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YA Books To Celebrate Black Literature During Black History Month (And Every Month)

YA Books To Celebrate Black Literature During Black History Month (And Every Month)

YA books are pretty amazing when it comes to representation, and we are seeing more and more diversity with every release. In honor of Black History Month, we are sharing just some of the amazing Black YA books that have great representation and deserve a place on your TBR this month and every month, because representation shouldn’t start and end with annual observances!

YA Books To Celebrate Black Literature During Black History Month (And Every Month) The Honey POP reading gif Black YA
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Let Me Hear A Rhyme By Tiffany D. Jackson

YA Books To Celebrate Black Literature During Black History Month (And Every Month) The Honey POP Let Me Hear A Rhyme by Tiffany D Jackson Black YA
Image Source: HarperCollins

Penned by the award-winning author Tiffany D. Jackson, Let Me Hear A Rhyme is a love letter to late 90’s hip-hop and its origin in Brooklyn, New York. Stephon “Steph” Davis had the potential to become one of the biggest rappers hailing from Brooklyn like his idol, The Notorious B.I.G, but in horrific circumstances, Steph – like his idol – was murdered. Grieving best friends Quadir and Jarrell are determined to make sure his music lives on. Enlisting help from Seph’s younger sister, Jasmine, the trio constructs a plan to promote Steph’s music under a new name: the Architect, and to no surprise, people are loving what they hear. When a major record label’s rep discovers one of Steph’s demos, the friends must continue the farce while also unearthing the truth behind the murder. Paying tribute to the origins of what made the current rap scene what it is today, Let Me Hear A Rhyme is emotional and empowering, and a must-read for music lovers.

Content warning: death, grief

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The Voting Booth By Brandy Colbert

YA Books To Celebrate Black Literature During Black History Month (And Every Month) The Honey POP The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert
Image Source: Disney Press

In a time where voting rights and the importance of young voices are a major topic, The Voting Booth focuses on a common issue faced by many POC, particularly in America. It takes place during Election Day, when eighteen-year-old activist Marva Sheridan is preparing to vote in her first-ever election. But when she sees Duke Crenshaw, a biracial boy of the same age, not being able to vote at their local polling station, Marva jumps to action to ensure Duke’s right isn’t denied and his vote is counted. Meeting as strangers, Duke and Marva realize on the journey of beating a rigged system, that perhaps there’s more of a connection than their fight for democracy. Infusing romance with activism, The Voting Booth is both empowering and relatable with a brilliant concept.

Content warning: Mentions of past death, grief, gun violence, racism

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Felix Ever After By Kacen Callender

YA Books To Celebrate Black Literature During Black History Month (And Every Month) The Honey POP Felix Ever After Kacen Callender
Image Source: Balzer + Bray

Named a Time Magazine Best YA Book of All Time and a Stonewall Honor Book, Felix Ever After is a beautiful novel about identity, self-discovery, and experiencing love for the first time. Being a teen is hard enough on its own but being Black, trans and queer makes it even more challenging, to say the least. Felix feels as though being marginalized so much means finding love is simply not meant to be. But when planning revenge following a transphobic attack where his deadname is revealed and pre-transition photos are shared, Felix stumbles into a whole new journey of love and discovering oneself. Felix Ever After truly explores the theme of Black queerness and exploring your own identity through utmost honesty.

Buy the book here

Content warning: bullying, acts of transphobia, parental abuse, disownment

The Hate U Give By Angie Thomas

YA Books To Celebrate Black Literature During Black History Month (And Every Month) The Honey POP The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Image Source: Blazer & Bray

Of course, there was no question about including the multi-award-winning book by Angie Thomas. The Hate U Give is a powerful and heartbreakingly vital story about sixteen-year-old Starr. Having grown up in a poor Black neighborhood where she witnessed horrific events before the age of 10, her parents send her to an affluent white-majority private school. Starr quickly creates two separate worlds: one at home and one at school, until her attempts of keeping them apart crumble down when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. With protests in his name and people at school making racially-based assumptions, Starr is painfully aware that whatever she chooses to say or not say could capsize her community. It could also imperil her life. Though a heavy and hard read, The Hate U Give is a well-crafted story that handles such an important topic with care. It’s also the book that inspired a movie adaption of the same name, which we recommend giving a watch. And if you enjoy Starr’s story, you can read more of Garden Heights in the powerful prequel Concrete Rose, telling the story of Maverick and Steven.

