Celebrate Audiobook Month with 31 Books Written by Black Authors and Read by Black Narrators

Guest Blogger  //  Jun 8, 2022

Celebrate Audiobook Month with 31 Books Written by Black Authors and Read by Black Narrators

Today and always we want to amplify the voices of our Black creators by sharing their stories. This June, we’re celebrating Audiobook Month by spotlighting 31 must-hear audiobooks written by Black authors and read by Black narrators. Check out this list to find your next listen!

We Shall Overcome

Illustrated by Bryan Collier

Narrated by: Karen Chilton

For: ages 4-8

“We Shall Overcome” is one of the most recognizable anthems of the Civil Rights movement, widely performed at protests and rallies to promote nonviolent civil rights activism. Now, these inspirational, empowering, legendary lyrics are brought to life with the stirring, evocative, and breathtaking illustrations from Caldecott Honor recipient and nine-time Coretta Scott King Award winner Bryan Collier. 

Powerfully imagined for the present moment, Collier’s illustrations meld the most emblematic moments of the twentieth century Civil Rights movement with the present day, depicting the movements, protests, and demonstrations — big and small — as the fight for justice continues. With illustrations full of depth, tenderness, and expression, and offering historical context while remaining powerfully relevant to the present-day, this impactful picture book is a must-have for every home, classroom, and bookshelf.

Because of You, John Lewis

By Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Keith Henry Brown

Narrated by: Ron Butler

For: ages 7-10

Ten-year-old Tybre Faw is obsessed with history and the civil rights movement, and he devours every book he can find on the subject. When he learns of Congressman John Lewis's harrowing and heroic march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in the fight for the right to vote, Tybre is determined to meet him. Tybre's two grandmothers take him on the seven-hour drive to Selma. And as the two meet and become fast friends, Tybre joins Lewis for the annual walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge! When John Lewis is laid to rest, Tybre is invited to read Lewis's favorite poem, "Invictus," at the funeral service. Pinkney weaves this story of a boy with a dream — with the story of a true-life hero (who himself was inspired by Martin Luther King when he was a boy). Both John Lewis and Martin Luther King, Jr. have left indelible marks on future generations. Will Tybre be next to carry the mantle?

Martin Rising: Requiem for a King

Written by: Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney

Narrated by: Andrea Davis Pinkney

For ages: 9-12

With imagination and power, the award-winning Pinkney duo celebrates MLK's nonviolent struggle for civil rights as he transforms America through the spirit of love.

All Because You Matter

Written by: Tami Charles

Narrated by: Tami Charles

For ages: 4-8

On sale: October 2020

A lyrical, heart-lifting love letter to black and brown children everywhere: reminding them how much they matter, that they have always mattered, and they always will, from powerhouse rising star author Tami Charles.

Playing the Cards You're Dealt

By Varian Johnson

Narrated by: Dion Graham

For: ages 8-12

Ten-year-old Anthony Joplin has made it to double digits! Which means he’s finally big enough to play in the spades tournament every Joplin Man before him seems to have won. So while Ant’s friends are stressing about fifth grade homework and girls, he only has one thing on his mind: how he’ll measure up to his father’s expectations at the card table. Then Ant’s best friend gets grounded, and he’s forced to find another spades partner. And Shirley, the new girl in his class, isn’t exactly what he has in mind. She doesn’t understand that trash talking is part of the game. Or why Ant’s dad doesn’t want him playing with a girl. But she’s smart and tough and pretty, and knows every card trick in the book. So Ant decides to join forces with Shirley — and keep his plans a secret. Only it turns out secrets are another Joplin Man tradition. And his father is hiding one so big it may tear their family apart…

When the World Turned Upside Down

By K. Ibura

Narrated by: Channie Waites

For: ages 8-12

Nobody expected a tiny little virus to change the whole world in such a big way, especially not Shayla, Liam, Ai, and Ben. But when school closes to keep everyone safe, their lives turn upside down. It is one thing to learn that the outside world isn’t safe, but why does it seem that the virus is causing trouble inside their homes too? As they each struggle to adjust to life in quarantine, they discover they are not alone: their apartment building is full of people who need their help. Working together, they begin to see that there is power in numbers. When they cooperate, they can ease each other’s challenges and help their neighbors through tough times. It’s a lesson they’ll need when protests explode in the streets. Soon, each friend has to decide what it means to be part of a community — and how much they’re willing to do to make this world safer for everyone.

