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 -- mystery, fantasy, romance, adventure, sci-fi, graphic novels, historical fiction, novels in verse, you name it! In fact, we've gathered more than 85 books to recommend for readers of all ages, starting with early-reader chapter books. Check 'em out!

Browse Books with Characters of Color

 
Gorgeous, magical story of a girl with music in her heart.
By Margarita Engle
(2015)
 
Tender story of Nana showing grandson city beauty via bus.
By Matt de la Pena
(2015)
 
Twins embrace individuality in funny book for new readers.
By Grace Lin
(2011)
 
Charming story of lonely, book-loving girl who finds friend.
By Andrea Cheng
(2012)
 
Third-grader's struggle to look cool gets him in trouble.
By Sally Warner
(2011)
 
Sweet tale of biracial girl in search of lost family.
By Brenda Woods
(2014)
 
Lighthearted story of sickly kid helped by huge talking dog.
By Jenny Lee
(2013)
 
Pedal-to-the-metal graphic novel celebrates Latino culture.
By Cathy Camper
(2014)
 
Action-packed mystery teaches kids detective skills.
By Octavia Spencer, Vivienne To
(2013)
 
Fun, exciting tale of Thai girl who rescues an elephant.
By R.P. Harris
(2012)
 
Magic happens when twins touch in fun tween romp.
By Tia Mowry, Tamera Mowry
(2015)
 
Fast-paced girl-power confection made for superhero fans.
By Sophie Bell
(2013)
 
Multiplatform magical beast series is a good fantasy intro.
By Brandon Mull
(2013)
 
Fast-paced adventure with friends, zombies, and magic.
By Patrik Henry Bass
(2014)
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Complex adventure mixes immigration issues, space travel.
By William Alexander
(2014)
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Super relatable heroine, lots of middle school drama.
By Erin Entrada Kelly
(2015)
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Well-crafted tale of an orphan's search for home.
By Christopher Paul Curtis
(2004)
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Soaring, poignant, poetic story hits all the right spots.
By Kwame Alexander
(2014)
 
Boy sketch artist helps catch art thieves in zippy mystery.
By Marcia Wells
(2014)
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Newbery Honor book is a fun mystery romp.
By Zilpha Keatley Snyder
(2007)
 
White settlers force Indian family to leave land.
By Louise Erdrich
(2005)
 
Unforgettable 12-year-old girl battles the Great Depression.
By Christopher Paul Curtis
(2012)
 
Suspenseful mystery with a Lemony Snicket vibe.
By Trenton Lee Stewart
(2007)
 
Exciting adventure of bike racing, kung fu, Chinese myth.
By Jeff Stone
(2012)
 
Good-hearted story about popularity's true meaning.
By Amy Ignatow
(2010)
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Tween coming-of-age set amid shifting family, '60s dynamics.
By Rita Williams-Garcia
(2013)
 
Compelling, nuanced tale of loving family under segregation.
By Sharon M. Draper
(2014)
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Moving portrait of Mexican-American life.
By Viola Canales
(2006)
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Clever tale of present-day kids lost in 1864 San Francisco.
By Lewis Buzbee
(2012)
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Striking tale of quirky girl connecting after parental loss.
By Holly Goldberg Sloan
(2013)
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Historical fiction at its best in book on '30s farmworkers.
By Pam Munoz Ryan
(2011)
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Gorgeous tale of friendship between colonist and Indian.
By Susan Cooper
(2013)
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Touching story of resourceful girl solving a family mystery.
By Blue Balliett
(2013)
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Haunting look at killing of unarmed African-American teen.
By Kekla Magoon
(2015)
 
Inspiring, educational immigrant story told in free verse.
By Thanhha Lai
(2011)
 
Smart girl learns to survive alone in compelling adventure.
By Scott O'Dell
(2003)
 
Cultural themes enrich thought-provoking saga.
By Jean Craighead George
(2003)
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Girl faces racism, sister's cancer in touching tale.
By Cynthia Kadohata
(2005)
 
Percy Jackson series spin-off is almost as delightful.
By Rick Riordan
(2010)
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Gripping story of a girl's bravery during Hurricane Katrina.
By Jewell Parker Rhodes
(2011)
 
Percy Jackson author tackles more complex Egyptology.
By Rick Riordan
(2010)
 
Boy risks all to find his dog after Hurricane Katrina.
By Brenda Woods
(2011)
 
Boy joins a come-to-life clay soldier in exciting adventure.
By Vinson Compestine, Ying Chang Compestine
(2014)
 
Fantastical quest explores sisterhood and Mexican legends.
By Guadalupe Garcia McCall
(2012)
 
Migrant worker girl faces big responsibility in sweet story.
By Cynthia Kadohata
(2013)
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Dramatic, complex tale has rich characters, emotional depth.
By Sharon Creech
(2010)
 
