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.

Just South of Home

When Sarah’s 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. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

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. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby or as eBook in Spanish on Overdrive/Libby.

The Parker Inheritance

In 2007, Abigail Caldwell, the first female and African American city manager for the town of Lambert, South Carolina, was forced to resign after covertly digging up the municipal tennis courts in search of buried treasure. Now, a decade later, the late Abigail’s twelve-year-old granddaughter Candice is following the same arcane clues, hoping to uncover the Parker inheritance. But who was Parker? You can also check out this title as eAudio on Overdrive/Libby, as eBook on Overdrive/Libby or as eAudio on Hoopla.

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. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby

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. You can also check out this title as eAudio on Hoopla.

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. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.