Library Blog

YA Books on Prejudice and Social Justice

Social Justice

YA Books that Encourage Teens to Talk about Prejudice and How to Seek Social Justice 

Listed below is a collection of fiction novels that discusses issues of prejudice, racism, and the need for social justice. If any of these stories resonated anything in you to be more active within your community, listed next to those novels are nonfiction titles about doing just that; whether it is understanding the situation or taking steps to help.

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FICTION TITLE NONFICTION 
Dear Martin by Nic Stone           

Justyce’s life changed in a blink of an eye after he witnesses a tragedy and later he is placed in handcuffs after being racially-profiled. He begins to write letters addressed to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to try to make sense of his world.       

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi 

This book discusses the history of racism and how to combat racism in current situations. Reynolds and Kendi identify racism and “stamp out” these thoughts. This is intended for teen readers.  

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 

Starr Carter lives between two worlds: the privileged school she attends and the neighborhood she lives in.  One night, Starr watches her childhood friend murdered at the hands of a police officer. Afterward there are protests in his name and Starr must make the decision whether she keep her anonymity or support the cause.   

We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices Ed. by Cheryl Willis Hudson and Wade Hudson 

Written short stories, letters, prose, poetry and art are in this anthology to strengthen the thoughts of social justice for a new generation. This is for a range of ages.  

Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro 

Moss has been dealing with anxiety after the death of his father by the local police; his community still feels the loss and still seeks justice. When Moss begins to see changes in his school like new metal detectors, a terrible resource officer, and random locker checks that he does not agree with, Moss must decide to stand up for what he believes in.   

You are Mighty: A Guide to Changing the World by Caroline Paul, illustrated by Lauren Tamaki 

This is a guide provides tips, stories, and DIY activities to activism for all ages. With true stories of other teens that made a difference, this book teaches that no one person is too small to cause change.  

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham 

Two stories that are divided by time but are connected when Rowan, in current day Tulsa, finds a skeleton on her family’s property. A century earlier in 1921 Tulsa, William witnesses the violence against African Americans while in a town that is segregated by Jim Crow. His own prejudices are confronted while Rowan sees racism in an event she witnesses.  

How I Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation Ed. by Maureen Johnson 

During a time in which young adults want to become more involved in making a difference, this nonfiction title combines essays, songs, and other writing forms from an array of authors and actors about activism and how to be hopeful in difficult times.  

I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Gilly Segal & Kimberly Jones  

Lena and Campbell, two girls that don’t have a lot in common, are at the wrong place at the wrong time during the night of their football game. When racist slurs lead to physical fights and gun shots begin, they have to find a way to safety.  

Girls Resist!: A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution by KaeLyn Rich 

This book teaches steps how to pick a topic or cause, protesting tips, fundraiser guidelines, encouraging mindfulness in social media, and more! 

March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, & Nate Powell 

This award-winning series of graphic novels tells the story about John Lewis, a key figure in the Civil Rights Movement. He shares his tale in this three-part series told through the beautiful images. Book One begins with Lewis’ youth.  

#NeverAgainA New Generation Draws the Line by David Hogg 

After the events of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, the teens that were affected about that day’s events and decided to choose to become activists by speaking the truth and doing something to help the future generations 

Take the Mic: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance 

This is a YA anthology that features stories about characters that resist daily conventions and discusses the seemingly unimportant acts of characters can be powerful and lead to change. This book contains poetry, art, and prose that add to the storytelling.  

Nevertheless, We Persisted: 48 Voices of Defiance, Strength, and Courage Foreword by Sen. Amy Klobuchar 

From a variety of people (authors, actors, activists, athletes, and others) tell their own stories about a time when they were judged by their gender, race, and/or identity and how to overcome these prejudices. 

 

Other YA Fiction Titles that Feature Prejudice/Racism to Check Out:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie 

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely 

All American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney 

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed 

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang 

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi 

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America Ed. Ibi Zoboi 

Frankly in Love by David Yoon 

How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon 

Internment by Samira Ahmed 

Monster by Walter Dean Myers 

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan 

Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson & Ellen Hagan 

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed 

 

Other Nonfiction Titles about Prejudice/Racism to Check Out: 

I know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou 

Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America Ed. by Amy Reed 

We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World by Malala Yousafzai