Boy and dog face danger, find friends in fast-paced tale.
By Rodman Philbrick
(2014)
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Tales of injustice masterfully blend with a dash of magic.
By Pam Munoz Ryan
(2015)
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A gem, with strong girl characters, '60s black history.
By Rita Williams-Garcia
(2010)
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Moving verse tale of girl's experience in Darfur genocide.
By Andrea Davis Pinkney
(2014)
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Fresh perspective on WWII Japanese internment camps in U.S.
By Cynthia Kadohata
(2009)
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Imaginative story of U.S. albino finding magic in Nigeria.
By Nnedi Okorafor
(2011)
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Exciting graphic-novel set is powerful historical fiction.
By Gene Luen Yang
(2013)
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Gripping, heartfelt coming-of-age tale sure to hook teens.
By Matthew Quick
(2013)
 
Cinderella as a futuristic cyborg. Pretty cool.
By Marissa Meyer
(2012)
 
Intricate historical novel contrasts Dust Bowl, fairy world.
By Sarah Zettel
(2012)
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Poignant story of race, identity, and doing the right thing.
By Jacqueline Woodson
(2014)
 
Relatable story of music-loving Native American boy in '70s.
By Eric Gansworth
(2013)
 
Strong heroine, spirituality anchor gripping eco-thriller.
By Austin Aslan
(2014)
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Stylish dystopian thriller in a not-so-future Los Angeles.
By Marie Lu
(2012)
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Powerful graphic novel captures spirit of desegregation.
By Andrew Aydin, John Lewis
(2013)
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Unique African-American woman's WWII experience.
By Tanita Davis
(2009)
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Moving coming-of-age story set amid creation of Pakistan.
By Jennifer Bradbury
(2013)
 
Fascinating story of Alaskan kids growing up in the 1960s.
By Debby Dahl Edwardson
(2011)
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Gripping search for missing dad, based on a true story.
By Fred Hiatt
(2013)
 
Intriguing, history-minded mystery with a modern twist.
By Marilyn Nelson, Tonya C. Hegamin
(2008)
 
Clever science fantasy will appeal to Philip Pullman fans.
By Ian McDonald
(2011)
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Rap star's moving novel about a bully redeemed.
By 50 Cent
(2011)
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Twilight for cat lovers.
By Colleen Houck
(2011)
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Manga, art, and life lessons in topnotch mystery adventure.
By Diana Renn
(2012)
 
Girls pose as boys in suspenseful, nontraditional Western.
By Stacey Lee
(2015)
 
Latina teen faces mom's cancer in award-winning verse novel.
By Guadalupe Garcia McCall
(2012)
 
Challenging ideas, big issues buoy story of Harlem teen.
By Walter Dean Myers
(2012)
 
First graphic novel to win major child lit awards.
By Gene Luen Yang
(2007)
 
Romantic fantasy with Egyptian gods a fun mom-daughter read.
By Kiersten White
(2013)
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Quiet, sometimes poetic story of teens' scholarship quest.
By Walter Dean Myers
(2013)
 
Muslim teen grows up, sees prejudice Down Under.
By Randa Abdel-Fattah
(2008)
 
A poetic -- and classic -- coming-of-age story.
By Sandra Cisneros
(2005)
 
Romantic page-turner has stellar heroine of color.
By Kiersten White
(2014)
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Provocative book about teen on trial for murder.
By Walter Dean Myers
(2003)
 
Macabre modern Ripper meets hip Brit boarding school.
By Maureen Johnson
(2013)
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Gritty, honest look at teen pregnancy. Teens and up.
By Sharon M. Draper
(2008)
 
Exhilarating but bloody tale starts off time travel series.
By Eoin Colfer
(2013)
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Gripping but bloody dystopian tale will make teens think.
By Paolo Bacigalupi
(2010)
 
Sassy sisters steal the show in well-told romantic read.
By Jenny Han
(2014)
 
Gripping novel of kids filmed every five years for docu.
By Jennifer Castle
(2013)
 
Compelling tale of Pakistani-American forced into marriage.
By Aisha Saeed
(2015)
 
Funny, gritty, and powerful novel of growing up on the rez.
By Sherman Alexie
(2007)
 
Literary story of two boys' life-changing friendship.
By Benjamin Alire Sáenz
(2012)
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Refreshing urban read about the kids who stay out of gangs.
By Charles R. Smith Jr.
(2008)
 
Victorian-era fantasy series starts with plenty of violence.
By Cassandra Clare
(2011)
 
Angsty tale of Chinese-American teen questioning his roots.
By L. Tam Holland
(2013)
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Teen flees mom's killer in gripping thriller.
By Charlie Price
(2011)
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Intense '80s romance is a fabulous pick for mature teens.
By Rainbow Rowell
(2013)
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Mature jock-valedictorian romance has social media factor.
By Kwame Alexander
(2013)
 
Love story about two Iranian girls is sad but educational.
By Sara Farizan
(2013)
 
Sweeping story of bicultural mother-daughter friction.
By Amy Tan
(2010)
 
Teen aims to recover memories in mature psychological tale.
By Adele Griffin
(2013)
 
Mesmerizing, gritty story of bullied Latina teen in NYC.
By Meg Medina
(2013)
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Swell start to a spooky but fabulous Prohibition-set series.
By Libba Bray
(2012)
 
Compelling apocalyptic survival story with four LGBTQ teens.
By Francesca Lia Block
(2013)
 
Samba- and art-infused sci-fi for mature readers.
By Alaya Dawn Johnson
(2013)
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Fascinating survival tale with animal facts, gory detail.
By Yann Martel
(2011)