Behind the Mountains

By Edwidge Danticat

Narrated by Ella Turenne

For: readers ages 8-12

Celiane Esperance and her family escape a politically unstable and impoverished Haiti, where street shootings and pipe bombs are becoming more and more frequent. After years of separation, Celiane, her brother, Moy, and their mother all join Papa in Brooklyn, New York. The harsh concrete landscape of New York is a shock to Celiane, whose story is a passionate journey into a new land, sometimes tender, sometimes painful, but always infused with author Edwidge Danticat's signature narrative grace.

Josephine Against the Sea

By Shakirah Bourne

Narrator: Varia Williams

For: ages 8-12

Ten-year-old Josephine Cadogan loves two things above all else: 1) Playing cricket and 2) Scaring away her fisherman father’s new girlfriends. That’s why she’s desperate to make it onto her school’s cricket team. She’ll get to play her favorite sport AND make sure Daddy is too busy attending her matches to date. But then Coach Broomes throws a wrench into her plan and announces that girls can’t try out for the team. Frustrated and unsure where else to turn, Josephine makes a wish in front of the powerful Silk Cotton Tree. But instead of solving her problems, an even bigger one arises…

That afternoon, Daddy brings home a new catch, a beautiful woman named Mariss. And unlike the other girlfriends, this one doesn’t scare easily. Josephine can tell there’s something fishy about Mariss — she sings in a strange language, eats weird food, and seems to exert mysterious control over everyone she meets. And even worse, she seems to be turning Daddy against Josephine.

Josephine knows that Mariss isn’t what she seems… she might not even be human! But who’s going to believe her? Can Josephine convince her friends to help her and use her cricket skills to save Daddy from Mariss’s dark magic before it’s too late?

The Girl in the Lake

By India Hill Brown

Narrated by: Bahni Turpin

For: ages 8-12

Celeste knows she should be excited to spend two weeks at her grandparents' lake house with her brother, Owen, and their cousins Capri and Daisy, but she's not. Bugs, bad cell reception, and the dark waters of the lake… no thanks. On top of that, she just failed her swim test and hates being in the water-it's terrifying. But her grandparents are strong believers in their family knowing how to swim, especially having grown up during a time of segregation at public pools. And soon strange things start happening — the sound of footsteps overhead late at night. A flickering light in the attic window. And Celete's cousins start accusing her of pranking them when she's been no where near them! Things at the old house only get spookier until one evening when Celeste looks in the steamy mirror after a shower and sees her face, but twisted, different… Who is the girl in the mirror? And what does she want? Past and present mingle in this spine-tingling ghost story by award-winning author India Hill Brown.

It's the End of the World and I'm In My Bathing Suit

By Justin A. Reynolds

Narrated by: Nile Bullock

For: ages 8-12

Twelve-year-old Eddie Gordon Holloway has concocted his most genius plan ever to avoid chores especially the dreaded L-A-U-N-D-R-Y. If he can wear all the clothes he owns, he'll only have to do the laundry once during his school break. On the day of the highly-anticipated Beach Bash, Eddie's monstrous pile of dirty laundry is found by his mom. And Eddie's day has just taken a turn for the worst. Now he's stuck at home by himself, missing the bash, and doing his whole pile of laundry. But mid-cycle, the power goes out! With his first load of laundry wet and the rest of his stuff still filthy, he sets out to explore the seemingly empty neighborhood in his glow-in-the-dark swim trunks, flip-flops, and a beach towel. He soon meets up with other neighborhood kids: newcomer Xavier (who was mid-haircut and has half his head shaved), Eddie's former friend Sonia (who has spent her entire break trying to beat a video game and was mid-battle with the final boss), and siblings Trey and Sage (who are dealing with major sibling drama). As they group up to cover more ground and find out what happened, they realize that their families aren't coming back anytime soon. And as night falls, the crew realizes that they aren't just the only people left in the neighborhood, they might be the only people left anywhere.

