YA Black Author Must-Reads!

Amanda Young, library teens specialist, has put together a list of young adult book must-reads by black authors!

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Ages 14+ Grades 9+
(Genre- Horror/ Historical fiction/ fantasy) When families go missing in Baltimore County, Jane McKeene, who is studying to become an Attendant, finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy that has her fighting for her life against powerful enemies.

Where can I find it?

  • YA IRE
  • Libby Ebook
  • Libby Audiobook
  • Hoopla Audiobook

Spin by Lamar Giles

Ages 12+ Grades 7+
(Genre- Mystery) When rising star Paris Secord (aka DJ ParSec) is found dead on her turntables, it sends the local music scene reeling. No one is feeling that grief more than her shunned pre-fame best friend, Kya, and ParSec’s chief groupie, Fuse – two sworn enemies who happened to be the ones who discovered her body.

Where can I find it?

  • YA GIL
  • Hoopla Audiobook

Grown by Tiffany Jackson

Ages 13+ Grades 8+
(Genre- Suspense) When legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots Enchanted Jones at an audition, her dreams of being a famous singer take flight. Until Enchanted wakes up with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night. Who killed Korey Fields? Before there was a dead body, Enchanted’s dreams had turned into a nightmare. Because behind Korey’s charm and star power was a controlling dark side. Now he’s dead, the police are at the door, and all signs point to Enchanted.

Where can I find it?

  • YA JAC
  • Libby Ebook
  • Libby Audiobook

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

Ages 14+
(Genre – Contemporary) A gang leader’s son finds his effort to go straight for the sake of his child challenged by a loved one’s brutal murder, in a poignant exploration of Black coming-of-age set seventeen years before the events of the award-winning ‘The Hate U Give’.

Where can I find it?

  • YA THO
  • Libby Ebook
  • Libby Audiobook

Saving Savannah by Tonya Bolden

Ages 13+
(Genre- Historical fiction) Savannah Riddle feels suffocated by her life as the daughter of an upper class African American family in Washington, D.C., until she meets a working-class girl named Nella who introduces her to the suffragette and socialist movements and to her politically active cousin Lloyd.

Where can I find it?

  • YA BOL
  • Hoopla Audiobook

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

Ages 14+ Grades 9+
(Genre- Contemporary) Incarcerated teen Quan Banks writes letters to Justyce McCallister, with whom he bonded years before over family issues, about his experiences in the American juvenile justice system.

Where can I find it?

  • YA STO
  • Libby Ebook

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Ages 14+ Grades 9+
(Genre – Novel in verse/ contemporary) Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people… In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash. Separated by distance — and Papi’s secrets — the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other. In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

Where can I find it?

  • YA ACE
  • Libby Ebook
  • Libby Audiobook

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Ages 13+ Grades 8+
(Genres- Family and Relationships) When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.

Where can I find it?

  • YA ZOB
  • Libby Ebook
  • Libby Audiobook
  • Hoopla Ebook
  • Hoopla Audiobook

All the Things We Never Knew by Liara Tamani

Ages 13+ Grades 8+
(Genre- Romance) Carli and Rex have an immediate connection, an understanding that must mean first love, but family secrets, disappointments–and basketball, which holds center stage in both their lives–all create complications.

Where can I find it?

  • YA TAM
  • Libby Audiobook

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

Ages 14+ Grades 9+
(Genre- Romance) Felix Love, a transgender seventeen-year-old, attempts to get revenge by catfishing his anonymous bully, but lands in a quasi-love triangle with his former enemy and his best friend.

Where can I find it?

  • YA CAL
  • Libby Ebook
  • Libby Audiobook

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

Ages 13+ Grades 8+
(Genre- Contemporary) When Norris, a black French Canadian, starts his junior year at an Austin, Texas, high school, he views his fellow students as clichés from “a bad 90s teen movie.”

Where can I find it?

  • YA PHI
  • Libby Ebook
  • Libby Audiobook
  • Hoopla Ebook
  • Hoopla Audiobook

This is My America by Kim Johnson

Ages 12+ Grades 7+
(Genre- Contemporary) While writing letters to Innocence X, a justice-seeking project, asking them to help her father, an innocent black man on death row, teenage Tracy takes on another case when her brother is accused of killing his white girlfriend.

Where can I find it?

  • YA JOH
  • Libby Ebook

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert

Grades 7+
(Genre- Contemporary) Sixteen-year-old Dove “Birdie” Randolph’s close bond with her parents is threatened by a family secret, and by hiding her relationship with Booker, who has been in juvenile detention.

Where can I find it?

  • YA COL

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi

Ages 12+ Grades 7+
(Genre- Sci-fi/dystopian) In 2172, when much of the world is unlivable, sisters Onyii and Ify dream of escaping war-torn Nigeria and finding a better future together but are, instead, torn apart.

