These Women of Color Belong on Your High School Reading List


The world of literature is vast and full of talent. However, it is crucial to recognize and support authors from diverse backgrounds in order to create an environment that not only educates but also empowers young minds. The following is a list of accomplished women of color whose work should be included in your high school reading list.

1. Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston was a pioneer in African-American literature. Her masterpiece, “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” tells the story of Janie Crawford, a young woman navigating love, independence, and self-discovery in the racially-divided American South.

2. Amy Tan

Amy Tan’s novel “The Joy Luck Club” explores the intricate relationships between Chinese-American mothers and their daughters, delving into themes of assimilation, immigration, identity and generational misunderstandings.

3. Maya Angelou

A celebrated poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou’s work touches on themes of race, identity, trauma and resilience. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” her groundbreaking autobiography, speaks to her experiences growing up as a Black girl in the Jim Crow-era South.

4. Sandra Cisneros

Sandra Cisneros’ “The House on Mango Street” is a coming-of-age story centered around Esperanza Cordero, a Latina girl growing up in Chicago. The book features interconnected vignettes highlighting themes of class, gender roles, racism, and dreams deferred.

5. Jhumpa Lahiri

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Interpreter of Maladies” is a collection of short stories featuring Indian characters and their immersion into new cultures while dealing with issues of loneliness, isolation and longing for home.

6. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Americanah” discusses themes of race, culture, and identity as protagonist Ifemelu moves from Nigeria to the United States to attend university. As Ifemelu navigates a new world, she examines issues of immigration, love, and the concept of belonging in both her homeland and her new community.

7. Maxine Hong Kingston

“The Woman Warrior” by Maxine Hong Kingston blends autobiography and Chinese folklore to explore themes of ethnicity, gender and family legacy. Powerful and poetic, this book is a must-read for those seeking to understand the experiences of Asian-American women.

8. Toni Morrison

A central figure in American literature, Toni Morrison is best known for her novels exploring the experiences of African Americans. Her novel “Beloved,” based on a true story, examines the haunting legacy of slavery through a mother’s devastating choice.


In order to foster an environment that promotes open-mindedness and empathy, it is essential for students to read the works of authors from varied backgrounds. By including these talented women of color on your high school reading list, you create a more inclusive and diverse literary experience for young minds.

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