Twins

Written by Varian Johnson, illustrated by Shannon Wright

Narrators: Ahnya O'Riordan (Maureen), Grace Capeless (Francine), Mashari Bain (Sergeant), Malcolm Bowen (Curtis), Antoinette Comer (Mom), Andre Blake (Dad), Armand Rufen-Blanchette (Bryce)

For: ages 8-12

Maureen and Francine Carter are twins and best friends. They participate in the same clubs, enjoy the same foods, and are partners on all their school projects. But just before the girls start sixth grade, Francine becomes Fran; a girl who wants to join the chorus, run for class president, and dress in fashionable outfits that set her apart from Maureen. A girl who seems happy to share only two classes with her sister! Maureen and Francine are growing apart and there's nothing Maureen can do to stop it. Are sisters really forever? Or will middle school change things for good?

Hurricane Child

Written by: Kacen Callender

Narrated by: Krystel Roche

For ages: 8-12

Prepare to be swept up by this exquisite novel that reminds us that grief and love can open the world in mystical ways. In Hurricane Child, Caroline must find the strength to confront her feelings for Kalinda, brave the spirit stalking her through the islands, and face the reason her mother abandoned her.

King and the Dragonflies

Written by: Kacen Callender

Narrated by: Ron Butler

For ages: 8-12

In a small but turbulent Louisiana town, one boy's grief takes him beyond the bayous of his backyard, to learn that there is no right way to be yourself.

Neon Aliens Ate My Homework and Other Poems

Written by: Nick Cannon

Narrated by: Nick Cannon

For ages: 8-12

Nick Cannon – the unstoppable entertainer, comedian, actor, and musician – was inspired to write Neon Aliens Ate My Homework and Other Poems as a way to combine the worlds of poetry and hip-hop, two mediums that have shaped Nick into the prolific artist he is today.

Dear America: With the Might of Angels

Written by: Andrea Davis Pinkney

Narrated by: Channie Waites

For ages: 8-12

Bestselling author and Coretta Scott King Award winner Andrea Davis Pinkney presents a moving fictional account of school desegregation in the Civil Rights Era.

Unstoppable Octobia May

Written by: Sharon Flake

Narrated by: Bahni Turpin

For ages: 8-12

Bestselling and award-winning author, Sharon G. Flake, delivers a mystery set in the 1950s that eerily blends history, race, culture, and family.

The Forgotten Girl

Written by: India Hill

Narrated by: Imani Parks

For ages: 8-12

The Forgotten Girl is a spooky original ghost story with a timely and important storyline about reclaiming an abandoned segregated cemetery.

The Parker Inheritance

Written by: Varian Johnson

Narrated by: Cherise Boothe

For ages: 8-12

When Candice finds a letter describing an injustice that happened decades ago, a mystery enfolding its writer, and the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle, she begins to decipher the clues. The challenge will lead her and a friend deep into her town's history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and one great love; and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets.

Child of the Dream (A Memoir of 1963)

Written by: Sharon Robinson

Narrated by: Sharon Robinson

For ages: 8-12

An incredible memoir from Sharon Robinson about one of the most important years of the civil rights movement, 1963. This is the story of how one girl finds her voice in the fight for justice and equality.

The Harlem Charade

Written by: Natasha Tarpley

Narrated by: Bahni Turpin

For ages: 8-12

In this remarkable tale of daring and danger, novelist Natasha Tarpley explores the way a community defines itself, the power of art to show truth, and what it really means to be home. 

Dark Sky Rising: Reconstruction and the Dawn of Jim Crow

Written by: Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Tonya Bolden

Narrated by: Dion Graham

For ages: 9-12

This is a story about America during and after Reconstruction, one of history's most pivotal and misunderstood chapters. In a stirring account of emancipation, the struggle for citizenship and national reunion, and the advent of racial segregation, young readers are introduced to the resiliency of the African American people at times of progress and betrayal.