Where can I find it?

  • YA ONY
  • Libby Ebook
  • Libby Audiobook

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Ages 14+
(Genre-Fantasy) Seventeen-year-old Zélie, her older brother Tzain, and rogue princess Amari fight to restore magic to the land and activate a new generation of magi, but they are ruthlessly pursued by the crown prince, who believes the return of magic will mean the end of the monarchy.

Where can I find it?

  • YA ADE
  • Libby Ebook
  • Libby Audiobook
  • Hoopla Audiobook

A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell

Ages 12+
(Genre- Short stories/ fantasy/ science fiction) Black girls, including gender non-conforming individuals, star in this collection of sixteen stories of fantasy, science fiction, and magic.

Where can I find it?

  • YA PHO
  • Libby Ebook
  • Hoopla Audiobook

A Song Below Water by Bethany Morrow

Ages 13+
(Genre- Fantasy) Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Nevermind, she’s also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes. But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation; the girls’ favorite Internet fashion icon reveals she’s also a siren, and the news rips through their community. Tensions escalate when Effie starts being haunted by demons from her past, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice during a police stop. No secret seems safe anymore, and soon Portland won’t be either.

Where can I find it?

  • YA MOR
  • Libby Ebook

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Ages 14+ Grades 9+
(Genre- Fantasy) In a world where Beauty is a commodity only a few control, one Belle will learn the dark secrets behind her powers, and rise up to change the world.

Where can I find it?

  • YA CLA
  • Libby Ebook
  • Libby Audiobook
  • Hoopla Ebook
  • Hoopla Audiobook

This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell

(Genre- Nonfiction) This book is written for the young person who doesn’t know how to speak up to the racist adults in their life. For the 14 year old who sees injustice at school and isn’t able to understand the role racism plays in separating them from their friends. For the kid who spends years trying to fit into the dominant culture and loses themselves for a little while. It’s for all of the Black and Brown children who have been harmed (physically and emotionally) because no one stood up for them or they couldn’t stand up for themselves; because the colour of their skin, the texture of their hair, their names made white folx feel scared and threatened. It is written so children and young adults will feel empowered to stand up to the adults who continue to close doors in their faces. This book will give them the language and ability to understand racism and a drive to undo it. In short, it is for everyone.

Where can I find it?

  • YA 305.8 JEW
  • Libby Ebook

The Black Friend on Being a Better White Person by Frederick Joseph

Ages 12+
(Genre- Nonfiction) Frederick Joseph call up race-related anecdotes from his past, explaining why they were hurtful and how he might handle things now. Each chapter features the voice of at least one artist or activist, including Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give; April Reign, creator of #OscarsSoWhite; Jemele Hill, sports journalist and podcast host; and eleven others. Touching on everything from cultural appropriation to power dynamics, “reverse racism” to white privilege, microaggressions to the tragic results of overt racism, this book serves as conversation starter, tool kit, and invaluable window into the life of a former “token Black kid” who now presents himself as the friend many readers need”–Adapted from inside front jacket flap.

“Part memoir, part guidebook, this title explores scenarios of interpersonal and institutional struggle to introduce the next generation of White youth to anti-racism.

Where can I find it?

  • YA 305.8 JOS
  • Libby Ebook

She Came to Slay: The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman by Erica Armstrong Dunbar

(Genre- Biography) In the bestselling tradition of The Notorious RBG comes a lively, informative, and illustrated tribute to one of the most exceptional women in American history–Harriet Tubman–a heroine whose fearlessness and activism still resonates today.tes today.

Where can I find it?

  • YA B TUBMAN

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Ages 12+ Grades 7+
(Genre-Fantasy) Twelve-year-old Sunny Nwazue, an American-born albino child of Nigerian parents, moves with her family back to Nigeria, where she learns that she has latent magical powers which she and three similarly gifted friends use to catch a serial killer.

Where can I find it?

  • YA OKO
  • Libby Ebook
  • Libby Audiobook
  • Hoopla Audiobook

Kindred: a Graphic Novel Adaptation by Damian Duffy and John Jennings based on Octavia E. Butler

Ages 13+ Grades 8+
(Genre- Graphic Novel/ historical fiction/ sci-fi) Home is a new house with a loving husband in 1970s California that is suddenly transformed into the frightening world of the antebellum South. Dana, a young black writer, can’t explain how she is transported across time and space to a plantation in Maryland. But she does quickly understand why: to deal with the troubles of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder – and her progenitor. Her survival, her very existence, depends on it. This searing graphic-novel adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s science fiction classic is a powerfully moving, unflinching look at the violent, disturbing effects of slavery on the people it chained together, both black and white – and made kindred in the deepest sense of the word.

Where can I find it?

  • 741.5973 DUF