Black, Indigenous and People of Color in Books for Teens

It’s vital for all teens to see themselves fully represented in literature.

Unfortunately, many teens may have not this experience or may have only seen stereotypical depictions of people like them.

As in many other areas, White people have dominated the publishing industry. So it’s important that we place Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) authors front and center to give them the recognition they deserve.

Own Voices titles feature a BIPOC character written by an author of that same background. Own Voice authors are the best source for conveying an authentic message and experience through their own literature.

Sharing titles created by Own Voice authors is necessary to eliminate the effects of the stereotypes and biases that permeate our world. Authentic representation in literature transforms thinking, improves self-esteem for young people of color and helps White readers understand those who may look different from them.

This list contains as many Own Voice authors as possible. It was created by the Race, Reading and You Group of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. For more suggestions, ask a librarian.

You can sign up for a free library card here. If you are new to our eResources, check out these tutorial videos on how to get started. If you have any additional questions, you can contact a librarian through FacebookInstagram or Twitter. You can also call us at 412.622.3114 or email us at 

Dragon Hoops

Gene Luen Yang details the championship drive made by the basketball team at the high school where he teaches. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby.

The Marrow Thieves

Humanity has nearly destroyed its world through global warming, and the indigenous people of North America are being hunted and harvested for their bone marrow, which carries the key to recovering something the rest of the population has lost: the ability to dream. In this dark world, Frenchie and his companions struggle to survive as they make their way up north to the old lands. For now, survival means staying hidden–but what they don’t know is that one of them holds the secret to defeating the marrow thieves.  You can also check out this title as eAudio on OverDrive/Libby or as eBook on OverDrive/Libby.

Mister Miracle: The Great Escape

Scott Free, a student at the Goodness Academy on the planet Apokolips, wants to escape to Earth but falls in love with the head of the Female Furies–the one person tasked with ensuring he never escapes. You can also check out this title as eBook on Hoopla.

#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women

Whether looking back to a troubled past or welcoming a hopeful future, the powerful voices of Indigenous women across North America resound in this book. In the same style as the best-selling Dreaming in Indian, #NotYourPrincess presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman. Stories of abuse, humiliation, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women making themselves heard and demanding change. Sometimes angry, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give teen readers insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have been virtually invisible. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby.

Permanent Record

College dropout Pablo Neruda Rind works the graveyard shift at a twenty-four-hour deli in Brooklyn and is up to his eyes in credit card and student loan debt. Leanna Smart is a pop juggernaut who graduated from child stardom to become an international icon. Despite coming from different worlds, the two meet at 5:00 a.m. in the dead of winter and turn to each other as they discover who they are and who they want to be. You can also check out this title as eAudio on OverDrive/Libby or as eBook on OverDrive/Libby.

Tell Me How You Really Feel (Book)

The first time Sana Khan asked out a girl–Rachel Recht–it went so badly that she never did it again. Rachel thought that Sana had tried to prank her and has spent the past three years sneering at her in the halls. But now that it’s time for Rachel to cast her senior project, she realizes there’s no one more perfect than Sana to play the lead role. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby.

Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens

An anthology of stories in various genres, featuring disabled characters and written by disabled creators, ranging from established best selling authors to debut authors.

This title is also available for checkout as an eBook on Libby.