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Teen/YA Booklists & Resources

The numbers of publications for teens are exploding! Do you like graphic novels? Manga? Novels tackling tough topics, dystopian futures, or pop culture? Or do you prefer non-fiction? Find your interests here. And remember that classic literature and books in the adult section may be right for you, too!


Links are provided for each title to take you to the CWMARS catalog. Try searching for these items in other formats, including downloadable e-books and audiobooks!

Teen Literature Awards

Below find links to titles honored by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association.

Staff Recommendations

Here are some titles that our staff think you will enjoy. Please note: some items may cover sensitive topics. Ask a staff member for other options if these aren't your speed!

Action/Adventure & Sports

Adrift by Paul Griffin

Savage Mountain by John E. Smelcer

Fast Break by Mike Lupica


Foundling (Monster Blood Tattoo book 1) by D.M. Cornish

Carry on: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu

The City of Bones by Cassandra Claire

The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles Part 1) by Patrick Rothfuss

The Fifth Season (Broken Earth Novels Part 1) by N. K. Jemisin

Favorite Authors: Octavia Butler, Terry Pratchett, Cinxin Liu

Graphic Novels

The Adventure Zone by Clint, Griffin, Justin, Travis McElroy and Carey Pietsch (volumes 1 & 2; volume 3 to be released July 2020)

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Mental Illness (Fiction)

Suggested Reading by David Connis

The Library of Lost Things by Laura Taylor

Novels in Verse

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Shout by Laure Halse Anderson

Realistic Fiction

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

Calling My Name by Liara Tamani


Season of the Witch: A Prequel Novel (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) by Sarah Rees Brennan

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

You Owe Me a Murder by Eileen Cook

Race, Social Justice, & Activism
Teen Race, Social Justice, & Activism

The Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) began in 2013 in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who had been charged in the murder of a young, African American teenager named Treyvon Martin. While BLM has become a global movement in response to violence--particularly state-sponsored violence--against black people, it follows a long history of social and political activism in the United States, where a groundswell of feeling against racist or discriminatory treatment has resulted in a demand for change.

The booklists below include fiction and non-fiction titles on African American history and responses to current events. They also include books with broader themes of social, political, and cultural awareness; they tackle societal divisions, political change, and activism on a variety of topics.

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All American Boys by Jason Reynolds. When sixteen-year-old Rashad is mistakenly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best friend. Told through Rashad and Quinn's alternating viewpoints, the story grows from the microcosm of the school and then reaches the entire community. Named as a School Library Journal Best Book; winner of the Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children's Literature. [Grades 9-12]

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America by Ibi Aanu Zoboi, editor. These seventeen short stories cover a wide variety of experiences: dating, fraught relationships with family members, and hanging out on a hot summer day. While the stories tackle issues that teens of any color can relate to, the "collection seeks not merely to counteract society's idea of blackness but to expand it to its fullest expression; it shows teens "examining, rebelling against, embracing, or simply existing within their own idea of blackness." It's a celebration of identity through vibrant narratives that will accurately communicate to all young people that they are enough—just as they are." -Horn Book Magazine Reviews [Grades 9-12]

How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon. When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson is shot to death, his community is thrown into an uproar because Tariq was black and the shooter, Jack Franklin, is white, and in the aftermath everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events agree. [Grades 9-12]

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. "Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life"-- Provided by publisher. [Grades 9-12]


Dear Martin by Nic Stone. Writing letters to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., seventeen-year-old college-bound Justyce McAllister struggles to face the reality of race relations today and how they are shaping him. [Grades 9-12]

145th Street: Short Stories by Walter Dean Myers. "Rooted in a Harlem neighborhood, these short stories mix anger and laughter, music and melancholy. Violence is a constant and so is love, with surprises that grow right out of the daily lives of the people who live on the block. ... Teens are the dominant voices, but several stories are cross-generational, and though the time is now, the sense of history is strong. There are no heavy sermons or messages, but the search for personal identity is at the heart of this lyrical collection, and so is the sense of the place". -Booklist Reviews [teen/ya]


Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism, and You by Jason Reynolds. "Readers who want to truly understand how deeply embedded racism is in the very fabric of the U.S., its history, and its systems will come away educated and enlightened. It's a monumental feat to chronicle in so few pages the history of not only anti-black racism in the U.S., but also assimilationist and anti-racist thought as well. In the process it succeeds at connecting "history our lives as we live them right this minute." -Kirkus Reviews [Ages 12+]


Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Philip Hoose. "In March 1955, nine months before Rosa Parks triggered the bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., by refusing to surrender her seat to a white passenger, a 15-year-old Montgomery girl, Claudette Colvin, let herself be arrested and dragged off the bus for the same reason; in 1956, Colvin was one of four plaintiffs in Browder v. Gayle, a landmark case in which Montgomery's segregated bus system was declared unconstitutional. Investigating Colvin's actions, asking why Rosa Parks's role has overshadowed Colvin's, Hoose...introduces readers to a resolute and courageous teenager and explores the politics of the NAACP and bus-boycott leadership." -Publishers Weekly [Geared toward grades 6+; still valuable for older readers]


Black Lives Matter by Sue Bradford. Though this title is from 2016, it is a strong entry for its ability to introduce the Black Lives Matter movement to readers with clarity, depth, nuance, and balance. [Grades 6+]


In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives by Kenneth Davis. This well-researched book offers a chronological history of slavery in America and features five enslaved people and the four U.S. presidents who owned them. ... A valuable, broad perspective on slavery, paired with close-up views of individuals who benefited from it and those who endured it." -Booklist Starred Review. [grades 6+]

March: Books 1, 2, and 3 by John Lewis. This graphic novel series tells the story of Representative John Lewis of Georgia, beginning with his life as young boy and through his involvement and leadership in the Civil Rights struggle of the mid-20th century. Winner of the National Book Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, and many more this title intertwines images and dialogue to evoke the fight against segregation and Jim Crow, and the fight for equality. [Grades 7+]

A Young People’s History of the United States: Columbus to the War on Terror by Rebecca Stefoff and Howard Zinn. "This update of a classic is to some a controversial telling of American history. Books for youth rarely present American history that is not told from the politicians or, in some cases, the popular view... Beginning with Christopher Columbus's arrival through the eyes of the Arawak Indians and then the struggles for workers' rights, women's rights, and civil rights during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, before ending with the current protests against continued American imperialism, a different way of understanding America's history is offered." -Voice of Youth Advocates [Grade 7+]

It’s Trevor Noah: Born a Crime Stories from a South African Childhood (Adapted for Young Readers) by Trevor Noah. "In this insightful memoir, adapted from the adult volume...Noah intersperses his life experiences with a layered look at the history of South Africa. Growing up at the end of apartheid, he was evidence of a crime—his mother was Black and his father was white, and mixed-race children were illegal—and it made him an outsider. Noah grew up understanding that many aspects of his upbringing were fundamentally different: his mother raised him with an imagination and showed that there were no barriers to whatever he wanted to be. ... An engrossing read on one of the most oppressive times in history for people of color." -Booklist Reviews [Grades 5-8] (Older readers may want to consider the original text, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood.)


Just Mercy: A True Story of the Fight for Justice (Adapted for Young Adults) by Bryan Stevenson. The author founded, and continues to work as a lawyer for, the Equal Justice Initiative across the United States to redress many injustices against people and youth of color who were tried for crimes they may not have committed. ... Stevenson follows a few specific cases while providing an overview of the big picture of how the judicial system has ignored basic civil rights when the accused are people of color and/or are poor. Readers will have their eyes opened to real cases and can then decide for themselves their opinion of the justice system. While some of the stories are upsetting, there is no overt violence included." -SJL Reviews [Grades 8+] (Some readers may want to consider the original text, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.)

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