I’ve invited non Black people who are in someway connected to youth literature to share a list of 5-10 books written or illustrated by Blacks that will appeal to children. I asked for anything from board books and graphic novels to biographies and adult crossover. The authors or illustrators could be living or dead, U.S. residents or not.
Sarah Ressler Wright is a high school English teacher turned teacher librarian who also serves as the mentor coordinator for her district. Sarah writes a weekly blog and hosts Facebook Live chats as “Vocab Gal” for Sadlier, Inc. sharing engaging vocabulary activities and games with educators. Sarah is the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE (ALAN) 2021 President Elect, is a past-president of the Ohio Council of Teachers of English Language Arts, was the 2010 Ohio Secondary English Educator of the year, and is a re-certified National Board Teacher. She presents often at NCTE, OCTELA and OELMA about various library and classroom topics including audiobooks, school/public library connections, and classroom/school library collaborations.
As a high school English teacher turned high school librarian, I have tried to make books exciting and accessible through genrifying our fiction collection into categories including teen issues, fantasy, sci fi, LGBTQIA+, sports, historical fiction, horror, and the increasingly popular mystery genre. There have been several new additions is the mysteries/thriller genre that feature African American characters, and I appreciate that many of the books don’t focus on struggle, but rather delve into music, gaming, horse racing and more.
Allegedly, Monday’s Not Coming and most recently, Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany Jackson. Tiffany Jackson’s books are amazing! They keep you guessing and you never know what really happened until the end. Missing persons, estranged families, and homages to 90’s music; readers think they get to the heart of each story just as Tiffany throws another curveball. Each of these books is not to be missed!
Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles and How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon are both important “Black Lives Matter” YA fiction, in each there is a mystery element-what exactly happened and how can readers solve the mystery alongside the protagonist(s).
Spin by Lamar Giles. Spin is a great look at black female rappers focusing on the death of an up and comer that had me guessing until the end while
Slay by Britney Morris. Slay is about a black female gamers; in both readers live vicariously through characters we often do not see much representation for in fiction.
Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty (illustrated by Rand DuBurke) and Grand Theft Horse (illustrated by Corban Wilkin) both written by G. Neri Finally, G. Neri’s graphic novels have the thriller aspects of a good mystery. In Grand Theft Horse, Neri chronicles the true story of his cousin Gail fighting back against the powerful horse racing industry to save her horse. The entire story keeps readers in anger and disbelief, guessing what is going to happen next.
Follow Sarah on Twitter at @vocabgal