"The Snowy Day" (Ezra Jack Keats; 1963 Caldecott Medal, fiction) - Features a little boy named Peter exploring his neighborhood after the first snowfall of the season. Keats (a Polish immigrant) wanted to have minority children of New York as central characters in his stories.
"Flowers for Algernon" (Daniel Keyes, 1966, science fiction) - Told as a series of "Progress Reports" written by Charlie Gordon, a 32 year-old man whose IQ of 68 is tripled by an experimental surgical procedure. Unfortunately, the effects of the operation wear off after several months, and at the end of the novel Charlie is once more of subnormal intelligence. Remarkable use of first-person point of view, as Charlie's entries move from semi-literacy to complex sophistication and back to semi-literacy.The book won the Nebula Award of the Science Fiction Writers of America. Historical context: civil rightss in the 1960s (discriminated against for being too dumb, then too smart, and treated as a lab specimen)
"Go Ask Alice" (Anonymous a.k.a. editor Beatrice Sparks, 1971, originally promoted as nonfiction and later listed as a work of fiction since the late 80s) - The book purports to be the actual diary of an anonymous 15 year-old teenage girl. She records her thoughts and concerns about issues such as crushes, weight gain, sexuality, social acceptance, and difficulty relating to her parents. She later dies of a drug overdose, and the book is presented as a testimony against drug use.
"The Color Purple" (Alice Walker, 1982, historical fiction) - Set in rural Georgia during the 1930s. Theme of double repression of black women in the American experience by white community and also black males. Criticized for negative portrayal of the black male characters but admired for powerful portraits of black women. The central character (14 year old Celie) triumphs over adversity and forgives those who oppressed her. Her father raped her, and she has two children, a girl and a boy, whom "Pa" took away from her. She later falls in love with Shug Avery, a blues singer. Epistolary form: written correspondence between characters comprises the content of the book. Use of black folk English.