Books with Characters of Color

While people of color are still underrepresented in books for kids and teens, we've found lots of great reads with diverse main or supporting characters in all sorts of genres, including mystery, fantasy, romance, adventure, sci-fi, graphic novels, historical fiction, novels in verse -- you name it! In fact, we've gathered well over 100 books to recommend for readers of all ages. These fantastic books promote tolerance and diversity and teach readers about different cultures. And on top of that, they offer tons of positive roles models, especially for kids of color. For more great reads, check out our Books About Racism and Social Justice and Latino Books.

Browse Books with Characters of Color

Corduroy Book Poster Image
Sweet, heartwarming picture-book classic.
By Don Freeman
(2003)
(1968)
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The Snowy Day Book Poster Image
Classic captures a kid's delight in freshly fallen snow.
By Ezra Jack Keats
(2003)
(1962)
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Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music Book Poster Image
Gorgeous, magical story of a girl with music in her heart.
By Margarita Engle
(2015)
(2015)
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Last Stop on Market Street Book Poster Image
Tender story of Nana showing grandson city beauty via bus.
By Matt de la Peña
(2015)
(2015)
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When's My Birthday? Book Poster Image
Jubilant book conveys giddy anticipation of a birthday.
By Julie Fogliano
(2017)
(2017)
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Whistle for Willie Book Poster Image
In charming classic, a boy learns to whistle for his pup.
By Ezra Jack Keats
(2016)
(1964)
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The Airport Book Book Poster Image
Fun account of family's travel day tells all about airports.
By Lisa Brown
(2016)
(2016)
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In Plain Sight Book Poster Image
Playful, loving relationship shines in sweet grandpa tale.
By Richard Jackson
(2017)
(2017)
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Mixed Me! Book Poster Image
Boy embraces his uniqueness in exuberant identity tale.
By Taye Diggs
(2015)
(2015)
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Princess Cupcake Jones and the Missing Tutu: Princess Cupcake Jones, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Delightful responsibility tale avoids princess stereotypes.
By Ylleya Fields
(2016)
(2013)
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Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut Book Poster Image
Joyful, foot-tapping celebration of fresh haircut, culture.
By Derrick Barnes
(2018)
(2017)
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Katie Woo Series Book Poster Image
Relatable stories in short chapters have good life lessons.
By Fran Manushkin
(2015)
(2011)
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Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same! Book Poster Image
Twins embrace individuality in funny book for new readers.
By Grace Lin
(2011)
(2010)
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Over and Under the Pond Book Poster Image
Lovely book about wildlife teeming in and around a pond.
By Kate Messner
(2017)
(2017)
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Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis Book Poster Image
Fun, charming look at civil rights leader's childhood.
By Jabari Asim
(2016)
(2016)
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Princess Hair Book Poster Image
Jubilant celebration of girls' hairstyles, hair textures.
By Sharee Miller
(2017)
(2017)
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The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate Book Poster Image
Princesses team up to fight sneaky monster in funny romp.
By Shannon Hale, Dean Hale
(2017)
(2017)
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The Chinese Emperor's New Clothes Book Poster Image
Clever twist on classic tale adds dimension and great art.
By Ying Chang Compestine
(2018)
(2017)
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The Year of the Book: Anna Wang, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Charming story of lonely, book-loving girl who finds friend.
By Andrea Cheng
(2012)
(2012)
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EllRay Jakes Is a Rock Star! Book Poster Image
Third-grader's struggle to look cool gets him in trouble.
By Sally Warner
(2011)
(2011)
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The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond Book Poster Image
Sweet tale of biracial girl in search of lost family.
By Brenda Woods
(2014)
(2014)
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Clayton Byrd Goes Underground Book Poster Image
The blues and forgiveness fuel emotional family grief tale.
By Rita Williams-Garcia
(2017)
(2017)
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Elvis and the Underdogs Book Poster Image
Lighthearted story of sickly kid helped by huge talking dog.
By Jenny Lee
(2013)
(2013)
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Flying Lessons and Other Stories Book Poster Image
Riveting collection reflects common dreams, struggles.
By Ellen Oh
(2017)
(2017)
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Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom Book Poster Image
Girl conquers middle school worries in fun graphic novel.
By Booki Vivat
(2016)
(2016)
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Gabby Garcia's Ultimate Playbook: Gabby Garcia, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Goal-focused Latina scores big hit in series opener.
