Inspired by Classics: Diverse Books for Teens

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These books offer creative, contemporary, and diverse takes on classics of literature, from a Pakistan-American homage to Little Women to an Afro-Latinx spin on Pride and Prejudice set in Brooklyn. Some of the stories empower women and characters of color in new ways that challenge the original depictions, as in Sisters of the Never Sea by Cynthia Leitich Smith. These books will provide great opportunities for discussion and for consideration of the question, "What makes a book a classic?"

A Blade So Black

A Blade So Black
Age Level: Young adult (14-18)

The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now, she's trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.  Life in real-world Atlanta isn't always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job.

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Four girls laying in a circle.
By: Hena Khan
Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)

From the critically acclaimed author of Amina’s Voice comes a new story inspired by Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic, Little Women, featuring four sisters from a modern American Muslim family living in Georgia.

Pride: A Pride and Prejudice Remix

Pride: A Pride & Prejudice Remix
By: Ibi Zoboi
Age Level: Young adult (14-18)

Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable. When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.

Sisters of the Neversea

Sisters of the Neversea
Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)

Lily and Wendy have been best friends since they became stepsisters. But with their feuding parents planning to spend the summer apart, what will become of their family — and their friendship? Little do they know that a mysterious boy has been watching them from the oak tree outside their window. A boy who intends to take them away from home for good, to an island of wild animals, Merfolk, Fairies, and kidnapped children, to a sea of merfolk, pirates, and a giant crocodile. A boy who calls himself Peter Pan.

Summer of the Mariposas

Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)

Product Description: When Odilia and her four sisters find a dead body in the swimming hole, they embark on a hero's journey to return the dead man to his family in Mexico. But returning home to Texas turns into an odyssey that would rival Homer's original tale. With the supernatural aid of ghostly La Llorona, Odilia and her little sisters travel a road of tribulation to their long-lost grandmother's house. Along the way, they must outsmart a witch and her Evil Trinity.