What’s better than a beautiful book cover? A beautiful book cover featuring black women, obviously. February may be a great excuse, but let’s be honest—it’s always the right time to celebrate black girls and women. So if you’re looking to add some gorgeous new books to your collection, this list should have you covered. Here are 50 beautiful book covers featuring black women (and girls) to add to your bookshelf.
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
In Orleans, the Belles—women with the power to control Beauty—are valued above all others, but when Camellia is given an assignment by the Queen of Orleans that goes against everything the Belles stand for, she has a difficult—and dangerous—choice to make.
I’ve been seeing this book everywhere, and no wonder—it’s absolutely gorgeous!
Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann
A love story about a biromatic asexual woman working at a library? So much yes! And can we talk about that cover? It is just absolutely stunning.
Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
Ida Mae Jones has always wanted to fly, but it’s never been an option—until now. When America enters World War II and the Army forms the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) she finally has a chance to achieve her dreams. The only catch is she’ll have to pass as white to do it. But is denying her family—and herself—worth it?
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Zélie Adebola remembers when the land of Orïsha overflowed with magic, but then it was all destroyed by one ruthless king, determined to stamp out the maji. Now it’s up to Zélie to strike out against the king and save her people, before he wipes out the magic for good.
Coming March 6, 2018 (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers)
Kabu Kabu by Nnedi Okorafor
Illegal, unregistered Nigerian taxis—kabu kabu—can get you where you need to go, but in this magical collection of short stories from Nnedi Okorafor you will be the one transported to all manner of incredible and imaginative places.
This is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe
The award winning actress best known for her breakout role in Precious (the movie based on Push by Sapphire) tells the story of her life from her childhood as the daughter of a polygamist father and singer mother in New York to her rise to fame alongside rich celebrities while she was living in her mother’s apartment.
God Help the Child by Toni Morrison
Acclaimed author Toni Morrison’s first novel set in the present day, God Help the Child is a searing look at how the traumas of childhood affect and continue to shape life all throughout adulthood. And if you haven’t read her other novels like Beloved and Song of Solomon, you are really missing out.
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Binti is the first of her people to leave home, much less the planet, but when she is offered a place at Oomza University, she simply can’t refuse. The journey brings great danger, though, and with it the very real possibility that Binti will never be able to return home—even if she wants to.
Redefining Realness by Janet Mock
The powerful account of the People.com editor and her experiences as a trans woman. Mock offers insightful and inspiring perspectives on growing up multicultural, poor, and transgender, and ultimately how to be unapologetically and fearlessly yourself.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, Natacha Bustos, Tamra Bonvillain, VC’s Travis Lanham, Mark Paniccia, Emily Shaw
Okay, so it’s a comic, but still a very worthy addition to this list. In addition to the adorable cover, this book features Lunella Lafayette, the smartest girl in the world (yep, that’s canon), who just so happens to have a pet dinosaur.
Swimming on the Lawn by Yasmin Hamid
Set in Sudan in the 1960s. Farida loves watching the dancers in the Mawlid festival and riding the train to the remote Nubian pyramids. But columns of smoke are rising in the distance, and Farida’s sense of fun and adventure may not survive what’s coming.
And this lovely cover, with its floral accents, is absolutely to die for.
An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
On the HSS Matilda, as spaceship with a social structure hauntingly similar to that of the antebellum South, dark skinned sharecroppers like Aster are considered less than human. But when Aster discovers disturbing secrets about her mother’s past, she realizes there may still be a way off the ship—but only if she’s willing to fight for it.
This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins
An interconnected collection of acclaimed critic Morgan Jerkins’s essays on pop culture, black history, womanhood, sexism, and racism, all told in Jerkins’s incisive and compelling voice.
Iron Cast by Destiny Soria
Ada Navarra and Corrine Wells are an unlikely pair at the best of times, but in the Cast Iron nightclub in 1919, anything is possible, especially since their afflicted blood allows them to weave illusions. But when a job goes awry and Ada winds up in Haversham Asylum, it’s up to Corrine to save her.
You Can’t Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson
Stand-up comedian and podcaster Phoebe Robinson delivers a memoir that manages to be absolutely hilarious (as one would expect from such a talented comedian) while also tackling serious issues about race, gender, and pop culture.
March Forward, Girl by Melba Pattillo Beals
Melba Pattillo Beals was a fierce proponent of equal rights long before she became famous as one of the Little Rock Nine. This memoir paints a powerful portrait of a girl determined to fight for equality long before she became the activist, journalist, best-selling author, and recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal that we know today.
The Storycatcher by Ann Hite
Shelly Parker never much liked Faith Dobbins, but when the haints warn her Faith’s tyrannical father is a devil in disguise, she can’t ignore the past any longer. A Depression-era gothic tale about dark family secrets that won’t quite stay buried.
Coming September 10, 2018 (Gallery Books)
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Xiomara Batista feels unheard and out of place in her Harlem community, but when she discovers slam poetry, she finally has a way to express everything she’s been feeling. Her mami, who wants Xiomara to follow the ways of the church, would never approve. But when she’s invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, Xiomara will have to decide whether to stay silent or finally lift up her voice.
