Top 5 Saturday: Books with Diverse Characters

Welcome to Top 5 Saturday! This is a weekly challenge hosted by Devouring Books, and this week’s challenge focuses on books with diverse characters

It was really hard to narrow it down for this one! I love reading books with a diverse cast of characters, and I’m especially particular about this when choosing books to use in my classroom. Therefore, this is going to be kind of an eclectic list of books! I tried to include a broad selection of books that ranges from middle grade, to young adult, to contemporary fiction. Without further ado, here are my top five books with diverse characters (in no particular order)!

1. “Lucky Broken Girl” by Ruth Behar

Lucky Broken Girl: Behar, Ruth: 9780399546440: Amazon.com: Books
  • Genre: Historical Fiction (Middle Grade)
  • Synopsis:

Based on the author’s childhood in the 1960s, a young Cuban-Jewish immigrant girl is adjusting to her new life in New York City when her American dream is suddenly derailed.

Ruthie Mizrahi and her family recently emigrated from Castro’s Cuba to New York City. Just when she’s finally beginning to gain confidence in her mastery of English and enjoying her reign as her neighborhood’s hopscotch queen, a horrific car accident leaves her in a body cast and confined her to her bed for a long recovery. As Ruthie’s world shrinks because of her inability to move, her powers of observation and her heart grow larger. She comes to understand how fragile life is, how vulnerable we all are as human beings, and how friends, neighbors, and the power of the arts can sweeten even the worst of times.

2. “Piecing Me Together” by Renée Watson

Amazon.com: Piecing Me Together (9781681191058): Watson, Renée: Books
  • Genre: YA Fiction
  • Synopsis:

A timely and powerful story about a teen girl from a poor neighborhood striving for success, from acclaimed author Renée Watson.

Jade believes she must get out of her neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother says she has to take every opportunity. She has. She accepted a scholarship to a mostly-white private school and even Saturday morning test prep opportunities. But some opportunities feel more demeaning than helpful. Like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for “at-risk” girls. Except really, it’s for black girls. From “bad” neighborhoods.

But Jade doesn’t need support. And just because her mentor is black doesn’t mean she understands Jade. And maybe there are some things Jade could show these successful women about the real world and finding ways to make a real difference.

Friendships, race, privilege, identity—this compelling and thoughtful story explores the issues young women face.

3. “Save Me A Seat” by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

Save Me a Seat: Weeks, Sarah, Gita Varadarajan: 9780545846608: Amazon.com:  Books
  • Genre: Realistic Fiction (Middle Grade)

Joe and Ravi might be from very different places, but they’re both stuck in the same place: SCHOOL.

Joe’s lived in the same town all his life, and was doing just fine until his best friends moved away and left him on his own.

Ravi’s family just moved to America from India, and he’s finding it pretty hard to figure out where he fits in.

Joe and Ravi don’t think they have anything in common — but soon enough they have a common enemy (the biggest bully in their class) and a common mission: to take control of their lives over the course of a single crazy week.

4. “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga

Amazon.com: Other Words for Home (9780062747808): Warga, Jasmine: Books
  • Genre: Realistic Fiction (Middle Grade)

I am learning how to be
sad
and happy
at the same time.

Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.

At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.

5. “Bel Canto” by Ann Patchett

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  • Genre: Thriller

Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country’s vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa. Roxane Coss, opera’s most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening—until a band of gun-wielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, a moment of great beauty, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different continents become compatriots, intimate friends, and lovers.

Have you read any of these books? What would your top five be?

Let me know in the comments!

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