Shuri: A Black Panther Novel

Written by: Nic Stone

Narrated by: Anika Noni Rose

For ages: 9-12

The first book in an original series starring the break-out character from the Black Panther comics and films: T'Challa's younger sister, Shuri! Shuri is a skilled martial artist, a genius, and a master of science and technology. But, she's also a teenager. And a princess. This story follows Shuri as she sets out on a quest to save her homeland of Wakanda.

Symbiosis (Shuri: A Black Panther Novel #3)

By Nic Stone

Narrated by: Anika Noni Rose

For: ages 8-12

The royal palace of Wakanda is one of, if not the most, secure facilities on this planet―or any other. So the anxiety Shuri feels when she’s jolted out of sleep by the queen mother with the news that someone attempted to break into the palace―and succeeded―is significant. And as quickly as they broke in, they vanished. The search for this interloper, a mysterious “symbiote” with superhuman speed and strength, will lead Shuri to the Jabari Lands, a remote, unforgiving part of the country she has never seen. And what she discovers will be more shocking than she could have imagined...

Marley Dias Gets It Done

Written by: Marley Dias

Narrated by: Damaras Obi

For ages: 10+

In this accessible "keep-it-real" guide, Marley explores activism, social justice, volunteerism, equity and inclusion, and using social media for good. Drawing from her experience, Marley shows kids how they can galvanize their strengths to make positive changes in their communities, while getting support from parents, teachers, and friends to turn dreams into reality.

The True Definition of Neva Beane

Written by: Christine Kendall

Narrated by: Channie Waites

For ages: 8-12

On sale: September 2020

The True Definition of Neva Beane is the story of a girl whose dictionary is helping make sense of the world, her changing body, friendships, and a family that's struggling to stay strong amidst the turbulent backdrop of activism, across generations.

Untwine

Written by: Edwidge Danticat

Narrated by: Bahni Turpin

For ages: 12+

Award-winning author Edwidge Danticat brings her extraordinary talent to this graceful and unflinching examination of the bonds of friendship, romance, family, the horrors of loss, and the strength we must discover in ourselves when all seems hopeless.

Spin

Written by: Lamar Giles

Narrated by: Bahni Turpin, Shawana Carter, and Sisi Aisha Johnson

For ages: 12+

When rising star Paris Secord (aka DJ ParSec) is found dead on her turntables, it sends the local music scene reeling. No one is feeling that grief more than her shunned pre-fame best friend, Kya, and ParSec's chief groupie, Fuse – two sworn enemies who happened to be the ones who discovered her body. Don’t miss this story of a fandom that will stop at nothing in their obsessive quest for answers.

Rise to the Sun

By Leah Johnson

Narrated by: Lexi Underwood and Alaska Jackson

For: ages 14-18

Four days. Two girls. One life-changing music festival. Toni is grieving the loss of her roadie father and needing to figure out where her life will go from here — and she's desperate to get back to loving music. Olivia is a hopeless romantic whose heart has just taken a beating (again) and is beginning to feel like she'll always be a square peg in a round hole — but the Farmerland music festival is a chance to find a place where she fits. The two collide and it feels like something like kismet when a bond begins to form. But when a gun misfires and the festival is sent into a panic, Olivia and Toni will find that they need each other (and music) more than they ever imagined.

You Should See Me in a Crown

Written by: Leah Johnson

Narrated by: Alaska Jackson

For ages: 12+

Liz Lighty is running for prom queen to win a scholarship for college. Will falling for a fellow prom queen contender keep her from her dreams…or help them come true?

Love Is The Drug

Written by: Alaya Dawn Johnson

Narrated by: Simone Missick

For ages: 14+

Emily Bird was raised not to ask questions. But a chance meeting with a homeland security agent at a party leads to Bird waking up in a hospital, days later, with no memory of the end of the night. Meanwhile the world has fallen apart, and the agent is convinced Bird knows something. As time goes on, Bird finds that she might know more than she remembers. And what she knows could unleash the biggest government scandal in US history…

Plus, don’t miss these three titles coming out later this year:

Overwatch: The Hero of Numbani

Written by: Nicky Drayden

Narrated by: Cherrelle Skeete

For ages: 12+

On sale: August 2020

The world still needs heroes. Are you with us? Enter the first-ever original novel for Overwatch, the worldwide gaming sensation from Blizzard Entertainment!

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