Diverse Book Recommendations for #WeNeedDiverseBooks

If you’re not already aware, there’s a wonderful thing happening in the book world these past few days. A campaign called #WeNeedDiverseBooks (link is here) is trying to bring together likeminded folks to push for change in the publishing industry. We all envision lists that include more books for people of every color, ethnicity, faith, sexuality, and ability level.

I found myself tweeting between classes at my school, enlisting the aid of students to take my photo, and talking it up non-stop. But my tiny contributions are dwarfed by the great idea from Cybils’ volunteers to post suggestions for diverse reading from our very own finalists.

Cybils has long sought out diversity in both our judges and nominations. We decided nearly at our inception not to simply wait to see who showed up or what got nominated. We make the effort, year after year, to ensure that we’re not missing out on great stories and a variety of perspectives.

Below is a highly incomplete list of the many diverse titles and authors we’ve helped uncover and reward since 2006. Most of us are on hiatus now, and so I’m posting only what a handful of category organizers could whip up from their own categories on short notice. Missing is the YA fiction and graphic novel lists, for example, both of which have scores of books with characters of different races and cultures. Feel free to browse our lists of finalists from the menu above for more recommendations.

–Anne Boles Levy, Cybils Co-Founder


Requiem: Poems of the Terezin Ghetto
by Paul B. Janeczko
Candlewick Press

written by Naomi Shihab Nye
Easy Reader/Early Chapter Books
Have Fun, Anna Hibiscus!
by Atinuke
Kane/Miller Book PubAnna Hibiscus
by Atinuke
Kane/Miller Book Pub

Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Takes Off
by Jacqueline Jules
Albert Whitman & Company

How Oliver Olson Changed the World
by Claudia Mills
Farrar, Straus & Giroux

YA Speculative Fiction
Sarah Beth Durst
Walker Books for Young Readers
Pantomime (Strange Chemistry)
Laura Lam
Strange Chemistry
The Summer Prince
Alaya Dawn Johnson
Arthur A Levine
Every Day
by David Levithan
Knopf Books for Young Readers
The Drowned Cities
by Paolo Bacigalupi
Little, Brown
The Girl of Fire and Thorns
by Rae Carson
Greenwillow Books
The Shattering
by Karen Healey
Little, Brown
Guardian of the Dead
by Karen Healey
Little, Brown
Rot & Ruin
by Jonathan Maberry
Simon & Schuster
Ship Breaker
by Paolo Bacigalupi
Little, Brown
Elementary/Picture Book Nonfiction

Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter
14 Cows for America written by Carmen Agra Deedy with Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah; illus. by Thomas Gonzalez
Faith (Global Fund for Children Books) by Maya Ajmera, Magde Nakassis, and Cynthia Pon
Henry Aaron’s Dream by Matt Tavares
Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Pinkney; illus. by Brian Pinkney
Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald by Roxane Orgill; illus. Sean Qualls
Anubis Speaks!: A Guide to the Afterlife by the Egyptian God of the Dead (Secrets of the Ancient Gods) by Vicky Alvear Shecter
Barbed Wire Baseball by Marissa Moss
Middle Grade Speculative Fiction

Jinx, by Sage Blackwood
The Water Castle, by Megan Frazer Blakemore
Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu
Ninth Ward, by Jewell Parker Rhodes
The Prince of Fenway Park, by Julianna Baggott
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin

Fiction Picture Books
Infinity and Me, by Kate HosfordBlackout, by John Rocco

A Beach Tail,by Karen Lynn William

Chalk, by Bill Thompson

All the World, by Liz Garlon Scanlon