Best YA Books with Non-White Protagonists

It's unfortunately rare for YA books to feature protagonists who aren't white. This is a list for the exceptions to that rule. And remember, we're taking about main characters - less important ones don't count.
1

by
4.19 avg rating — 306,859 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
2

by
4.15 avg rating — 427,239 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
3

by
4.35 avg rating — 4,786,655 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
4

by
4.11 avg rating — 164,446 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
5

by
3.88 avg rating — 47,830 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
6

by
4.34 avg rating — 109,584 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
7

by
3.86 avg rating — 23,830 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
8

by
4.29 avg rating — 154,481 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
9

by
3.81 avg rating — 32,206 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
10

by
4.03 avg rating — 1,832,809 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
11

by
4.30 avg rating — 1,951,364 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
12

by
3.76 avg rating — 384 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
13

by
4.12 avg rating — 546,727 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
14

by
3.59 avg rating — 3,892 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
15

by
4.11 avg rating — 55,026 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
16

by
3.31 avg rating — 7,788 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
17

by
4.35 avg rating — 478,045 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
18

by
3.60 avg rating — 40,731 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
19

by
3.96 avg rating — 47,010 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
20

by
4.49 avg rating — 100,759 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
21

by
3.78 avg rating — 7,974 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
22

by
3.57 avg rating — 3,636 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
22

by
4.30 avg rating — 201,890 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
24

by
3.82 avg rating — 189 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
25

by
3.85 avg rating — 4,864 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
26

by
4.10 avg rating — 63,965 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
27

by
4.12 avg rating — 130,061 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
28

by
4.20 avg rating — 47,658 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
29

by
3.90 avg rating — 3,269 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
30

by
3.68 avg rating — 6,825 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
31

by
3.84 avg rating — 2,034 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
32

by
4.03 avg rating — 49,910 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
33

by
4.01 avg rating — 2,943 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
34

by
really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 3,079 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
35

by
3.58 avg rating — 3,076 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
36

by
4.46 avg rating — 165,011 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
37

by
4.44 avg rating — 307,384 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
38

by
4.58 avg rating — 12 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
39

by
3.93 avg rating — 1,210 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
40

by
3.74 avg rating — 33,616 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
41

by
4.11 avg rating — 137,101 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
42

by
3.59 avg rating — 4,394 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
43

by
4.10 avg rating — 26,881 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
44

by
3.70 avg rating — 1,764 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
45

by
3.81 avg rating — 59,871 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
46

by
4.37 avg rating — 117,918 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
47

by
4.07 avg rating — 58 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
48

by
4.42 avg rating — 26 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
49

by
3.95 avg rating — 15,404 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
50

by
4.08 avg rating — 668 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
51

by
3.99 avg rating — 162,774 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
51

by
3.63 avg rating — 5,068 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
53

by
3.69 avg rating — 2,724 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
54

by
3.82 avg rating — 931 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
55

by
4.05 avg rating — 26,024 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
55

by
4.03 avg rating — 3,684 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
57

by
3.64 avg rating — 346 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
58

by
3.78 avg rating — 8,522 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
59

by
3.72 avg rating — 988 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
60

by
3.50 avg rating — 2,731 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
61

by
4.54 avg rating — 167,160 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
62

by
3.60 avg rating — 4,034 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
63

by
3.81 avg rating — 9,606 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
64

by
4.06 avg rating — 23,520 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
65

by
3.89 avg rating — 81,123 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
66

by
3.62 avg rating — 22,974 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
67

by
3.76 avg rating — 2,090 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
67

by
3.96 avg rating — 181 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
67

by
4.28 avg rating — 39 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
70

by
4.09 avg rating — 1,108 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
70

by
3.82 avg rating — 3,271 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
72

by
4.80 avg rating — 20 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
73

by
3.95 avg rating — 41,476 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
73

by
3.59 avg rating — 2,722 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
75

by
3.76 avg rating — 472 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
76

by
3.63 avg rating — 8,376 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
77

by
3.88 avg rating — 157 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
78

by
3.86 avg rating — 2,913 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
78

by
4.01 avg rating — 1,117 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
80

by
3.07 avg rating — 448 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
81

by
3.94 avg rating — 43,787 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
82

by
4.11 avg rating — 13,165 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
83

by
3.64 avg rating — 402 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
84

by
3.72 avg rating — 1,812 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
84

by
4.34 avg rating — 34,545 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
84

by
3.55 avg rating — 1,222 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
87

by
3.72 avg rating — 14,160 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
88

by
3.71 avg rating — 2,476 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
88

by
4.39 avg rating — 32,773 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
90

by
4.20 avg rating — 56,434 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
91

by
3.79 avg rating — 4,256 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
92

