Up-and-Coming Authors to Read for Black History Month
To honor Black History Month, we are spotlighting books, writers, creators and filmmakers in the Black community.
Add a few new authors to your reading list for Black History Month and all year round! From debut novels to recently-raved books, these Black authors deserve a place on your to-be-read shelf.
Ashley C. Ford
Ashley C. Ford has written or guest-edited for an array of notable publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, Elle, BuzzFeed, OUT Magazine, Slate, Teen Vogue, New York Magazine, Allure and more. Beyond print, Ford has also hosted and helped develop several podcasts, video series and documentaries. In 2017, she was named among Forbes Magazine‘s 30 Under 30.
It’s no wonder, then, that her debut memoir Somebody’s Daughter was an instant New York Times bestseller and an NBCC John Leonard Prize finalist. The book sees Ford through her adolescence as she grapples with the absence of her incarcerated father, poverty and a strained relationship with her mother.
Based in Philadelphia, Kiley Reid is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, one of the most prestigious creative writing programs in the country. Her debut fiction novel Such a Fun Age has been hailed by Entertainment Weekly as a “provocative page-turner.”
Her story features 25-year-old Emira Tucker, a young Black babysitter, who works for well-intentioned Alix Chamberlain. When Emira is baselessly confronted in a supermarket for “kidnapping” Chamberlain’s white child, both of their lives are turned upside down.
At 33 years old, Angie Thomas has written four young adult novels since her debut in 2017 with The Hate U Give. Adapted into a major motion picture in 2018, the story is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and follows 16-year-old Starr Carter, a young Black teenager who witnesses her childhood friend being killed by a white police officer.
Her other books include On the Come Up; Concrete Rose, a prequel to The Hate U Give; and, most recently, Blackout.
Robert Jones, Jr.
Robert Jones Jr.’s debut novel The Prophets was an instant New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the 2021 National Book Award for Fiction. Set in the Deep South, it explores the love between two enslaved young men and the refuge they find in each other.
Along with writing for publications like The Paris Review, Essence and The New York Times, Jones is the founder of Son of Baldwin, a blog and social media community that discusses the intersections of race, sexuality, gender and disability.
If you’ve walked into any coffee shop, bookstore or library recently, you’ve probably seen the cover of Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half. Released in 2020, the historical coming-of-age story is about twin sisters who live very different lives. One resides in the same Black community they grew up in, while the other passes as a white woman. An HBO series based on the novel is in the works.
Bennett’s 2016 debut The Mothers—a story of young love and small-town secrets—also received critical acclaim and became a bestseller.
Amanda Gorman is a powerhouse. A Harvard University graduate, she became the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history at 22 when she recited her poem “The Hill We Climb” at President Joe Biden’s swearing-in ceremony.
Her poetry collection Call Us What We Carry is sure to leave you inspired. Introduce children to poetry with her lyrical picture book Change Sings, which includes illustrations by Loren Long.
Kacen Callender has penned novels for children, teens and adults, including the National Book Award-winning King and the Dragonflies. Their YA bestseller Felix Ever After follows titular character Felix Love, a transgender teen, through self-discovery and first love.
Callender lives in Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, where they were born and raised. Having written eight titles since their 2018 debut, they’re sure to continue making waves and hooking readers of all ages.