The Diverse Young Adult: Diversity and Cultural Identity in Young Adult Literature


Nora Chan

Date of Award


Degree Type

Archival Copy

First Advisor

Evelyn Perry


Diversity in Young Adult Literature should be considered integral to interpreting Young Adult texts. I investigate Young Adult Literature’s use of diversity in its characters, and try to prove that it is possible to have representation of all walks of life without stereotypical characters and struggles that are associated with a particular group of people. The texts used in this paper include what are considered to be classic Young Adult books, such as S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders or J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, and contemporary Young Adult books such as Sherman Alexie’s The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and Walter Dean Myer’s Monster. How the characters in each Young Adult text are able to cope and understand their own conflicts in the world is the focus of my analysis. Ultimately, how does diversity, or the absence of, shape the way readers of all ages interpret Young Adult texts and their characters? Diversity in Young Adult Literature is not simply a mode for teaching understanding and tolerance of people who are different, but a way for readers to also see the world, in the text and outside of it, and people that are different from themselves as complex.

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