African American Identity & Everyday Life: Books for High School

Teen Specialists Staff Image

Teens in grades 9-12 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.

Home and Away

Tasia Quirk is a senior with great friends and a supportive family, and she even plays football as the only girl on her private high school’s team. A mystery surrounding her mother makes Tasia wonder about her identity, leading her on a journey to unravel the lies that have taken over her life.

If It Makes You Happy

When Winnie is crowned Summer Queen in the small town of Misty Haven, she has to balance her new responsibilities with her friendships, a new romance and her job at her granny’s diner. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby.

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph

Sixteen-year-old Dove “Birdie” Randolph’s close bond with her parents is threatened by a family secret, and by hiding her relationship with Booker, who has been in juvenile detention. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.


An honors student at Jefferson Academy, seventeen-year-old Keira enjoys developing and playing Slay, a secret, multiplayer online role-playing game celebrating black culture, until the two worlds collide. You can also check out this title as eAudio on Overdrive/Libby or as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.


When a rising star of the local music scene is discovered dead over her turntables, the two girls who found her are torn between grief for the deceased and hatred for each other. But when the lack of obvious suspects stalls the investigation, the two girls unite, determined to find out who murdered their friend. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby or as eAudio on Hoopla.

Tyler Johnson Was Here

Twins Marvin and Tyler Johnson know that the police are often not on their side – they’ve seen it first hand, getting a gun drawn on them as bystanders to a police chase, and later at a house party, after a shooting breaks out. In the confusion, Marvin loses track of his brother. Later, his body is found, shot, and police attribute his death to gang violence. But that’s not the truth – a cop killed Tyler and a video exists proving it. Marvin and his family struggle to survive this trauma and the trauma of being Black in America. You can also check out this title as eAudio on Overdrive/Libby or as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

The Voice in My Head

A dysfunctional family sets off on a road trip after God speaks directly to one of them, promising Indigo that the trip will cure her terminally ill twin sister Violet.