28 Authors to check out this month:
"Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. History." - History.com
Here is a list of 28 Black authors to help you honor the achievements of Black authors, and the impact they have on Young Adult literature every day this month. It is my hope and intention that you use this information to guide your reading all year long, and not allow the celebration of Black History Month to remain confined to the month of February.
Author's biographies are quoted directly from their websites (or articles about them) and linked accordingly. All images were borrowed from goodreads.com (unless otherwise stated). Book titles are linked to their record on Destiny Discover for access to more information and/or to place a hold.
"Akwaeke Emezi is a multidisciplinary artist and writer based in liminal spaces. Emezi's practice is deeply rooted in the metaphysics of Black spirit, using the lens of indigenous ontologies to focus on embodiment, ritual and rememory."
- Quote Akwaeke Emezi's Biography
In other words...Emezi is known for being both an artist and a writer whose work focuses on a point of transformation (liminal space). Their work is intended to focus on and celebrate Black and indigenous roots relating to abstract concepts such as being, knowing, substance, cause, identity, time and space (metaphysics).
"Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi. She is a former rapper...[and] holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop."
- from "My Story" on Angie Thomas' website
"Ashley Woodfolk has loved reading and writing for as long as she can remember. She graduated from Rutgers University and worked in children's book publishing for over a decade. Now a full-time mom and writer, Ashley lives in a sunny Brooklyn apartment."
- from "Short Bio" on Ashley Woodfolk's website
Ben Philippe was formerly an internet based writer, reporting on "Media & Culture for Vanity Fair, Observer, The A.V. Club, The Guardian, Playboy, and Thrillist." His short stories have been published on several websites, but Philippe is currently a screenwriter for the Netflix show Only Murders in the Building.
- from "About the Author" on Ben Philippe's website
Bethany C. Morrow
"Bethany C. Morrow is an Indie Bestselling author who writes for adult and young adult audiences, in genres ranging from speculative literary to contemporary fantasy to historical...She is included on USA Today's list of 100 Black novelists and fiction writers you should read."
- from "Bio" on Bethany C. Morrow's website
"Camryn Garrett was born and raised in New York. In 2019, she was named one of Teen Vogue's 21 Under 21 and a Glamour College Woman of the Year...Camryn is also interested in film and is a student at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts."
- from "About" on Camryn Garrett's website
"Dhonielle Clayton is a New York Times Bestselling author...from the Washington D.C. suburbs on the Maryland side. She taught secondary school for several years, and is a former elementary and middle school librarian. She is COO of the non-profit We Need Diverse Books, and President of Cake Creative, an IP story kitchen dedicated to diverse books for all ages. She is an avid traveler, and always on the hunt for magic and mischief."
- from "Short Bio" on Dhonielle Clayton's website
George m. Johnson
"George M. Johnson is an award winning, Black, non-binary writer, author, and activist located in the NYC area...They are the author of the Bestselling young adult memoir All Boys Aren't Blue discussing their adolescence growing up as a young Black queer boy in New Jersey...George is an HIV and LGBTQ activist, serving as Chair of the Black Leadership AIDS Crisis Coalition for Black Gay Men for AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a National Advisor for ViiV pharmaceutical, and a Gilead Speaker. They are also called on to discuss various issues facing the LGBTQ community from civil rights leaders to politicians."
- from "George M. Johnson" on Macmillan Speakers
"Ibi Zoboi is a New York Times Bestselling author...Ibi holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts...She's worked for arts organizations such as Teachers & Writers Collaborative and Community World Project as a writer-in-residence and teaching artist in New York City public schools. Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and raised in New York City, Ibi now lives in Maplewood, New Jersey."
- from "About" on Ibi Zoboi's website
"Here's what I plan to do: Not write boring books...So, I'm a writer. And when I say I'm a writer, I mean it in the same way a professional ball player calls himself an athlete. I practice everyday and do the best I can to be better at this writing thing, while hopefully bringing some cool stories to the world...I graduated from the University of Maryland with a B.A. in English...Here's what I know: I know there are a lot - A LOT - of young people who hate reading. I know that many of these book haters are boys. I know that many of these book-hating boys, don't actually hate books, they hate boredom. If you are reading this, and you happen to be one of these boys...know that I feel you. I REALLY do. Because even though I'm a writer, I hate reading boring books too."
- excerpted from Jason Reynold's Auto-biographical introduction on his website.
"John Lewis (February 1940 - July 2020) was an American civil rights leader and politician best known for his chairmanship of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and for leading the march that was halted by police violence on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, in 1965, a landmark event in the history of the civil rights movement that became known as 'Bloody Sunday.'...In 2011 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His memoirs are Walking with the Wind and the March trilogy, a graphic novel series for young adults that was based on Lewis's experiences in the civil rights movement. In July 2020, after a battle with pancreatic cancer, Lewis died. Called the 'conscience of Congress,' he became the first African American lawmaker to lie in state in the rotunda of the U.S. capitol."
