Dear Prestwick House,

We are a minority-majority high school and would like to expand our reading options to include a diverse selection of novels to match our students' interests. What contemporary titles would you recommend for young adult readers? Thanks for your help!

If you're looking for excellent diverse books for your high school students, you're in luck! Right now, there are so many fantastic titles on the literary market that it's overwhelming to sort through them all. But don't worry, we've got you covered.

With stories ranging from historical fiction to fantasy, characters from a multitude of cultures and backgrounds, and themes relevant to modern audiences, here are our top 10 picks that we believe will make your students eager to read more.

  1. There There

    Winner of the 2019 PEN/Hemingway Award, There There is Cheyenne and Arapaho author Tommy Orange's debut novel. This groundbreaking story follows 12 Native Americans who attend the Big Oakland Pow Wow. Although they each have a different relationship with their native backgrounds, every character has been shaped by a hardship that goes back generations. Both haunting and inspiring, this book will speak to students who feel powerless in the face of the invisible forces that influence their lives.

  2. Dear Martin

    Start conversations in your classroom about racial injustice and identity with Nic Stone's debut novel, Dear Martin. After an act of violence forces Justyce McAllister to question the world around him and reevaluate his friendships, he turns to the writings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for guidance. Students who love books by Angie Thomas, Walter Dean Myers, and Jason Reynolds will find this a great read.

  3. The 57 Bus

    If you're looking to incorporate social justice and LGBTQ+ topics into your curriculum, The 57 Bus makes a compelling choice. As part of a prank gone wrong, 16-year-old Richard lit another passenger—an agender teen named Sasha—on fire. Told in a narrative format by journalist Dashka Slater, this nonfiction work explores the incident and its subsequent court case and media fallout from all angles.

  4. Homegoing

    Through its beautifully written prose, Homegoing offers powerful commentary on history, colonialism, and slavery in Ghana and America. The first chapter of Yaa Gyasi's debut novel starts in eighteenth-century Africa and follows the lives of two half-sisters, one sent to America as a slave and the other raised free in Africa. As the book progresses, readers see how each sister's descendants fare as they grow up in vastly different societies.

  5. Gabi, a Girl in Pieces

    Written in the form of a diary, this novel tells the story of Gabi, a young Mexican American teenage girl. As a way to cope with the challenges that arise during her last year in high school, including body image issues, her best friend's teen pregnancy, and problems with her parents, Gabi turns to the power of poetry. While the book does contain profanity and some adult themes, it's sure to be a favorite for mature classes.

  6. All American Boys

    After a black student is beaten by a police officer over a misunderstanding, the incident quickly goes viral, sparking national outrage. This bestselling novel by acclaimed authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely will foster important discussions in your classroom about privilege, police brutality, and the meaning of community in modern America.

  7. The Poet X

    High school students of all backgrounds will surely relate to this novel written by slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo. Xiomara Batista, an Afro-Latina teenager, just wants to be heard, but her family's strict rules force her to keep quiet. It's not until she joins her school's slam poetry club that she musters the courage to start speaking her mind. Acevedo's witty writing helps drive home the story's core themes of identity and bravery.

  8. Children of Blood and Bone

    The first book in a trilogy, this fantasy story uses African traditions as the starting point for world-building. In her quest to restore magic to the kingdom of Orïsha, Zélie Adebola must face an oppressive ruler bent on suppressing all who have magical abilities. Consider teaching Children of Blood and Bone for its commentary on prejudice, inequality, and the struggle for power.

  9. Long Way Down

    This Newberry Award-winning verse novel takes an unflinching look at teenage gun violence and the perpetual cycle of destruction revenge can bring. Fifteen-year-old Will believes it is his duty to avenge his brother's death. But as he rides the elevator down from his family's apartment, Will is confronted by the elevator's ghostly occupants, all of whom were killed by gun violence.

  10. Born a Crime

    Actor and comedian Trevor Noah reflects on his youth through 18 personal essays, beginning with his birth during South Africa's apartheid era. Students from all backgrounds will find Noah's hilarious accounts of his childhood antics and awkward high school years all too relatable. Aside from being a funny coming-of-age tale, Born a Crime makes an excellent resource for learning more about South African history and culture.

Do you have any questions about books or need recommendations for your class? Leave a comment below, or send an email to! We're happy to help!