Race and Social Justice Books for Teens

Teen Specialists Staff Image

This list contains fiction titles for teens that speak to the headlines, hashtags, demonstrations and ongoing dialogue about race in America. There are also titles that focus on positive everyday experiences of teens of color.

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An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People

Going beyond the story of America as a country “discovered” by a few brave men in the “New World,” Indigenous human rights advocate Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz reveals the roles that settler colonialism and policies of American Indian genocide played in forming our national identity. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

Anger is a Gift

Six years ago, Moss Jefferies’ father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Now, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals in their own school. The students decide to organize and push back against the administration. When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift. You can also check out this title as eAudio on Overdrive/Libby, as eBook on Overdrive/Libby or as eAudio on Hoopla.

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice

Presents the life of the Alabama teenager who played an integral role in the Montgomery bus strike, once by refusing to give up a bus seat, and again, by becoming a plaintiff in the landmark civil rights case against the bus company. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

I’m Not Dying with You Tonight

Lena knows she’s going to make it big. Campbell is just trying to get through the year at her new school. One is black, one is white. When both girls attend the Friday-night football game, neither expects everything to descend into sudden mass chaos. Chaos born from violence and hate. Chaos that unexpectedly throws them together. When the city is up in flames, they only have each other to rely on if they’re going to survive the night. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby or as eBook on Hoopla.

Light it Up

Told from multiple viewpoints, Shae Tatum, an unarmed, thirteen-year-old black girl, is shot by a white police officer, throwing their community into upheaval and making it a target of demonstrators. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

Slay

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.