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The YA Books We’re Reading for Black History Month and Beyond

If you’re looking for YA books to read for Black History Month, you’re in the right place. We’re celebrating Black History Month by diving into some of our favorite books written by black authors, and we’ve compiled our reading list below. There are contemporary novels to tug at your heartstrings, fantasy novels to whisk you away to another realm, romances to make you swoon, a thriller to keep you up at night, and non-fiction books that will give you a new perspective. Whatever you’re in the mood for, there’s a book for you.

What will you be reading for Black History Month and beyond? Here are just a few of the YA novels we’re reading now and can’t wait to read in 2023!

YA Contemporary Fiction to Read for Black History Month

Sun Keep Rising

Sun Keep Rising

When rent increases put a teen mom at risk of losing her home, she resorts to a dangerous game to keep her family afloat. But all games have consequences, and this isn’t one she can afford to lose. A gripping story about race, income instability, and the strength it takes to survive from a critically acclaimed author.

Finding Jupiter

Finding Jupiter

Sparks fly when Orion and Ray meet for the first time at a roller rink in Memphis. But these star-crossed souls have a past filled with secrets that threaten to tear them apart before their love story even begins. Found poetry, grief, and fate collide in this powerful debut.

Bitter

Bitter

From National Book Award finalist Akwaeke Emezi comes a companion novel to the critically acclaimed PET that explores both the importance and cost of social revolution–and how youth lead the way.

Vinyl Moon

Vinyl Moon

A teen girl hiding the scars of a past relationship finds home and healing in the words of strong Black writers. A beautiful sophomore novel from a critically acclaimed author and poet that explores how words have the power to shape and uplift our world even in the midst of pain.

“A true embodiment of the term Black Girl Magic.” –Booklist

Dear Justyce

Dear Justyce

The stunning sequel to the #1 New York Times bestseller Dear Martin. Incarcerated teen Quan writes letters to Justyce about his experiences in the American juvenile justice systemPerfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Angie Thomas.

145th Street: Short Stories

145th Street: Short Stories

From the award-winning author of Monster, this collection of powerful and poignant stories about 145th Streetan unforgettable block in the heart of Harlem—celebrates African-American life in all of its glory.

“Myers is a master.” —The New York Times Book Review

Dear Martin

Dear Martin

Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, Nic Stone joins industry giants Jason Reynolds and Walter Dean Myers as she boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning #1 New York Times bestselling debut, a William C. Morris Award Finalist.

Mare's War

Mare's War

Meet Mare, a World War II veteran and a grandmother like no other. She was once a willful teenager who escaped her less than perfect life in the deep South and lied about her age to join the African American Battalion of the Women’s Army Corps. Now she is driving her granddaughters—two willful teenagers in their own rite—on a cross-country road trip. The girls are initially skeptical of Mare’s flippy wigs and stilettoes, but they soon find themselves entranced by the story she has to tell, and readers will be too.

YA Fantasy to Read for Black History Month

Nubia: The Awakening

Nubia: The Awakening

From beloved actor and producer Omar Epps and writer Clarence A. Haynes comes the biggest epic fantasy of the year. A powerful saga of three teens, the children of refugees from a fallen African utopia, who must navigate their newfound powers in a climate-ravaged New York City. Perfect for fans of Black Panther and Children of Blood and Bone.

Soul of the Deep

Soul of the Deep

The stunning sequel to New York Times bestseller Skin of the Sea, in which the world must pay the price for one mermaid’s choice, and a dark force reverberates across realms. Perfect for anyone eagerly anticipating the live-action The Little Mermaid.

The Gilded Ones #2: The Merciless Ones

The Gilded Ones #2: The Merciless Ones

The epic, hotly anticipated sequel to the instant bestseller The Gilded Ones about a girl with the power to remake her world—or destroy it.

“Fans of Children of Blood and BoneMulan, and the Dora Milaje from Black Panther are going to adore [The Gilded Ones].”—BuzzFeed

Pet

Pet

A genre-defying novel from the award-winning author NPR describes as “like [Madeline] L’Engle…glorious.” A singular book that explores themes of identity and justice. Pet is here to hunt a monster. Are you brave enough to look?

YA Non-Fiction to Read for Black History Month

Dreams from My Father (Adapted for Young Adults)

Dreams from My Father (Adapted for Young Adults)

Now adapted for young adults—the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir, which Toni Morrison called “quite extraordinary,” offers an intimate look at Barack Obama’s early days. This is a compelling journey tracing the future 44th president’s odyssey through family, race, and identity.

Notes from a Young Black Chef (Adapted for Young Adults)

Notes from a Young Black Chef (Adapted for Young Adults)

This inspiring memoir, now adapted for young adults, chronicles Top Chef star and Forbes and Zagat 30 Under 30 phenom Kwame Onwuachi’s incredible and odds-defying fame in the food world after a tough childhood in the Bronx and Nigeria.

The Beautiful Struggle (Adapted for Young Adults)

The Beautiful Struggle (Adapted for Young Adults)

Adapted from the adult memoir by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Water Dancer and Between the World and Me, this father-son story explores how boys become men, and quite specifically, how Ta-Nehisi Coates became Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Just Mercy (Movie Tie-In Edition, Adapted for Young Adults)

Just Mercy (Movie Tie-In Edition, Adapted for Young Adults)

The young adult adaptation of the acclaimed, #1 New York Times bestseller Just Mercy–now a major motion picture starring Michael B. Jordan, Jaime Foxx, and Brie Larson and the subject of an HBO documentary feature!

YA Romance to Read for Black History Month

Friday I'm in Love

Friday I'm in Love

It’s too late for a Sweet Sixteen, but what if Mahalia had a coming-out party? A love letter to romantic comedies, sweet sixteen blowouts, Black joy, and queer pride.

“A perfect ode to romantic comedies, wrapped in a dazzling rainbow dress.” —Rachael Lippincott, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Five Feet Apart and She Gets the Girl

Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute

Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Brown Sisters trilogy, comes a laugh-out-loud story about a quirky content creator and a clean-cut athlete testing their abilities to survive the great outdoors—and each other.

YA Thrillers to Read for Black History Month

The Black Queen

The Black Queen

Nova Albright was going to be the first Black homecoming queen at Lovett High—but now she’s dead. Murdered on coronation night. Fans of One of Us Is Lying and The Other Black Girl will love this unputdownable thriller.

What did you think of these YA books to read for Black History Month? Find more book recommendations here and get social with us at @getunderlined!

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  1. sierrabroussard

    Mar 3, 2019

    Great Article!!! I’ve been looking for some good books for black history month.

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    0 Replies Mar 3, 2019
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