Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

Today we really wanted to highlight books that feature diversity*. There have been a lot of discussions and panels in the past couple years about the lack of diversity in publishing or the lack of attention these great titles get mainstream. The group We Need Diverse Books has been really leading the charge in highlighting diverse books, advocating and educating. I highly checking out their site for great recommendations, to learn what they are about and how you can help! Top Ten Tuesday has been a great source of recommendations and highlighting books that might not get talked about all the time so I'm hoping everyone will find some really great diverse books to check out

*For the purposes of this topic our definition of diversity is aligned with that of WNDB: "We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities."

Lauren's Picks

The main character of this book is a smart teenager (he literally can remember every single thing he's ever heard in his entire life), but everyone calls him "retarded". They call him that in the literal sense because everyone thinks he is mentally retarded, as well as using it as an insult or a broad term meaning "slow". He has zero control over his body. He cannot move any muscles, cannot swallow... he can't even look where he wants. BUT.. he is there. He can read.. hell he's probably smarter than me. And he perseveres throughout this small little book. It is definitely an interesting read and with one of the most unique main characters that is disabled that I've ever stumbled upon.

The main character of this book is a young Korean girl who turns into a picture bride, which back in in the 1910s were young women who were matched with a man overseas, then that man would send money for his new bride to come to his country. The main character was tricked into marrying an abusive, poor farmer in Hawaii. The main character in this book blossoms into a strong woman and makes life long friendships with other picture brides, all of whom stay true to their heritage and make the best of a seemingly impossible situation. I read this book years ago and still think about the main character's strength when she was trapped in a far away place, where everyone spoke a different language, with an abusive husband, and virtually nothing to hang on to.  

Tahleen's Picks



This memoir in verse won many awards this year, including a Newbery Honor and the Coretta Scott King award. It's just lovely. Woodson recounts both her life growing up in North Carolina and New York City, as well as a subtler, more general look at the way the world was while she was growing up. I listened to the audio, narrated by Woodson herself, and I still want to read the print book.

I love this series. Not only because they are fun and funny, great for kids around the third grade level, but because they are so true to the modern Hawaiian culture. Characters talk in pidgen, every character has a different ethnic background (I believe Hawaii is one of the most if not THE most diverse state in the union), and just little details that clearly show us what it means to live in Hawaii. I love that so much; reading these books must feel like home to the kids who live there, and it exposes those who don't to a wonderful and rich culture.

Jamie's Picks

5. The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds: I loved this book so much! The main character is a black teen living in Brooklyn and his story resonated so much with me. He is grieving the loss of his mother and it's just such a beautiful, quiet novel. I dog-eared so many pages!

6.  Written in the Stars by Aisha Saaed: I could not put this down at all! The main character is an American Pakistani. Part of culture is arranged marriage but she's secretly had a boyfriend who is a family friend. Her parents find out, are beyond furious and take a family trip to Pakistan that ends up being more than just a family vacation. I loved how it explored arranged marriages and I definitely learned a lot/squashed some preconceived notions I had about arranged marriages.

7.  To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han: Oh this duet of books (the sequel is Ps I Still Love You) is so delightful and romantic. I seriously could shed a little tear that I have no more books to read about Lara Jean. These books capture the intricacies of firsts -- first loves, first crushes, first heartbreak, first kisses, etc. I loved being reminded of what it's like to be young and in love. Plus the sisters in this book are my favorite ever!! The main character and her sisters (her dad is white) are Korean American and I was really touched at Jenny's launch party for PS I Still Love You when she touched on how much it meant to her and how important it was that her cover was not white-washed which is a disgusting and all too often practiced thing.

8.  None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio: This book made me cry along with teaching me what intersex is. I honestly didn't quite know what it was and learned right alongside of the main character, a teen girl, who finds out that she is intersex. It was so hard to watch her struggle with this new part of her identity and all the crap she got from people at school who were so, so cruel and misinformed.