On the day of his funeral the New York Times posted an essay, written by Lewis, in which he wrote:
"Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way.
Now it is your turn to let freedom ring."
- from "John Lewis" on Britannica.com
Justin A. Reynolds
"Justin A. Reynolds has always wanted to be a writer. Opposite of Always, his debut novel, was an Indies Introduce Top Ten Debut, a School Library Journal Best Book of 2019, translated into 17 languages, and is being developed for film with Paramount Players. He hangs out in northeast Ohio with his family and likes it, and is probably somewhere, right now, dancing terribly...Oh, and also, ball is life."
-from "About!" on Justin A. Reynolds' website
"Justina Ireland was born in French Camp, CA, and grew up in San Bernadino and outside Sacramento. After graduating high school, she joined the Army, got married, and later settled in Pennsylvania. In addition to writing, she works as a supervisor in logistics for the Department of the Navy."
- from "Justina Ireland: Dread Nation" on Locusmag.com
"Kacen Callender is a bestsellign and award-winning author of multiple novels for children, teens, and adults. Kacen enjoys playing RPG video games, practicing their art, and focusing on healing and growth in their free time. They currently reside in St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, where they were born and raised."
- from "About" on Kacen Callender's website
"Kalynn Bayron is the bestselling author of the YA fantasy novels Cinderella is Dead and This Poison Heart. She is a classically trained vocalist and when she's not writing you can find her listening to Ella Fitzgerald on loop, attending the theater, watching scary movies, and spending time with her kids. She currently lives in Ithaca, NY with her family."
-from "Bio" on Kalynn Bayron's website
"Kim Johnson held leadership positions in social justice organizations as a teen and in college, and is now an author and vice provost at the University of Oregon. She maintains engagement in various organization while also mentoring Black student leaders and serving as a graduate advisor and member of an historically Black sorority...She is an award-winning novelist, with 2021 accolades that include the Pacific Northwest Book Award and Malka Penn Human Rights Award for Children's Literature. She holds degrees from the University of Oregon and the University of Maryland, College Park."
-from "Bio" on Kim Johnson's website
"Lamar Giles writes for teens and adults across multiple genres, with work appearing on numerous Best Of lists each and every year. He is the author of the acclaimed novels Fake ID, Endangered, Overturned, Spin, The Last Last-Day-of-Summer, Not So Pure and Simple, and The Last Mirror on the Left as well as numerous pieces of short fiction. He is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books and resides in Virginia with his wife."
- from "Bio (Short for Copy/Paste)" on Lamar Giles' website
"Liara Tamani lives in Houston, Texas. She holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of the acclaimed young adult novels Calling My Name, a 2018 PEN America Literary Award Finalist and SCBWI Golden Kite Finalist, and All the Things We Never Knew, a 2020 Kirkus Best YA Book of the Year. Before becoming a writer, she attended Harvard Law School and worked as a marketing coordinator for the Houston Rockets & Comets, production assistant for Girlfriends (TV show), home accessories designer, floral designer, and yoga and dance teacher."
- from "Official Bio" on Liara Tamani's website
"Namina Forna is a young adult novelist based in Los Angeles, and the author of the New York Times bestselling epic fantasy YA novel The Gilded Ones. Originally from Sierra Leone, West Africa, she moved to the US when she was nine and has been traveling back and forth ever since. Namina loves telling stories with fierce female leads and works as a screenwriter in LA.
- from "Bio" on Namina Forna's website
"It didn't occur to me that I could be a writer until the summer I turned twenty-three. By then, I was a two-time college dropout who'd hopped a plane to Israel with all of forty dollars in my pocket, hoping to find a remedy for an eleven-year identity crisis among the ruins of the Bible's holiest city.
I had the same nose-perpetually-buried-in-a-book childhood as most aspiring writers, but once I hit adolescence, reading lost its savor for me...Frankly, back then I didn't really connect with any of the books we were required to read, and as a result, they added to my sense of isolation [as the only Black student in a gifted program with all white students]. As a matter of fact, studying books like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Of Mice and Men - books whose only characters of color were either escaped slaves or intellectual incompetents - while sitting in a classroom where I was the sole African American made for a very uncomfortable experience. I didn't see myself in the books we were assigned, so no one else saw me either.
I discovered that once I put on all those different pairs of shoes, I wanted to share those shoes and their impact with others. I wanted to tell the stories that weren't being told, the ones featuring diverse characters in non-stereotypical roles, the ones that blurred the line between 'right' and 'wrong', the ones that reveal the humanity in those who are underrepresented or misunderstood.
The answer to my identity crisis was simple: I am a storyteller."
