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Good books for African American teenagers


African American teenagers, families and educators often struggle to find reading materials that highlight the many accomplishments, experiences and interests of Black people. Quality and appropriate books about Black Americans and people of color other than Martin Luther King are not easy to find.


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In addition to the literature about Africans brought to American as slaves and the institution of slavery, Civil War, segregation and Jim Crow laws, African American families want their teens to read about reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, the work of the NAACP, the first African Americans to achieve greatness in their field and the rich history of the Africana American community.


Discussions about the many contributions Black men and women have made to American history are often limited to Black History Month, but the quest to learn more about African American history has become more relative with the emergence of the Black Lives Matter and social justice movement in the United States and globally.


These movements have heightened the awareness of Black power, disparities, equality, racial prejudice, systematic racism, and racial oppression and led to much confusion in many societal areas and within the Black community. To help people of color navigate this current reality, Dr. Eric R. Jackson, Professor of African American Studies at Northern Kentucky University, has identified 15 must-read books for Black children in 7th to 12th grade.



Good books for African American teenagers


Analyzing the Black Box: Bullying & Depression amongst African American Youth

M. Harris Jr.
Analyzing the Black Box examines the psychological effects of trauma, racism, and bullying on young Black and African American people. The author, M. Harris Jr., provides insights, strategies, and resources for parents, educators, counselors, and anyone who wants to support this population. The book also includes a self-defense eCourse that teaches 20 techniques to help kids protect themselves from bullies.


Black Women in Science

Kimberly Brown Pellum
Throughout history, women of color have blazed trails across science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In this volume, the author created a book for kids to celebrate incredible African American women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) who have used their brains, bravery, and ambition to beat the odds.


I am Enough

Grace Byers
This illustrated volume examines the ways in which African American girls can empower themselves despite hostile environments.


Copper Sun

Sharon Draper
This book displays the epic story of a young girl of African descent torn from her village, sold into enslavement, and stripped of everything she has ever known except hope.


We Rise We Resist We Raise Our Voices

Cheryl Willis Hudson 
In this captivating volume, the author collects the writings and views of fifty of the foremost diverse children’s authors and illustrators to answer the question: What shall we tell our children in this divisive, segregated and sometimes racist world?


What were the Negro Leagues

Varian Johnson
This outstanding book chronicles the history of the Negro Baseball Leagues.



Related Article: Must-Read Books by Black Writers in Cincinnati



What was the March on Washington?

Kathleen Krull
This powerful book examines the origins and impact of the 1963 March on Washington, where Blacks and whites advocated for change together.


Out of the Mouths of Slaves: African American Oral History

Carole Marsh 
This unique volume shows the power and impact of oral histories through enslaved African Americans’ voices and livens.


Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood

Kwame Mbalia  
This powerful book celebrates the lives and the joy of young African American boys through seventeen unique stories.


A Kids Book about Racism

Jelani Memory
In this book, you will find a clear description of what racism is, how it makes people feel when they experience it, and how to spot it when it happens.


Ruby Bridges Goes to School

Ruby Bridges
This classic book chronicles the powerful and important life of actress and activist Ruby Bridges.



Related Article: 20 Good Books About Race, Diversity and Inclusion



Hidden Figures

Margot Lee Shetterly
This book tells the phenomenal true story of the Black American female mathematicians at NASA. These mathematicians’ calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space.


What is the Civil Rights Movement?

Sherri L. Smith
This book examines the origins and impact of the Modern Civil Rights movement on Black people.


Who is Michelle Obama?

Megan Stine
This book chronicles the life story of First Lady Michelle Obama.


Black Inventors

Kathy Trusty
This path-breaking volume discusses the impact of various African American inventors.


One Crazy Summer

Rita Williams-Garcia
This inspiring book tells the story of three sisters who travel to Oakland, California, in 1968. They travelled to meet the mother who abandoned them.


Related Article: Good books for Black children


About the author, Eric R. Jackson


Eric R. Jackson holds a doctorate from the University of Cincinnati. He is a professor of history and black studies in the Department of History and Geography at Northern Kentucky University, where he teaches courses in American and African American history/studies, race relations, and peace studies.


He has over 50 publications, including articles in such journals as Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, Journal of African American History, and Journal of World Peace.


[email protected]



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Good books for African American teenagers photo provided by Adobe Stock

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