2021 Black Authored MG & YA

It starts with the list I maintain all year. Then, it’s edited to list only Black authored books for middle grade (ages 8-12) and young adult (ages 12-18) readers that are traditionally published in the US. This list doesn’t contain self pulished books so that it can trace the progress of Blacks who publish youth literature over the years. Please, do feel free to mention self-published books in the comments. A link to previous lists can be found here. The number of books this year seems a bit higher than last year, but many books due out in 2020 were postphoned to 2021. We can’t deny that the numbers are slowly increasing and hopefully efforts to eliminate the presence of Blacks as well as Asian Americans and LGBTQIA+ and people with disabilities will quickly lose traction. We’re not going anywhere.

This year, I’ve taken care to note the diversity within Blackness. You’ll find US publishers are incorporating writers from Canada, the Caribbean and the UK. It’s important to realize that vast expressions of Blackness in these stories.

We’re seeing a wider representation of gender identities and sexual orientations that before. I noticed quite a few debuts coming into youth lit with well established careers (and large social media followings which really means greater sales potention). Celebrities have always had a presence in Black youth literature and this year is no exception with books on the list from Misty Copeland, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Eve Ewing and Kevin Hart as well as both Michelle and Barack Obama.

Several of these authors have film contracts, something it took quite awhile for Black authors to achieve. Maybe someone with more time than me will dig in and examine diversity across genre; who’s getting backed to make appearances and who has a deal for another book, or two. I noticed many authors from the south, particularly Alabama and Louisiana. Imagine what it feels like for a child to read a book set in their home state!

I’ve worked on this for a few days now! I think this is as close as I can get to a complete list. I think I’ve done better with graphic novels this year, but maybe not so much with nonfiction. Please, tell me what’s not here. I appreciate the help.

Happy holidays!

