11 Best Books For 12 Graders Update 05/2022

Books For 12 Graders

I hope you’ll enjoy your senior year of high school. You’re less than a year away from making your own way in the world. It won’t earn itself until you keep going to class. As part of your English Literature class, you’ll read a lot of old books and classics. You must pass this class to get your diploma. It doesn’t matter that they may be good books for 12th graders to read, because most of them are written by white cis males.

Books written by people of color are important to us because we want people to read more. No one should leave high school without reading a few books written by people of color. So, we’ve put together this list of books for 12th graders written by people of color, because there’s no excuse for not having a wide range of books on your reading lists.

Contemporary Fiction for 12th Graders

12th graders should read these books now, and there are a few about being 17 in them.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Award-winning author Elizabeth Acevedo has written a book about love, forgiveness, and the bonds that make us who we are. This is a book in verse.

In the summer, Camino Rios is excited because her father is coming from the Dominican Republic to see her and her family. To his surprise, Camino is met at the airport by a group of people who are crying. Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office at school. Her mother is there, and she has bad news: Yahaira’s father died in a plane crash.

It’s hard for these two girls to get to know each other because of distance and secrets. When it looks like they’ve lost everything, they learn about each other.

Finding Yvonne by Brandy Colbert

Since she was 7, Yvonne hasn’t been without her violin, which she has used for many years. It’s about time for Yvonne to face the fact that even though she has worked hard for a long time, she might not be good enough for a prestigious music school. A street musician and violinist named Omar helps Yvonne feel better about herself and her future. Her father isn’t the person she wants to spend time with. He’s mysterious, charming, and not at all like Warren, the boy who has her heart. When Yvonne gets pregnant out of the blue, she has to make the most difficult decision of her life.

The Idiot by Elif Batuman

Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants, comes to Harvard for her first year. She quickly makes friends with her Serbian classmate, Svetlana, and starts an email exchange with Ivan, a math student from Hungary who is older than her. It’s the end of the year, and Ivan is going to Budapest. Selin is going to spend the summer teaching English in the Hungarian country. She spends two weeks in Paris with Svetlana while she is on her way to the trip. As a result, Selin’s summer in Europe isn’t what she thought it would be like to be a typical American college student.

The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

When Rukhsana Ali is 17, she wants to live up to the expectations of her conservative Muslim parents, but it’s hard for her to do that. A few more months, and her life in Seattle will be over. She’ll be able to leave and go to Caltech, where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer. All of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart because being gay in the Bengali community is as bad as being dead. Soon, Rukhsana will be sent to Bangladesh, where tradition and arranged marriages are still very important, and she will be forced to adapt.

Love, Hate, & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Love, Hate, & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

There are two worlds Maya Aziz has to choose between. She is 17 years old. There’s a lot of pressure in the world for her to be the right Indian daughter, which means going to school in Chicago near her parents and getting a “suitable” Muslim boy to go with her. At school in the other world, Maya might be interested in a boy of her own choice.

There is also the real world, which is outside of Maya’s control. Her life has been turned upside down in the wake of a horrible crime that happened a long way away. Now, her neighborhood and school have become unrecognizable as people are filled with bigotry, hatred, and fear. Maya has to use her inner strength and figure out where she truly fits in, no matter what.

Historical Fiction for 12th Graders

For 12th graders who like history, there is a lot of young adult historical fiction about young women of color that you can read.

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

If you’re looking for a young adult book with a side of zombies, then Dread Nation is the book for you.

When Jane McKeene was born, two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields, she changed the history of the United States and the world. People in this new country have to go to combat school to learn how to put down the dead. People in Jane’s town didn’t like that she was the daughter of a rich White Southerner. When Jane wants to be an Attendant, she wants to learn how to use weapons and how to behave in order to protect the rich. This is not the life she wants.

After finishing Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set to return to her home in Kentucky, where she was raised. People in Baltimore County start disappearing. Jane is caught up in a conspiracy that puts her in a fight for her life where the restless dead aren’t her only problem!

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

Ida Mae Jones wants to be a pilot like her dad, but being a woman and being black are two things that make it hard for her. America goes to war with Germany and Japan, so the Army makes the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Ida sees that she can fly and help her brother, who is in the Pacific. That doesn’t mean that the WASPs don’t like her. Ida Mae has to make a hard choice: pretending to be white or not being black. Because of her heritage, Ida Mae isn’t able to do what she wants to do.

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

The daughter of one of Atlanta’s richest men hires 17-year-old Jo Kuan as a maid at night, and she works for him during the day. By night, she is the author of “Dear Miss Sweetie,” a newspaper advice column for the Southern lady who wants to be a good person. To fight against society’s ideas about race and gender, Jo uses the power of her pen. She is not ready for the backlash. A mysterious letter sends Jo on a search for her own past and the parents who left when she was a baby. It’s up to Jo to decide whether the girl who lives in the shadows is ready to come out of her cocoon.

Must-Read Nonfiction Books for 12th Graders

Many of these must-read nonfiction books for 12th graders who want to live in “The Real World” aren’t written for young adults.

One Person, No Vote: How All Voters Are Not Treated Equally by Carol Anderson

When Anderson wrote her New York Times bestseller White Rage, she talked about how many policies have been put in place since the end of slavery that have made it hard for Black people to make progress. In One Person, No Vote, she talks about another piece of history, the Supreme Court decision in 2013 that wiped out the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Basically, this 2013 decision let districts with a history of racial discrimination change voting rules without having to get permission from the Department of Justice first. In response, many states quickly and enthusiastically adopted voter suppression laws and tactics, such as gerrymandering, closing polling places, and requiring people to show their IDs.

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

The Other Wes Moore One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

People read about Wes Moore in the Baltimore Sun in December 2000. He had just been given a Rhodes Scholarship. During the search for two brothers, one named Wes Moore is thought to have killed a police officer in an armed robbery. In the same paper, there was also an article about how to find the brothers.

Wes couldn’t get rid of the weird coincidence. In the letter, he tells the other Wes, who is now serving a life sentence with no chance of parole, how much he cares about him. That letter led to a lot of letters and prison visits between the two men, who kept in touch for a long time. Wes found out that his life was not very different from that of the other Wes. Both of them grew up in the same neighborhood and had hard childhoods, but their lives would be different because of what happened.

This Book is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work by Tiffany Jewell (Author) and Aurelia Durand (Illustrator)

Anti-bias antiracist (ABAR) teacher Tiffany Jewell has written this best-selling book for young people and anyone else who wants to wake up, take action, and work to become antiracist. It’s the #1 New York Times bestseller. Readers will learn about privilege, inclusion, and conscious/unconscious bias with simple facts and history. In the next step, they will put what they learned to use with action items and questions to think about.

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