Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity

Ah, a topic near and dear to my heart. Obviously, I think books that feature POC or are written by POC qualify for this, so I have lots of choices. But I really want to focus on books that celebrate diversity in the sense that they show within the narrative why different viewpoints/experiences are valuable as opposed to just opening us up to different viewpoints and experiences, if that makes sense.

 

1. The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer — Cinder and her merry band of misfits are going to save the world, and they each have a special skill set that will help them accomplish that goal.

2. The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan — The Greek and Roman demigods are going to save the world, and they each have a special skill set that will help them accomplish that goal. (Heeeeeey, wait a minute.)

3. The Westing Game by Ellen Rankin — I recently reread this book and was struck by how many different points of view it includes. The characters are all different ages, races, ethnicities, education levels, etc. One character even has cerebral palsy. Oh, I’m sorry, a mysterious muscle disease.

4. This Side of Home by Renée Watson — Lest you think all black people are a monolithic entity with the same ideas about gentrification, how to wear their hair, and/or interracial dating, Watson introduces you to twins Nikki and Maya (and their friends) who have very different ideas about the changes happening in their neighborhood.

5. Where Does the Day Go? by Walter Dean Myers — As I said in my review, this book treats the ideas and opinions of the children seriously and with respect, which leads to them having a thoughtful conversation that builds on the ideas that each of them shares.

6. Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson — Kamala is the best, and I won’t hear otherwise. Plus also, let her show  you why only having one kind of heroine represented is problematic. (Sooooo problematic.)

7. Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz — What’s most impressive about this book is that black, bisexual Etta who thinks she is worldly still gets to learn that no, not so much.

8. The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson — It’s a middle school heist story about a bunch of kids that each have a special skill set that will help them accomplish that goal.

9 / 10. Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang — These companion graphic novels are about the Chinese Boxer rebellion and showcase main characters involved at very, very different levels of the conflict.

I’ve also created a Goodreads shelf for all the books I’ve read for this year’s Diversity on the Shelf challenge if you’re looking for even more books featuring characters of color.

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19 comments

  1. Nattie @ Book Rambles

    Heroes of Olympus made it to my list too! I haven’t heard of any of the other books but maybe I should do some googling because Not Otherwise Specified sounds really interesting and I’d really like to see what Where Does the Day Go? is about. Great list!

    Nattie @ Book Rambles

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    • Akilah

      Where Does the Day Go? is out of print, but should be available at the library or through ILL. It’s a delightful little book.

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  2. Cait @ Paper Fury

    I want to read Ms Marvel SO BADLY!!! It’d be toootally nice to see more diversity in the Marvel movies, but I’ll settle for reading more comics. xD I love the Lunar Chronicles!! And I also love how Percy Jackson adds in kids with ADHD too. So much diversity in that series I JUST LOVE.
    Here’s my TTT!

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    • Akilah

      Yes, the ADHD in Percy Jackson is great and also part of why my daughter was convinced she was a demigod. Ms. Marvel is AWESOME. It’s so fun and funny. The second volume also has Wolverine, so A++++ there.

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    • Akilah

      I tried Parable of the Sower, but it was hard for me to get into. I’m going to see if I can find it on audiobook because I really do want to read it, and I think it may appeal more to my ears than my eyes.

      I was hesitant about NOS but I found myself relating a lot to the main character even though we’re quite different.

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  3. Sharlene

    Great list and thanks for the link to your Goodreads shelf! I always love a good list for diverse reading. Oh and I had. Gene Luen Yang on my ten too, but a different title.

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  4. Zoe @ Stories on Stage

    This is such a great post Akilah! I completely agree with all your choices here. Marissa Meyer really does a fantastic job with the diversity in her series – I love how each character has something about them that defies the “norms” and yet, at the same time, that just makes us connect with them even more.

    And YES to Heroes of Olympus! I think Riordan did a great job portraying diversity in that series. Not only do all the characters have ADHD & dyslexia, but he also manages to include characters of all different races. Such a wonderful series.

    And so glad I’m not the only one who has read & loved The Westing Game! I didn’t see it as particularly standing out in the diversity department when I read it, but now that you mention it, it totally does. Thanks for sharing and fabulous post! ♥

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  5. Alyson

    I love your take on picking books whose narratives celebrate different viewpoints. So smart. I obviously need to jump on this Lunar Chronicles train. This is such a great list, so many things I haven’t read yet! You can check out my TTT if you’d like!

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