By Iva-Marie Palmer
(2017)
(2017)
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Hidden Figures Young Readers' Edition Book Poster Image
Powerful true story of African-American women at NASA.
By Margot Lee Shetterly
(2017)
(2016)
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Jake the Fake Keeps It Real: Jake the Fake, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Funny take on fitting in and self-discovery at art school.
By Craig Robinson, Adam Mansbach
(2017)
(2017)
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Lowriders in Space, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Pedal-to-the-metal graphic novel celebrates Latino culture.
By Cathy Camper
(2014)
(2014)
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Randi Rhodes Ninja Detective: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit Book Poster Image
Action-packed mystery teaches kids detective skills.
By Octavia Spencer
(2013)
(2013)
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Tua and the Elephant Book Poster Image
Fun, exciting tale of Thai girl who rescues an elephant.
By R.P. Harris
(2012)
(2012)
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Twintuition: Double Vision Book Poster Image
Magic happens when twins touch in fun tween romp.
By Tia Mowry, Tamera Mowry
(2015)
(2015)
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The Ultra Violets Book Poster Image
Fast-paced girl-power confection made for superhero fans.
By Sophie Bell
(2013)
(2013)
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Wild Born: Spirit Animals, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Multiplatform magical beast series is a good fantasy intro.
By Brandon Mull
(2013)
(2013)
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The Zero Degree Zombie Zone Book Poster Image
Fast-paced adventure with friends, zombies, and magic.
By Patrik Henry Bass
(2014)
(2014)
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The Adventurer's Guide to Successful Escapes Book Poster Image
Creative take on quest tale marred by hurried storytelling.
By Wade Albert White
(2016)
(2016)
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Ambassador Book Poster Image
Complex adventure mixes immigration issues, space travel.
By William Alexander
(2014)
(2014)
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Blackbird Fly Book Poster Image
Super relatable heroine, lots of middle school drama.
By Erin Entrada Kelly
(2015)
(2015)
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Bud, Not Buddy Book Poster Image
Well-crafted tale of an orphan's search for home.
By Christopher Paul Curtis
(2004)
(1999)
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The Crossover Book Poster Image
Soaring, poignant, novel in verse hits all the right spots.
By Kwame Alexander
(2014)
(2014)
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Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile Book Poster Image
Boy sketch artist helps catch art thieves in zippy mystery.
By Marcia Wells
(2014)
(2014)
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The Egypt Game Book Poster Image
Newbery Honor book is a fun mystery romp.
By Zilpha Keatley Snyder
(2007)
(1985)
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Full Cicada Moon Book Poster Image
Girl beats stereotypes in powerful free-verse novel.
By Marilyn Hilton
(2015)
(2015)
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The Game of Silence Book Poster Image
White settlers force Indian family to leave land.
By Louise Erdrich
(2005)
(2005)
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The Mighty Miss Malone Book Poster Image
Unforgettable 12-year-old girl battles the Great Depression.
By Christopher Paul Curtis
(2012)
(2012)
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The Mysterious Benedict Society Book Poster Image
Suspenseful mystery with a Lemony Snicket vibe.
By Trenton Lee Stewart
(2007)
(2007)
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Phoenix: The Five Ancestors Out of the Ashes, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Exciting adventure of bike racing, kung fu, Chinese myth.
By Jeff Stone
(2012)
(2012)
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The Popularity Papers Book Poster Image
Good-hearted story about popularity's true meaning.
By Amy Ignatow
(2010)
(2010)
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P.S. Be Eleven Book Poster Image
Tween coming-of-age set amid shifting family, '60s dynamics.
By Rita Williams-Garcia
(2013)
(2013)
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Stella by Starlight Book Poster Image
Compelling, nuanced tale of loving family under segregation.
By Sharon M. Draper
(2014)
(2015)
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As Brave As You Book Poster Image
Poignant summer adventure brims with family love and hope.
By Jason Reynolds
(2016)
(2016)
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Bridge of Time Book Poster Image
Clever tale of present-day kids lost in 1864 San Francisco.
By Lewis Buzbee
(2012)
(2012)
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Counting by 7s Book Poster Image
Striking tale of quirky girl connecting after parental loss.
By Holly Goldberg Sloan
(2013)
(2013)
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A Crack in the Sea Book Poster Image
Unusual mix of history and fantasy makes an engrossing read.
By H. M. Bouwman
(2017)
(2017)
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Esperanza Rising Book Poster Image
Historical fiction at its best in story of '30s farmworkers.
