Made Of Shade

Made of Shade: Book List for Our Youth

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Reading is the one act that stimulates my intellectual growth.

My love for words, languages and phrases increased after reading Richard Wright’s Black Boy in high school. I morphed inside as I scanned the lines with such glee at the vivid imagery of Wright burning his grandmothers’ house at age 4 and hiding squeamishly under a smoked out porch.

Sharp images, such as that one, were constructed to catch my eye. I realize my appetite for reading manifested as a result of encountering characters I could relate to. In my youth, I could not relate to, or understand, those fictional beings shoved in my face and whose lives did not mirror my own.

Starting from a position of reading stories with kindred characters, I challenged myself to branch off into other types of themes, genres, subjects and authors. I would curl up with a Richard Wright novel, but could also nestle under a tree with Shakespeare’s Othello. As the body needs food for nourishment, the mind gains the same through the act of reading.

As it relates to youth, it’s important to give them options of books to read.


Don’t assume they know the authors who are writing in the young adult category. MADE OF SHADE compiled a  list of few authors that are a favorite amongst teens, which also serves to provide parents with a list of classic books in the adult fiction and non-fiction realm. There are also asterisks for authors who have content for readers who struggle a bit with literacy:

 Great Authors for Young Adults

Bad Boy by Walter Dean Myers *

Buried Onions by Gary Soto

Catwalk by Deborah Gregory

12 Brown Boys by Omar Tyree

Planet Middle School by Nikki Grimes*

Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bill Wright

Hotlanta (Series) by Denene Millner, Mitzi Miller

Paul Robeson: The Life and Times of a Free Black Man by Virginia Hamilton*

Tears of a Tiger by Sharon M. Draper

The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake*

Drama High: Frenemies by L. Divine

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything in It by Sundee T. Frazier

Young man reading a book in the library

CLASSIC HOT READS (Adult Non-fiction and Adult Fiction)

Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown

Autobiography of Fredrick Douglass by Fredrick Douglass

Letters To A Young Black Brother by Hill Harper

Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley

Just Above My Head by James Baldwin

Souls of Black Folks by W.E.B. Du Bois

Education and Empowerment: The Essential Writings of W.E.B. Du Bois by Dr. Randall Westbrook

The Will to Change by bell hooks

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Ann Jacobs

The Black Woman: An Anthology by Toni Cade Bambara

Open Letters to America: Essays by Kevin Powell

Mama by Terry McMillan

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

They Came Before Columbus by Ivan Van Sertima

Why I Love Black Women by Michael Eric Dyson

One More River to Cross by Keith Boykin

Sister Citizen by Melissa Harris-Perry

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama

Makes Me Wanna Holler by Nathan Mccall

Peace from Broken Pieces by Iyanla Vanzant

Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine by Bebe Moore Campbell

Sula by Toni Morrison

Invisible Life by E. Lynn Harris

Black Boy by Richard Wright

Black Betty by Walter Mosley

Rock My Soul: Black People and Self-Esteem by bell hooks

Mississippi to Africa: A Journey of Discovery by Melvin J. Collier

Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism by Cornel West

Black Feeling, Black Talk / Black Judgement by Nikki Giovanni

The House on Childress Street by Kenji Jasper

The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah

Decoded by Dream Hampton

Reposition Yourself: Living Life Without Limits by T.D. Jakes

Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith by Roland S. Martin, Zina Martin and Kenon White

The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010 by Lucille Clifton, Kevin Young, Michael S. Glaser and Toni Morrison