-excerpted from "Hi. I'm Nic." on Nic Stone's website
"Nicola Yoon is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Instructions for Dancing, Everything, Everything, The Sun is Also a Star, and a co-author of Blackout. She is a national Book Award finalist, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book recipient, a Coretta Scott King New Talent Award winner and the first Black woman to hit #1 on the New York Times Young Adult bestseller list. Two of her novels have been made into major motion pictures. She's also the co-publisher of Joy Revolution, a Random House young adult imprint dedicated to love stories starring people of color. She grew up in Jamaica and Brooklyn, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, the novelist David Yoon, and their daughter."
- from "Bio: The Official Version" on Nicola Yoon's website
"Nikki Grimes does not consider herself a bona fide storyteller, but...she is happy to own the title Poet. Nikki has written many award-winning books for children and young adults including the Coretta Scott King Award winner Bronx Masquerade. Grimes is the recipient of the 2022 Virginal Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2020 ALAN Award for outstanding contributions to young adult literature."
-from "Biography" on Nikki Grimes' website
"I wouldn't call myself lucky, because hard work and perseverance form the bedrock of my success. But I'd definitely say that I'm blessed because, as a child, I dreamed of being an author some day. And now, by God's grace, I am."
- from "Historically Speaking" on Nikki Grimes' website
roseanne a. brown
"Roseanne "Rosie" A. Brown was born in Kumasi, Ghana and immigrated to the wild jungles of central Maryland as a child. Writing was her first love, and she knew from a young age that she wanted to use the power of writing - creative and otherwise - to connect to different cultures she called home She graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor's in Journalism and was also a teaching assistant for the school...Rosie currently lives outside Washington D.C., where in her free time she can usually be found wandering the woods, making memes, or thinking about Star Wars."
-from "About Me" on Roseanne A Brown's website
"Ryan Douglass is an author, poet, and freelance writer from Atlanta, Georgia. He is the author of New York Times bestselling YA horror novel, The Taking of Jake Livingston, and the poetry book Boy in Jeopardy. His work on race, literacy, sexuality, and media representation has appeared in The Huffington Post, Atlanta Black Star, Everyday Feminism, Nerdy POC, Age of Awareness, LGBTQNation, and NCTE, among others."
- from "Ryan Douglass" on Ryan Douglass' website
"Somaiya Daud was born in a Midwestern city, and spent a large part of her childhood and adolescence moving around. Like most writers, she started when she was young and never really stopped. Her love of all things books propelled her to get a degree in English literature (specializing in the medieval and early modern), and while she worked on here Master's degree she doubled as a bookseller at Politics and Prose in their children's department. Determined to remain in school for as long as possible, she packed her bags in 2014 and moved to the west coast to pursue a doctoral degree in English literature. Now she's preparing to write a dissertation on Victorians, rocks, race, and the environment."
-from "Somaiya Daud" on goodreads.com
tiffany d. jackson
"Tiffany D. Jackson is the NYT Bestselling, award winning author of [several] YA novels. a Coretta Scott King - John Steptoe New Talent Award-winner and the NAACP Image Award-nominee, she received her Bachelor of Arts in film from Howard University, and has over a decade in TV/Film experience. The Brooklyn native is currently residing in the borough she loves, most likely multitasking.
Tomi Adeyemi has been writing since she was 6 years old, but did not originally consider it as a career option. She started out as an English Literature major at Harvard, taking a job in data marketing first, before becoming a full-time writer. Now, at 26 years old, with two books released and a major motion picture deal with Disney's Lucasfilm in the works, Adeyemi is currently taking a break from writing before releasing the third (and final) novel in the series in favor of "20 something fun" and recovering from a three-year push of ambition, excitement, and constant writing. The final installment of her series is expected to have a 2023 release date.
- summarize from "Tomi Adeyemi Makes Magic. Again." on marieclaire.com
"Tracy Deonn is the New York Times and Coretta Scott King - John Steptoe Award winning-author of Legendborn, and a second-generation fangirl. She grew up in central North Carolina, where she devoured fantasy books and Southern food in equal measure...Tracy is a champion for diversity and representation in science-fiction and fantasy literature and media. And when Tracy's mother told her that the women in their family were Black Bene Gesserits, she believed her...After earning her bachelor's and master's degrees in communication and performance studies from UNC, Tracy worked in live theater, video game production, and K-12 education. As an instructor, Tracy taught theater to middle and undergraduate students, and creative and academic writing at the university level. When she's not writing, Tracy speaks on panels at science fiction and fantasy conventions, reads fanfic, arranges puppy playdates, and keeps an eye out for ginger-flavored everything."
-from "About Tracy Deon" on Tracy Deonn's website
Hello, Canyon Cowboys! My name is Miss Gilpin and I am SO excited to be your new teacher librarian! I can't wait to get to know you this year. See you around campus!