  1. The Awakening of Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Tiffany D. Jackson. FSG
  2. The Scrumptious Life of Azaleah Lane (Azaleah Lane #3) by Nikki Shannon Smith and Gloria Felix. Picture Window Books. 
  3. Baseball’s Leading Lady: Effa Manley and the Rise and Fall of the Negro Leagues by Andrea Willams. Roaring Brook Press DEBUT
  4. Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant.  Balzer+Bray
  5. Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance ed. by Nikki Grimes. Bloomsbury
  6. The Life I’m In by Sharon G. Flake. Scholastic
  7. Meow or Never by Jazz Taylor [Jessica Lewis]. Scholastic. DEBUT
  8. Becoming: Adapted for Young Readers by Michelle Obama. Delacorte
  9. One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite (Haitian American). Inkyard
  10. The Ravens by Kass Morgan and Danielle Paige. HMH
  11. Roman and Jewel by Dana L. Davis. Inkyard
  12. Root Magic by Eden Royce. Walden Pond Press. YA Debut
  13. When You Look Like Us by Pamela N. Harris. Quill Tree Books
  14. A Universe of Wishes ed. by Dhonielle Clayton. Crown Books
  15. Angel of Greenwood by Randi Pink. Feiwel and Friends.
  16. The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nahisi Coates. Delacorte.
  17. Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. Brown. Crown Books.
  18. Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas. Balzer+Bray
  19. The Meet Cute Project by Rhiannon Richardson. Simon & Schuster. DEBUT
  20. Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alson. Balzer+Bray
  21. Your Corner Dark by Desmond Hall (Jamaican American). Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
  22. Take Back the Block by Chrystal D. Giles. Random House. DEBUT
  23. Wings of Ebony by J. Elle. Denene Millner Books/Simone & Schuster. DEBUT
  24. Muted by Tami Charles. Scholastic
  25. Love is A Revolution by Renée Watson. Bloomsbury
  26. Shuri: The Vanished (Black Panther #2) by Nic Stone. Scholastic
  27. The Year I Flew Away by Marie Arnold (Haitian American) Versify. DEBUT
  28. Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson. Sourcebooks Fire. DEBUT
  29. One Carefree Day by Whitney Amazeen. Swan Pages Publishing DEBUT
  30. The Gilded Ones (Deathless #1) by Namina Forna (Sierra Leonean American) Delacorte. DEBUT
  31. Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found by Rucker Moses and Teho Gangi. GP Putnam’s Sons
  32. Reaper of Souls (Kingdom of Souls #2) by Rena Barron. HarperTeen
  33. Like Home by Louisa Onome (Nigerian Canadian). Delacorte. DEBUT
  34. Nubia Real One by L L McKinney. DC Comics
  35. Some Other Now by Sarah Everett (Afro Canadian). HMH
  36. Home Is Not A Country by Safia Elhillo (Sudanese American). Make Me A World
  37. Simon B. Rhymin’ by Dwayne Reed. Little, Brown
  38. Noelle The Mean Girl by Ashley Woodfolk. Penguin Workshop
  39. Can’t Stop Won’t Stop (Young Adult Edition): A History of the Hip Hop Generation by Jeff Chang and Dave ‘Davey D’ Cook. Wednesday Books
  40. The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris. Simon and Schuster
  41. The Place Beyond Her Dreams by Oby Aligwekwe (Nigerian Canadian). Eclat Books
  42. Amber’s Song by Kaitlyn Pitts, Camryn Pitts and Olivia Pitts. ZonderKidz
  43. A Queen of Gilded Horns by Amanda Joy. GP Putnam’s Sons
  44. Squad Goals by Erika J. Kendrick. Little, Brown 
  45. It Doesn’t Take a Genius by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich. Six Foot Press
  46. Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannan Smart (British Jamaican). HarperTeen
  47. Sculptor Woodrow Nash: How I Search for My Ancestors by Woodrow Nash with Shelley Fraser Mickle. Pelican Publishing
  48. Last Gate of the Emperor by Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joen Makonnen. Scholastic
  49. Hurricane Summer by Asah Bromfield (Afro Jamaican). Wednesday Books
  50. Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya GoffneyHarperTeen
  51. Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee (mixed race). HarperCollins
  52. Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy by Emmanuel Acho (Nigerian American). Roaring Brook Press
  53. Thanks A Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas (Afro Canadian). Amulet Books.
  54. Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass (Caribbean). Balzer + Bray
  55. Planting Peace: The Story of Wangari Maathai by Gwendolyn Hooks and Margaux Carpentier. Crocodile
  56. Off the Record by Camryn Garrett. Knopf
  57. Ophie’s Ghost by Justina Ireland (biracial) Balzer + Bray
  58. A Sitting in St. James by Rita Williams Garcia. Quill Tre25 May
  59. A Chorus Rises A Song Below Water Novel by Bethany Morrow. Tor Teen
  60. Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon (Jamaican American). Delacorte
  61. Kevin Makes a Movie by Kevin Hart, Geoff Rodkey and David Cooper. Crown Books
  62. Mile Morales Shock Waves, an original Spider-Man graphic novel by Justin Reynolds, illustrated by Pablo Leon. Graphix
  63. The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons. Dial Books. DEBUT
  64. Simone Breaks All the Rules by Debbie Rigaud (Haitian American). Scholastic
  65. Josephine Against the Sea by Shakirah Bourne (Barbadian) Scholastic. DEBUT
  66. The Marvelous by Claire Kann. Swoon Reads
  67. Ace of Spades by Faridah Abike-Iyimide (Black British). Feiwel and Friends. DEBUT
  68. Harriet Tubman: Toward Freedom by Whit Taylor, illus. by Kazimir Lee. Little, Brown
  69. Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury. Margaret K. McElderry Books
  70. Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, NicStone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk and Nicola Yoon. Quill Tree
  71. Darling by K. Ancrum. Imprint
  72. This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron. Bloomsbury
  73. Escape from …Hurrican Katrina by Judy Allen Dodson and Nigel Chilvers. Little Bee Books
  74. Trials (The Lost Tribes) by Christine Taylor-Butler. Move Books
  75. Maya and the Robot by Eve Ewing. Kokila
  76. Quincredible #2: The Hero Within by Rodney Barnes and Selina Epiritu. Oni Press