By Pam Munoz Ryan
(2011)
(2000)
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Ghost Hawk Book Poster Image
Gorgeous tale of friendship between colonist and Indian.
By Susan Cooper
(2013)
(2013)
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Hold Fast Book Poster Image
Touching story of resourceful girl solving a family mystery.
By Blue Balliett
(2013)
(2013)
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How It Went Down Book Poster Image
Haunting look at killing of unarmed African American teen.
By Kekla Magoon
(2015)
(2014)
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Inside Out and Back Again Book Poster Image
Inspiring, educational immigrant story told in free verse.
By Thanhha Lai
(2011)
(2011)
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Island of the Blue Dolphins Book Poster Image
Smart girl learns to survive alone in compelling adventure.
By Scott O'Dell
(2003)
(1960)
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Julie of the Wolves Book Poster Image
Cultural themes enrich thought-provoking saga.
By Jean Craighead George
(2003)
(1972)
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Kira-Kira Book Poster Image
Girl faces racism, sister's cancer in touching tale.
By Cynthia Kadohata
(2005)
(2005)
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The Lost Hero: The Heroes of Olympus, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Percy Jackson series spin-off is almost as delightful.
By Rick Riordan
(2010)
(2010)
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Ninth Ward Book Poster Image
Gripping story of a girl's bravery during Hurricane Katrina.
By Jewell Parker Rhodes
(2011)
(2010)
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The Red Pyramid: The Kane Chronicles, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Percy Jackson author tackles more complex Egyptology.
By Rick Riordan
(2010)
(2010)
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Saint Louis Armstrong Beach Book Poster Image
Boy risks all to find his dog after Hurricane Katrina.
By Brenda Woods
(2011)
(2011)
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Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier Book Poster Image
Boy joins a come-to-life clay soldier in exciting adventure.
By Ying Chang Compestine, Vinson Compestine
(2014)
(2014)
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Summer of the Mariposas Book Poster Image
Fantastical quest explores sisterhood and Mexican legends.
By Guadalupe Garcia McCall
(2012)
(2012)
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The Thing About Luck Book Poster Image
Migrant worker girl faces big responsibility in sweet story.
By Cynthia Kadohata
(2013)
(2013)
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Walk Two Moons Book Poster Image
Dramatic, complex tale has rich characters, emotional depth.
By Sharon Creech
(2010)
(1994)
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Zane and the Hurricane: A Story of Katrina Book Poster Image
Boy and dog face danger, find friends in fast-paced tale.
By Rodman Philbrick
(2014)
(2014)
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Echo Book Poster Image
Tales of injustice masterfully blend with a dash of magic.
By Pam Munoz Ryan
(2015)
(2015)
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One Crazy Summer Book Poster Image
A gem, with strong girl characters, '60s black history.
By Rita Williams-Garcia
(2010)
(2010)
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The Red Pencil Book Poster Image
Moving verse tale of girl's experience in Darfur genocide.
By Andrea Davis Pinkney
(2014)
(2014)
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Weedflower Book Poster Image
Fresh perspective on WWII Japanese internment camps in U.S.
By Cynthia Kadohata
(2009)
(2009)
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Akata Witch Book Poster Image
Imaginative story of U.S. albino finding magic in Nigeria.
By Nnedi Okorafor
(2011)
(2011)
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Boxers & Saints Book Poster Image
Exciting graphic-novel set is powerful historical fiction.
By Gene Luen Yang
(2013)
(2013)
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Boy21 Book Poster Image
Gripping, heartfelt coming-of-age tale sure to hook teens.
By Matthew Quick
(2013)
(2012)
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Cinder: The Lunar Chronicles, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Cinderella as a futuristic cyborg. Pretty cool.
By Marissa Meyer
(2012)
(2012)
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Dust Girl: The American Fairy Trilogy, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Intricate historical novel contrasts Dust Bowl, fairy world.
By Sarah Zettel
(2012)
(2012)
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Hush Book Poster Image
Poignant story of race, identity, and doing the right thing.
By Jacqueline Woodson
(2014)
(2002)
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If I Ever Get Out of Here Book Poster Image
Relatable story of music-loving Native American boy in '70s.
By Eric Gansworth
(2013)
(2013)
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The Islands at the End of the World Book Poster Image
Strong heroine, spirituality anchor gripping eco-thriller.
By Austin Aslan
(2014)
(2014)
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Legend, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Stylish dystopian thriller in a not-so-future Los Angeles.
