5 Must Haves for a Diverse High School Classroom Library
Updated: Jul 14, 2021
The Hate U Give- Angie Thomas
Quick Summary: Starr witnesses the death of her friend Khalil, who is murdered by a police officer. The book follows her journey as she struggles with her identity, tries to cope with her friend’s death, and finds her voice.
Why I Love It: I replaced To Kill a Mockingbird with The Hate U Give for a whole class novel study two years ago. In my fourteen years teaching, I have never had students so engaged with a novel study. My students couldn’t wait to read each day, and it continues to be my favorite unit to teach.
The 57 Bus- Dashka Slater
Quick Summary: This novel is based on a true story of a teen who starts a fire on a bus. The novel follows Sasha and Richard through the tragic events.
Why I Love It: This is a great LGBTQ+ addition to any classroom library. In my teaching experience, students outside the LGBTQ+ community have a lot of questions and don’t understand the terminology used. This book breaks it all down.
Dear Martin- Nic Stone
Quick Summary: Justyce, an African American male, struggles with his identity and racial stereotypes while attending a prep school where he doesn’t feel he belongs.
Why I Love It: Dear Martin has many of the same themes as The Hate U Give, but for many students, it is less intimidating due to the length. If you teach in a conservative school, this is a great choice because it does not contain the curse words that many other popular YA books contain.
I’m Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter- Erika Sanchez
Quick Summary: Julia always felt like it was her sister’s role to be the perfect daughter. After her sister’s death, her imperfections seem more prevalent. Then she realizes her sister may not have been as perfect as everyone thought.
Why I Love It: Any student who has siblings will be able to relate to Julia. Students will connect with this character and get drawn in.
Long Way Down- Jason Reynolds
Quick Summary: Will has to make an incredibly difficult decision after his brother is killed. One trip in an elevator, and his decision becomes even more complicated.
Why I Love It: My students love novels written in verse, which makes this novel a top pick in my classroom. I love this novel because it is accessible to my struggling readers. It’s a quick read, and it does not intimidate apprehensive readers.