100 Must-Read Books About #carefreeblackfolks

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Jessica Pryde

Contributing Editor

Jessica Pryde is a member of that (some might call) rare breed that grew up in Washington, DC, but is happily enjoying the warmer weather of the desert Southwest. While she is still working on what she wants to be when she grows up, she’s enjoying dabbling in librarianship and writing all the things. She can be found drowning in her ever-growing TBR and exclaiming about romance in the Book Riot podcast (When in Romance), as well as on social media. Find her exclamations about books and pho on twitter (JessIsReading) and instagram (jess_is_reading).

Obviously, the hashtag #carefreeblackfolks cannot completely apply to a book someone would want to read; a book about a carefree person is going to be pretty boring. A book’s protagonist still needs a conflict, but their troubles do not have to be race related, or about, as we tend to refer to it, The Struggle.

Intersectional, representational literature is significant and important in publishing, but sometimes everyone wants to put race and racism in the backseat and see the stories that unite us in the human experience. These are rarely stories that completely remove the idea of race as it is addressed in daily life (perhaps with the exception of the picture books, usually starring one adorable child being excited about their day); they simply do not make race and the struggle of American Blackness the story. These are love stories, and stories of redemption. They’re stories of intrigue, terror, and the future. They’re stories of the ordinary and extraordinary. They are our stories.

adult fiction

bring-on-the-blessingsBring on the Blessings by Beverly Jenkins

Tell Me Something Good by Jamie Wesley

Love On My Mind by Tracey Livesay

Rumor Has It by Cheris Hodges

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Loving Day by Mat Johnson

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

The Tempest Tales by Walter Mosley

The Strange Fate of Capricious Jones by Robert Roman

When Washington Was in Vogue by Edward Christopher Williams

Radio Silence by Alyssa Cole

Busted by Shiloh Walker

Field of Pleasure by Farrah Rochon

Holding Holly by Julie Brannagh

Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson

The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad by Minister Faust

The Root by Na’amen Gobert Tilahun

Ascension by Jacqueline KoyanagiAscension by Jacqueline Koyangi

32 Candles by Ernessa T Carter

What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage

Dancing on the Edge of the Roof by Sheila Williams

Madam President Jerry Beller

B-Boy Blues by James Earl Hardy

Bliss by Fiona Zedde

The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor


Everything, Everything by Nicola YoonLiving Violet by Jaime Reed

Keeping Her Secret by Sarah Nicolas

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz

The Broken Bridge by Philip Pullman

Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Jason and Kyra by Dana Davidson

What They Found: Love on 145th Street by Walter Dean Myers

Pointe by Brandy Colbert

The First Part Last by Angela Johnson

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

Neverlove by Angela Brown

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

This Side of Home by Renee Watson

tiny-pretty-thingsTiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

Endangered by Lamar Giles

Niko by Kayti Nika Raet

Indigo Summer by Monica McKayhan

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

Tyrell by Coe Booth

Show and Prove by Sofia Quintero

Tankborn by Karen Sandler

The Blazing Star by Imani Josey (December 2016)

American Street by Ibi Zoboi (February 2017)


Middle reader and chapter books

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper coverOut of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Pinned by Sharon G. Flake

The Kayla Chronicles by Sherri Winston

Twintuition: Double Vision by Tia and Tamera Mowry

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

Shadows of Sherwood by Kekla Magoon

President of the Whole Fifth Grade by Sherri Winston

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

The Encyclopedia of Me by Karen Rivers

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer

Plum Fantastic by Whoopi Goldberg, Deborah Underwood, and Maryn Roos

Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes

The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

Finding Someplace by Denise Lewis Patrick

From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot


Picture books

the-snowy-dayThe Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library by Julie Gassman and Andy Elkerton

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe

Grace For President by Kelly DiPucchio and LeUyen Pham

Little Robot by Ben Hatke

The Rain Stomper by Addie Boswell and Eric Velasquez

I Got the Rhythm by  Connie Schofield-Morrison, Frank Morrison

Cleo Edison Oliver, Playground Millionaire by Sundee T. Frazier

Come On, Rain! By Karen Hesse and Jon J. Muth

Honey, I Love by Eloise Greenwood

Anna Hibiscus’ Song by Atinuke

Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen

I Had a Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty

Hank’s Big Day: The Story of a Bug by  Evan Kuhlman and Chuck Groenink

Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella by Robert D. San Souci and Brian Pinkney

Please, Puppy, Please by Spike Lee, Tonya Lewis Lee and Kadir Nelson



Princeless V1Goldie Vance, Vol 1 by Hope Larson and Brittney Williams

Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill

Princeless, Vol 1: Save Yourself by Jeremy Whitley

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Vol 1: BFF by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare and Natacha Bustos

Storm, Vol 1: Make it Rain by Greg Pak, Victor Ibanez, and Matteo Buffagni

Cleopatra in Space, Book One: Target Practice by Mike Maihack and Cassandra Pelham

Aya by Marguerite Abouet, Clément Oubrerie, Alisia Grace Chase, Helge Dascher, and Tom Devlin

Watson and Holmes Vol 1: A Study In Black by Karl Bollers, Justin Gabrie, and Rick Leonardi

Prince of Cats by Ronald Wimberly



year of yes by shonda rhimesThe Black Washingtonians

When Harlem Was in Vogue by David Levering Lewis

Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome by Robby Novak and Brad Montague

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson

Around the Way Girl by Taraji P. Henson

Have a favorite that’s not on this (very much non-exhaustive) list? Share it in the comments!