YA anthologies and you

Four recent anthologies that celebrate racial, cultural, and religious identities (among others) help address the need for teens to see both themselves — and a spectrum of their peers — represented on shelves. 

In Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America, compiler Ibi Zoboi presents seventeen short stories by an impressive collection of Black children's and YA authors, including Jason Reynolds, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Justina Ireland. This collection seeks not merely to counteract society's idea of Blackness but to expand it to its fullest expression. It's a celebration of identity through vibrant narratives that will communicate to all young people that they are enough — just as they are. (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, 12 years and up) 

Editors Katherine Locke and Laura Silverman's short story anthology It's a Whole Spiel: Love, Latkes, and Other Jewish Stories matter-of-factly reflects details of Jewish life rarely seen in mainstream YA. The fourteen short stories by Jewish authors and about Jewish teens also acknowledge the variety of Jewish experience, including some diversity beyond religion, mostly in terms of sexuality. This collection provides a refreshing opportunity for Jewish teens of many beliefs and backgrounds to see themselves — and for others to see them — in stories that are as much about entertainment as they are about Jewishness. (Knopf, 12 years and up) 

The comics anthology This Place: 150 Years Retold celebrates Indigenous peoples and stories of Canada past, present, and future. Resistance, resilience, and the stories of heroic leaders and movements are portrayed in ten chronological chapters by various authors and artists and in a variety of illustrative and narrative styles. Every chapter's introductory framework puts the events of the story into broader context. Ambitious in scope and strong in execution, this collection succeeds in prompting readers to remember (or learn) Indigenous history and consider: "how are you a hero already? And what will your story be?" (HighWater, 12 years and up) 

The Hero Next Door compiled by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich (in partnership with We Need Diverse Books) offers tweens and young teenagers thirteen short stories (by fourteen authors) about "everyday heroes in our midst." The entries highlight characters through many lenses and perspectives (race, cultural background, ability, gender identity, etc.). Subject matter and tone are varied, with some of the tales featuring breezy banter and others dramatically tackling complex issues. "About the Authors" and "About We Need Diverse Books" sections are appended. (Crown, 10 years and up)

From the September 2019 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

Katrina Hedeen

Katrina Hedeen is former managing editor and projects editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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