Top Ten Tuesday: Diverse Books I Wish More People Would Read to Build Understanding and Empathy


top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists (as are we!). Each week a new Top Ten list topic is given and bloggers can participate.

 Today’s Topic: Diverse Books I Wish More People Would Read to Build Understanding and Empathy


One of the things this election has made me think about is the superiority that so many feel about themselves versus others. I wish they would pick up some of these books to help them build empathy for their fellow man. These books push the reader outside of their comfort zone and helps us see the world from a different point of view. I tried to pick books that focused on different diverse populations and included picture, middle grade, and young adult books. And yes, I did more than 10 🙂

how it went down

How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon

Inspired by Trayvon Martin’s murder, Magoon looks at a young black boy’s murder from different points of view.

All American Boys

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

After an incident of police brutality, one boy must figure out how to stay strong and another must figure out how to question everything he knows.

a piece of home

A Piece of Home by Jeri Watts

What is it like to move to a brand new country with a brand new language? Tough but so many immigrants do it for a hope of a better future.

tia isa

Tía Isa Wants a Car by Meg Medina

While still saving to help more of their family immigrate to the U.S., Tía Isa works twice as hard to also buy something so many of us take for granted: a car.

a long walk to water

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

What is it like to grow up surrounded by war? To have to walk 2 hours for water? To want to be anywhere but the country that you live in?

kiki and jacques

Kiki and Jacques by Susan Ross

An introduction to refugees from a middle school boy’s point of view.  The reader also gets to learn about the refugees and their lives and situations along with Jacques which makes it so students with no prior knowledge can live Kiki and Jacques story with them.

children growing

Children Growing Up with War by Jenny Matthews

So many of us live in a privilege that includes peace, shelter, safety, and other basic needs. This is not so for so much of the world, and children grow up surrounded by violence all over the world. What is their life like?


The Milk of Birds by Sylvia Whitman

This book looks at two very different girls but both who need to be read about: KC has a learning disability and Nawra is a refugee in Darfur.

fist stick

Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence by Geoffrey Canada

A gritty, truthful narrative about the evolution of violence.


Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

Grayson will help so many readers learn about the struggle of being transgender.

so hard to say

So Hard to Say by Alex Sanchez

What happens if you want to be normal, but you know that you aren’t? Is being gay a choice you can make?

red a crayon's story

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

Although a story of a crayon, it looks at identity and labels. Not everyone has to be what they are labeled or are told to be. Let people shine as they truly are.

my friend maggie

My Friend Maggie by Hanna E. Harrison

Maggie is a big overweight and Veronica is not very nice to her. Paula struggles with the want to be popular or be friends with an amazing person who isn’t as popular. This story is an anthropomorphic story of what can happen on any playground in America.


Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

Gabi’s story hits on so many topics (pregnancy, abortion, meth, family, religion, ethnicity, school, homosexuality, sex, death, poetry, college, rape, and gender expectations, just to name a few), but they are all done with grace and understanding.


Sold by Patricia McCormick

Would you ever sell your child into prostitution for food? That is a question we may never have to face, but some families will.

Which diverse books did you wish more people read to help build understanding and empathy?


8 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Diverse Books I Wish More People Would Read to Build Understanding and Empathy”

  1. I love this list! I’m adding some that I haven’t read yet to my list. May I suggest THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM(Sky Pony Press August 2nd) my MG historical fiction about 12yr old girl living in Hiroshima during WWII. I’m proud to say, it’s based on my mother’s life and surviving August 6th. Also PAPER WISHES by Lois Sepahban.Thank you.

  2. Incredible collection of powerful books! One I would suggest would be Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson. I thought it was a really engrossing book on the issues of homelessness and how even “helpful” structures can fail kids. Thanks for sharing these with #diversekidlit!

  3. Wonderful list, Kellee, most I’ve read, but there are some I’ve never heard of. Thank you so much. Just got My Friend Maggie today from the library. I do love A Long Walk To Water, All American Boys and Gracefully Grayson especially. It is marvelous that so many books about “everyone” are available now.


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