top of page

10 Books with Black Protagonists for Middle Schoolers

Updated: Feb 22

Books are one great way to learn about Black history and the Black experience. From fiction to nonfiction, graphic novel to autobiography, here are 10 books suitable for middle schoolers to read. Some were my personal favorites growing up. I hope you can find a story (or several!) that you enjoy, and that you continue to seek out diverse voices.

Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood by bell hooks

Genre: nonfiction, memoir

A raw and honest look into bell hooks’ childhood growing up in poverty in the racially segregated South. Through her struggles and joys, we follow bell hooks as she blossoms into a perceptive, feminist writer.

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

Genre: historical fiction

Ida Mae Jones, a mixed black woman, “passes” as white in order to join the women airforce during WWII. She must hide this big secret as she pursues her childhood dream, friendship, and romance.

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Genre: historical fiction

Bud, a 10-year-old boy living in Michigan, runs away from his new foster family in search of his biological father, who he is convinced is famous jazz musician Herman E. Calloway. His journey to reconnect with his roots is hilarious at times and touching at others.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Genre: fiction, social justice

16-year-old Starr’s life is shattered when her best friend Khalil is shot and killed by a police officer. Starr navigates her grief in two different settings: her predominantly black neighborhood and her predominantly white prep school. She comes to terms with her own identity and her role in the community’s fight for justice. 

Note: The book was adapted into a 2018 movie starring Amandla Stenberg.