African American book Series
It’s that time of year again! Middle grade (MG) and young adult (YA) novels by African American authors often don’t get the kind of publicity they need to reach readers, so each year we put together a list of the books published in the US. We want to celebrate Black authors who got their books into print, but we also want to remind folks that around 3, 000 novels are published for young readers in the US each year. So this is also a reality check! get the most hits on my blog, and many educators and librarians tell me they never knew half of these titles were published—which means they weren’t added to classrooms and library collections. If I’ve missed a title, let me know in the comments section. I do NOT include self-published titles because we’re trying to paint a picture of the traditional US publishing industry’s output. This list is built from Edith Campbell’s 2015 Booklist, which includes African American, Latino, Asian American, and Native American authors.
- by Jason Reynolds (Atheneum). Soon after his mother’s death, Matt takes a job at a funeral home in his tough Brooklyn neighborhood and, while attending and assisting with funerals, begins to accept her death and his responsibilities as a man.
- X: A Novel by Ilyash Shabazz and Kekla Magoon (Candlewick). Malcolm Little’s parents have always told him that he can achieve anything, but from what he can tell, that’s a pack of lies—after all, his father’s been murdered, his mother’s been taken away, and his dreams of becoming a lawyer have gotten him laughed out of school. There’s no point in trying, he figures, and lured by the nightlife of Boston and New York, he escapes into a world of fancy suits, jazz, girls, and reefer. But Malcolm’s efforts to leave the past behind lead him into increasingly dangerous territory. Deep down, he knows that the freedom he’s found is only an illusion—and that he can’t run forever. follows Malcolm from his childhood to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would lead him to forge a new path and command a voice that still resonates today.
- by Shapon Draper (Atheneum). When a burning cross set by the Klan causes panic and fear in 1932 Bumblebee, North Carolina, fifth-grader Stella must face prejudice and find the strength to demand change in her segregated town.
- by Nikki Grimes and Michele Wood (Orchard Books). In this imaginative biographical story, Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony sit down over a cup of tea in 1904 to reminisce about their struggles and triumphs in the service of freedom and women’s rights.
- by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Raymond Obstfeld (Disney Hyperion). When eighth-grader Chris’s older brother, Jax, is caught betting on the pick-up basketball games that Chris and his friends play, Chris becomes involved in the police investigation.
- by Rita Williams-Garcia (Harper Collins/Amistad) Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are off to Alabama to visit their grandmother Big Ma and her mother Ma Charles. Across the way lives Miss Trotter, Ma Charles’ half sister. The two half sisters haven’t spoken in years. As Delphine hears about her family history, she uncovers the surprising truth that’s been keeping the sisters apart. But when tragedy strikes, Delphine discovers that the bonds of family run deeper than she ever knew possible.
- by Renée Watson (Bloomsbury). Twins Nikki and Maya Younger always agreed on most things, but as they head into their senior year they react differently to the gentrification of their Portland, Oregon, neighborhood and the new–white–family that moves in after their best friend and her mother are evicted (ages 12-18).
- (Simon and Schuster). A hard-to-prove art heist makes a New York City mystery for ninja detective Randi Rhodes in this second book in a series full of humor, adventure, and heart from Academy Award–winning actress Octavia Spencer. Randi Rhodes and her fellow ninja detectives, DC and Pudge, were flying high after solving the Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit. But life in sleepy Deer Creek has begun to feel…a bit boring. There are no crimes to investigate! But a trip to New York City to visit Randi’s aunt changes that! While the ninja detective trio explores Randi’s old neighborhood in Brooklyn, they uncover an art heist. Except no one will believe them. So they’ll just have to catch the criminals in the act… (ages 8-12).
- (HarperTeen). The one secret she cares about keeping—her identity—is about to be exposed. Unless Lauren “Panda” Daniels—an anonymous photoblogger who specializes in busting classmates and teachers in compromising positions—plays along with her blackmailer’s little game of Dare or . . . Dare. But when the game turns deadly, Panda doesn’t know what to do. And she may need to step out of the shadows to save herself . . . and everyone else on the Admirer’s hit list (ages 12 and up).
- Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton (HarperTeen). Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette’s desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best (ages 12-18).
- by Jewell Parker Rhodes (Little, Brown). It’s Maddy’s turn to have a bayou summer. At first she misses life back home in the city, but soon she grows to love everything about her new surroundings — the glimmering fireflies, the glorious landscape, and something else, deep within the water, that only Maddy sees. Could it be a mermaid? As her grandmother shares wisdom about sayings and signs, Maddy realizes she may be only the sibling to carry on her family’s magical legacy. And when a disastrous oil leak threatens the bayou, she knows she may also be the only one who can help. Does she have what it takes to be a hero? (ages 8-12).
- by Stephanie Kuehn (St. Martin’s Griffin). When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding...
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