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|Once again, I am here to share a list of books to consider reading for Black History Month. This list includes fifteen young adult books, primarily fiction, although I have slipped a little nonfiction into there as well. I have included a mixture of genres as well (contemporary, historical, memoir, speculative, etc), so I hope that everyone can find something to their taste.
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Dear Martin tells the story of a young man named Justyce who is arrested by the police for something he did not do, and then released without apology. Following this, he becomes interested in the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr, and begins writing him letters.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Starr Carter witnesses the death of her childhood best friend at the hands of police. They shot him down, even though he was unarmed. Headlines about it are everywhere, people are protesting, and Starr is surrounded by chaos, where she is the only person who knows what really happened.
American Street by Ibi Zoboi
Fabiola was born in the USA, but was raised in Haiti, her mother's home country. As a teenager, Fabiola is returning to the US with her mother. Her mother is detained at customs, and Fabiola is left in Detroit with her aunt and cousins, trying to navigate an unfamiliar place and culture without her mother.
Copper Sun by Sharon M. Draper
Amari lives a near perfect life with her family and tribe in Africa. That is, until her family is murdered and she is sold into slavery. Slavery is an unimaginable cruelty, but she makes her escape with an indentured servant, as they run for solace in a Spanish colony in Florida.
Solo by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess
Solo, a novel in verse, tells the story of Blade, the son of a washed up musician and drug addict, who has nothing in common with his father except music. Nothing has been the same since Blade's mother died, and it seems like his father is going to cost him his relationship with his girlfriend. Then Blade receives a letter from his deceased mother that sends him all the way to Ghana.
The Bite of the Mango by Mariatu Kamara and Susan McClelland
The Bite of the Mango is the real life story of Mariatu Kamara. Born in Sierra Leone, her childhood seemed peaceful, until she was twelve years old and was attacked by rebel soldiers while walking to a nearby village. Mariatu loses both her hands, and loses her family. She bounces from living in a refugee camp to begging in Freetown to moving all the way to Toronto.
No Laughter Here by Rita Williams-Garcia
Akilah and Victoria are best friends, and are inseparable and constantly having fun. Victoria takes a summer trip to her home country of Nigeria for a "coming of age ceremony" and when she returns to the US, she just isn't the same anymore. She won't laugh at all, and seems to have lost all her confidence. Akilah learns about FGM. A difficult topic, but tackled beautifully.
Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
Ida Mae Jones wants nothing more than to be a pilot, just like her father, but as a young black woman in the 1930s, this dream doesn't seem attainable. America enters WWII, and starts the Women Airforce Service Pilots, and thinks this is her chance, but even WASP won't take black women. Ida Mae decides to pass as a white woman to be a WASP.
X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon
Cowritten by Malcolm X's daughter Ilyasah Shabazz, X tells the novelized story of Malcolm X before he was known as Malcolm X. Following Malcolm X from childhood to his time in prison at the age of twenty, when he became a member of the Nation of Islam, a turning point in his life that set him on the path to being the human rights activist that he was known as.
The Blazing Star by Imani Josey
16 year old Portia holds an Egyptian scarab in her hands during history class which bestows her with additional strength and abilities. When she touches it again, she is swept back in time to ancient Egypt, with her twin sister and a freshman from her school swept along with her. The three of them have to get back to their own time and place, but they are swept along a surprising journey on the way.
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds, Brendan Kiely
Rashad is brutalised by the police when they believe he is he is stealing something because he is black. He is left in the hospital, broken and bruised, for weeks. Quinn, a white classmate, witnessed the ordeal, and initially remained quiet. But as rumours spiral out of control, and the news picks the story up, Quinn realises that not being involved is a luxury that he cannot take.
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
A teenager in 1960s Harlem, Perry dreams of attending college, but this doesn't work out as he had hoped. When he cannot attend, he joins the military, and commits to service on the front in Vietnam. As he experiences the horrors of war firsthand, Perry is left wondering why the black soldiers are treated the way they are, and why the Vietnam War is even happening at all.
Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
Noughts & Crosses tells the story of Sephy, a Cross, and Callum, a Nought. Noughts and Crosses are different races, and in this world, these races do not mix. They have been friends since childhood, and long to be more, but in their world of prejudice, racism, and distrust, noughts and crosses can never be anything more. Terrorism unfolds around them, and a romance unfolds between them, and danger lies ahead.
Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson
Jade wants to be a success, which to her means she needs to get out of her neighbourhood. She takes every opportunity available to her, including a scholarship to mainly white private school. The school puts her into a program for "at risk girls", which is more like code for "black girls."
Mare's War by Tanita S. Davis
Mare's War switches back and forth between the modern day story of Octavia and Tali going on a road trip with their eccentric and unusual grandmother, whom they call Mare, and Mare's story from her time in the African American Battalion of the Women's Army Corps during WWII.
Previous posts in the series are:
"A Black History Month Reading List: Introduction"
"Black History Month Reading List: Poetry"
"Black History Month Reading List: Children's Books"
"Black History Month Read List: Middle Grade Books"