Top 10 Summer Must Reads for Teens on Social Justice and Diversity
While summer is the perfect time for some light-hearted fiction reading, it’s also important for teens to add some books to their list that will help them grow as a person and expand their thinking during those lazy summer days. Some of the most important topics center around diversity, racism, social justice, and inclusion. There are great books available for every age and covering countless topics.
Uplift Education, the largest charter school network in North Texas, shared its summer reading list which centers around these topics. “Our students receive a globally-focused education through the International Baccalaureate program, so it’s important that our summer reading be inclusive and representative,” said Hedreich Nichols von Reichert, Curriculum & Instruction Specialist for Uplift Education.
Here are some top reads for teens:
- Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. Through a gripping, fast-paced, and energizing narrative written by beloved award-winner Jason Reynolds, this book shines a light on the many insidious forms of racist ideas – and on ways readers can identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives.
- An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. Today in the United States, there are more than 500 federally recognized Indigenous nations comprising nearly three million people, descendants of the 15 million Native people who once inhabited this land. This history of the United States told from the perspective of Indigenous peoples reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, actively resisted expansion of the US empire.
- I Am Alfonzo Jones by Tony Medina. In the first graphic novel for young readers to focus on police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement, as in Hamlet, the dead shall speak–and the living yield even more surprises. In the first graphic novel for young readers to focus on police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement, as in Hamlet, the dead shall speak–and the living yield even more surprises.
- Born A Crime by Trevor Noah. Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth.
- Lowriders in Space by Cathy Camper. Lupe Impala, El Chavo Flapjack, and Elirio Malaria love working with cars. You name it, they can fix it. But the team’s favorite cars of all are lowriders. The stars align when a contest for the best car around offers a prize of a trunkful of cash—just what the team needs to open their own shop!
- They Called Us the Enemy by George Takei, et al. A stunning graphic memoir recounting actor/author/activist George Takei’s childhood imprisoned within American concentration camps during World War II.
- March: Book One by John Lewis. This graphic novel tells the story of Congressman John Lewis, an American icon and one of the key figures of the civil rights movement. His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper’s farm to the halls of Congress.
- You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner. Julia attends Kingston School for the Deaf. But when she sees a slur about her best friend written on the wall, she covers it up with a graffiti mural and ultimately ends up getting expelled. Now Julia is stuck in a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s the only deaf student and feels like an outsider.
- Internment by Samira Ahmed. Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens. Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the camp’s director and his guards.
- Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson, et al. This award-winning book chronicles Jasmine and Chelsea, best friends on a mission. They’re sick of the way women are treated even at their progressive NYC high school, so they decide to start a Women’s Rights Club.
These are simply a few of the many wonderful books out there for teens on the topics of social justice, diversity, and inclusion. You can find more great recommendations on Book Riot.