YA Books with Religious Themes

Francisco Stork and I had a panel discussion at ALAN/NCTE 2012 about YA books with religious themes. We handed out this list and promised to post it online. Herewith the post, just a little later than I would have liked. Sorry!

Please know that the list is not meant to be comprehensive, nor have we read every book, though we have read many of them, of course, and have even written a few (two each to be exact).  Most are fiction, but a few are nonfiction. We compiled it based on recommendations by other writers, teachers and librarians. Please email me (Deborah@DeborahHeiligman.com) with additions or corrections. The books are listed by religious tradition and in each section alphabetically by author.



Blue Jean Buddha Voices of Young Buddhists -Sumi Loundon, Editor

Taneesha Never Disparaging -M.LaVora Perry (this is middle grade, or young YA, really)

Saltwater Buddha: A Surfer’s Quest to Find Zen on the Sea-Jaimal Yogis

Hardcore-Zen-Brad Warner



Clay-David Almond

Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature-Robin Brande

The Girl of Fire and Thorns-Rae Carson (fantasy but religious)

The Miracle Stealer –Neal Connelly

Box Out-John Coy

The Miseducation of Cameron Post—Emily M. Danforth

The Dark Divine –Bree Despain

Stranded-by J.T. Dutton

Quaking – Katherine Erskine

The Gorgeous Game –Donna Freitas

The Possibilities of Sainthood – Donna Freitas

Godless –Pete Hautman

The Obsidian Blade-Pete Hautman

Charles and Emma – The Darwins’ Leap of Faith  –Deborah Heiligman

With a Name Like Love-Tess Hilmo

Stained-Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Losing Faith – Denise Jaden

The Opposite of Hallelujah-Anna Jarzab

Saving Maddie -Varian Johnson

Born Again-Kelly Kerney

Dietrich Bonhoeffer-Michael J. Martin

Taken By Storm -Angela Morrison

Days of Little Texas – R.A. Nelson

Send Me Down a Miracle –Han Nolan

When We Were Saints – Han Nolan

Sorta Like a Rockstar — Matthew Quick

There is No Dog-Meg Rossoff

The God Box -Alex Sanchez

Back When You Were Easier to Love -Emily Wing Smith

The Way He Lived -Emily Wing Smith

Irises –Francisco X. Stork

Marcelo in the Real World – Francisco X. Stork

Small Town Sinners – Melissa Walker

Full Service – Will Weaver

Where Things Come Back – John Corey Whaley

The Chosen One -Carol Lynch Williams

Once Was Lost -Sara Zarr



Chasing Shadows –Swathi Avasti

Maya Running –Anjali Banerjee

Siddhartha-Herman Hesse

Life of Pi-Yann Martel (more than Hinduism in this book, but it seems the best place to put it)

Karma – Kathy Ostlere




Words in the Dust –Trent Reedy

Ask Me No Questions –Marina Taimar Badhos

Where I Belong – Lillian Cross

Overboard – Elizabeth Fama

Does My Head Look Big in This? –Randa Abdel Fattha

Arts and Culture in the Early Islamic World-Lizann Flatt

In the Name of God-Paula Jolin

Skunk Girl –Sheba Karim

A Little Piece of Ground – Elizabeth Laird

From Somalia with Love – Naima B. Robert

Boy vs. Girl –Na’ima B. Robert

A Handful of Stars –Rafik Schami

Bestest. Ramadan. Ever –Medeia Sharif



Hush –Eishe Chajil

The Diary of A Young Girl-Anne Frank

Hereville –Barry Deutsch

Intentions – Deborah Heiligman

A Family Secret-Eric Huevel

Real Time – Pnina Kass

One is not a Lonely Number –Evelyn Krueger

Gravity –Leanne Lieberman

So Punk Rock: And Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother-Ostrow & Ostrow

The Chosen-Chaim Potok (and others by Potok)

Cures for Heartbreak-Margo Raab

Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance during the Holocaust-Doreen Rappaport

Never Mind the Goldbergs –Matthue Roth

The Weight of the Sky-Lisa Ann Sandell

Goy Crazy –Melissa Schorr

The Berlin Boxing Club –Robert Sharenow

The Devil’s Arithmetic –Jane Yolen



Night Flying Woman: An Ojibway Narrative-Ignatia Broker

Moccasin Thunder: American Indian Stories for Today– various authors, edited by Lori Marie Carlson

Stories for a Winter’s Night: Fiction by Native American Writers edited by Maurice Kenny

 Rain is Not My Indian Name-Cynthia Leitich Smith

Walking the Choctaw Road: Stories From Red People Memory-by Tim Tingle


Places to find award-winning books and lists:


The Christy Awards: http://www.christyawards.com/ca_new/

The Christian Book Awards




Sydney Taylor Awards http://www.jewishlibraries.org/main/Awards/SydneyTaylorBookAward.aspx

Here’s this post as a PDF Religion Books for Web site.