Kimberly's Pick


9. Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern: This book will make you reconsider a lot of preconceptions that you might have had before. Amy was born with Cerebral Palsy, and can't walk unassisted, can't speak and even needs help with things such as eating. For many, you see an individual like this and think they'll most likely live with their parents forever. No romances. Wrong.

Bridget's Pick


10. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng: The story of a mixed-race family in the 1970s and how significant race can become even when you do your best not to let it affect the things most important to you


  1. This is a great list! You have one we have, and you also have a few that I want to read still. Thanks for sharing these. Happy reading.
    Top 10 @Libby Blog

  2. I looooooooooove the To All the Boys duo of books so much. Both books make my heart so happy. I just adore them.

    I read Stuck in Neutral a long, long time ago. It's a great little book.

  3. Stuck in Neutral and Brown Girl Dreaming are both amazing books I could have on my list, too. I did add Say What You Will. It has many surprising aspects to it.
    Anne's Top Ten

  4. What a great list! Seeing it on your top ten reminds me that I must read Brown Girl Dreaming- have read nothing but terrific reviews about this award-winning title.

  5. I can't decide if I'm embarrassed I haven't read a single one of these, or excited to get so many great recommendations. You give just the right amount of information for me to know that I want to read these, without spoiling anything at all--thank you!

  6. I've read Say What You Will & To All The Boys, but I am really looking forward to the others. They are all on my TBR list now. Thank you for sharing.

  7. I really want to read None of the Above! I keep looking at it in shops, but gaah, hardcovers are expensive. Great list (as usual), and a great topic too!

  8. Hello!!! Great list!!! Recently I've read Everything I Never Told You and I really enjoyed reading this book. And I want to read Stuck in Neutral.
    Thank you for sharing

  9. Thanks for having this topic. I was so excited to see it.

  10. I also included Say What You Will and Written in the Stars on my list. I loved Honolulu so much and considered including it (also check out his book Moloka'i!) and None of the Above was also really good, but hard as it was, I kept it to just 10. I'm glad there are so many to choose from and I'm looking forward to getting suggestions from other people's lists!

  11. None Of The Above also made my list, and there are a few on your list that I really want to read. Unfortunately, I couldn't get through Brown Girl Dreaming, but I get why people love it so much. Great list!

  12. LOVE the topic today! You have convinced me that I need to read Written in the Stars.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  13. I loved Written in the Stars! I loved all the cultural diversity and I think I learned a little about Pakistan and the culture there. I definitely want to read Brown Girl Dreaming. I have never read a book in verse before. Great list!!

  14. Great list. I really like this week’s topic. Brown Girl Dreaming is on my TBR list, and Stuck in Neutral sounds interesting. I’ll have to check that one out.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  15. This is a great list! I really want to read Written in the Stars, None of the Above, Say What You Will. And To All The Boys I've Loved Before is on my list this week! :)

    Here's my Top Ten Tuesday
    xo Stephanie

  16. Amazing list of books! I can't wait to read some of these and recommend them to my students, especially the first generation Asian students I have. Thank you for sharing ^_^

    here's my top ten: http://archiejr.blogspot.com/2015/07/ten-books-that-focus-on-disabilities.html

  17. Great list! I haven't read many of these yet. I loved To All the Boys I've Loved Before and Say What You Will. I liked how the author portrayed Amy.

  18. I have heard rave erviews of EINTY from the Book Riot community. I need to read it ASAP, especially since it just came up in paperback!
    -Monica @ Tomes Project

  19. Brown Girl Dreaming is a great pick! I read it last year and really enjoyed it.

  20. So great to see Brown Girl Dreaming on the list! Excited to read Written in the Stars and None of the Above soon! So many great titles on the list!

  21. These all sound really interesting. I'm definitely going to check out a few of them. Great list!

  22. Great list! Honolulu sounds like a great book, I'd love to read it.
    Have a great week,
    Amy x

  23. I've only Written in the Stars and Say What You Will and both are so so good and beautiful and amazing! :) <3 Diversity for the win!!

    Julie @ Books and Insomnia


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