Reading about kids of color: Diverse Anthologies

by IYWP intern Robyn Henderson


It’s January of a new year, and we all know what that means. Resolutions! Every January, adults, kids, and teens alike resolve to read more. And by the end of the month, adults, kids, and teens alike remember why they had such a hard time the year before: novels take time and energy to finish. And sometimes, all you have time or energy to read is 20 pages. But, ladies and gentlekids, before you throw in the towel,  I have a suggestion that will save your new year’s resolution. Anthologies!

This week, we’re recommending anthologies for young adults and middle grade readers that feature protagonists of color. Most of them are science fiction (because, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m a very dedicated nerd), so if you know of any good anthologies in different genres that feature kids of color, let me know in the comments below!


Flying Lessons & Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh, co-founder of We Need Diverse Books

Flying Lessons

Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children’s authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.

In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in children’s publishing and popularity as New York Times bestsellers. From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories.

Flying Lessons is a middle grade anthology aimed at 8-12 year olds that focuses on the lives of diverse kids. The common denominator between each story in the anthology is that each story focuses on people whose stories don’t usually get told. And that’s what makes the stories feel new and exciting. And the stories themselves are very relatable, from the story of a lonely black girl in an all white suburb, to the tale of a geeky brown boy who discovers that he can read minds…including the mind of his crush. These kids come from different races, have different sexualities, and some even live in different time periods, and the beauty of these stories is that they weave their differences with emotions and desires that everybody feels. I highly recommend it, and if you enjoy it, check out the authors!

Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios


What do a disabled superhero, a time-traveling Chinese-American figure skater, and a transgender animal shifter have in common? They’re all stars of Kaleidoscope stories! Kaleidoscope collects fun, edgy, meditative, and hopeful YA science fiction and fantasy with diverse leads. These twenty original stories tell of scary futures, magical adventures, and the joys and heartbreaks of teenage life. Featuring New York Times bestselling and award winning authors along with newer voices: Garth Nix, Sofia Samatar, William Alexander, Karen Healey, E.C. Myers, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Ken Liu, Vylar Kaftan, Sean Williams, Amal El-Mohtar, Jim C. Hines, Faith Mudge, John Chu, Alena McNamara, Tim Susman, Gabriela Lee, Dirk Flinthart, Holly Kench, Sean Eads, and Shveta Thakrar

Kaleidoscope is a Young Adult science fiction and fantasy anthology,. The title really says it all. This is a colorful mishmash of stories that are mainly similar in the way they portray the distinctive, underrepresented teens at the heart of each tale. Definitely check this one out, and if you feel up to reading a novel, look up the authors, too!


Diverse Energies edited by Tobias S. Buckwell and Joe Monti

Diverse Energies

In a world gone wrong, heroes and villains are not always easy to distinguish and every individual has the ability to contribute something powerful.

In this stunning collection of original and rediscovered stories of tragedy and hope, the stars are a diverse group of students, street kids, good girls, kidnappers, and child laborers pitted against their environments, their governments, differing cultures, and sometimes one another as they seek answers in their dystopian worlds. Take a journey through time from a nuclear nightmare of the past to society’s far future beyond Earth with these eleven stories by masters of speculative fiction. Includes stories by Paolo Bacigalupi, Ursula K. Le Guin, Malinda Lo, Cindy Pon, Daniel H. Wilson, and more.

Diverse Energies is a Young Adult anthology that focuses on science fiction with a diverse cast of characters in science fiction worlds. It runs through the tropes. Time travel, robots (in a yogurt shop, of all things), no-good governments, and futuristic technology. The stories have settings all over the world, with characters of many different colors and sexualities. As a plus, pretty much everyone who wrote stories for this anthology has written at least one novel or series featuring characters of color. If you love science fiction and enjoy the stories in this collection, feel free to browse through the work of each of these writers. And if you want to venture into science fiction for adults, quite a few of these authors have books for that audience, too. It’s a win-win for everybody!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s