Visibility and representation in the classroom are imperative for all students’ growth. Every single student deserves the opportunity to see themselves in the literature they read in class. Although, it is so important to note that including books by Black authors isn’t only for your Black students. White students and students of all races need to read books by Black authors.
However, representation, diversity, and inclusion should be more than just simple buzzwords to mention during a lesson plan. To solidify your support, it should be an ongoing process in every aspect of the classroom.
Part of the process includes purposefully including books in your classroom library so that it includes diverse voices. Here are a few YA novels by Black authors to add to your bookshelf.
A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
A Song Below Water is a fantasy novel that mixes aspects of real-world challenges with fantastical elements to create a social commentary on intersectionality that is unmatched. It follows the story of Effie and Tavia, two Black girls, forced to hide their mythical statuses. After the murder of a fellow magical person, they have to grapple with their own reality.
By Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery
By Any Means Necessary is a coming-of-age novel that deals with the experience of navigating a new life in college alongside a tumultuous life at home. The protagonist, Torrey, is a gay, Black college freshman who is relieved to be out from under the pressures of family life until his late uncle’s bee farm is under the threat of going to auction. By Any Means Necessary is a highly relevant story for any high schooler, as it handles both the big picture questions young adults are starting to face and the more personal aspects of growing up and moving forward.
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
Pet is a novel set in a future utopian town called Lucille, where everything is good, and prejudice is nonexistent. Jam, a selectively nonverbal transgender girl, is a resident of Lucille. She believes this truth until a monster named Pet comes to life by her hand and informs her of the possible dangers her best friend, Redemption, may have to face. Pet is a story full of both the author’s voice and love.
The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe
The Field Guide to the North American Teenager is a classic fish-out-of-water story that explores the humanity of all of its characters. At the start of the novel, Norris, a Black French-Canadian high schooler, is out of his element as the new kid in a suburban high school in Texas. He documents his experiences with each student he meets as a sort of ‘field guide’ to navigating the stereotypical American high school tropes. However, he soon finds out that each person he meets has more depth than meets the eye. The Field Guide to the North American Teenager has enough wit and sarcasm to hook the reader and enough heart to make them stay.
Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D Jackson
Monday’s Not Coming is a novel inspired by the real-life disappearances of Black girls frequently flying under the radar. After a summer away from Monday, her best friend, Claudia realizes that she has gone missing. With little to no help from Monday’s family or any of the adults in Claudia’s life, she begins to investigate Monday’s disappearance herself. Monday’s Not Coming deals with terrifying real-world issues, and it urges readers to care when the system does not.
Including these books in your classroom library will not only support an often disregarded side of literature but also set an example for your students that representation is necessary everywhere.