Home About Us Catalog Borrowing Services Resources Programs & Events Locations

The African American Experience

Fiction titles

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The life story of the author, from Depression-era Arkansas to the realization in her valedictory address: "In order to lift your voice, you have to lift your head."

Jump Ship to Freedom by James Collier
In 1787 a 14-year-old slave, anxious to buy freedom for himself and his mother, escapes from his dishonest master and tries to find help in cashing the soldier’s notes received by his father for fighting in the Revolution.

Mississippi Trial, 1955 by Chris Crowe
In Mississippi in 1955, a 16-year-old finds himself at odds with his grandfather over issues surrounding the kidnapping and murder of a 14-year-old African American from Chicago.

Bucking the Sarge by Christopher Paul Curtis
Deeply involved in his cold and manipulative mother's shady business dealings,14-year-old Luther keeps a sense of humor while running the Happy Neighbor Group Home For Men, all the while dreaming of going to college and becoming a philosopher.

Jason & Kyra by Dana Davidson
16-year-old Jason is a gorgeous, smart, high-school basketball star, and he dates popular, beautiful Lisa. Until he unexpectedly falls for sweet, smart, unpopular Kyra, his nonconformist research partner from AP English class.

Darkness Before Dawn by Sharon Draper
Recovering from the recent suicide of her ex-boyfriend, senior class president Keisha Montgomery finds herself attracted to a dangerous, older man.

Romiette & Julio by Sharon Draper
Romiette, an African-American girl, and Julio, a Hispanic boy, discover that they attend the same high school after falling in love on the Internet, but are harassed by a gang whose members object to their interracial dating.

Money Hungry  by Sharon Flake
All 13-year-old Raspberry can think of is making money so that she and her mother never have to worry about living on the streets again. Sequel: 
Begging for Change.

The Skin I'm In by Sharon Flake
13-year-old Maleeka, uncomfortable because her skin is extremely dark, meets a new teacher with a birthmark on her face and learns how to love who she is and what she looks like.

Billy by Albert French
When 10-year-old Billy Lee Turner is convicted and executed for murdering a white girl in Banes County, Mississippi, in 1937, the whole town is involved in a look at racial injustice.

Keesha's House by Helen Frost
Seven teens facing such problems as pregnancy, closeted homosexuality, and abuse each describe in poetic forms what caused them to leave home and where they found home again.

The Planet of Junior Brown by Virginia Hamilton
In New York's underground world of homeless children, Buddy Clark takes on the responsibility of protecting an overweight, emotionally disturbed friend with whom he has been playing hooky from 8th grade all semester.

The Heart Calls Home by Joyce Hansen
After the Civil War, former slave Obi Booker tries to make a new life on a South Carolina island while waiting to be joined by his beloved Easter, who is studying in the North.

The First Part Last by Angela Johnson
Bobby's carefree teenage life changes forever when he becomes a father and must care for his adored baby daughter. Winner of the Michael Printz Award and Coretta Scott King Award.

Heaven by Angela Johnson
14-year-old Marley's seemingly perfect life in the small town of Heaven is disrupted when she discovers that her father and mother are not her real parents. Winner of the Coretta Scott King Award.

Day of Tears by Julius Lester
Emma has taken care of the Butler children since their mother left. Emma wants to raise the girls to have good hearts, as a rift over slavery has ripped the Butler household apart. Now, to pay off debts, Pierce Butler wants to cash in his slave "assets," possibly including Emma.

Brother Hood by Janet McDonald
16-year-old Nate, an academically gifted student who attends an exclusive private boarding school, straddles two cultures as he returns home for occasional visits to see his family and "gangsta crew" in Harlem, New York.

Twists and Turns by Janet McDonald
With the help of successful friends, 18- and  19-year-old Teesha and Keeba open a hair salon in the run-down Brooklyn housing project where they live.

Spellbound by Janet McDonald
Raven, a teenage mother and high school dropout, decides, with the help of her best friend Aisha, to study for a spelling bee which could lead to a college prep program and 4-year scholarship.

Bad Boy: A Memoir by Walter Dean Myers
The author recollects his life growing up in a poor family in Harlem, surrounded by basketball, fighting, class and racial struggles, and a love of reading.

The Dream Bearer by Walter Dean Myers
During a summer in Harlem, David relies on his mother and a close friend and on an old man he meets in the park to help him come to terms with his father's outbursts and unstable behavior.

Handbook for Boys by Walter Dean Myers
16-year-old Jimmy, on probation for assault, talks about life with three old men in a Harlem barbershop and hears about the tools he can use to get what he wants.

Slam! by Walter Dean Myers
16-year-old "Slam" Harris is counting on his basketball talents to get him out of the inner city and give him a chance to succeed in life, but his coach sees things differently. Winner of the Coretta Scott King Award.

