Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week there is a new topic and this week’s topic is: Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters (example: features minority/religious minority, socioeconomic diversity, disabled MC,  neurotypical character, LGBTQ etc etc.)

I think that diversity in books is absolutely wonderful and necessary. The more we read about people who are different from ourselves, the more we learn to empathize and understand others.

  1. Proxy by Alexander London – Most books that fall into the dystopian genre automatically go with the boy-girl love interest. I seriously love that not only does this book avoid that trope, but also that one of the main characters is unashamedly gay. Also, Syd’s sexuality isn’t the focus of the story, which is a nice change from the usual “teen grappling with identity issues” stories we usually see.
    • “He grinned and then pulled Syd’s face to him, pressing their lips together. At first Syd flinched, then he relaxed and let his hands fall to Knox’s side. The battle around them vanished, the world that was nd the world to come, all disappeared for one instant as their lips held on to one another.”
  2. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson – Although I preferred Jonasson’s first book more, I think this one is really important for its diversity factor. The main character is a young girl from South Africa who is amazing at math and is considerable smarter than most people around her. She is constantly underestimated by the many white people she meets who assume that she is ignorant and uneducated.
    • “We’ll just change your name – I’m sure the assistant can’t tell one black from the next.’ Said the fourteen-year-old who looked twelve.”
  3. Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf – This lovely little book shows readers that older adults aren’t just “grandma and grandpa”, but real people who still desire connection and intimacy with others and the world. It’s heartbreaking to read how isolated the main characters feel at the beginning of the book, and wonderful to see how their relationship really changes their lives.
    • “But I think I could sleep again if there were someone else in the bed with me. Someone nice. The closeness of that. Talking in the night, in the dark?”
  4. Come a Stranger by Cynthia Voigt – Mina receives a scholarship to ballet camp that seems like a dream come true. She doesn’t even mind being the only black girl in the troupe—that is, until she is told she’ll never be a classical dancer. This book discusses race, identity, and adolescent sexuality in a respectful and accessible manner.
    • “I’m brown, really,” Mr Shipp said to her silence. “We are. Shades of brown. We call ourselves black because—the other words have been used and used derogatively. Negro—that’s black too, in another language.”
  5. A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee – Set in Victorian England, Mary’s family background isn’t common knowledge because she is worried that others will shun her if they find out about her mixed-race heritage. As she learns more about her father and his mysterious past, she has to come to terms with her own insecurities and prejudices.
    • “I’m not ashamed of having a Chinese father,” she said carefully. “But most English are bigoted: they think that foreigners, especially those with darker skin, are inferior. They think we have weak minds and poor morals.”
  6. Zally’s Book by Jan Bozarth – Zally’s family really embraces their culture and encourages her to learn more about the history and geography of Guatemala. Her quest in Aventurine often reminds her of pictures from her mother’s trips back home and stories that her Abuelita told her about Mayan culture. The whole series is great fun, and celebrates the diversity of each of the girls.
    • “I was born in New York City, but my parents didn’t grow up here; they grew up in a tiny village in Guatemala.”
  7. Wonder by R.J. Palacio – August was born with a severe facial deformity that has required multiple surgeries during his young life. His parents have home-schooled him for the first 10 years of his life, but now he is going to school for the first time. This middle-grade book focuses on physical differences, and makes kids think about how they treat others who may not look the same as them.
    • “It’s like people you see sometimes, and you can’t imagine what it would be like to be that person, whether it’s somebody in a wheelchair or somebody who can’t talk. Only, I know that I’m that person to other people, maybe to every single person in that whole auditorium.
      To me, though, I’m just me. An ordinary kid.”
  8. Mosquitoland by David Arnold – I know I’ve mentioned this book in a few lists, but I do love the fact that there are so many wonderfully diverse characters in it. The main character has mental health concerns and has lost vision in one eye, while other characters are different in their own unique ways.
    1. “Like a Siren, it tempts me with whispered promises of the ever-elusive Normal Life.”
  9. The Serpent’s Shadow by Mercedes Lackey – Maya is a fully trained doctor, but being female and from India in London of 1909 means that she is treated with little regard by her peers. She makes the most of her situation by helping those who would otherwise be turned away by traditional doctors, and in doing so makes friendships and alliances that help her when her enemies come looking for her.
    • “One wonders what brought her here, when her—race—as well as her profession would have been more acceptable in her own homeland, or on the Continent.”
  10. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone – Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off. This is another book that discusses mental health issues and acceptance of others differences.
    • “My friends can’t know about my OCD or the debilitating, uncontrollable thoughts, because my friends are normal. And perfect. They pride themselves on normalcy and perfection, and they can’t ever find out how far I am from those two things.”

18 thoughts on “Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters

Add yours

    1. I try to think of books that others may not have heard of whenever I do these lists. I knew there were going to be a few books would see on most lists, so I tried to stay away from them to add some variety.


      1. I’m glad, I like my lists to be a little different to everyone else’s. This week was more difficult than most, it took me most of the day to come up with a list!


    1. I have the same weakness, especially when the book also has an unusual female character kicking butt in some way. If you like The Agency series you should try the Lady Cavendish Mysteries too. They are middle-grade Elizabethan mysteries that are great. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! If you get a chance, you should give some of them a try. I tried to pick books from a bunch of different genres and styles so that people could find at least one diverse book that appealed to them. 🙂


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