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A Black History Month YA Booklist

February is Black History Month, so we’ve compiled a list of nonfiction and novels by African American authors or featuring African American protagonists. 




I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou 

This memoir traces Maya Angelou’s childhood in a small, rural community during the 1930s. Filled with images and recollections that point to the dignity and courage of black men and women, Angelou paints a sometimes disquieting, but always affecting picture of the people—and the times—that touched her life.


No Crystal Stair: a documentary novel of the life and work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem bookseller by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson ; artwork by R. Gregory Christie

Nelson tells the story of a her great uncle, Harlem bookseller Lewis Michaux, a man with a passion for knowledge and of a bookstore whose influence has become legendary.




To the Mountain Top: My Journey through the Civil Rights Movement by Charlyane Hunter-Gault

A personal history of the civil rights movement from activist and acclaimed journalist Hunter-Gault. With poignant black-and-white photos, original articles from “The New York Times,” and a unique personal viewpoint, this is a moving tribute to the men and women on whose shoulders Barack Obama stood.



After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson

after tupac and d foster book cover imageIn the New York City borough of Queens in 1996, three girls bond over their shared love of Tupac Shakur’s music, as together they try to make sense of the unpredictable world in which they live.




Monster by Walter Dean Myers

monster book cover imageWhile on trial as an accomplice to a murder, sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon records his experiences in prison and in the courtroom in the form of a film script as he tries to come to terms with the course his life has taken.




Black Boy/White School by Brian F. Walker

When fourteen-year-old Anthony “Ant” Jones from the ghetto of East Cleveland, Ohio, gets a scholarship to a prep school in Maine, he finds that he must change his image and adapt to a world that never fully accepts him, but when he goes home he discovers that he no longer truly belongs there either.



Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

After being sold to a cruel couple in New York City, a slave named Isabel spies for the rebels during the Revolutionary War.




When the Black Girl Sings by Bill Wright

when the black girl sings book cover imageAdopted by white parents and sent to an exclusive Connecticut girls’ school where she is the only black student, fourteen-year-old Lahni Schuler feels like an outcast, particularly when her parents separate, but after attending a local church where she hears gospel music for the first time, she finds her voice.



True Legend by Mike Lupica

Fifteen-year-old Drew “True” Robinson loves being the best point-guard prospect in high school basketball, but learns the consequences of fame through a former player, as well as through the man who expects to be his manager when True reaches the NBA.



These books, new and classic, award-winning and popular, historical and contemporary, are just a sampling of fantastic young adult literature by African-American authors. Check out one today!

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