As a genre, young adult literature is still fairly young. Its modern iteration has only been around since the 1960s. And though YA readership has grown exponentially over the last decades, the diversity of the authors behind the books is in its infancy. But that is changing.

As the number of Black YA authors grows, so have their stories. These authors not only “show Black teens dealing with the same coming of age issues that any teen would deal with – falling in love, finding your place in the world, coming to terms with their sexuality,” but also “navigating issues like systemic racism and microaggressions,” says LaKeshia N. Darden, librarian and adjunct professor at Campbell University and Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury, Chair 2019-2021.

LaKeshia N. Darden, librarian and adjunct professor at Campbell University and Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury, Chair 2019-2021

“These are very unique and real-world experiences for Black teens and that is why these stories are so important and so needed. There is no one Black experience,” she adds. 

With input from Darden, we have curated a selection of established and new Black YA authors whose works have captured, through fiction, the experiences of Black young adults. 

The list is by no means exhaustive. It includes a range of YA authors who span the decades, including authors who are definitive, debut, award-winning and bestselling. Their works feature a wide range of genres, including literary, speculative, fantasy, science fiction and romance.  

Authors are listed in alphabetical order by last name.For every novelist we have included, there are scores more to be read and discovered. And like Black YA literature, this list will continue to grow. 

Elizabeth Acevedo: The Afro-Latina poet’s novel, “The Poet X,” about a young woman finding her voice, made a huge impact winning the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the Pura Belpré Award, the Carnegie Medal and the Michael L. Printz Award. Acevedo followed “Poet X” with novels “With the Fire on High” and “Clap When You Land.” 

Author Tomi Adeyemi

Tomi Adeyemi: The author’s debut novel, the Hugo award-winning “Children of Blood and Bone” and its sequel “Children of Virtue and Vengeance” were both USA TODAY bestsellers. “Children of Blood and Bone,” about a young African girl who tries to bring back magic after it’s been taken by a dictator, is being developed for film. Adeyemi, who was named one of “Time” magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020, is currently working on the final book in her Legacy of Orisha trilogy.   

Kwame Alexander: The award-winning poet and author of more than 35 books writes for children and young adults. He is a self-proclaimed fan of other YA novelists Jacqueline Woodson and Nikki Grimes. His novels include “He Said, She Said,” “Rebound” and “Swing.” His novel “The Crossover,” written in a mix of free verse and hip-hop poetry, won the 2015 Newbery Medal.