#OwnVoices Books for Teens by Black Authors

by Ashley Bonifacio, Teen Youth Development Librarian

With the racial murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks, alongside countless racialized crimes documented on video against Black people, many across the country are opening their eyes to how racism has permeated various institutions and systems of our society. With police violence and brutality being exposed, along with recognition of the impact on the Black community as victims and survivors of that violence, there are many books that detail this portion of the Black experience.

Fighting against racial injustice and for equality is “the struggle” but being Black is not limited to only this struggle. Here is a list of books by Black authors that feature the range of their experience.

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REALISTIC FICTION

    

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
A comedic, witty read about a girl who has to compete in her school’s sponsored beauty pageant to receive scholarship money for school.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi
Check out this modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in Brooklyn.

If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann
Body positivity and intersectional inclusion makes this book a refreshing read. For fans of Rainbow Rowell and Becky Albertalli.

Slay by Brittney Morris
Gaming and staying true to one’s creative voice in the midst of internet trolls. For fans of Marie Lu’s Warcross.

I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest
A roadtrip, new friendships and romance shine in this story about a girl who defies her mother’s wishes to pursue her passion for ballet.

    

Let Me Hear A Rhyme by Tiffany D Jackson
As story about loss, friendship and the healing power of art. Set in the 90’s, this book is an ode to hip-hop culture and music of that time.

Odd One Out by Nic Stone
Love triangles are hard when they involve your best friends. A story about how confusing the lines between friendship and love can be.

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe
Teen humor and social awkwardness at its finest in this story of a Black Canadian boy moving to Austin, Texas.

Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles
A story of the length one would go to impress and get close to their childhood crush. A funny yet insightful look at gender and breaking free of societal expectations.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
A story about striving to attain your dreams despite life’s challenges and obstacles.

  

Riding Chance by Christine Kendall
A troubled boy discovers his passion for horses when he is assigned community service hours at an Equestrian program.

Black Top Series by L.J Alonge
Follow a new character and their basketball journey in each book of this humorous and honest series set in Oakland, CA

Black Enough: Stories of Being Black in America
17 coming-of-age shorts from some of the top Black YA authors in publishing.

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FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION

     

A Blade So Black by L.L McKinney
A modern retelling of Alice in Wonderland set in Atlanta. For fans of Melissa Meyer.

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi
Set in 2172, in a world destroyed by nuclear war and climate change, two sisters fight to survive in their homeland of Nigeria. For fans of Marie Lu and Paolo Bacigalupi.

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
Set in a utopian world where violence has been eradicated, a selectively mute girl seeks to expose hidden secrets and hold accountable the town that refuses to acknowledge the true monsters that exist amongst them.

Kingdom of Souls by Rena Baron
A story of magic and power and the dangerous price that comes with them. Rooted in West African folklore.

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow
A girl falls in love with an alien in this dystopian world where books and art are contraband and human emotion and passion are forbidden—punishable by death. For fans of Marie Lu and Veronica Roth.

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GRAPHIC NOVELS

  

Black Panther by Ta-nehisi Coates
Check out this reimagining of Black Panther and the world of Wakanda.

The Crossover Graphic Novel by Kwame Alexander
The popular poetic story about two brothers and their love for basketball is set to dynamic illustrations in this graphic novel.

Black AF: America’s Sweetheart by Kwanza Osajyefo
A new Black superhero has taken the Marvel Universe by storm as she strives to fight terrorists’ groups and quell society’s fear of Black superheroes.

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NON-FICTION

   

You Got This: Unleash Your Awesomeness, Find Your Path, and Change Your World by Maya Penn
Teen entrepreneur and girls’ rights activist Maya S. Penn shares her wisdom in this inspirational handbook for teens.

Black Girls Rock! Owning Our Magic, Rocking Our Truth by Beverly Bond
Featuring famous Black women and self-love affirmations on being black and female.

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M Johnson
Personal essays from LGBTQIA activist George M. Johnson that examines the intersections of being Black and queer and the joy that can be found despite the toxicity of heteronormative gender expectations.

Black Joy: An Anthology of Black Boy Poems
Black boyhood and its different nuances are explored in this compilation of poetic works by young men of Oakland.

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