By Marie Lu
(2012)
(2011)
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Long Way Down Book Poster Image
Gripping, unnerving story of teen boy contemplating revenge.
By Jason Reynolds
(2017)
(2017)
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March: Book One Book Poster Image
Powerful graphic novel captures spirit of desegregation.
By John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell
(2013)
(2013)
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Mare's War Book Poster Image
Unique African-American woman's WWII experience.
By Tanita Davis
(2009)
(2009)
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Miles Morales: Spider-Man Book Poster Image
Exciting, smart, cool version of comic book superhero teen.
By Jason Reynolds
(2017)
(2017)
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A Moment Comes Book Poster Image
Moving coming-of-age story set amid creation of Pakistan.
By Jennifer Bradbury
(2013)
(2013)
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My Name Is Not Easy Book Poster Image
Fascinating story of Alaskan kids growing up in the 1960s.
By Debby Dahl Edwardson
(2011)
(2011)
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Nine Days Book Poster Image
Gripping search for missing dad, based on a true story.
By Fred Hiatt
(2013)
(2013)
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Pemba's Song: A Ghost Story Book Poster Image
Intriguing, history-minded mystery with a modern twist.
By Marilyn Nelson, Tonya C. Hegamin
(2008)
(2008)
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Planesrunner: Everness, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Clever science fantasy will appeal to Philip Pullman fans.
By Ian McDonald
(2011)
(2011)
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Playground Book Poster Image
Rap star's moving novel about a bully redeemed.
By 50 Cent
(2011)
(2011)
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Shadowshaper: The Shadowshaper Cypher, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Art-filled urban fantasy has outstanding Afro-Latina hero.
By Daniel Jose Older
(2016)
(2015)
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Solo Book Poster Image
Poignant tale of rock star's son fleeing fame, finding self.
By Kwame Alexander, Mary Rand Hess
(2017)
(2017)
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The Tequila Worm Book Poster Image
Moving tale of Latina going to white boarding school.
By Viola Canales
(2006)
(2006)
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Tiger's Curse, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Twilight for cat lovers.
By Colleen Houck
(2011)
(2011)
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Tokyo Heist Book Poster Image
Manga, art, and life lessons in top-notch mystery adventure.
By Diana Renn
(2012)
(2012)
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Under a Painted Sky Book Poster Image
Girls pose as boys in suspenseful, nontraditional Western.
By Stacey Lee
(2015)
(2015)
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Under the Mesquite Book Poster Image
Latina teen faces mom's cancer in award-winning verse novel.
By Guadalupe Garcia McCall
(2012)
(2011)
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All the Right Stuff Book Poster Image
Challenging ideas, big issues buoy story of Harlem teen.
By Walter Dean Myers
(2012)
(2012)
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American Born Chinese Book Poster Image
First graphic novel to win major child lit awards.
By Gene Luen Yang
(2007)
(2006)
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The Authentics Book Poster Image
Heartwarming story of teen's search for her true identity.
By Abdi Nazemian
(2017)
(2017)
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The Chaos of Stars Book Poster Image
Romantic fantasy with Egyptian gods a fun mom-daughter read.
By Kiersten White
(2013)
(2013)
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Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, A Life in Balance Book Poster Image
Uplifting memoir of teen Olympic medalist, ex-foster kid.
By Simone Biles, Michelle Burford
(2017)
(2016)
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Darius & Twig Book Poster Image
Quiet, sometimes poetic story of teens' scholarship quest.
By Walter Dean Myers
(2013)
(2013)
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Does My Head Look Big in This? Book Poster Image
Muslim teen grows up, sees prejudice Down Under.
By Randa Abdel-Fattah
(2008)
(2007)
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The House on Mango Street Book Poster Image
A poetic -- and classic -- coming-of-age story.
By Sandra Cisneros
(2005)
(1991)
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I Believe in a Thing Called Love Book Poster Image
Girl uses Korean TV dramas as guide in charming romance.
By Maurene Goo
(2017)
(2017)
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Illusions of Fate Book Poster Image
Romantic page-turner has stellar heroine of color.
By Kiersten White
(2014)
(2014)
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Monster Book Poster Image
Provocative book about teen on trial for murder.
By Walter Dean Myers
(2003)
(1999)
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The Name of the Star: Shades of London, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Macabre modern Ripper meets hip Brit boarding school.
By Maureen Johnson
(2013)
(2011)
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November Blues Book Poster Image
Gritty, honest look at teen pregnancy. Teens and up.
