African American Identity & Everyday Life: Books for High School

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.

Ain't Burned All the Bright

A smash up of art and text that viscerally captures what it is to be Black. In America. Right now.

This title is also available for checkout as an eBook and eAudioBook OverDrive/Libby.  

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.

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.

Who Put This Song On?

17-year-old Morgan is a black teen triumphantly figuring out her identity when her conservative town deems depression as a lack of faith, and blackness as something to be politely ignored. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby.