & Julio by Sharon Draper, When the Black Girl Sings by Bil Wright, Hip Hop High School by Alan Lawrence Sitomer, Drama High series by L. Divine, Hot Girl by Dream Jordan, Can’t Stop the Shine by Joyce E. Davis
- These two guest posts are timed to post while I’m travelling. If your comments get stuck in moderation you’ll have to be patient. Sorry. [↩]
Awesome list and great guest blog! Thanks, Ari. And happy travels, Ms. Justine. 😀
African YA: Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
Hopefully someone else will know of Pacific Islander books to suggest. As well as other books featuring Middle Eastern protagonists.
Ari, what a great post; thank you for your thoughtful list, I look forward to more!
Great list- I loved Hot Girl by Dream Jordan. If anyone liked Kendra by Coe Booth, they should check it out. I loved Brothers Torres. I loved Dark Dude I am going to stop saying what I loved on this list because I’d be here all day.
A Wish After Midnight is really good. I loved the MC. There aren’t too many YA books that deal with civil war era Brooklyn or the race riot of that time. There is a great trailer of the book on You Tube.
Smith’s Flygirl and Perkin’s Secret Keeper made me cry.
and yes I loved them as well.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is an autobiographical graphic novel about her childhood in Iran. I really loved it. (Also, any of her other ones, but I think Persepolis is the most YA-esque.)
Sherman Alexie is a great author who gives the Native American perspective in a humorous way (in The Absolutely True Adventures of a Part-Time Indian). If you haven’t read that one in particular, or anything else by him, run to your local library NOW!
Great list, Ari!
I have a gap in Latino and Native American. Thanks for giving me a place to start. I did read and love Absolute Diary.
I am a huge Jacqueline Woodson fan: The House You Pass On The Way, Dear One, From The Notebooks of Melanin Sun, After Tupac & D Foster and Mazion From Blue Hill.
Yay! Thank you, Ari, for all of these suggestions. :o)
I have a few suggestions. For Latino books you could try The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle and The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.
Tantalize by Native American author, Cynthia Leitch Smith. It’s a YA gothic fantasy. She’s also written Picture books and middle grade novels.
Thanks for recommending my series, Ari!
Interesting cover tidbit about “Amor and Summer Secrets”–I had the exact opposite situation as Justine. My main character, Mariana Ruiz, doesn’t look like the stereotypical Latina (she’s got red hair, freckles, fair skin), but all of my covers feature a model who looks very much “Latina” with a tan complexion. I did get them to change the model’s hair color to red, so she’d look a bit more like Mariana. But ultimately, the pub has the final say.
Finally! the voices of teens of color have been missing from kidlit conversations for WAY too long. Great post, Miss A–I need to hit the library! (and thanks for the shout out)
I love this list, just in time for my trip to the book store today!
A great Native American YA book is Sorceress, by Celia Rees. It’s the sequel to Witch Child, which is wonderful historical fiction about the Salem Witch trials, but unfortunately doesn’t have and POC. I really loved these two, and I hope you get a chance to check them out.
What a great list! There are books on there that I definitely want to check out. It’s great that books featuring pocs are finally beginning to get out there. 🙂
I’m so glad that there was something for everyone on this list!
Susan- you’re right, Jacqueline Woodson is awesome. everyone should read her books, I loved Maizon at Blue Hill
Diana-I reall enjoy your books! That’s so interesting, becaue to be quite honest I thought Mariana looked Latina and then I read that she was half Puerto Rican and half Polish. But the covers are really pretty!
Evelyn I’ve read The House on Mango Street. Loved it! Also try When I was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago.
Paula thank you for the rec of Tantalize! I wan’t sure if the main character was a poc (I’d heard that she was), although I always intended on reading it,even if she wasn’t!
Renne thanks for the Persepolis suggestion! I have such a large tbr pile, I sitll haven’t read the Absolutely True Diary of A Part-Time Indian. I’m working on it 🙂
Rianaire- I’d read Witch Child, but never gotten around to Sorceress. Thanks for the recommendation!
