Keep reading for 10 fantastic YA books set in Alabama!
Alabama is a state that is rich in literature tradition, most famous for To Kill a Mockingbird. But what about books set in Alabama for younger readers? Well, it has plenty of those as well! This list includes a mix of middle grade novels and young adult literature.
If you are looking for other books set in Alabama or the rest of the U.S., make sure to check out these posts!
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Descriptions come from Amazon; some are edited for length
Chapter Books Set In Alabama
“For as long as ten-year-old Moon can remember, he has lived out in the forest in a shelter with his father. They keep to themselves, their only contact with other human beings an occasional trip to the nearest general store. When Moon’s father dies, Moon follows his father’s last instructions: to travel to Alaska to find others like themselves. But Moon is soon caught and entangled in a world he doesn’t know or understand; he’s become property of the government he has been avoiding all his life. As the spirited and resourceful Moon encounters constables, jails, institutions, lawyers, true friends, and true enemies, he adapts his wilderness survival skills and learns to survive in the outside world, and even, perhaps, make his home there.”
Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Curtis
“Celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Newberry and Coretta Scott King Honoree about an unforgettable family on a road-trip during one of the most important times in the civil rights movement. When the Watson family, ten-year-old Kenny, Momma, Dad, little sister Joetta, and brother Byron. sets out on a trip south to visit Grandma in Birmingham, Alabama, they don’t realize that they’re heading toward one of the darkest moments in America’s history. The Watsons’ journey reminds us that even in the hardest times, laughter and family can help us get through anything.”
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
“Inspired by the author’s childhood experience as a refugee, fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to Alabama, this coming-of-age debut novel told in verse has been celebrated for its touching child’s-eye view of family and immigration. Hà has only ever known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. Toward America.”
Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia
“Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are off to Alabama to visit their grandmother Big Ma and her mother, Ma Charles. Across the way lives Ma Charles’s half sister, Miss Trotter. The two half sisters haven’t spoken in years. As Delphine hears about her family history, she uncovers the surprising truth that’s been keeping the sisters apart. But when tragedy strikes, Delphine discovers that the bonds of family run deeper than she ever knew possible. Powerful and humorous, this companion to the award-winning One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be Eleven will be enjoyed by fans of the first two books, as well as by readers meeting these memorable sisters for the first time.”
The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had by Kristin Levine
“The last thing Harry ‘Dit’ Sims expects when Emma Walker comes to town is to become friends. Propertalking, brainy Emma doesn’t play baseball or fish too well, but she sure makes Dit think, especially about the differences between black and white in the 1910s. But soon Dit is thinking about a whole lot more when the town barber, who is black, is put on trial for a terrible crime. Together Dit and Emma come up with a daring plan to save him from the unthinkable.”
“Long before they became famous writers, Truman Capote (In Cold Blood) and Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird) were childhood friends in Monroeville, Alabama. This fictionalized account of their time together opens at the beginning of the Great Depression, when they’re both still young. They love playing pirates, but they like playing Sherlock and Watson–style detectives even more. It’s their pursuit of a case of drugstore theft that lands the daring duo in real trouble. Humor and heartache intermingle in this lively look at two budding writers in the 1930s South.”
My Year in the Middle by Lila Quintero Weaver
“In a racially polarized classroom in 1970 Alabama, Lu’s talent for running track makes her a new best friend. And tests her mettle as she navigates the school’s social cliques. Sixth-grader Lu Olivera just wants to keep her head down and get along with everyone in her class. Trouble is, Lu’s old friends have been changing lately: acting boy crazy and making snide remarks about Lu’s newfound talent for running track. Lu’s secret hope for a new friend is fellow runner Belinda Gresham, but in 1970 Red Grove, Alabama, blacks and whites don’t mix. As segregationist ex-governor George Wallace ramps up his campaign against the current governor, Albert Brewer, growing tensions in the state, and in the classroom, mean that Lu can’t stay neutral about the racial divide at school. Will she find the gumption to stand up for what’s right and to choose friends who do the same?”
I should note that my definition of YA literature differs from most. I consider YA books to be a genre rather than a reading level. So if you are picking out books for your kids, do your due diligence with any books that are labeled YA or Young Adult as the subject matter might not be appropriate for younger readers.
For more information on this topic, check out this podcast episode from the Read-Aloud Revival.
YA Books Set in Alabama
Almost American Girl by Robin Ha
“A powerful and moving teen graphic novel memoir about immigration, belonging, and how arts can save a life. For as long as she can remember, it’s been Robin and her mom against the world. Growing up as the only child of a single mother in Seoul, Korea, wasn’t always easy, but it has bonded them fiercely together. So when a vacation to visit friends in Huntsville, Alabama, unexpectedly becomes a permanent relocation (following her mother’s announcement that she’s getting married)Robin is devastated. Overnight, her life changes. She is dropped into a new school where she doesn’t understand the language and struggles to keep up. She is completely cut off from her friends in Seoul and has no access to her beloved comics. At home, she doesn’t fit in with her new stepfamily, and worst of all, she is furious with the one person she is closest to: her mother. Then one day Robin’s mother enrolls her in a local comic drawing class, which opens the window to a future Robin could never have imagined.”
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
“One of the most cherished stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than forty million copies worldwide, served as the basis for an enormously popular motion picture, and was voted one of the best novels of the twentieth century by librarians across the country. A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father, a crusading local lawyer, risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.”
Looking for Alaska by John Green
“Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words, and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet François Rabelais called the ‘Great Perhaps.’ Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young, who will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.”
Did I miss your favorite book set in Alabama? Drop a comment below and let me know!
If you are interested in more books set in the US, make sure to check out this post: State Books for Kids
Thanks for reading!
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