Book Reviews / book roundup lists / Teaching Ideas

An Unforgettable Must-Read YA Book List for 2023

MG & YA book list for 2023 titled above an image of a brightly colored, fully stocked bookshelf

Summer is best for catching up on your TBR and figuring out what to add to your classroom library. Well, look no further. I’ve done a bunch of reading for you—you’re welcome 😉—and compiled this epic YA book list.

MG & YA book list for 2023 titled above an image of a brightly colored, fully stocked bookshelf

I can confidently tell you which inclusive, new titles will be popular young adult books bound to fly off your shelves.

(Bonus: if you’re looking for “older” titles, Danielle has this mega post with all of our MG & YA book list round-ups and inclusive media pairings, too; you can bookmark it since we update it frequently).

This YA book list blog post uses affiliate links for your convenience.
If you decide to purchase any recommendation from this YA book list, please consider doing so through our affiliate links at no additional cost to you.

2023: Epic Mid-Year MG & YA Book List

I decided to categorize this YA book list by the most prevalent representation depicted in the book. This can be useful if you conduct a bookshelf audit and see you are missing key representation.

Please know that the value of each title in this YA book list is not ONLY based on the representation provided—although, very important and necessary. 

ALL of these titles have complex and intersectional representation (hence why I read and am recommending them to you).

In Limbo by Deb jj Lee
✨ HS
✨ Graphic novel with themes of identity, LGBTQIA+ and mental health (trigger warning: self-harm)
✨ A high schooler navigates what it means to be Korean, Queer, and happy.
🎥 For fans of All the Bright Places and Love, Simon


Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon
✨ MG and/or HS
✨ Romance and comedy with coming-of-age theme
✨ To impress a girl, Sunny rolls with an accidental lie that HE is the musician in his family (and not actually his brother).
🎥 For fans of Xo, Kitty and Freaky Friday



Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf
✨ HS
✨ Thriller with themes of mental health and social media impact on YA
✨ Najwa, a Scrabble extraordinaire, investigates the death of her best friend—Trina—when, suddenly, Trina’s Instagram account starts posting again.
🎥 For fans of The Queen’s Gambit and One of Us is Lying


Looking for ways to increase AAPI representation in your curriculum? Use songs by AAPI artists to teach literary devices or include these short stories by AAPI writers!

As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh
✨ HS
✨ Contemporary historical fiction with themes of war, grief, survival, and romance
✨ Salama navigates life as a teen and a hospital volunteer amidst the tragic and dangerous Syrian Civil War.
✨ Honestly, there are no books or movies out there like this. It made it to my top 3 favorite YA reads of ALL TIME.


Man O’War by Cory McCarthy
✨ HS
✨ Contemporary coming-of-age with themes of coming out, transitioning, internalized homophobia, and gender dysphoria
✨ River is an Arab American trans swimmer navigating the world, their family, and their identity in an emotionally gripping yet hilariously charming account of their life.
🎥 For fans of Call me By Your Name and Moonlight


We are All We Have by Marina Budhos
✨ MG and/or HS
✨ Contemporary fiction with themes of immigration, deportation, and romance
✨ After Rania’s mother is detained by ICE, she must learn how to survive for herself and her younger brother.
🎥 For fans of The Sun is Also a Star and The Pursuit of Happiness


Here are some other YA books by Arab and/or Muslim authors!

If you’re looking for ways to diversify your curriculum, this short stories inclusive planning resource has done the research for you!

 The Davenports by Krystal Marquis
✨ HS
✨ Historical fiction with romance, coming-of-age, and familial relationships
✨ Based on the true life story of the esteemed Patterson family, this romantic and lavish period piece celebrates the Davenports, one of few Black families in the 1910s to procure vast wealth and status in a racist United States.
🎥 For fans of Gossip Girl and Bridgerton (but make it PG)


 Change the Game by Colin Kaepernick
✨ MG and/or HS
✨ Graphic novel memoir with themes of coming-of-age, activism, and athleticism 
✨ As a high school athlete, Colin tries to discover whom he is and what he wants to do as an athlete, an activist, and a young person.
🎥 For fans of All American


Nearer my Freedom: The interesting life of Olaudah Equiano by Monica Edinger and Lesley Younge
✨ MG and/or HS
✨ Biography written in found verse
✨ From Bookshop: “Follow Equiano from his life in Africa as a child to his enslavement at a young age, his travels across the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, his liberation, and his life as a free man.”
🎥 For fans of historical documentaries


Need some other resources? Here is a list of contemporary poems and songs by Black creators you can implement in your classroom!

Also, if you’re looking for an editable reading guide that will work with ANY of the titles from this YA book list, you’ve found it.

 Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley
✨ MG and/or HS
✨ Thriller with social justice themes 
✨ Perry Firekeeper-Birch is stuck in the same summer program as her by-the-book twin sister; It is in this summer program that she learns of two dark realities: stolen ancestral remains and sacred Anishinaabe items are being held captive by colonizers AND Indigenous women in her community are going mysteriously missing.
🎥 For fans of Gone Girl and The Menu


Saints of the Household by Ari Tison
✨ HS
✨ Contemporary YA told in vignettes, poems, and alternating points of view with themes of sibling relationships, physical abuse, and prejudice
✨ Brothers Max and Jay navigate their abusive father, their Bribri roots, their dreams, and one another as they survive high school.
🎥 For fans of The Hate U Give


The Brave by James Bird
✨ MG and/or HS
✨ Contemporary fiction with themes about coming-of-age, romance, illness, family, and identity
✨ Collin leaves to live with his Ojibwe mother, whom he has never met and lives on a reservation. He learns about his roots, his family, and his cute neighbor.
🎥 For fans of The Fault in Our Stars and Five Feet Apart


Extra resources: Indigenous texts to enrich your curriculum and Native American Heritage Month resources 

 Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado
✨ HS
✨ Contemporary romance with themes of coming-of-age, body positivity, and self-love 
✨ Charlie works on building a beautiful relationship with her body, her family, her friends, and a cutie named Brian.
🎥 For fans of Dumplin’ and The Summer I Turned Pretty


 Invisible: A graphic novel by Christina Diaz Gonzalez & Gabriela Epstein
✨ MG
✨ Graphic novel with themes of friendship, acceptance, and diversity 
✨ Five students who have only ONE thing in common—they all speak Spanish—are forced to complete community service together. 
🎥 For fans of The Breakfast Club

 The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes
✨ HS
✨ Contemporary rom-com with themes of coming-of-age and community
✨ Yamilet has transferred to a new, almost-entirely-white Catholic school and has decided to keep her Queerness hidden, which is especially tested when she meets a cute girl at school.
🎥 For fans of Love, Simon and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Looking for more Latine-authored YA books? Or personal narrative examples by Latine writers?

Different Kinds of Fruit by Kyle Lukoff
✨ MG 
✨ Contemporary fiction with cute comedy and themes of coming-of-age, activism, and identity 
✨ When Annabelle accuses her dad of being homophobic, she finds out she has a lot to learn about her family and herself.
🎥 For fans of Love, Victor


These Fleeting Shadows by Kate Alice Marshall
✨ HS 
Paranormal thriller
✨ When Helen Vaughan inherits her estranged family’s ancestral home, she discovers there is a haunting condition attached: she must survive in the house for one year.
🎥 For fans of Paranormal Activity and a dash of Knives Out


A Million Quiet Revolutions by Robin Gow
✨ HS 
✨ Lyrical verse historical fiction with themes of coming-of-age, identity, and community 
✨ Aaron and Oliver are long-time friends who come to discover—together—their queer identities as trans men. Together, they share the fears of telling their families and the tribulations of young love.
🎥 For fans of Call Me By Your Name

Want an easy way to make your classroom space more inclusive? Display these beautiful posters of LGBTQIA+ folks around your room!

Or incorporate these poems and/or short texts by LGBTQIA+ authors!

Something More by Jackie Khalilieh
✨ HS 
✨ Contemporary romance with charming comedy and themes of coming-of-age
✨ Jessie, a 15-year-old with autism, creates a list of goals in order to maintain a new persona as she starts high school.
🎥 For fans of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Atypical


Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali
✨ MG and/or HS
✨ Romance with themes of coming-of-age, prejudice, and illness 
✨ During a spring break trip to Doha, two Muslim teens, Adam and Zayneb, cross paths and begin to feel less misunderstood.
🎥 For fans of The Sun is Also a Star


Where You See Yourself by Claire Forrest
✨ HS 
✨ Coming-of-age romance
✨ Effie, a wheelchair user, navigates her way through her senior year of high school, a romance, impending college decisions, and an often inaccessible and extremely ableist society.
🎥 For fans of The Edge of Seventeen


If your students are reading any of the titles from this YA book list, they can discuss it with these adaptable reading response questions!

YA Book List: Final thoughts

Remember that adding to your classroom library is always about QUALITY over quantity. 

Even though a super full bookshelf can give us a sense of accomplishment, prioritizing inclusive and influential books for young adults is KEY!

If you have read or end up reading any titles from this YA book list, please share your thoughts with me in the comments! I love me a good book talk.

MG & YA Book list for 2023 with a young child in a light blue long sleeve sitting in a school desk reading a book with a yellow book jacket