The last two years I have had the thoughts "I wish I had read this when I was a kid" or "I wish books like this were available to me when I was younger" so many times. I have been reading so many books that I feel like would genuinely help shape and educate me on topics I wish I knew more about. In this post, I plan on talking about eight books that I wish was published and available when I was younger, or was available when I was younger but I never read it until recently.
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
I'd easily hand this over to 13+ young me.
In this book there is amazing LGBTQ+ rep, diverse rep, and two main fat characters Molly and Reed. I feel like if I had read Molly's story when I was in high school it would have helped me a lot in the future. Molly doesn't mind being fat, she doesn't hate herself for it, but instead she is confident and she is okay with being bigger. It would have been really nice as a teenager to read that because in high school (and even now) I was never ashamed of my weight. I didn't (and don't) find myself ugly, and I was constantly being told by the people in my life and the media that I should have insecurities about it.
George by Alex Gino
I'd give this book to any age of my younger self, maybe 8+?
This book is about a young transgendered girl coming to terms with it and trying to land the part of Charlotte in her school's play of Charlotte's Web despite everyone seeing her as a boy, and the part being prepped for a girl. Honestly, I wish this book was read by every pre-teen or younger. I wish I was more educated of LGBTQ+ topics earlier on in my life. I am still learning today, and that is because it never came up in my schools, so I have to teach myself.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
These books are great for young readers, I'd give it to 8+ young me.
I have only read this series so far (I am so interested in his other series but there's so many and it's a bit intimidating) and I wish I had read them when I was younger. I feel like it would have not only been super educational when it comes to different mythologies but also the stories are so fun and adventure packed.
Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
This book is a bit more mature, so I'd give it to 13+ me.
Ramona Blue was the book that helped me understand my sexuality a little more. I have always known I didn't identify as straight, but I never dug deeper until just recently. I think Ramona's fluid sexual identity is such an important thing, because I think sexual identity is not only fluid but it is something that isn't talked about enough.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Another great book for young ages. I'd gift this to 8+ young me.
This book is such an amazing book about acceptance, kindness, and love and honestly I want everyone to read it but especially young readers. I think it teaches so many great lessons that honestly everyone could learn from.
Ash by Melinda Lo
This book is so innocent, I'd give this book to 8+ young me.
Ash is a fairy tale lesbian retelling of Cinderella. It's super innocent and sweet. I think something as simple as reading a fairy tale about two girls holding hands and kissing would have maybe helped me learn about myself more.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I'd force high school Heather to read this, granted, the reason I avoided it was because I was being forced to read it.
This book is absolutely amazing. I wish I had read it in High School like other students did because it's so important. I don't even know how to put into words how much I loved it. There are so many important lessons that many of the characters learn, and I think it's a beautifully told story. I think if I had read it earlier than I did (I read it last year) I would have been more educated on how it was back then. Plus, I'd get to know Scout sooner, who is a just an awesome character.
The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
This was the first book I've ever read that featured a transgendered main character. And I read it almost a year ago. That's insanely depressing. I know that more diverse books have been getting published and put in the spotlight, which is amazing, I just wish more were put in the spotlight sooner. Learning more about other sexualities, identities, races, cultures, disabilities, hardships in life will just help me grow more empathy and compassion.