30 Multicultural Books Every Teen Should Know:


The following list was compiled by Megan Schliesman, Kathleen T. Horning and Merri V. Lindgren via Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC), defines “multicultural” literature as books by and about people of color: African and African Americans, American Indians, Asian/Pacifics and Asian Pacific Americans, and Latinos. This listing introduces 30 essential books and a range of authors for teens. (Click on underlined book titles to see the CCBC review of the book, and/or the cover image).

Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Illustrated by Ellen Fourney. Litte, Brown, 2007. 240 pages. Ages 13-16

Alvarez, Julia . Before We Were Free. Alfred A. Knopf, 2002. 167 pages. Ages 12-15

Bruchac, Joseph. The Heart of a Chief. Dial, 1998. 153 pages. Ages 10 – 13

Bruchac, Joseph. Our Stories Remember: American Indian History, Culture and Values through Storytelling. Fulcrum, 2003. 192 pages. Age 16 and older

Carlson, Lori, editor. Cool Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Growing Up Latino in the United States. An Edge Book/Henry Holt, 1994. 123 pages. Ages 12 and older

Cofer, Judith Ortiz. An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio. Melanie Kroupa/Orchard, 1995. 165 pages. Ages 12 – 16

Engle, Margarita. The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom. Henry Holt, 2008. 176 pages. Age 12 and older

Flake, Sharon. Money Hungry. Jump at the Sun/Hyperion, 2001. 187 pages. Ages 12 – 16

Hamilton, Virginia. Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush. Philomel, 1982. 215 pages. Age 11 and older

Jaramillo, Ann. La Línea. Deborah Brodie Book / Roaring Brook Press, 2006. 131 pages. Age 13 and older

Jiang, Ji-Li. Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution. HarperCollins, 1997. 285 pages. Age 12 and older

Jimenez, Francisco. The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child. Houghton Mifflin, 1999. 116 pages. Age 12 and older

Johnson, Angela. The First Part Last. Simon & Schuster, 2003. 144 pages. Ages 13 – 18

Kadohata, Cynthia. Kira-Kira. Atheneum, 2004. 244 pages. Ages 10-14

Magoon, Kekla. The Rock and the River. Aladdin, 2009. 290 pages. Ages 11 – 14

Myers, Walter Dean. Monster. Illustrated by Christopher Myers. HarperCollins, 1999. 1999 pages. Ages 13 and older

Na, An. A Step From Heaven. Front Street, 2001. 156 pages. Age 13 and older

Nelson, Marilyn. A Wreath for Emmett Till. Illustrated by Philippe Lardy. Houghton Mifflin, 2005. 40 pages. Age 14 and older

Nelson, Vaunda Micheaux. No Crystal Stair. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. Carolrhoda LAB, 2012. 188 pages. Age 12 and older

Nelson, Kadir. Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans. Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins, 2011. 108 pages. Ages 8-14

Park, Linda Sue. When My Name Was Keoko: A Novel of Korea in World War II. Clarion, 2002. 199 pages. Ages 11 – 14

Say, Allen. Drawing from Memory. Scholastic Press, 2011. 64 pages. Age 10 and older

Smelcer, John. The Trap. Henry Holt, 2006. 170 pages. Age 12 and older

Soto, Gary . Baseball in April and Other Stories. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1990. 109 pages. Ages 11-14

Stork, Francisco X.. The Last Summer of the Death Warriors. Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, Inc., 2010. 344 pages. Ages 14 and older

Tan, Shaun. The Arrival. Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic, 2007. 128 pages. Age 11 and older

Woodson, Jacqueline. If You Come Softly. Putnam, 1998. 181 pages. Age 13 and older

Yang, Gene Luen. American Born Chinese. First Second, 2006. 233 pages. Age 13 and older

This list may be reproduced and distributed by educational and/or nonprofit organizations so long as credit is given to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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