When we here at First Book first read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, we knew we had to get this title into the hands of the educators and kids we serve. We knew many young readers would see themselves in Starr, the book’s protagonist, and others would use Starr’s experience to better understand the realities of their peers’ lives.
We are proud that this title is now a major motion picture, and the story is reaching more people now than ever before. If you are touched by The Hate U Give, we hope you’ll explore these other titles that gave us that same “we need to share this book” feeling when we first read it…
Books About Finding Your Voice:
Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. But now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in?
While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized. Amina’s Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani American and highlights the many ways in which one girl’s voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other.
Things usually do not go as planned for seventeen-year-old Noah. He and his best friend Walt have just been cut from the high school baseball team for the third year in a row, and it looks like Noah’s love interest since fifth grade, Samantha, will never take it past the “best friend” zone. But Walt has big plans for them both, which include making a baseball comeback, getting the girl, and finally becoming cool.
As always, Noah is reluctant, but decides to take a risk after discovering a trove of old love letters and an appreciation of jazz music after a stop at the thrift store-letters and a groove that inspire him to send a few love notes of his own. But just as he and Walt’s plans appear to be working, the letters set of a chain of events that upends everything Noah thought he knew about love, friendship, sacrifice, and fate.
Books About Social Justice Advocacy
This moving, at times heartbreaking, but always inspiring story will show young readers that anything is possible.
Julissa’s story provides a deep look into the little-understood world of a new generation of undocumented immigrants in the United States today—kids who live next door, sit next to you in class, or may even be one of your best friends.
We are fighters and feminists, freethinkers and forces to be reckoned with. We are fitting in (or not), fed up, fighting back, and figuring it out in classrooms, cafes, and all across New York City.
The mentors and mentees in this unique volume are redefining feminist identities, finding their voices, fighting for essential rights, and facing our community with fresh eyes.
Books About Finding Your Strength
Jade believes she must get out of her poor neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother tells her to take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way. And 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. And just because Maxine, her college-graduate 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.
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world.
Much of what twenty-first century culture tells black girls is not pretty: Don’t wear this; don’t smile at that. Don’t have an opinion; don’t dream big. And most of all, don’t love yourself.
In response to such destructive ideas, internationally recognized poet Mahogany Browne challenges the conditioning of society by crafting an anthem of strength and magic undeniable in its bloom for all beautiful Black girls.
Books About Race, Policing, and Violence
Despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.
Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.
When Marvin Johnson’s twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid.
The next day, Tyler has gone missing, and it’s up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Terrified as his mother unravels and mourning a brother who is now a hashtag, Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean.
Books About Finding Where You Belong
American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.
There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.
Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s a Fractional Persian—half, his mom’s side—and his first-ever trip to Iran is about to change his life.
Darius has never really fit in at home, and he’s sure things are going to be the same in Iran. His clinical depression doesn’t exactly help matters, and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents only makes things harder. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and everything changes. Soon, they’re spending their days together, playing soccer, eating faludeh, and talking for hours on a secret rooftop overlooking the city’s skyline. Sohrab calls him Darioush—the original Persian version of his name—and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab.
What books have you read lately that were too good to keep to yourself? Let us know in the comments!
Check out more of our picks to keep teens reading and encourage them to become lifelong readers on the First Book Marketplace.