When kids ask for books about Gangs, what are they asking for? Books they can relate to, that explore themes of the streets, peer pressure, belonging, violence in neighborhoods, true stories of how kids got in – and out – of the gangs. Here you go for some of the top books I recommend. 


Barnes, Erica. Immortal.

Bertrand, Diane Gonzales. Trino’s Choice

Bertrand, Diane Gonzales. Trino’s Time

Ewing, Lynne. Party Girl

Ewing, Lynne. Drive-by

Dean, Carolee. Take Me There

Draper, Sharon. Battle of Jericho

Draper, Sharon. Romiette and Julio

Dry, Richard. Leaving

Elkeles, Simone. Perfect Chemistry series

Hewett, Lori. Soulfire

Kowalski, William.  The Barrio Kings

Langan, Paul. Brothers in Arms (Bluford High)

Langan, Paul. The Bully (Bluford High)

Langan, Paul. Fallen (Bluford High)

Langan, Paul. The Gun (Bluford High)

Lins, Paulo. City of God

Love, J. That White Girl

McCormick, Patricia.  Never Fall Down. What book do I give my kids after they’ve read Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone? This one. (SLJ Review

Meallet, Sandro. Edgewater Angels

Mowry, Jess.  Way Past Cool

Myers, Walter Dean. The Scorpions

Pagliarulo, Antonio. A Different Kind of Heat

Perez, Ashley Hope. The Knife and the Butterfly. The reality of gangs and prison with a supernatural element is a winning combination. (SLJ Review)

Philbrook, Rod. Last Book in the Universe

Shea, John and Michael Harmon. A Kid From Southie. My kids are always asking for “Mafia” books, and this one works!

Shiraz, Yasmin. Retaliation

Shusterman, Neal. Red Rider’s Hood

Sitomer, Alan Lawrence. Hoopster

Soto, Gary. Buried Onions

Tervalon, Jervey. Living for the City

Tervalon, Jervey. Understand This

Van Diepen, Allison. Snitch

Vorhees, Coert. Brothers Torres


Atkin, Beth. Voices from the Streets : Young Former Gang Members Tell their Stories

Baca, Jimmy Santiago. A Place to Stand

Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone

Boyle, Gregory. Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion

Cruz, Cesar. Nortenos y Surenos Time to ‘Bang’ for Freedom:  A Brief History of the Conflict between the Mexican Mafia and Nuestra Familia

Cruz, Nicky. Run Baby Run

Desatta, Al, Editor. In Too Deep: Teens Write about Gangs

Dobyns, Jay. No Angel: My Harrowing Uncover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hell’s Angels

Donahue, Sean. Gangs: Stories of Life and Death from the Streets

Desetta, Al. The Courage to Be Yourself: True Stories by Teens about Cliques, Conflicts, and Overcoming Peer Pressure

Fremon, Celeste. Father Greg and the Homeboys: The Extraordinary Journey of Father Boyle and His Work with the Latino Gangs in East L.A.

Glodoski, Ron. How to Be a Succesful Criminal: the Real Deal on Crime, Drugs and Easy Money

Gruwell, Erin. The Freedom Writers Diary

Hinojosa, Maria. Crews

Jah, Yusuf. Uprising: Crips and Bloods tell the story of America’s Youth in the Crossfire

Jal, Emmanuel. War Child: A Child Soldier’s Story

Lee, Bill. Chinese Playground

Marshall, Joe. Street Soldiers

McKay, Sharon E. War Brothers: The Graphic Novel. Illustrated by Lafance, Daniel.  Annick Press. 2013. $18.95. 9781554514885.

Meeink, Frank and Jody M. Roy. Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead

Morris, Dashaun. War of the Bloods in My Veins: a Street Soldier’s March Toward Redemption

Neri, Greg. YUMMY: Last Days of a Southside Shorty

Rios, Victor. Street Life: Poverty, Gangs and a PhD

Rivera, Louis Reyes. The Bandana Republic

Rodriquez, Art. East Side Dreams

Rodriquez, Art. Forgotten Memories

Rodriquez, Art. Oldies But Goodies

Rodriguez, Luis. Always Running

Rodriguez, Luis. Hearts and Hands : Creating Community in Violent Times

Rodriguez,, Luis J. It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing. 

Ruiz, Mona. Two Badges: The Lives of Mona Ruiz

Sanchez, Ivan. Next Stop

Sanchez, Reymundo. Lady Q: The Rise and Fall of a Latin Queen

Stokes, Willie. Testimony of a Black Sheep

Su, Lac. I Love Yous are for White People

Thomas, Piri. Down These Mean Streets

Williams,Stanley. Life In Prison

Williams, Stanely. Blue Rage, Black Redemption

Yxta Maya Murray, Locas

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