Monster by Walter Dean Myers
While on trial as an accomplice to murder, 16-year-old Steve Harmon records his experiences in the form of a film script as he tries to come to terms with the course his life has taken. Winner of the Michael Printz Award and the Coretta Scott King Award.

Imani All Mine by Connie Porter
15-year-old Tasha is proud to be the mother of Imani, even as she struggles to balance diapers with schoolwork, and faces the increasing violence in her ghetto neighborhood.

The Color of Fire by Ann Rinaldi
In 1741, New York City erupts into mass hysteria when the whites accuse the black slaves of planning an uprising. Phoebe's master is kind, and has done much to help and protect her and his other slaves. But when Cuffee, Phoebe's fellow servant and dear friend, is accused and arrested for treason, the girl's world begins to crumble around her.

Taking Liberty: The Story of Oney Judge, George Washington’s Runaway Slave by Ann Rinaldi
After serving Martha Washington loyally for twenty years, Oney Judge realizes that she is just a slave and must decide if she will run away to find true freedom.

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary Schmidt
In 1911, Turner Buckminster hates his new home in Maine, but things improve when he meets Lizzie Bright Griffin, a girl from a poor, nearby island community founded by former slaves.

If I Just Had Two Wings by Virginia Schwartz
13-year-old Phoebe has always dreamed of leaving her life as a slave behind.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
A woman who was raped by her father, deprived of the children she bore him and forced to marry a brutal man she calls "Mister" is transformed by the friendship of two remarkable women, acquiring self-worth and the strength to forgive.

Trapped Between the Lash and the Gun by Arvella Whitmore
Jordan is becoming dangerously involved with a street gang when he is suddenly transported through time to become a slave on the plantation of his ancestors.

When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune
by Lori Aurelia Williams
Shayla can't figure out the new girl next door, Kambia Elaine, who tells fantastic stories. She slowly realizes that Kambia Elaine needs help, but Shayla doesn't know where to find it. Sequel: 
Shayla's Double Brown Baby Blues.

Fast Talk on a Slow Track by Rita Williams-Garcia
Black honors student Denzel Watson spends his last summer before college selling candy door-to-door and discovering how to motivate and apply himself.

Like Sisters on the Homefront by Rita Williams-Garcia
Troubled 14-year-old Gayle is sent down South to live with her very proper uncle and aunt, where her life begins to change.

The Red Rose Box by Brenda Woods
In 1953, Leah Hopper dreams of leaving the poverty and segregation of her home in Sulphur, Louisiana, and when Aunt Olivia sends train tickets to Los Angeles as a birthday present, Leah gets a first taste of freedom.

If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson
15-year-old Jeremiah, who is black and whose parents are separated, and Ellie, who is white and whose mother has twice abandoned her, fall in love and then try to cope with people's reactions.

Miracle’s Boys by Jacqueline Woodson
Lafayette's close relationship with his older brother changes after Charlie is released from a detention home and blames Lafayette for the death of their mother. Winner of the Coretta Scott King Award.

From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson
Melanin Sun's comfortable, quiet life is shattered when his mother reveals she has fallen in love with another woman.

Non-Fiction titles:

Am I the Last Virgin? Ten African American Reflections on Sex and Love edited by Tara Roberts
This collection celebrates the sexual coming-of-age experiences of young black women.  

The Real Deal: A Spiritual Guide for Black Teen Girls
by Billie Montgomery Cook
This book offers some real life guidance on a wide range of topics—including body image, self-esteem, sexuality, and friendship—framed within the context of a young woman’s developing Christian faith.

In Praise of our Fathers and our Mothers: A Black Family Treasury by Outstanding Authors and Artists
compiled by Wade and Cheryl Hudson
The work of distinguished writers and visual artists who share memories and images in praise of family and African-American ancestors.

My Sisters’ Voices: Teenage Girls of Color Speak Out
by Iris Jacob
A collection of essays and poems about family, friendships, sex, love, loss, identity, racism, and oppression.

Face Forward: Young African American Men in a Critical Age
by Julian C. R. Okwu
Portraits and interviews with young African American men leading exemplary lives, defying the statistics, destroying the stereotypes.

Stretch Your Wings: Famous Black Quotations for Teens
by Janet Cheatham Bell
A collection of black quotations and African proverbs.

We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Led to Success
by Sampson Davis, et al.
“What started out as three boys skipping class turned out to be the most significant experience of our lives," says George Jenkins, who, together with Sampson Davis and Rameck Hunt, made a teenage pact to leave their impoverished New Jersey neighborhood, attend medical school, and become doctors.

Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man in America
by Nathan McCall
Nathan McCall's autobiography follows his life from the streets of Portsmouth, Va., where he participated in violent criminal acts, to his imprisonment for armed robbery, and later his rehabilitation and career at the Washington Post.