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    30 Young Adult Books I Wish Younger Me Could Have Read

    Teen me would have loved these so much more than the books I had to read.

    Hi, I'm Rachel, and I love books.

    In fact, as a books contributor here, a librarian, and someone who works for book festivals, you might say books are my life. Which is why it surprises some people when I tell them that I only read one-twentieth of the books I was assigned in high school from start to finish (unless you are one of my four high school English teachers — in which case, I clearly read everything I was supposed to). 

    It's not that I wasn't a reader; I definitely was (I know for a fact City of Bones was circulating through my friend group). Most of the books assigned were from the 19th century or first half of the 20th century, with just a single book published in my lifetime (and that was just barely — I'm less than three months older than it). Twelve were written by white men, two-thirds of whom died before I existed, and 17 of 20 were written by white authors. Not a single book was written by a Black or Indigenous author. 

    So something I've been thinking about recently is: If I could go back to high school me and assign her books from the last five years, what would I choose?

    What would keep me reading? What would I actually want to discuss with other students? What would hold my interest enough to put the effort into analyzing? After careful consideration, I put together some of my own recommendations below. 


    1. You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

    2. How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love With the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

    3. Indivisible by Daniel Aleman

    4. I'll Be the One by Lyla Lee

    5. All the Things We Never Knew by Liara Tamani

    6. Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

    7. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

    8. Your Corner Dark by Desmond Hall

    9. We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds


    10. We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

    11. Angel of Greenwood by Randi Pink

    12. White Rose by Kip Wilson

    13. Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

    14. Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson

    15. Mirror Girls by Kelly McWilliams

    Mystery / thriller

    16. Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

    17. Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley

    18. The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris


    19. Beyond the Ruby Veil by Mara Fitzgerald

    20. The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh

    21. Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

    22. Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera

    23. Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

    24. Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis

    25. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

    26. The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen


    27. Want by Cindy Pon

    28. The Ones We're Meant to Find by Joan He

    29. Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds

    30. The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah

    It is crucial it is to allow for a wide variety of books in schools, and currently that idea is being challenged in practically every part of the country.

    If you'd like to learn how to push back against book challenges to keep them from becoming bans, there are resources here from School Library Journal/Teen Librarian Toolbox and a map of reported book challenges (as well as their status) here through Book Ban Busters