Our favourite books about Black History for teenagers

Sawbones

Check out our favourite books about Black History for teenagers. Thrilling, moving and absolutely fascinating, these books are sure to both inform and inspire your teenager.

Also check out our list for 4-8 year olds and for 9-12 year olds.

  • The Door of No Return

    Author: Kwame Alexander
    Publisher: Andersen Press
    Interest age: 12-14
    Reading age: 12+

    In nineteenth-century Ghana, Kofi loves swimming and wants to talk to the beautiful Ama. But he has to fight for his life after a sudden death occurs. A deeply compelling, vital read.

  • Cane Warriors

    Author: Alex Wheatle
    Publisher: Andersen Press
    Interest age: 13-16
    Reading age: 12+

    This story is inspired by a real life rebellion in British-owned slave plantations in Jamaica in 1760. Moa has spent his entire life on the slave plantation in horrific conditions - but a charismatic leader offers the chance to seize freedom.

  • Chains

    Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
    Publisher: Bloomsbury
    Interest age: 12+
    Reading age: 10+

    A brilliantly told, exciting story, with a brave and dignified heroine, which reveals the complexities of this chapter of American history.

  • Kemosha of the Caribbean

    Author: Alex Wheatle
    Publisher: Andersen
    Interest age: 14-16
    Reading age: 14+

    In the 1600s, 14 year old Kemosha escapes a life of slavery at the hands of the cruel Mr Powell and finds herself aboard the pirate ship The Satisfaction - armed with a sword and determined to save her family.

  • A Change Is Gonna Come

    Author: Various
    Publisher: Little Tiger
    Interest age: 12-15
    Reading age: 12+

    This must-have anthology featuring stories and poems from 12 black, Asian and minority ethnic authors deals with the subject of change with wit, emotion and moments that will make you stop in your tracks.

  • The World Beneath

    Author: Janice Warman
    Publisher: Walker Books
    Interest age: 12+
    Reading age: 12+

    This short novel could introduce an important part of our very recent history, apartheid in South Africa, for the first time to many children.

  • Coram Boy

    Author: Jamila Gavin
    Publisher: Farshore
    Interest age: 12+
    Reading age: 12+

    Coram Boy is the story of Toby, saved from an African ship as a child, and Aaron, the illegitimate son of the heir to a great estate.

  • Race to the Frozen North: The Matthew Henson Story

    Author: Catherine Johnson
    Publisher: Barrington Stoke
    Interest age: 11+
    Reading age: 11+

    Penniless and shoeless, 11-year-old Matt leaves home and walks to Washington DC in search of a new life. Taken in by the kindly Janey, he helps in her café. But, entranced by a customer’s tales of adventure on the high seas, Matt starts to dream of sailing the world.

  • Sawbones

    Author: Catherine Johnson
    Publisher: Walker Books
    Interest age: 11+
    Reading age: 11+

    In 18th century London, 16-year-old Ezra is working as apprentice to a highly respected surgeon, William McAdam. 

  • How High the Moon

    Author: Karyn Parsons
    Publisher: Puffin
    Interest age: 9-14
    Reading age: 9+

    Inspired by the tragic true story of the youngest American ever to be executed, this ambitious novel weaves together family drama with an unflinching look at racism and prejudice in 1940s South Carolina.

  • Musical Truth

    Author: Jeffrey Boakye Illustrator: Ngadi Smart
    Publisher: Faber & Faber
    Interest age: 12+
    Reading age: 12+

    A concise and passionate exploration of Modern Black British history through 28 songs that changed British culture forever.

  • Buffalo Soldier

    Author: Tanya Landman
    Publisher: Walker Books
    Interest age: 13+
    Reading age: 11+

    A moving, gritty and convincing teenage historical drama where love and loyalty take on prejudice and greed.