Recommendations to get you started

I often make the mistake of thinking that something that is obvious to me is just as obvious to everyone else.
— Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists
Black and Bookish Book Shelf and Zoe Pop Vinyl

The catalogue of books by authors of the African Diaspora is HUGE. At the start of all this, someone suggested that I was limiting myself and my reading options by ONLY reading books by Black authors. What people fail to realize is that the books are out there, they just don't know about them. Once you do, then the next question I get is "where do I start?" 

Regardless of why you're here, I've got you covered. Each section below has 6 titles to get you started. Of course this list is limited and just a primer. I've tried to include the most popular or prolific (note: easiest to find) titles. The sections are divided as such: 

  • Authors
  • Classics
  • Children/Young Adult
  • Contemporary Adult


Octavia Butler


Kindred, Parable of the Sower, Wild Seed, Dawn

Angela Davis


Women Race & Class, Freedom Is A Constant Struggle

James Baldwin from Google Images

James Baldwin


The Fire Next Time, No Name in the Street, Just Above My Head

Coates Headshot

Ta-Nehisi Coates


Between The World and Me, The Beautiful Struggle, We Were Eight Years In Power


Children and Young Adult

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe

From Amazon: "This African tale evokes the Cinderella story in its portrayal of two sisters, spiteful Manyara and considerate Nyasha, and the young king who is searching for a bride. Steptoe has illustrated this modern fable with stunning paintings that glow with beauty, warmth, and internal vision of the land and people of his ancestors."

Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra by Andrea Davis Pinkey

From Amazon: "This is a most fitting tribute to a great man who proudly celebrated the history of African-Americans, from slavery to civil rights struggles.

The award-winning author/illustrator team of Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney - creators of the popular picture book "Alvin Ailey" - now present a swinging, vibrant audiobook about the jazz composer Edward Kennedy Ellington, better known as "Duke"."

The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton

From Amazon: "A fantasy tale of the slaves who possessed the ancient magic words that enabled them to literally fly away to freedom. And it is a moving tale of those who did not have the opportunity to “fly” away, who remained slaves with only their imaginations to set them free as they told and retold this tale.

Leo and Diane Dillon have created powerful new illustrations in full color for every page of this picture book presentation of Virginia Hamilton’s most beloved tale. The author’s original historical note as well as her previously unpublished notes are included."

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

From Amazon: "Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become."

The Crossover Cover

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

From Amazon: "Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story's heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family." 

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas 

From Amazon: "Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr."

Contemporary Adult

Here are 4 other links to more lists!