  77. The Right Side of Reckless by Whitney D. Grandison. Inkyard
  78. The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass. GP Putnam’s Sons. DEBUT
  79. Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson. Scholastic
  80. Pax Sampson #1: The Cookout by Rashad Doucet and Jason Reeves. Oni Press
  81. Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood edited by Kwame Mbalia. Random/Delacorte
  82. Sugar Town Queens by Maila Nunn (African Australian). G. P. Putnam’s Sons
  83. Zion Unmatched by Zion Clark, James S. Hirsch. Candlewick
  84. The Sisters of Reckoning by Charlotte Nicole Davis. Tor Teen
  85. Call and Response: The Story of Black Lives Matter by Veronica Chambers (Afro Latina)and the New York Times. Versify
  86. Me (Moth) by Amber McBride. Feiwel and Friends
  87. Dovey Undaunted : A Black Woman Breaks Barries in the Law, the Military and the Ministry by Tonya Bolden. Norton Young Readers
  88. Fast Pitch by Nic StoneCrown Books
  89. Tobyn the It Girl (Flyy Girls) by Ashley Woodfolk. Penguin Workshop
  90. African and Caribbean Folktales, Myths and Legends by Wendy Shearer (Black British). Scholastic
  91. The Bones of Ruin by Sarah Raughley (Black Canadian). Margaret K. McElderry
  92. Hoop Kings 2: New Royalty by Charles R. Smith. Candlewick
  93. Partly Cloudy by Tanita S. Davis. Katherine Tegen Books
  94. The Problem With the Other Side by Kwame Ivery. Soho Teen
  95. So Many Beginnings: A Little Women Remix by Bethany C. Morrow. Feiwel and Friends
  96. We Are Not Broken by George M. Johnson. Little, Brown Books
  97. Zero O’Clock by C. J. Farley (Jamaican American). Black Shee
  98. Kneel by Candace Buford. Inkyard Press
  99. Mighty Inside by Sundee T. Frazier (mixed race). Levine Querido
  100. Paradise on Fire by Jewell Parker Rhodes. Little, Brown
  101. A Soft Place to Land by Janae Marks. Katherine Tegen Books
  102. White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson. Katherine Tegen Books
  103. Black Was the Ink by Michelle Coles, illus. by Justin Johnson. Tu Books
  104. The Leopard Behind the Moon by Mayonn Paasewe-Valchev (Liberian American). Greenwillow Books
  105. A Man Called Horse: John Horse and the Black Seminole Underground Railroad by Glennette Tilley Turner. Abrams
  106. Maya and the Return of the Godlings by Rena Barron. Clarion
  107. Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles. Scholastic
  108. We’re Better Than This: Young Readers’ Edition: My Fight for the Future of Our Democracy by Elijah Cummings. HarperCollins
  109. Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray. GP Putnam’s Sons
  110. For All Time by Shanna Miles. Simon and Schuster
  111. Spellbound (The Black Panther) by Ronald L. Smith. Marvel Press
  112. Black Birds in the Sky: The Story and Legacy of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre by Brandy Colbert. Balzer + Bray
  113. Dreams of My Father Young People’s Edition: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama (European American and Kenyan). Delacorte
  114. Feminist AF: A Guide to Crushing Girlhood by Brittney Cooper, et al. Norton Young Readers
  115. African Icons: Ten People Who Shaped History by Tracey Baptiste (Caribbean American). Algonquin
  116. Playing the Cards You’re Dealt by Varian Johnson. Scholastic
  117. Rise Up! How You Can Join the Fight Against Racism by Crystal Fleming. Holt
  118. Why We Fly by Kimberly Jones and Gilley Segal. Sourcebook Fires
  119. Black Artists Shaping the World by Sharna Jackson (Black British) Thames and Hudson
  120. Defiant: Growing Up in the Jim South by Wade Hudson. Crown Books
  121. Polo Cowboy by G. Neri (mixed race), illus. by Jesse Joshua Watson. Candlewick
  122. Recognize: An Anthology Honoring and Amplifying Black Life ed. by Wade Hudson & Cheryl Hudson. Crown Books
  123. Keeping It Real by Paula Chase. Greenwillow
  124. Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood. Wednesday Books
  125. The Last Chance for Logan County (A Legendary Alston Boys Adventure) by Lamar Giles, illus. by Derick Brooks. Versify
  126. Rest Easy by Warona Jolomba (Black British) Wattpad
  127. Listen, Layla by Yassmin Abdel-Magied (Sudanese Australian). Penguin Australia
  128. Black Ballerinas by Misty Copeland and illustrated by Salena Barnes. Aladdin
  129. The Swag is in The Socks by Kelly J. Baptist. Crown Books
  130. A Psalm of Storms and Silence by Roseanne A. Brown (Ghanaian American). Balzer + Bray
  131. Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen (Nigerian Welsh). Random House
  132. Segregated Skies: David Harris’s Trailblazing Journey to Rise Above Racial Barriers by Michael Cottman. National Geographic Books
  133. The Shadow Prince by David Anthony Durham.(Caribbean American). Tu Books
  134. fThe Book of Black Inventors and Scientists by M. J. Fievre (Haitian American) and illustrated by Kim Balacuit. Dragonfruit
  135. Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People by Kekla Magoon. Candlewick
  136. Stuntboy, In the Meantime by Jason Reynolds and illustrated by Raúl the Third. Atheneum
  137. Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed by Saraciea J. Fennell (Black Honduran.) Flatiron Books
  138. Income Inequality and the Fight over Wealth Distribution by Elliott Smith. ReadWokeBooks/Lerner
  139. Mass Incarceration, Black Men and the Fight for Justice by Cicely Lewis. ReadWokeBooks/Lerner
  140. The Opioid Epidemic and the Addiction Crisis by Elliott Smith. ReadWokeBooks/Lerner She Persisted: Harriet Tubman by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Chelsea Clinton. Philomel Books
  141. She Persisted: Claudette Colvin by Lesa Cline-Ransome and Chelsea Clinton. Philomel Books
  142. She Persisted: Florence Griffith Joyner by Rita Williams-Garcia and Chelsea Clinton. Philomel Books
  143. She Persisted: Ruby Bridges by Kekla Magoon (European American and Cameroonian American) and Chelsea Clinton. Philomel Books
  144. Honest June by Tina Wells and Brittney Bond. Random House

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