Content warning: Abusive relationship, blood, references to cancer, child abuse/neglect, death, implied drug use, fire, gun violence, police brutality, racism, murder, domestic abuse, mentions of cheating

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You Should See Me In A Crown By Leah Johnson

YA Books To Celebrate Black Literature During Black History Month (And Every Month) The Honey POP You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson
Image Source: Scholastic

Full of Black girl joy, You Should See Me In A Crown follows the story of Liz Lighty. Being done with small-town Indiana, she’s ready to finish high school, get a scholarship, and begin a new life at Pennington College for pre-med studies. But what she wants versus what actually happens are two different things when her plans fold under and she fails to get the scholarship she so desperately needs, leaving her making fast decisions on how to get the money together. But one thing’s for sure: her grandparents being willing to sell the house for her is not an option. Her brother comes up with a heck of an idea: if Liz wins the title of prom queen, she will be given a scholarship worth enough to get her to Pennington. Running for prom queen means putting a spotlight on her in front of the entire Campell County student body, despite keeping to herself for the past three years. And doing community work with the popular kids is a task and a half for Liz; that is, until she meets the new girl, Mack, who’s definitely caught her attention. While Mack is out and proud, Liz is still in the closet. Will they be able to make it work despite their differences in being out, and also running against each other for prom queen? We adore this book. From the blossoming romance to the determination to chase dreams, this book is a great read, and full of girl power that we are here for!

Content warning: Anxiety, bullying, parental death, cancer, chronic illness, homophobia, forced outing, racism 

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The Meet-Cute Project By Rhiannon Richardson

YA Books To Celebrate Black Literature During Black History Month (And Every Month) The Honey POP The Meet Cute Project by Rhiannon Richardson
Image Source: Simon & Schuster

Everyone but Mia in her friend group are suckers for rom-coms. She despises them. But when she finds out that the groomsman she was partnered with for her sister Sam’s wedding cancels at the last minute, the bridezilla is adamant that Mia can’t go to the wedding on her own, because the photos will end up being uneven. Sam sends Mia to find her own date rather than another friend of the groom. Having thrown herself into her academics and surviving her junior year of high school, Mia’s options are slim to none. That’s when her friends step in with the idea of setting up meet-cutes like the ones in the movies they love, convinced that she will find the right person. Mia resentfully agrees to become the subject of this romance project, but will everything go to plan to find her a date in time for the upcoming wedding? This is a sweet, funny, and slightly cringy (but in a good way) read that will definitely hit you in the feels.

Content warning: manipulative family member

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Zero O’Clock By C.J Farley

YA Books To Celebrate Black Literature During Black History Month (And Every Month) The Honey POP Zero O'Clock C.J Farley BTS
Image Source: Black Sheep for Akashic Books

Now, if you’re an ARMY and reading the title and trying to connect dots, you have indeed connected them! This book is, in fact, inspired by BTS and their Map of the Soul: 7 album track ‘Zero O’Clock.’ The book shares the world amidst the COVID 19 pandemic through the eyes of high school senior Geth, whose everyday concerns of her dream prom date, her college application, and love for BTS suddenly become eclipsed by Coronavirus. Her hometown is one of the first contaminated zones in the US and when her community is dealing with the hardships, it then becomes even more complicated with the uprise of Black Lives Matter protests. It feels as though the world has stopped, but Geth learns that just like in that comforting song by her Bangtan boys, life can continue on and start again, just like the day starting again at zero o’clock. This novel is undoubtedly relatable for a number of people, particularly teens/young adults during the early stages of the pandemic, and showcases just how artists like BTS and fandom can be a great comfort even during the darkest of times.