by
3.73 avg rating — 7,210 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
93

by
4.46 avg rating — 311,980 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
94

by
3.82 avg rating — 581 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
95

by
4.01 avg rating — 77,928 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
96

by
3.42 avg rating — 854 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
97

by
3.94 avg rating — 67,819 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
98

by
4.12 avg rating — 30,674 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
99

by
3.99 avg rating — 46,859 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
100

by
3.79 avg rating — 295 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
flag this list (?)
222 books · 153 voters · list created March 3rd, 2013 by Mike (votes) .
29 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Mike 1790 books
389 friends
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads 2867 books
682 friends
Clare 459 books
25 friends
Natalie 20 books
102 friends
Liviania 1864 books
884 friends
Wesley 611 books
0 friends
Leslie 0 books
58 friends
Corinne 683 books
189 friends

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Mike (new)

Mike I am removing The Hunger Games - Katniss is white.


message 2: by R.J. (last edited Mar 04, 2013 01:54PM) (new)

R.J. Mike wrote: "I am removing The Hunger Games - Katniss is white."

While I understand Katniss' race is ambiguously described and she COULD be white, I think it's oversimplifying to say she IS. Suzanne Collins has indicated that she is probably ethnically mixed.

Also, I'm not sure why The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland is on this list? It's a great book, and Cat Valente has made the suggestion of casting a black actress as September if it ever went to film, but in the book's descriptions and illustrations, she is white.


message 3: by Mike (new)

Mike Ah. Whoops. I had already deleted it, but I put it back on the list, along with Catching Fire and Mockingjay. Unless anyone else has objections, we can leave it on.


message 4: by Mike (new)

Mike Oh, my god. Megan Crewe liked this list. And I made it after finishing The Lives She Lost, which she wrote. You have no idea how happy you've made me, Crewe.


message 5: by Mike (new)

Mike Tessa from Clockwork Prince is almost definitely white. Any objections to its removal?


message 6: by Ezekiel (last edited Jul 28, 2013 09:04PM) (new)

Ezekiel While Fire is one of the best books around (as far as I'm concerned), I don't remember any main characters who are not white. Is this just an instance of a bad memory?

ETA: See response/retraction below


message 7: by CBC Diversity (new)

CBC Diversity This is an amazing list! Thank you so much for making it! It's a great resource for our bookshelf and we'll be adding a lot of books from this list that we don't already have to it. We encourage everyone to feel free to recommend books to us too when you find more that fit the bill.


message 8: by Mike (new)

Mike You're quite welcome. I'm shocked that this didn't exist before now.


Therealbadkitty Mike wrote: "Tessa from Clockwork Prince is almost definitely white. Any objections to its removal?"

It isn't Tessa people are thinking of it's Jem (who is half Chinese)


message 10: by Mike (new)

Mike Ah. Well, Jem isn't the protagonist, Tessa is.


message 11: by Therealbadkitty (new)

Therealbadkitty Mike wrote: "Ah. Well, Jem isn't the protagonist, Tessa is."

That is true.


message 12: by Christina (new)

Christina Farley This list rocks. Love it.


message 13: by Therealbadkitty (new)

Therealbadkitty Ezekiel wrote: "While Fire is one of the best books around (as far as I'm concerned), I don't remember any main characters who are not white. Is this just an instance of a bad memory?"

Well Fire is described as having "brown skin" but I'm not entirely sure if she is white or not.


message 14: by Ezekiel (last edited Jul 28, 2013 09:11PM) (new)

Ezekiel Therealbadkitty wrote:... Well Fire is described as having "brown skin" but I'm not entirely sure if she is white or not."

Yes, I just re-read Fire and Bitterblue. I double checked in Fire and I just COULDN'T find any words explicitly stating her color, however at one point it was made obvious that "most" people in the Dells are "brown," and then in Bitterblue she is finally explicitly defined as such. In fact I was just coming here to edit/retract what I said before.

That said, it would have been nice if it didn't feel like I had needed to go on a hunting expedition to find proof of her brown-ness, though perhaps it is/was more obvious to other people? I mean the colors of Fire's hair and eyes are talked about at length, it seems weird that people/the narration wouldn't comment on her skin similarly when discussing her beauty, for instance talking about mesmerizing the quality of her skin tone or how her hair is particularly good for setting off the highlights in her skin (or vice versa). It's just in a book all about how this character looks, and how she chooses to use the power created by her looks, it seems weird at how LITTLE that particular detail is mentioned, while other things are mentioned again and again.


message 15: by Mz_gemini (new)

Mz_gemini In R.L Stine's book, "Fear Street Seniors: No Answer", Clarissa Turner (a black girl) is the main character/protagonist.


back to top




Anyone can add books to this list.