I’m thrilled everyone is interested in reading the books on this list, but please remember there are so many other good books out there! I’ll be posting links to other lists tomorrow
Miss A, you’re fantastic. Would you consider being a Guest on my blog. I would be honored to have you.
You are an inspiration. I keep telling people on twitter @LatinoBookNews that we have to review and write about our own books. I can’t get any action out of the adults and here you are showing the world how it can be done. Fabs for you!!!!
Thank you for naming my first book in your list. I am thankful.
This is a funny odd on my second book The Throwaway Piece. I write about white people. I lived in Vermont for 23 years and watched them like all of us do. My attitude is that people are people and we all have the same feelings. Then when i’m feeling nasty I say if they can write about us, then we can write about them. lol The odd thing is that my publisher cut out all the parts that identify my main character as white. Even when it was the Latinos/as that befriended her and saved her.
That old adage “you can’t please everyone” that sure is true in the book industry. And with young people like you keep stirring up the pot and call these People in Power on their behavior things will change. Good for you!!!! Keep up the good work. You’re doing great things.
Jo Ann Hernandez
BronzeWord1 AT yahoo DOT com
BronzeWord Latino Authors
p.s. please read my Sunday column and tell me what you think. It’s about Justine.
We own Sorceress. Let me know when you want it. 🙂
I love this post, and I’m excited to read many new authors I haven’t sen recommended before!
However — please, PLEASE do not recommend Ann Rinaldi’s books. Not only are they historically inaccurate and pro-colonialist (racist) in their revisionist versions of history, one of them also possibly plagiarizes another author’s work.
See http://www.oyate.org/books-to-avoid/myHeart.html and http://www.oyate.org/books-to-avoid/myHeartMore.html
Oyate has good recommendations on books by and for Amerindians, specifically Native Americans.
I would also like to second the recommendation of Octavian Nothing and anything by Sharon Draper. I’ve read Copper Sun by Draper, and both she and M.T. Anderson are fantastic writers.
I reccomend Noughts and Crosses, by Marjorie Blackman. At first I thought it was very cliche, but what it does is challenge all the assumptions about the stereotypes we have about race by flipping them around. The plot is very Romeo-and-Juliet-esque, but the ending actually surprised me. Worth reading.
Excellent Ari! This is great stuff.
I just finished “Sometimes We’re Always Real Same-Same” by Mattox Roesch due this fall from Unbridled Books. This is the first book I’ve ever read about contemporary AK Native teens. It’s great – and will appeal especially to boys (the narrator is half Latino/half AK Native who moves from LA to the rural village of Unalakleet – which is a real place).
I also recommend Micol Ostow’s hysterical “So Punk Rock” about a group of Jewish kids who form their own band while trying to cope with the pressures of life at their Jewish Day School (and with very determined parents). It includes comics drawn by Micol’s brother. I can’t recall the last time I saw a book about Jewish teens that wasn’t historical so this was most welcome. (And in my July Bookslut column!)
This is a fabulous list, Ari, thank you! I’ll be taking you up on a lot of these recommendations.
I’m glad to have discovered your blog through all this; I’ve been enjoying catching up with your posts. I’ve bookmarked Reading in Color and added you to my blogroll.
I’m thrilled everyone has expressed an interest in reading more books about poc.
Folklore Fanatic I didn’t know Ann Rinaldi’s books were totally historcially unaccurate. However,they are historical fiction and I only recommended ones that I had read and enjoyed. I think she did an especially fine job in making Phyllis Wheatley seem human and not just a historical figure in the history books (Hang a Thousand Trees With Ribbons). Anything by Sharon Draper is going to be good. 🙂
Colleen thanks for the recommendations!
Leahr-I’ve had Naughts & Crosses recommended to me before. I’m eager to read it. I don’t understand the series order though?