Content warning: this book takes place in early 2020 and explores themes of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, based on real-life events

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Rise to the Sun By Leah Johnson

YA Books To Celebrate Black Literature During Black History Month (And Every Month) The Honey POP Rise To The Sun by Leah Johnson Black YA
Image Source: Scholastic

Another great read from Leah Johnson comes Rise to the Sun. This gorgeous novel is about being brave and true to yourself, while finding happiness even during difficult times. Grieving the loss of her roadie father, Toni finds herself trying to work out where life will take her and is craving the need to love music again. Heartbroken Olivia is a hopeless romantic that feels as though she’ll never fit in, but the Farmland Music and Arts Festival is an opportunity to find herself and where she belongs. This is where our two protagonists’ paths cross and a connection flourishes. But when things ricochet causing chaos at the festival, Toni and Olivia are quick to realize that they need one another as well as music, more than either had ever anticipated. This is a beautiful, funny WLW rom-com that will have you rooting for the OTP throughout, and remind you of the power that music truly has.

Content warning: grief over parental loss, panic attacks, gun violence, nonconsensual image sharing

See Also

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Blackout By Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, Nicola Yoon

YA Books To Celebrate Black Literature During Black History Month (And Every Month) The Honey POP BLACKOUT by Angie Thomas Nicola Yoon
Image Source: HarperCollins

Brought to you by six incredible, critically-acclaimed Black YA authors, Blackout is a collection of love stories between Black teens that take place when a statewide heatwave causes a power surge and plummets New York into total darkness. Thirteen teens witness sparks flying during their blackout experiences. With two boys stuck in a subway left to confront their feelings, exes who must make amends to walk across the state to get to a block party in time, and a pair of besties who are trapped in a library full of love stories and a major secret, the couples learn that love can light the way even during dark times. Infused with heartbreak, charm, and comedy, these tales are sure to light up your heart with every page.

Content warning: panic attacks, confinement, mental illness, grief, death of parent, terminal illness, homophobia, bullying

Buy the book here

The Kindred By Alechia Dow

YA Books To Celebrate Black Literature During Black History Month (And Every Month) The Honey POP The Kindred Alechia Dow
Image Source: HarperCollins

The Kindred is an out-of-this-world experience. Each person at birth in the Qadin Kingdom is assigned a Kindred mind-pairing, created to certify that every person would be seen and heard, despite the state of wealth they may be in. Things tend to always go smoothly and as planned, until commoner Joy Abara from the poverty-stricken planet of Hali is mind-paired with the infamous Duke Felix Hamdi. With Felix having no desire for ruling, he’s left stunned when an assassination on the royal family leaves him next in line for the throne. He’s accused of murder with Joy also left in danger. The pair are left with no choice but to escape, causing them to crash-land on Earth, and they’re left to defend their names in order to return home. It’s so easy to be immersed in such an exciting fantasy YA and The Kindred has exactly that effect.

Content warning: death, violence, blood, alcoholism, emotional abuse, fatphobia, mental illness, murder, grief, death of parent, misogyny, colonization

Buy the book here

Witches Steeped in Gold By Ciannon Smart

YA Books To Celebrate Black Literature During Black History Month (And Every Month) The Honey POP  Witches Steeped in Gold CIannon Smart
Image Source: Hot Key Books

Inspired by Jamaican folklore, this YA book is oozing with magic and culture. This evocative fantasy follows two rival witches on a quest to take down the mighty ruler that poses a threat to both of their worlds. Iraya and Jazmyne lead two very different lives: one in a cell as an heir of an overthrown magically-gifted dynasty, and another lavished in luxury possessing stolen magic. The pair are sworn enemies who take on a fateful pact to destroy the woman who endangers both of their worlds. Nothing is certain in their search for revenge, other than the fact that the two witches will stop at nothing to succeed.

Content warning: physical abuse, blood and gore, grief, death, murder, police brutality, imprisonment, mentions of rape, bullying

Buy the book here

YA Books To Celebrate Black Literature During Black History Month (And Every Month) The Honey POP  puppy reading
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Have you read any of these books? What YA books would you recommend to celebrate Black literature? Let us know down in the comments below or by tweeting us @TheHoneyPOP!

Pssst, bookbees! Need more bookish content? We gotchu!

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