By Sharon M. Draper
(2008)
(2007)
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Piecing Me Together Book Poster Image
Powerful, insightful tale of self-awareness, power of art.
By Renee Watson
(2017)
(2017)
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The Reluctant Assassin: W.A.R.P., Book 1 Book Poster Image
Exhilarating but bloody tale starts off time travel series.
By Eoin Colfer
(2013)
(2013)
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Ship Breaker Book Poster Image
Gripping but bloody dystopian tale will make teens think.
By Paolo Bacigalupi
(2010)
(2010)
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The Smell of Other People's Houses Book Poster Image
Poignant coming-of-age tale about four 1970 Alaskan teens.
By Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
(2017)
(2016)
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To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Sassy sisters steal the show in well-told romantic read.
By Jenny Han
(2014)
(2014)
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When Dimple Met Rishi Book Poster Image
Opposites begin to attract in sweet arranged-union tale.
By Sandhya Menon
(2017)
(2017)
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Written in the Stars Book Poster Image
Compelling tale of Pakistani-American forced into marriage.
By Aisha Saeed
(2015)
(2015)
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You Look Different in Real Life Book Poster Image
Gripping novel of kids filmed every five years for docu.
By Jennifer Castle
(2013)
(2013)
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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Book Poster Image
Funny, gritty, and powerful novel of growing up on the rez.
By Sherman Alexie
(2007)
(2007)
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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Book Poster Image
Literary story of two boys' life-changing friendship.
By Benjamin Alire Sáenz
(2012)
(2012)
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Burn Baby Burn Book Poster Image
Riveting coming-of-age tale set in dangerous summer of '77.
By Meg Medina
(2016)
(2016)
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Chameleon Book Poster Image
Refreshing urban read about the kids who stay out of gangs.
By Charles R. Smith Jr.
(2008)
(2008)
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Clockwork Angel: Infernal Devices, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Victorian-era fantasy series starts with plenty of violence.
By Cassandra Clare
(2011)
(2010)
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The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong Book Poster Image
Angsty tale of Chinese-American teen questioning his roots.
By L. Tam Holland
(2013)
(2013)
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Desert Angel Book Poster Image
Teen flees mom's killer in gripping thriller.
By Charlie Price
(2011)
(2011)
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Eleanor & Park Book Poster Image
Intense '80s romance is a fabulous pick for mature teens.
By Rainbow Rowell
(2013)
(2013)
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He Said She Said Book Poster Image
Mature jock-valedictorian romance has social media factor.
By Kwame Alexander
(2013)
(2013)
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I Am Alfonso Jones Book Poster Image
Powerful graphic novel explores police brutality.
By Tony Medina
(2017)
(2017)
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If You Could Be Mine Book Poster Image
Love story about two Iranian girls is sad but educational.
By Sara Farizan
(2013)
(2013)
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The Joy Luck Club Book Poster Image
Sweeping story of bicultural mother-daughter friction.
By Amy Tan
(2010)
(1989)
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Loud Awake and Lost Book Poster Image
Teen aims to recover memories in mature psychological tale.
By Adele Griffin
(2013)
(2013)
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Rani Patel in Full Effect Book Poster Image
Powerful coming-of-age tale deals with abuse, addiction.
By Sonia Patel
(2016)
(2016)
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The Sun Is Also a Star Book Poster Image
Beautiful and philosophical love story is deeply moving.
By Nicola Yoon
(2016)
(2016)
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This Is Where It Ends Book Poster Image
Harrowing and heartbreaking story of a school shooting.
By Marieke Nijkamp
(2016)
(2016)
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Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass Book Poster Image
Mesmerizing, gritty story of bullied Latina teen in NYC.
By Meg Medina
(2013)
(2013)
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The Diviners, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Swell start to a spooky but fabulous Prohibition-set series.
By Libba Bray
(2012)
(2012)
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Love in the Time of Global Warming Book Poster Image
Compelling apocalyptic survival story with four LGBTQ teens.
By Francesca Lia Block
(2013)
(2013)
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Sula Book Poster Image
Haunting, complex tale of friendship best for older teens.
By Toni Morrison
(2016)
(1973)
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The Summer Prince Book Poster Image
Samba- and art-infused sci-fi for mature readers.
By Alaya Dawn Johnson
(2013)
(2013)
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Life of Pi Book Poster Image
Fascinating survival tale with animal facts, gory detail.
By Yann Martel
(2011)
(2001)
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