19 Teen Novels to read to Celebrate Black History Month

bronx masquerade book cover

Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes
YA GRIMES, N.
While studying the Harlem Renaissance, students at a Bronx high school read aloud poems they’ve written, revealing their innermost thoughts and fears to their formerly clueless classmates.

Roll of Thunder

Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
YA TAYLOR, M.
A Black family living in the South during the 1930s is faced with prejudice and discrimination which their children don’t understand.

chains book cover

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
YA ANDERSON, L.
After being sold to a cruel couple in New York City, a slave named Isabel spies for the rebels during the Revolutionary War.

mare's war book cover

Mare’s War by Tanita Davis
YA DAVIS, T.
Teens Octavia and Tali learn about strength, independence, and courage when they are forced to take a car trip with their grandmother, who tells about growing up Black in 1940s Alabama and serving in Europe during World War II as a member of the Women’s Army Corps.

good fortune book cover

Good Fortune by Noni Carter
YA CARTER, N.
Brutally kidnapped from her African village and shipped to America, a young girl struggles to come to terms with her new life as a slave, gradually rising from working in the fields to the master’s house, secretly learning to read and write, until, risking everything, she escapes to seek freedom in the North.

after tupac and d foster book cover

After Tupac & D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson
YA WOODSON, J.
In 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.

Witness

Witness by Karen Hesse
YA HESSE, K.
A series of poems express the views of various people in a small Vermont town, including a young black girl and a young Jewish girl, during the early 1920s when the Ku Klux Klan is trying to infiltrate the town.

Mississippi Trial, 1955

Mississippi Trial, 1955 by Chris Crowe
YA CROWE, C.
In Mississippi in 1955, a sixteen year old finds himself at odds with his grandfather over issues surrounding the kidnapping and murder of a fourteen year old African American from Chicago.

JeffersonsSons

Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
YA BRADLEY, K.
A fictionalized look at the last twenty years of Thomas Jefferson’s life at Monticello through the eyes of three of his slaves, two of whom were his sons by his slave, Sally Hemings.

CyInChain

Cy In Chains by David L. Dudley
YA DUDLEY, D.
In the post-Civil War South, a seventeen-year-old African American boy, accused of a crime, is living in a labor camp where brutality, near starvation, humiliation, and rape are commonplace.

Willow

Willow by Tonya Hegamin
YA HEGAMIN, T.
In 1848 Willow, a fifteen-year-old educated slave girl, faces an inconceivable choice — between bondage and freedom, family and love — as free born, seventeen-year-old Cato, a black man, takes it upon himself to sneak as many fugitive slaves to freedom as he can on the Mason-Dixon Line.

the rock and the river book cover

The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon
YA MAGOON, K.
In 1968 Chicago, fourteen-year-old Sam Childs is caught in a conflict between his father’s nonviolent approach to seeking civil rights for African Americans and his older brother, who has joined the Black Panther Party.

Riot

Riot by Walter Dean Myers
YA MYERS, W.
In 1863, fifteen-year-old Claire, the daughter of an Irish mother and a black father, faces ugly truths and great danger when Irish immigrants, enraged by the Civil War and a federal draft, lash out against blacks and wealthy “swells” of New York City.

ReturnBuddyBush

The Return of Buddy Bush by Shelia Moses
YA MOSES, S.
Following her grandfather’s death in rural North Carolina in 1947, twelve-year-old Pattie Mae learns more about her family after reading her grandmother’s collection of obituaries and traveling to Harlem, New York, to find her uncle who has escaped from the Ku Klux Klan.

NoCrystalStair

No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
YA NELSON, V.
In this work of historical fiction, Nelson tells the story of a man with a passion for knowledge and of a bookstore whose influence has become legendary.

HandThousandRibbons

Hang A Thousand Tress With Ribbons by Ann Rinaldi
YA RINALDI, A.
A fictionalized biography of the eighteenth-century African woman who, as a child, was brought to New England to be a slave, and after publishing her first poem when a teenager, gained renown throughout the colonies as an important black American poet.

Flygirl

Flygirl by Sherri. L. Smith
YA SMITH, S.
During World War II, a light-skinned African American girl “passes” for white in order to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots.

HurricaneSong

Hurricane Song by Paul Volponi
YA VOLPONI, P.
Twelve-year-old Miles Shaw goes to live with his father, a jazz musician, in New Orleans, and together they survive the horrors of Hurricane Katrina in the Superdome, learning about each other and growing closer through their painful experiences.

BecomingBillieHoliday

Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole B. Weatherford
YA WEATHERFORD, C.
Jazz vocalist Billie Holiday looks back on her early years in this fictional memoir written in verse.