YA authors have really stepped up to the challenge of providing authentic novels with diversity in them for the teen reader. This particular genre (if we can call it that) is a burgeoning one, and very desperately needed on library shelves. Our populations are becoming more and more diverse, and having diverse titles in the library helps open up not only pages, but conversations about cultural differences and even dispelling stereotypes of people from different cultures. With that said, I'd like to introduce three great YA novels that feature diversity in very different perspectives:
Jason and Tom have been friends since they were kids. It doesn't matter that Jason is Jewish and Tom is African-American. They see beyond this to the foundation of their friendship and interests. And their love of football is one of them.
Both Jason and Tom are gifted athletes. Jason is an amazingly quick wide receiver and Tom's arm is perfection for a quarterback. Living in New York City, their school doesn't have a football team, but they are given a chance in a lifetime....to play for a prestigious private school that is known for their outstanding athletes who make it to the pros.
But when they arrive at school, something isn't right. The coaches, who praised them during camp, are now different, treating both Tom and Jason brusquely. One of the boys is at the tipping point of calling it quits, when the truth begins to slowly rear its ugly face...segregation. Now they have a very different passion, one that could potentially expose the shining facade of football greatness. Recommended 7-12 grades.
Sebastian killed his little sister. When he was just four, he picked up a gun and now his sister isn't with them anymore. His father left, and his mother is hollow, only leaving the house to go to work or her therapist. Sebastian remembers the details, but wishes he didn't. And he can't let it go...
Sebastian is fourteen and summer is nearly upon him. His best friend, Ethan, will be gone all summer and to create a sense of normality, his mom tells him he must find a summer job, no excuses. Sebastian doesn't even know where to start, until he meets Aneesa.
She's so much more different than any other person he has met. Up front and honest, she makes him feel like there's more to life than the little voice who tells him otherwise. What starts as an accident on a bike becomes a new friendship, with new ideas. Pulling their ideas and expertise together, they decide to start a Youtube channel to create pizzas and some day, sell them. Aneesa works in her Muslim heritage and Sebastian brings it on with his pizza skills. Slowly, but surely, the channel starts to take off. First a 100 followers, then a 1,000...and the count keeps growing.
But when things in Sebastian's life begins to crumble again, the little voice starts talking, telling him it's time....go get the gun... Recommended for grades 8-12.
No crying. No snitching. Revenge. These are the Rules Will has been taught by his big brother Shawn. Tough neighborhood, tough life, tough luck... and when things got tough, Shawn made sure he and his little brother stayed tough. The Rules come into play the day Shawn sees his brother's body lying in the street. His mourning may be silent, but he also knows what he has to do. Going to his brother's side of the bedroom, Will takes the gun, tucks it behind him, and walks out the door onto the elevator.
Seven floors to the lobby. Seven floors to revenge.
But on the ride down, Will meets the people coming on. And what's so strange is that everyone who comes into the elevator cabin are people Will hasn't seen in a long time. On floor six, Buck enters the cabin. He's the one who gave Shawn the gun. On floor five, a childhood friend. On floor four, his father.....the only problem with this entire situation is that Will knows these people have died. And each one brings a new perspective into what happened and what may happen. Is it Will's imagination or are they truly there? Will has to decide whether to play by the Rules or change them...and his life. Recommended for grades 7-12.