Film Diverse Books! 7 Movie-Ready YA Novels

The box office success of Crazy Rich Asians (the sequel has already been announced!) has the interwebs a-twitter with discussions of how one movie with a fabulous all-Asian cast has increased diverse representation in Hollywood. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, released just two days later on Netflix, features a trio of Korean-American sisters and inspired more people to join the conversation about the importance of creating major roles for actors of color.

In fact, Hollywood has taken major steps this year towards inclusivity. The award-wining Coco celebrates Mexican culture, while the hugely successful Black Panther featured a predominantly black cast and incorporated African culture into every detail.

In the hope of seeing even more underrepresented communities at the movies, I’ve compiled the following list of books that would make great films, and some that are about to be.

 

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, by Kristin Cronn-Mills

Everyone besides Gabe’s parents and best friend Paige calls him Liz and sees him as a girl. The story follows the heartfelt journey of Gabe starting his transition, running a late night radio show, and working through the prejudices of others. What an inspirational plot!

 

 Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray

Beauty Queens is an all-female, unabashedly feminist twist on The Lord of the Flies—yes, you read that right, and yes, it deserves a film adaptation of its own. When a plane of beauty queen contestants crash lands on a (seemingly) deserted island, the surviving contestants must beat the odds to stay alive. While working together to find food, shelter, and rescue, the teens grapple with their own secrets, exploring race, sexuality, gender, disabilities, and the overwhelming pressure that society puts on women to always be perfect.

 

Children of Blood and Bone

 Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi

This first installment of a fantasy series features an all-black cast of characters and draws inspiration from African gods and goddesses. Zélie must fight to avenge her mother’s death and return magic to her land after it is eradicated by the cruel King Saran with the help of Amari, the king’s own daughter bent on righting her father’s wrongs. Actually, a movie deal has already been struck with Fox 2000/Temple Hill Productions!

 

 Dumplin’, by Julie Murphy

Willowdean Dickson, called Dumplin’ by her mother, starts the story confident in her skin as a self-proclaimed fat girl. Her self-esteem is somewhat derailed when a boy she likes shows interest back and doubt starts creeping in. Determined to prove to herself and others that she is perfect just as she is, Will enters a beauty pageant, along with several other nontraditional candidates. This is soon to be a musical comedy film!

 

 Leah on the Offbeat, by Becky Albertalli

Leah on the Offbeat is the sequel to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (recently made into the hit film Love, Simon) and is just as charming and movie-ready as its predecessor. It features Simon’s best friend Leah as the protagonist, who explores her inner conflict about a crush on her friend Abby and that fact that none of her friends know she’s bisexual.

 

 Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green

Aza, a high school girl living with obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety that pulls her into “thought spirals” that feed into her fear of catching a fatal bacterial infection, comes of age in this terrific novel. The action heats up when best friend Daisy ropes Aza into helping hunt down a billionaire on the run.

 

 

 

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About the Author:

Rebecca Gonner is a recent graduate of Western Illinois University with a degree in English Literature. When she's not at work, you'll likely find her watching anime, playing her ukulele, or reading.

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