Books to Read by Black Authors
Black Lives Matter shouldn’t be a political stance, a talking point or controversial statement. What it is, and what it should be, is a fact. We have seen the countless videos of police brutality against black bodies and for every video we’ve seen, there are more cases we haven’t seen. It is time that we are seen as equal to our white counterparts in the ways that matter. It is not enough to just say it. The laws of the country our ancestors helped build should reflect it.
I wanted to work in publishing because as a child I loved to read. Books shaped me. But I noticed I didn’t often see myself or my blackness reflected in the stories being told. I love books and I want to help to make sure kids who look like me feel welcome in this space, in this land of stories. Things have definitely changed in terms of representation over the years, but we still need to do better.
When it comes to books that represent us, it doesn’t matter if they are old or new, by authors you know or not, or whether they are published traditionally, independently or from the author themselves. What matters is that they are written, published and in the hands of readers. Here is a list of books written black authors that you should have on your list.
Dove “Birdie” Randolph works hard to be the perfect daughter and follow the path her parents have laid out for her: she quit playing her beloved soccer, she keeps her nose buried in textbooks, and she’s on track to finish high school at the top of her class. But then Birdie falls hard for Booker, a sweet boy with a troubled past…whom she knows her parents will never approve of.
When her estranged aunt Carlene returns to Chicago and moves into their apartment above the family’s hair salon, Birdie notices the tension building at home. Carlene is sweet, friendly, and open-minded—she’s also spent decades in and out of treatment facilities for substance abuse. As Birdie becomes closer to both Booker and Carlene, she yearns to spread her wings. But when long-buried secrets rise to the surface, everything she’s known to be true is turned upside down.
Eighteen-year-old Devon longs for two things.
And the boy she fell in love with last summer.
When Ashton breaks Devon’s heart at the end of the most romantic and magical summer ever, she thinks her heart will never heal again. But over the course of following year, Devon finds herself slowly putting the broken pieces back together.
Now it’s senior year, and she’s determined to enjoy every moment of it, as she prepares for a future studying galaxies. That is, until Ashton shows up on the first day of school.
Can she forgive and open her heart to him again? Or are they doomed to repeat history?
Sherri L. Smith
First came the storms.
Then came the Fever.
And the Wall.
After a string of devastating hurricanes and a severe outbreak of Delta Fever, the Gulf Coast has been quarantined. Years later, residents of the Outer States are under the assumption that life in the Delta is all but extinct…but in reality, a new primitive society has been born.
Fen de la Guerre is living with the O-Positive blood tribe in the Delta when they are ambushed. Left with her tribe leader’s newborn, Fen is determined to get the baby to a better life over the wall before her blood becomes tainted. Fen meets Daniel, a scientist from the Outer States who has snuck into the Delta illegally. Brought together by chance, kept together by danger, Fen and Daniel navigate the wasteland of Orleans. In the end, they are each other’s last hope for survival.
Not So Pure and Simple
Del has had a crush on Kiera Westing since kindergarten. And now, during their junior year, she’s finally available. So when Kiera volunteers for an opportunity at their church, Del’s right behind her. Though he quickly realizes he’s inadvertently signed up for a Purity Pledge.
His dad thinks his wires are crossed, and his best friend, Qwan, doesn’t believe any girl is worth the long game. But Del’s not about to lose his dream girl, and that’s where fellow pledger Jameer comes in. He can put in the good word. In exchange, Del just has to get answers to the Pledgers’ questions…about sex ed.
With other boys circling Kiera like sharks, Del needs to make his move fast. But as he plots and plans, he neglects to ask the most important question: What does Kiera want? He can’t think about that too much, though, because once he gets the girl, it’ll all sort itself out. Right?
L. M. Preston
Daniel’s father has gotten himself killed and left another mess for Daniel to clean up. To save his world from destruction, he must fight off his father’s killers while discovering a way to save his world. He wants to go it alone, but his cousin and his best friend’s sister Jade insist on tagging along. Jade is off limits to him, but she’s determined to change his mind. He hasn’t decided if loving her is worth the beating he’ll get from her brother. Retrieving an unknown treasure is his only choice. But in order to get it, Daniel must choose to either walk in his father’s footsteps or to re-invent himself into the one to save his world.
The Sound of Stars
Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.
Today, seventeen-year-old Ellie Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. With humans deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, emotional expression can be grounds for execution. Music, art and books are illegal, but Ellie still keeps a secret library.
When young Ilori commander M0Rr1S finds Ellie’s library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more.
Humanity’s fate rests in the hands of an alien Ellie should fear, but M0Rr1S has a potential solution―thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous journey with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while creating a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.
All the Things We Never Knew
From the moment Carli and Rex first locked eyes on a Texas high school basketball court, they both knew it was destiny. But can you truly love someone else if you don’t love yourself? Acclaimed author Liara Tamani’s luminous second novel explores love, family, heartbreak, betrayal, and the power of healing, in gorgeous prose that will appeal to readers of Nicola Yoon and Jacqueline Woodson.
A glance was all it took. That kind of connection, the immediate and raw understanding of another person, just doesn’t come along very often. And as rising stars on their Texas high schools’ respective basketball teams, destined for bright futures in college and beyond, it seems like a match made in heaven. But Carli and Rex have secrets. As do their families.
A fledgling superhero faces her toughest challenge yet…
BAYOU CITY is a bustling technological mecca—but it’s also drowning in crime. The BCPD has done everything they can to keep things from spiraling into all-out lawlessness, but the appearance of new criminals with strange and unusual abilities threatens to tip the scales in favor of chaos.
Enter fifteen-year-old Kysha Jenkins, a freshman and science whiz, who uses her academic and martial arts prowess to protect the streets as a vigilante. After three months of taking down small-time criminals, Kysha’s ready to move to the big leagues. But when a petty criminal is chosen to pilot an armored suit that allows him to create whatever he wishes out of “hard light,” the career loser gets a taste of power for the first time in his life—and Kysha quickly learns she may have bitten off more than she can chew.
Beasts Made of Night
In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts—lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt.
Taj is the most talented of the aki, young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When he kills a sin-beast, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin, while the guilt of committing the sin appears on his mind. Most aki are driven mad by the process, but 17-year-old Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family.
When Taj is called to eat a sin of a royal, he’s suddenly thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves—and his own life.
Fate of Flames
Years ago, everything changed. Phantoms, massive beasts of nightmare, began terrorizing the world. At the same time four girls, the Effigies, appeared, each with the unique power to control a classical element. Since then, they have protected the world from the Phantoms. At the death of one Effigy, another is chosen, pulled from her normal life into the never-ending battle.
When Maia unexpectedly becomes the next Fire Effigy, she resists her new calling. A quiet girl with few friends and almost no family, she was much happier to admire the Effigies from afar. Never did she imagine having to master her ability to control fire, to protect innocent citizens from the Phantoms, or to try bringing together the other three Effigies.
But with the arrival of the mysterious Saul—a man who seems to be able to control the Phantoms using the same cosmic power previously only granted to four girls at a time—Maia and the other Effigies must learn to work together in a world where their celebrity is more important than their heroism.
But the secrets Saul has, and the power he possesses, might be more than even they can handle…