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.

Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet. Book 1

When a superhuman terrorist group that calls itself The People sparks a violent uprising, Wakanda, the land famed for its incredible technology and proud warrior traditions, will be thrown into turmoil. If Wakanda is to survive, it must adapt – but can its leader Black Panther survive the necessary change?

Little & Lion

Suzette is excited and unsure to come home to L.A.  where her friends and family are. And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support. But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother.

Riding Chance

Since his mother died thirteen-year-old Troy has been skipping school and hanging out with the wrong crowd, and now he and his friend Foster have been sentenced to work in the local Philadelphia stables; at first he is apprehensive around the horses, but soon he bonds with a mare named Chance, and discovers the sport of polo–but also makes some new enemies.

Like No Other

Living on opposite sides of their Brooklyn neighborhood, strict Hasidic Devorah and fun-loving nerd Jaxon forge an unexpected connection when they become trapped in an elevator during a hurricane, after which they pursue a secret romance.


Tim is a dyslexic black kid on the mean streets of Newark. He wants to do what is right, but anger boils deep inside him. Despite everything, Tim wants his life to matter.

Into White

An African-American girl in a mostly white school wishes that she was “anything but black.”

Long Way Down

Sixty seconds, seven floors, three rules, one gun.

Will’s older brother, Shawn, has been shot. Dead.  Will feels a sadness so great, he can’t explain it.  But in his neighborhood there are the RULES

No. 1 :  Crying.  Don’t no matter what.

No 2 :  Snitching.  Don’t no matter what.

No 3 :  Revenge.  Do no matter what.

But bullets miss.  You can get the wrong guy.  And there’s always someone else who knows to follow the rules… .


When gentrification strikes the neighborhood surrounding Ronald Reagan University, Naima Pepper recruits a group of disgruntled undergrads of color to launch the first and only anti-gentrification social networking site, The motley crew is poised to fight back against expensive avocado toast, muted Prius cars, exorbitant rent, and cultural appropriation.

Dear Martin

African American young man struggles with trying to live life through the lens of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s teachings, writings and philosophy.  Justyce McAllister grapples with Dr. King’s stand on race relations and his 21st century existence.

Calling My Name

Taja Brown, growing up in a conservative and tightly knit African American family, battles family expectations to discover a sense of self and find her unique voice and purpose.

The Hate U Give

After witnessing her friend’s death at the hands of a police officer, Starr Carter’s life is complicated when the police and a local drug lord try to intimidate her in an effort to learn what happened the night Kahlil died.