Religion has always been an important, and often divisive, subject in societies throughout history. Currently, what with the political climate in the United States (particularly in a Presidential election year), the global conflicts involving religious groups, and the ongoing questions of faith that humans have pondered throughout our history as a species, it seems obvious that there should be literature for young adults addressing the topic of religion in meaningful ways. In this series of posts on religious diversity in YA literature, I hope to highlight a number of books that would be appealing to young adult readers who hold any set of beliefs. Each post will focus on one of the five major world religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism), with a sixth post on Atheism/Agnosticism.
The process of preparing for this series has been … interesting. As Maria Kramer describes so well in her post “Thou Shalt Not-Religion and Teen Books”, there is a striking dearth of YA literature that features religious themes or characters, especially for Buddhism and Hinduism. I’ve shrunk the field even further by imposing some restrictions on what YA literature I want to consider for this series:
- No historical fiction. I want to highlight novels that take place in contemporary society.
- No non-fiction. I want to focus on novels that anyone might pick up because they look interesting, not books someone would read for the main purpose of learning more about a religion. (I may reconsider this in relation to memoirs.)
- No books published as part of a long series. (For example, the Payton Skky series by Stephanie Perry Moore.)
These are just my criteria for this particular series of posts. They are not by any means a judgment of worth or importance.