African American Identity & Everyday Life: Books for Middle School

Teen Specialists Staff Image

Teens in grades 6-8 can gain confidence and joy in seeing themselves and those around them represented in books. The following stories present African American teens as leading characters. Caregivers and educators can encourage reading books with racially diverse characters by offering these and other titles on class reading lists, in a shared reading space, and through conversations.

For Black Girls Like Me

Eleven-year-old Makeda dreams of meeting her African American mother, while coping with serious problems in her white adopted family, a cross-country move, and being homeschooled.

Genesis Begins Again

A thirteen-year-old African American girl thinks that if she can lighten her skin color, her family’s problems will go away.

Just South of Home

Twelve-year-old Sarah is finally in charge. At last, she can spend her summer months reading her favorite science books and bossing around her younger brother, Ellis, instead of being worked to the bone by their overly strict grandmother, Mrs. Greene. But when their cousin, Janie arrives for a visit, Sarah’s plans are completely squashed. Janie has a knack for getting into trouble and asks Sarah to take her to Creek Church: a landmark of their small town that she heard was haunted. It’s also off-limits. Janie’s sticky fingers lead Sarah, Ellis and his best friend, Jasper, to uncover a deep-seated part of the town’s past. With a bit of luck, this foursome will heal the place they call home and the people within it they call family.

The Last Last-Day-of-Summer

When adventurous cousins Otto and Sheed Alston accidentally extend the last day of summer by freezing time, they find the secrets between the unmoving seconds are not as much fun as they expected.

The Moon Within

Eleven-year-old (nearly twelve) Celi Rivera, who is a mix of Black-Puerto Rican-Mexican Indian is uncomfortable about her approaching period, and the changes that are happening to her body; she is horrified that her mother wants to hold a traditional public moon ceremony to celebrate the occasion–until she finds out that her best friend Magda is contemplating an even more profound change of life.

My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich

In the summer of 1984, twelve-year-old Ebony-Grace of Huntsville, Alabama, visits her father in Harlem, where her fascination with outer space and science fiction interfere with her finding acceptance.

Parker Inheritance

Twelve-year-old Candice Miller is spending the summer in Lambert, South Carolina, in the old house that belonged to her grandmother, who died after being dismissed as city manager for having the city tennis courts dug up looking for buried treasure–but when she finds the letter that sent her grandmother on the treasure hunt, she finds herself caught up in the mystery and, with the help of her new friend and fellow book-worm, Brandon, she sets out to find the inheritance, exonerate her grandmother, and expose an injustice once committed against an African American family in Lambert.

Princeless. Vol 1, Save Yourself

Princess Adrienne is tired of being locked in a tower, waiting around to be rescued by a prince. She escapes from the tower with the help of her guardian dragon, Sparky, and with her plucky sidekick Bedelia, Adrienne sets off on a quest to rescue her sisters who are suffering the same fate.

The Season of Styx Malone

Caleb Franklin and his younger brother, Bobby Gene, spend an extraordinary summer with their new, older neighbor, Styx Malone, a foster boy from the city.

So Done

When two best friends are reunited after a summer apart, their friendship threatens to combust from the pressure of secrets, middle school, and looming auditions for a potentially life-changing new talented-and-gifted program.

Some Places More than Others

Amara visits her father’s family in Harlem for her twelfth birthday, hoping to better understand her family and herself, but New York City is not what she expected.

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

Seventh-grader Tristan Strong tumbles into the MidPass and, with allies John Henry and Brer Rabbit, must entice the god Anansi to come out of hiding and seal the hole Tristan accidentally ripped in the sky.