On the skiffy YA POC front don’t forget:
Susan Beth Pfeffer’s The Dead and the Gone (New York Puerto Rican protag.s in an SFnal post-environmental apocalypse story)
Louise Spiegler’s The Amethyst Road (Romani-esque protag in a fantasy story about magic, family, responsibility and revolution. Touches on cross-racial forced adoptions ala the Amerindians and Aboriginal peoples of Australia)
Eon by Alison Goodman (Chinese protag in a medieval epic fantasy adventure. Has incredibly cool dragons!)
Stormwitch by Susan Vaught has a Haitian protag. in 1960 Mississippi, but the SF&Fness was seemed kind of “eh” to me YMMV. Mind the Gap. For my money give me the futuristic SF-mythopoeic fusion of Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson (Similar Caribbean background, better magic, better cover. Not to be shallow or anything 🙂
Nation by Terry Pratchett (Pacific Islander protag in an alternate hist. Robinsoncrusoe-punk adventure)
My inner libertarian is cringing at this kind of reccy. (seriously, “having incredibly cool dragons” ought to be the selling point whether they’re Old English, Chinese, Napoleonic, or Pacific Islander* right?) but my inner librarian can’t stop with the book info. These are all seriously great books.
Especially with SF&F the protag’s could well be a POC with background and everything but that in itself won’t be a plot point – so you’ll forget that Kit from the Young Wizards series is Puerto Rican; Honor Harrington is Asian; etc. Or you’ll forget that the POC background is very important to the story being the source of the mythos and culture, but because, as in A Wizard of Earthsea the places are called “Roke” and not, say “Saipan” you think “no POC.”
*my four favorite literary dragons.
I can’t believe I forgot Hilari Bell and her fabulous Farsala Saga – epic fantasy adventure in which the “Persians” meet the “Romans” (and win 🙂 or (you’ll have to track these down via ILL but totally worth it: they have the most *excellent* horses this side of Robin McKinley) Joyce Ballou Gregorian’s The Broken Citadel (Tredana series) – ditto the arabic background/POC protags
I’m with you and having read a few articles about Ms. Rinaldi and her comments, I am no fan. I read her Numbering The Bones. I was not happy.
In my mind Ms. Rinaldi is an example of why some of us are weary of white writers writing poc characters. When questioned by Native American writers and scholars about her work, Ms. Rinaldi refused to acknowledge there were any problems with her work.
Great blog! I’d also recommend an older book “Yoruba Girl Dancing”, by Simi Bedford…also The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi — not ‘officially’ YA, but I think they could easily cross over.
WOW MissAttitude. What a fantastic list!! Thank you so much for including my book, Can’t Stop The Shine. I am honored to be in such a comprehensive and well-researched list. I will certainly be visiting your blog again. And I can’t wait to visit Read In Color. Thanks again, JD
Here are some additional historical fiction suggestions, since I love YA historical fiction. Some of these may be more preteen aged books, I don’t remember the exact age ranges:
by Beverely Jenkins
A Picture of Freedom by Patricia McKissack
Look to the Hills by Patricia McKissack
I Thought my Soul Would Rise and Fly by Joyce Hanson
Silent Thunder by Andrea Pinkney
Second Daughter by Mildred Pitts Walter
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
all Joseph Bruchac:
Children of the Longhouse
The Journal of Jesse Smoke
Indio by Sherry Garland
The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
by Laurence Yep
The Golden Mountain Chronicles series
The Journal of Wong Ming-Chung
oh! A Walk Two Moons was my favorite book when I was eleven. I’m Latina, btw. And I was living in and going to school in a predominantly hispanic neighborhood at the time. And my librarian was hispanic, so I got great recs on many poc books back then, but A Walk Two Moons was my fave.
i absolutely loved Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier which is about a (south east asian) Indian girl named Dimple, she’s a photographer and it deals a lot about feeling not quite american or indian enough. highly recommended.
these two books – both of them i’ve read awhile ago are really good too:
split image by mel glenn – chinese american main character, laura li – this is a verse novel.
black mirror by nancy werlin – main character is japanese american and jewish