Zetta Elliott and I began working on the numbers for Black MG & YA books published in 2020 just about the same time the New York Times printed the opinion piece, Just How White Is the Book Industry? To measure how well publishers put their anti-racist statements into practice, the authors worked to build a baseline that revealed that 11% of books in 2018 were written by people of color. Do keep in mind that Whites make up 60% of the population yet 89% of published authors. It was confusing that the article ended with quotes from African Americans in YA. I don’t know if children’s books were included in their work. I do know their numbers are not surprising at all. In 2018, 1.43% of MG &YA books were authored by Blacks.
Over the years, Zetta and I have worked to count the number of Black-authored middle grade and young adult books that were released by traditional publishers in the US.
2010: 56 (fiction only)
2011: 47 (fiction only)
2012: 51 (fiction only)
2013: 36 (fiction only)
2014: 44 (fiction only)
2015: 32 (fiction only)
Titles were first identified from my annual list of books and then crowd sourced for additional titles.
The difficult part is determining how many MG and YA books were published each year in the US. We could have a pretty good idea, should we have access to Library and Book Trade Almanac™ but, given that I’m working from home, I don’t have that. The American Library Association reported that in 2009, there were 21,878 children’s books published and of those 4,644 were YA. How many were MG? I don’t know! Let’s, for the sake of argument assume that 30% of these books were for middle grade and young adult readers. That would be 6563 books. (21% are YA.) I think I’m using a rather conservative number.
Even with the number of books by Black authors almost doubling from 2010-2019, I cannot call this progress; the numbers do not support that. Besides, this isn’t just a story about the books. We have to consider how many Blacks are employed inside the industry; compensation paid to Black authors and illustrators in terms of both real dollars and marketing budgets; and number of stories written about Blacks by non-Blacks. And, I have to wonder if there’s still a glass ceiling that limits the number of books a given publisher will print about Blacks, or the genres in which these stories will be told. All of this measures who is telling our story.
Spoiler alert: 2020 saw no significant growth. The list is below. I’d suggest coming back over the next few days as more titles are added. It’s a bit of an ‘ouch’ to know I’ve missed books (I work hard at this y’all!) but It feels so good to know there are still more to count. Feel free to add them in the comments.
- All the Days Past, All the Days to Come by Mildred D. Taylor. Viking.
- Clean Getaway by Nic Stone. Crown.
- Leaving Lymon (companion to Finding Langston) by Lesa Cline-Ransom. Holiday House.
- A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison. Inkyard.
- Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown. Henry Holt.
- From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks. Katherine Tegen Books
- Saving Savannah by Tonya Bolden. Bloomsbury.
- Say Her Name by Zetta Elliott. Little, Brown.
- Given by Nandi Taylor. Wattpad Books.
- Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles. Harper Teen.
- King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender. Scholastic.
- You and Me and Misery by Rayel Louis-Charles. West 44 Books.
- Deathless Divide (Dread Nation #2) by Justina Ireland. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray.
- Arcade and the Fiery Metal Tester (Coin Slot series) by Rashad Jennings. Zondervan.
- I’m Gonna Push Through by Jasmyn Wright, illus. by Shannon Wright. Atheneum.
- The Blossom and the Firefly by Sherri L. Smith. Penguin Teen.
- Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes. Little, Brown.
- Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman. Ink Road.
- A Phoenix First Must Burn by Patrice Caldwell. Viking Books
- Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice by Mahogany L. Browne, Elizabeth Acevedo & Olivia Gatwood, illustrated by Theodore Taylor III. Roaring Brook Press.
- The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert. Little, Brown.
- Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by Michele Wood. Candlewick.
- Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko. Amulet.
- When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, illus. by Jamieson and Iman Geddy. Dial Books.
- What Lane? by Torrey Maldonado. Nancy Paulsen Books.
- All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson. Farrar, Strauss & Giroux.
- Ryan Hart #1: Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson. Bloomsbury.
- Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo. HarperTeen.
- Shuri: A Black Panther Novel by Nic Stone. Scholastic.
- Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender. Balzer+Bray.
- A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow. Tor Teen.
- You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson. Scholastic.
- All the Things We Never Knew by Liara Tamani. Greenwillow.
- Jake the Fake Keeps His Cool by Craig Robinson and Adam Mansbach illus. by Keith Knight. Crown.
- The Colours that Blind by Rutendo Tavengerwei. Hot Key Books.
- Interview with The Vixen (Archie Horror #2) by Rebecca Barrow. Scholastic.
- Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron. Bloomsbury.
- Forever This Summer by Leslie C. Youngblood. Little, Brown.
- The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert. Disney Hyperion.
- Something to Say by Lisa Moore Ramée. Balzer+Bray.
- The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson. Ace.
- This Is My America by Kim Johnson. Random House.
- The Magic in Changing Your Stars by Leah Henderson. Sterling Children’s Books.
- Facing the Sun by Janice Lynn Mather. Simon & Schuster.
- Now That I’ve Found You by Kristina Forest. Roaring Brook.
- Where Dreams Descend (Kingdom of Cards) by Janella Angeles. Wednesday Book.
- Arcade and the Dazzling Truth Detector by Rashad Jennings. Zonderkidz.
- Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson. Nancy Paulsen Books.
- The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed. Simon and Schuster.
- Micah: The Good Girl (Flyy Girls #2) by Ashey Woodfolk. Penguin.
- Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam. Balzer+Bray.
- Beauty Mark: A Verse Novel of Marilyn Monroe by Carole Boston Weatherford. Candlewick.
- Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe. Balzer+Bray.
- Star Wars the High Republic: A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland, illus. by Petur Antonsson. Disney Lucasfilm Press.
- The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters. Duet Books.
- Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson. Katherine Tegen Books.
- Legendborn (Legendborn #1) by Tracy Deonn. Margaret K. KcElderry Books.
- The True Definition of Neva Beane by Christine Kendall. Scholastic.
- Turning Point (So Done #3) by Paula Chase. Greenwillow Books.
- A Crown So Cursed (The Nightmare Verse) by L. L. McKinney. Imprint.
- Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds. Katherine Tegen Books.
- Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron. HMH Books for Young Readers.
- Smash It! (Smash It #1) by Francina Simone. Inkyard.
- Dear Justyce by Nic Stone. Crown.
- The Talk: Conversations About Race, Love & Truth by Wade Hudson (ed.) and Cheryl Hudson (ed.) Crown.
- Class Act by Jerry Craft. Quill Tree.
- Tristan Strong Destroys the World (Tristan Strong #2) by Kwame Mbalia. Disney/Riordan.
- Twins by Varian Johnson, illus. by Shannon Wright. Graphix.
- The Bad Boy and the Tomboy by Nicole Nwosu. Wattpad Books.
- Concrete Kids (Pocket Change Collective) by Amyra León. Penguin Workshop.
- Daughters of Jubilation by Kara Lee Corthron Simon Schuster.
- Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel by Jason Reynolds, illus. by Danica Novgorodoff. Atheneum/Dlouhy.
- The Deep Blue Between by Ayesha Harruna Attah. Pushkin Children’s Books.
- The Last Mirror on the Left by Lamar Giles, illus. by Dapo Adeola. Versify.
- Off Track by Tamika Gibson Blouse Skirt Books.
- Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found by Rucker Moses, illus. by Theo Gangi. G. P. Putnam’s Sons.
- Serena Says by Tanita S. Davis. HarperCollins/Tegen.
- Malcolm and Me by Robin Farmer. SparkPress.
- Rebel Sisters (War Girls #2) by Tochi Onyebuchi. Razorbill.
- A Universe of Wishes: A We Need Diverse Books Anthology by Dhonielle Clayton (ed.) Random House.
- Becoming Ali by James Patterson, Kwame Alexander and Dawud Anyabwile. Jimmy Patterson.
- Agnes at the End Of the World by Kelly McWilliams. Little Brown Books.
- Maribel Versus the Volcano: A Mt. St. Helens Survival Story by Sarah Hannah Gómez and Jane Pica. Stone Arch Books.
- This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 lessons on how to wake up, take action, and do the work by Tiffany Jewell and Aurélia Durand. Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.
- Mighty Justice (young readers ed.): The Untold Story of Civil Rights Trailblazer Dovey Johnson Roundtree by Dovey Johnson Roundtree and Katie McCabe, adapted by Jabari Asim. Roaring Brook Press.
- Segregated Skies: One Pilot’s Trailblazing Journey to Rise Above Racial Barriers by Michael H. Cottman. National Geographic Kids.
- Home for Hurricanes: A Memoir of Resilience in Poetry and Prose by Nikki Murphy. Rebirth Press.
- G.O.A.T. – Serena Williams : Making the Case for the Greatest of All TIme by Tami Charles. Sterling Children’s Books.
- Brave. Black. First. : 50 African American Women Who Led the Way by Cheryl Hudson and Erin K. Robinson. Crown.
- Strong Voices: FIfteen American Speeches Worth Knowing by Tonya Bolden, Cokie Roberts and Eric Velasquez. HarperCollins.
- Find Your Voice: A Guided Journal for Writing Your Truth by Angie Thomas. Balzer and Bray.
- Who Did It First? 50 Politicians, Activists, and Entrepreneurs Who Revolutionized the World by Jay Leslie (Author), Alex Hart (Editor), Nneka Myers (Illustrator) Henry Holt & Co.
- Changing the Equation: 50+ US Black Women in STEM by Tonya Bolden. Abrams.
- Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-Winning Stamped from the Beginning by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. Little Brown Books.
- Who Got Game?: Baseball: Amazing but True Stories! by Derrick Barnes and John John Bajet. Workman Publishing.
- Call Me American (Adapted for Young Adults): The Extraordinary True Story of a Young Somali Immigrant by Abdi Nor Iftin. Delacorte.
- Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box by Evette Dionne. Viking.
- Women in the Old West (A True Book Women’s History in the US) by Marti Dumas Children’s Press
- Bee Fearless Dream Like A Kid by Mikaila Ulmer. G. P. Putnam’s Sons.
And 2021? We’ll see.
6 thoughts on “2020 BLACK-AUTHORED MG/YA BOOKS”
James Patterson and 2 more
Becoming Muhammad Ali
Bee Fearless: Dream Like a Kid
James Patterson and 2 more
Becoming Muhammad Ali
Bee Fearless: Dream Like a Kid
Tami Charles and 1 more
All Because You Matter
The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed and Becoming Ali by James Patterson, Kwame Alexander, and Dawud Anyabwile are both listed twice, so the situation might be even worse than shown.
These two are both designed more for 2nd-3rd graders, so I’m not sure if they count as Middle Grade?
The Amazing Life of Azaleah Lane by Nikki Shannon Smith
The Dramatic Life of Azaleah Lane by Nikki Shannon Smith
Thanks for mentioning those chapter books but, they are too young to be middle grade books.
Middle grade is grades 6,7 & 8
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