17 Books by Black Authors That Every Kid Should Read Right Now

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Amazon

There's nothing quite so transformative as finding a character in a book that speaks to you, especially when you're a kid still trying to figure out who you really are. Black History Month is the perfect time to celebrate the amazing African-American authors whose stories inspire and inform the next generation with their honest and heartfelt explorations of race, identity, and community.

From stories of slavery and the civil rights movement to tales of contemporary urban struggles, there's something on our list for every kid!

  • 'Brown Girl Dreaming' by Jacqueline Woodson

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    The story of author Jacqueline Woodson's childhood in South Carolina and New York in the '60s and '70s told through a series of poems, this Newbery Honor Book movingly depicts the Civil Rights movement and its aftermath through the eyes of a young girl.

  • 'One Crazy Summer' by Rita Williams-Garcia

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    Winner of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction and the Coretta Scott King Award, this Newbery Honor Book and National Book Award Finalist by New York Times bestselling author Rita Garcia-Williams is the story of three young sisters sent by their mother to a day camp run by the Black Panthers in the summer of 1968.

  • 'Ninth Ward' by Jewell Parker Rhodes

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    The story of how a 12-year-old girl named Lanesha and her grandmother Mama Ya-Ya survive Hurricane Katrina, this emotional novel won the Coretta Scott King Honor Award and the Parents' Choice Foundation Gold Award. 

    More from The Stir: 10 Fun, Fabulous Book Characters That Every Girl Should Meet

  • 'Flygirl' by Sherri L. Smith

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    At the center of this novel is Ida Mae Jones, a young black woman in 1940s Louisiana who has the chance to fulfill her dreams of becoming a pilot with the World War II's WASP-Women Airforce Service Pilots -- if she tries to pass as a white girl.

  • 'How It Went Down' by Kekla Magoon

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    This 2015 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book takes on the all too familiar topic of gun violence with its story of a black teen's shooting death and what it does to his community.

  • 'Harriet's Daughter' by Marlene Nourbese Philip

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    An exploration of friendship, race, and identity issues, this winner of the Casa de las Américas Prize tells the tale of a 14-year-old girl named Margaret who wants to make an impact on the world like her idol, Harriet Tubman.

    More from The Stir: 5 Maya Angelou Books to Share With Your Kids 

  • 'Monster' by Walter Dean Myers

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    Nominated for the National Book Award, this New York Times bestseller is a novel in screenplay form about a teenage boy in juvenile detention and on trial for his alleged role in the murder of a convenience store owner.

  • 'Elijah of Buxton' by Christopher Paul Curtis

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    This Newbery Honor Novel tells the story of an 11-year-old boy who was the first child to be born free in a Canadian settlement of runaway slaves and must overcome his fears to go on a dangerous journey to help a friend. 

  • 'My Name Is Phillis Wheatley' by Afua Cooper

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    Based on a true story, Phillis Wheatley was born into a family of African storytellers before being captured by slave raiders and forced on a ship to America, where a kind white family teaches her to read and write and sets her on a long road to freedom.

    More from The Stir: 25 Top Chapter Books to Read to Your Child at Bedtime

  • 'Pull' by B.A. Binns

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    When 17-year-old David's father kills his mother, the boy is left struggling to fulfill his mother's wish for him to go to college in this gripping tale, which won the 2010 National Readers Choice Award for Young Adult fiction.

  • 'Kendra' by Coe Booth

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    High schooler Kendra's mother gave birth to her at the age of 14 and left her in the care of her grandmother, but now that Kendra's starting to get in trouble herself, she wants nothing more than to live with her mom (who may or may not be ready for the responsibility).

  • 'Fake ID' by Lamar Giles

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    Nick Pearson is an African-American teen in the Witness Protection Program who moves to a tiny Southern town and finds himself caught up in a murder mystery when his first friend is killed. 

    More from The Stir: 8 Most Memorable Quotes From Children's Books

  • 'When I Was the Greatest' by Jason Reynolds

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    Called a "a funny and rewarding read" by Publishers Weekly, this book explores the challenges of staying out of trouble for teens growing up in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn (an area known for crime). 

  • 'DJ Rising' by Love Maia

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    Sixteen-year-old Marley Diego-Dylan dreams of becoming a professional DJ, but reality (caring for his heroin-addicted mother and keeping his scholarship at a prestigious prep school) keeps getting in the way.

  • 'Hot Girl' by Dream Jordan

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    Kate's dealing with all the usual teenage-girl concerns -- worrying about her image, pining for her crush -- but she's also dealing with being a foster kid in the gritty neighborhood of Bed Stuy, Brooklyn. 

    More from The Stir: 10 Kids' Books So Amazing They Made Me Want Kids

  • 'Saving Maddie' by Varian Johnson

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    Joshua is a preacher's son who always preferred religious retreats to parties, but when he falls for a girl with a troubled past, he's forced to question his values and his place in the world.

  • 'A La Carte' by Tanita S. Davis

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    Lainey is a 17-year-old with groundbreaking ambitions -- to become the first African-American vegetarian female chef with her own cooking show -- but she questions everything when her best friend runs away from home. 

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