Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters.  You know what's interesting?  Many of the books that I count as diverse take place in the future.  We see diversity in science fiction and dystopian worlds.  It's not like we don't live in a diverse world right now.  So why aren't we seeing that reflected in the books we're being offered?  Here are my picks for books that celebrate diversity... right now, or in the past:

Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters:

All the Truth That's in Me
by Julie Berry

I'm still not sure how to categorize this book.  It reads like historical fiction, though (and there are no fantasy elements), so I'm going to count it.  The main character has a physical disability, and one of the other characters also ends up with a disability... at a time when those disabilities would have been very limiting.

The Art of Racing in the Rain
by Garth Stein

The diversity in this one is because of the narrator.  He's a dog.  Literally.  But that offers a unique perspective that we don't often see in other books.

The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak

Aside from the personified version of death, this is really a historical novel.  Religious diversity is one of the themes here (and, since it takes place in 1940s Germany, you can probably guess which religions we're talking about).

Free as a Bird
by Gina McMurchy-Barber

This is the first book I've read where the narrator had Down syndrome.  I really loved Ruby Jean's voice.  It also takes place in Canada, which is a little different from the usual American setting.

The Girl in the Garden
by Kamala Nair

This story is narrated by a grown-up immigrant woman who's reflecting on the time she spent in India as a child.  I loved the descriptions of the people and places in this book; they were so well done, I could almost imagine being there myself, experiencing the heat and tasting the lime juice they drank to keep cool.

A Handful of Stars
by Cynthia Lord

This book's narrator is white... but she's of French-Canadian descent, living in coastal Maine, who makes friends with a migrant farm worker of Mexican descent who spends most of the year in Florida.  As a bonus, there's lots of talk about blueberry enchiladas, which kind of makes me want dessert...

And, as an added bonus, the main character's dog is blind.  Hey, dogs can be diverse, too!

by Alice Hoffman

This historical novel features both ethnic and religious diversity.  It takes place in Spain during the Inquisition.  The main character is a Jew living as a Christian.  Muslims also make an appearance.  It's an interesting story about a time and place that I knew nothing about before I read the book!

Listen, Slowly
by Thanhha Lai

The narrator of this story is an American girl of Vietnamese descent.  She's a bit of a fish out of water when she accompanies her father and grandmother to Vietnam for the summer.  The descriptions of the setting were very vivid, and the cast of characters was well rounded.  Some of the incidents (and the characters' reactions to those incidents) were laugh-out-loud funny.

My Book of Life by Angel
by Martine Leavitt

Set in Vancouver, Canada in the not-so-distant past and narrated by a teenaged prostitute, this book offers a glimpse into the lives of sex-trade workers at a very dangerous time.

Under a Painted Sky
by Stacey Lee

Five young adults on the Oregon trail in the 1840s... and only two of them are white?  This book was such a pleasantly diverse surprise.  And while I question the plausibility of some of the things that happened (I think the world back then was a little less tolerant than this book might lead one to believe), it was still nice to see so much diversity represented in one story.

Have you found some great books that celebrate diversity?


  1. Omg, you've made me want to read SO MANY OF THESE. Particularly, Listen Slowly and Free As a Bird. They sound aaaamazing. (I've never read a book narrated by someone with down-syndrome either. Which is a shame. The only book where it's even been mentioned that I've read is Dead Ends, and he's a secondary character.) OH I LOVE ALL THE TRUTH THAT'S IN ME. I devoured it in like one sitting. XD

    1. Both of those books are really strong middle grade reads. I highly recommend them! :)

  2. I loved The Book Thief and Incantation - this cover is different to the edition I read, and so much better! I really like the look of The Girl in the Garden - added to my TBR list. My TTT

    1. Yeah... I'm not crazy about the cover of Incantation, either. It doesn't reflect the story that well.