Hi Everyone! My name is Lilli Montague, and I’m a member of The Juice’s Content Team. If you want to know who levels all the issues of The Juice…that would be me, and I love doing it every day.
When I’m not at work, you can probably find me curled up with a book. I love reading, and I always have. One of my favorite genres is Young Adult (YA) Literature. I love YA (and Children’s Lit in general) books so much I even got a masters in Children’s Literature! So, in honor of Black History Month, my friends who run The Juice blog asked me to put together a short list of some books by Black authors that feature Black characters.
February is a great time to add books by Black authors to your TBR (to be read lists), but remember, it’s important to read diversely EVERY month, not just this month.
For our Middle Grade Readers:
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
A heartbreaking short novel about Jerome, a 12-year-old boy who is accidentally shot and killed by the police. Told from beyond the grave, Emmett Till meets Jerome to introduce him to the other Ghost Boys and to help him grapple with the aftermath of his death. Due to the heavy subject matter, we do suggest Ghost Boys be read with a trusted adult.
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
Zoe is 12 when her biological father sends her a letter from prison. The two strike up a conversation and Zoe soon learns that her dad is innocent. Zoe also happens to be spending her summer working at a local bakery. So between her new correspondence with her father and her new job, Zoe has a lot to handle in this delightful middle grade read.
King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender
12-year-old Kingston James lives in the Louisiana bayou with his family. When his older brother Khalid dies, Kingston is convinced he’s turned into a dragonfly. Callender explores themes of grief, homophobia, and racism in their National Book Award-winning novel King and the Dragonflies.
For our High School Readers:
Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
The first book in a fast-paced duology based on West African oral stories and folklore will sweep young readers off into a fantastical world filled with betrayal and magic. Tarisal’s mother has raised her to kill the Crown Prince, but when she’s chosen to join his inner circle, she must re-evaluate her scheme and her relationship with her mother.
Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon
Evie doesn’t believe in love, especially since she can see how everyone’s love stories will end, but her beliefs are thrown in disarray when she meets X. This swoonworthy, emotional YA romance is about family, love, friendship, and self-discovery, and the expertly written characters and plot will keep readers turning the page.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
This impactful novel-in-verse is an examination of teen gun violence. 15-year-old Will is forced to reconcile with all he knows when his older brother Shawn is killed. Determined to take revenge on his brother’s killer, Will gets in his apartment’s elevator to face his future, but soon friends and relatives join him and ask him if he’s sure he is making the right choice. Told over a minute and in beautifully written poetry, Reynolds novel will hook readers from the beginning and keep them engaged until the last page.