Coming March 6, 2018 (HarperTeen)
Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender
Caroline is an unlucky Hurricane Child, born during a storm. She’s hated by everyone in school, she has strange visions, and her mother left, but when a new girl, Kalinda, comes to school and seems to share her visions, her luck starts to turn around.
The cover, meanwhile, is so beautiful I want to frame it.
Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry by Maya Angelou
From Phenomenal Woman to Still I Rise, every line of poetry from acclaimed poet Maya Angelou is contained in this comprehensive volume. If you aren’t familiar with her work already, you are truly missing out.
Purple Hibiscus by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie
Kambili and her brother live in the confines of her father’s strict rules and the compound’s high walls, but when a military coup brings violence and instability to Nigeria, he sends them to live with their aunt, a University professor. There they discover a house full of laughter and happiness, and something even more valuable and precious: freedom.
Flawed by Cecelia Ahern
In a society where perfection is everything, taking a stand or making a mistake can mean one terrible thing: being branded flawed. Celestine North has always been the ideal daughter and the perfect student, but one choice may change all that. She broke a rule, and if she’s found to be flawed, she could lose everything.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
A mesmerizing memoir of Woodson’s childhood growing up in South Carolina and New York, written in verse. She shares what it was like to grow up in the ’60s and ’70s among the remnants of Jim Crow and the Civil Rights movement.
Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward
In Ward’s powerful memoir, she shares the desolation and heartbreak of losing five young men in her life over the span of five years. The question of “why” plagued her until she realized two things: that a history of racism and economic struggle had directly or indirectly led to each of those deaths, and that she had to write about it.
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
What are you even doing if you haven’t read this book (and seen the movie)? I’m kidding—mostly—but really you should read this book which is excellent and tells the story of the black women who played an integral (and before now relatively unknown) role in the history of NASA and the space program.
Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston
Hurston’s bold and poignant autobiography recounting her journey from a poor childhood in the South to a leader of the Harlem Renaissance. A powerful and insightful look into the public and private life of an incredible woman.
The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae
In this humorous collection of essays by the creator of the Shorty Awards and the hit web series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” Issa Rae recounts what it’s like to be the two most difficult things in America: awkward and black.
The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis
Deza is singled out as the smartest girl in her class in Gary, Indiana, on a path for greatness. But the Great Depression hits her town hard. There are no jobs for black men, and her father is forced to leave town to find work. Deza, along with her mother and brother, try to find him and end up in a Hooverville just outside of Flint, Michigan, clinging to hope even in the darkest of times that they will find him again.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
One reporter traces the history of the scientifically invaluable HELA cells back to the black woman they originated from, who never received credit and whose family was never compensated or asked for permission. An engaging mix of biography and scientific history.
Life in Motion by Misty Copeland
Misty Copeland made history as the only black soloist in the American Ballet Theatre, but the journey to that point wasn’t easy. Misty was a true prodigy, dancing en pointe within three months of discovering dance and dancing professionally in less than a year—something completely unheard of in the world of classical ballet. But her success and passion for dance were at odds with the intense struggles of her personal life, and in this memoir Misty gives an inside look at her unlikely and inspiring journey to become a renowned ballerina.
Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham
Scarlett is a smart, sarcastic, butt-kicking Muslim American detective, and she’s ready to take on whatever cases come her way. But when she discovers her most recent case involving genies and ancient curses may actually have something to do with her family—and maybe even her father’s murder—she’ll do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of it.
Don’t Fail Me Now by Una LaMarche
Michelle is poor, African American, and trying to keep things together with her mother in jail. Leah is white, middle class, and her biggest worries involve lacrosse and college applications. The only thing the two girls have in common is the father who abandoned them both as children. But when they find out that their father is dying, they make the uneasy decision to road trip across the country to say goodbye to the father they barely knew.
Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz
Everywhere Etta goes, she doesn’t quite fit in. She’s not gay enough for her friends thanks to her recent boyfriend, not white and tiny enough for ballet, and not skinny enough to look anorexic. But then she meets Bianca in group therapy, and it seems like somehow, with Bianca, Etta might fit in. She seems every bit Etta’s savior, but how can Bianca save Etta when she still needs saving herself?
Nobody’s Goddess by Amy McNulty
In Noll’s village, men must stay masked until they find their goddess, the only woman they will ever love. Goddesses can refuse the men, but at the price of never again finding love. Almost everyone Noll knows has already paired off, and even though she has no interest in love, she isn’t sure why no one has approached her—until she realizes she’s the goddess of the mysterious lord of the village, who refuses to give her the right of spurning him.
This Side of Home by Renée Watson
Nikki and Maya have always been identical in every way, from their looks down to their desire to attend an HBCU for college. But when their neighborhood starts to see the effects of gentrification, the sisters suddenly find themselves at odds with conflicting views on ethnic and cultural identity for the first time.
Sellout by Ebony Joy Wilkins
NaTasha doesn’t mind being the only black girl in school or the all-white dance troupe. Her Harlem grandmother, Tilly, however, feels differently, and decides to whisk NaTasha away to reconnect with her roots—whether NaTasha wants to or not.
Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson
Jade knows she has to get out of her neighborhood and take every opportunity she has to succeed, but some of them—like the mentorship program for “at-risk girls” that really just means black girls—are harder to stomach than others. And even though her mentor is also black, she’s pretty sure this woman still has a lot to learn about Jade. But maybe Jade still has a thing or two to learn, too, about the real world and how to make a difference in it.
You Don’t Know Me But I Know You by Rebecca Barrow
Audrey’s never opened the little box in the back of her closet—the one full of letters from the birth mother she never knew. But when she finds out she’s pregnant, she suddenly finds herself paralyzed with questions and self doubt. Because two decades ago another girl was faced with the same choice as her, and she chose to give Audrey up—but how can she decide what choice is right for her, when she’s still not sure about the choice her mother made all those years ago?
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
It hasn’t been on the NYT Bestseller list for more than 45 weeks for nothing! This incredibly moving book about Starr and the difficult choices she faces after she witnesses her best friend’s murder by a police officer will stick with you long after you’ve finished it. Read it, read it, read it.
A Blade so Black by L. L. McKinney
In the dream realm known as Wonderland, Alice fights monsters, but in the real world she still has a curfew. Not to mention an overprotective mother, a best friend who’s a lot of work, and slipping grades. Still, if she can’t figure out how to balance all her responsibilities, she could lose her head…and not figuratively.
Jamila and Tai have always been inseparable, but after a summer apart the new strains of middle school threaten to tear them apart. It’s a coming of age story about life, friendship, and two very different African American girls.
Coming August 14, 2018 (Greenwillow Books)
Kindred by Octavia Butler
In this seminal work of African American science fiction by acclaimed author Octavia Butler, past and present come together in a fascinating and chilling tale. Dana is a twenty-six year old woman living in 1976, but when she is suddenly transported back to antebellum Maryland, her life is changed forever. She saves a drowning white boy before being wrenched back to her present. As Dana struggles to understand what is happening, she begins to understand the terrible task before her: protect the life of this young slaveholder so he can father her great-grandmother.
Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows
Since the day she was born, Mina Mikoba has been considered perfect. She is known throughout the Fallen Isles for the peace treaty named after her. But Mina has never felt perfect. She struggles with crippling anxiety and has an obsession with dragons inappropriate for someone of her station. Then Mina discovers a terrible secret that could change everything. Sentenced to the Pit—the darkest prison of the Fallen Isles—she must reckon with the terrible secrets about the world—and herself—before it’s too late.
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
Among the Leopard People, your worst flaw becomes your greatest power. Twelve year old Sunny suddenly finds herself thrust into their world when she befriends Orlu and Chichi, with whom she forms the youngest Oha coven. But when they’re tasked with tracking down Black Hat Otokoto, a killer with powers far greater than their own, they may finally find themselves outmatched.
Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
Sierra was looking forward to an easy summer of fun with her friend and and focusing on her art, but a series of strange events, including the appearance of an actual zombie and weeping graffiti, mean something is clearly afoot in New York. Apparently the secrets of a supernatural order were stolen and are being used for nefarious purposes. Now it’s up to Sierra to help put a stop to it—either that, or risk her family’s past, present, and future.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Janie Crawford is on a mission to be her own person, but that’s no easy feat for a black woman in the 1930s. It will take three marriages and a journey to rediscover her roots in order for Janie to find what she’s really looking for: herself.
Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson
On the Caribbean-colonized planet of Toussaint, Carnival means music, dancing, and the “Midnight Robbers,” who brandish weapons and spellbinding words. The Robber Queen is nothing more than a costume to Tan-Tan—until her father commits a terrible crime and they are banished to the brutal world of New Half-Way Tree. Now, if Tan-Tan wants to survive, she will have to become the Robber Queen herself.
This is What It Feels Like by Rebecca Barrow
Dia knows that without a band, she’s got no shot at the Sun City Originals. And ever since Hanna left there hasn’t been a band, not for Dia and Jules, anyway. No contest can bridge the space that’s grown between the three girls who used to be best friends…right? But then again, the opportunity to ignore the past for a chance at the future might be just what they need to find their way back to each other.
Coming September 1, 2018 (HarperTeen)
The Other Side of Paradise by Staceyann Chin
Poet and activist Staceyann Chin’s moving memoir about growing up, unwanted, in Jamaica, moving on, coming out, and ultimately finding her voice.
Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
Monday’s missing and her best friend Claudia seems to be the only one to notice—or care. The weeks drag on and Claudia quizzes everyone—including Monday’s sister April—but nobody seems to remember the last time they saw her. As Claudia’s worry grows, so does another disturbing question: how could a teenage girl go missing without anyone even noticing she’s gone?
Coming June 5, 2018 (Katherine Tegen Books)
Want to find more great books to celebrate black womanhood and black history month? Check out these black bookstagrammers you should definitely be following, these 94 black female/femme/nb authors to support, some #readingblackout recommendations, and these 22 black romance novelists.