This is the Black list. If the word scares you then this list isn’t for you. This list is for anyone and everyone who is looking for where to start in building their library, either personal or public, and stocking it with books for teens with black characters by black authors. That may seem like a small thing, but even with titles like The Hate U Give topping the NYT Bestseller list the number of black books by black authors is going down.

In response to the call for more diverse books the publishing world has responded by hiring non-black authors to write books about kids of color. While we applaud diversity in books to show a more accurate world, what we need is more people of color to tell their own stories. These are #ownvoices books for the homeschooler, the public librarian, the book club sponsor, the parent, the auntie, the mentor and the friend who wants to put books in the hands of kids that speak to their experience. I’ve broken the list down by genre and you may see some familiar faces as this list contains, novellas, novels, plays, poetry, indie authors and Pulitzer Prize writers. By no means is this list definitive, but it’s a start, so read and share.

Contemporary Fiction

  1. The Coldest Winter Ever by Sista Souljah
  2. A Bitter Pill to Swallow by Tiffany Gholar
  3. The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Alexander
  4. Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson
  5. This Side of Home by Renee Watson
  6. How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon
  7. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  8. Monster by Walter Dean Myers
  9. American Street by Ibi Zoboi


  1. The Blazing Star by Imani Josey
  2. The Marvelous Effect by Troy Cle
  3. Black Panther Volume I by TaNehisi Coates
  4. Ship of Souls by Zetta Elliott
  5. Willow Born by Shanna Reed Miles
  6. Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Historical Fiction

  1. X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon
  2. Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
  3. FlyGirl by Sherri L Smith
  4. Copper Sun by Sharon Draper
  5. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  6. Roots by Alex Haley
  7. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  8. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston


  1. Fake ID by Lamar Giles
  2. Pointe by Brandy Colbert
  3. Delicate Monsters: A Novel by Stephanie Kuehn


  1. Young, Beautiful and HIV Positive by Marvelyn Brown
  2. Our Kind of People by Lawrence Otis Graham
  3. We Should All By Feminists by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie
  4. Letters to a Young Brother/Young Sister by Hill Harper
  5. They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America by Ivan Van Sertima
  6. Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington
  7. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
  8. Between the World and Me by TaNehisi Coates
  9. Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Dubois


  1. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
  2. You Don’t Even Know My Name by Sharon Flake
  3. Countee Cullen: Collected Poems by Countee Cullen
  4. The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes by Langston Hughes
  5. For colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf : a choreopoem by Ntozake Shange
  6. Fences by August Wilson
  7. The Colored Museum by George C. Wolfe


  1. Upstate by Kalisha Buckhanon
  2. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
  3. He Said/ She Said by Kwame Alexander

Science Fiction

  1. Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler
  2. Rocket Romance by Sophia Chester
  3. Orleans by Sherri L. Smith
  4. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
  5. The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson


Download a PDF of this list here



  1. Lori McCall

    Love this list Ms. Miles! I have many of them in my media center already, and The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon was the last book I read this summer before coming back to school. I’m ordering what I don’t have today! Thanks so much for sharing a powerful blog and a powerful list!

    • shannamiles

      Thanks so much! I need to do better about making lists.

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