Last month, a DiYA reader asked if we had any recommendations for “classic” YA by authors of color. We asked for your suggestions, and in the ensuing discussion a few points were raised:

  • What does “classic” mean, anyway? We’re honestly not sure, but we’re going with books that are not new and that have been critically acclaimed.
  • What does “YA” mean in this context? Well, since young adult fiction wasn’t really a publishing category until the 1960s (and YA has evolved a lot since then), in this post we’re going with books that are about the coming-of-age experience and/or are often read by young adults. Today, some of these books would be published as middle grade or possibly still as adult.

So, here are some of your recommendations (original pub. date in parentheses):

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou (1969)
The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston (1975)
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (1984)
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya (1972)
M.C. Higgins the Great by Virginia Hamilton (1975)
Monster by Walter Dean Myers (1999)
Ruby by Rosa Guy (1976)

This is obviously not an exhaustive list, so if we missed your favorite, what was it?

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  6. sdiaz101 answered: Nilda by Nicholasa Mohr (1973) (def a coming-of-age novel, tho MC is 10)
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  11. debbiereese answered: April Raintree, by Beatrice Culleton (1995) americanindiansinchildr…
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  14. queenjapproximately answered: It’s considered adult lit, but we read Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston in high school. Loved it!
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  16. ediereads answered: Is Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower considered YA?
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