If you work in a diverse library district, you probably have adult patrons asking for books by Zane or Sistar Souljah. Chances are you begin blushing or lowing your already hushed voice as you read some of the urban fiction titles out loud to patrons.
We know that it’s great for adults to read in front of their teens but when a parent is reading about hustling, their teens might be reading the same books and we aren’t always comfortable while we are directing teens to the adult urban fiction section/books.
A great alternative is urban fiction for teens or books that feature teens of color. Below you’ll find a list of urban fiction and books with teens of color.
First things first, the technical definition of urban fiction is:Urban fiction, also known as street lit or street fiction is a literary genre set, as the name implies, in a city landscape; however, the genre is as much defined by the socio-economic realities and culture of its characters as the urban setting.-Wikipedia Urban Fiction Series Kimani Tru Series by Various Authors Kimani Tru books from Harlequin follow African American teens as they deal with school, dating, and friendships.
The Hollywood High Series follow teens of celebrities as they deal with money, fame, and relationships.
Charly’s Epic Fiasco Series by Kelli London
The Epic Fiasco Series follows Charly a teen who grew up on the streets but has dreams of becoming an actress.Urban Fiction Authors
If you are trying to bulk up your urban fiction collection, one of the easiest ways to do so is to search by author. Below is a list of urban fiction authors.
Saddleback Education Publishing publishes Hi-Lo urban fiction. Hi-Lo simply means high interest, low readability. This books are about 150-200 pages and have easier vocabulary than a traditional YA book. The great thing about these books is that the covers look like traditional YA so the teen reading them won’t feel bad.Books Featuring a Person of Color
Because teens like to judge books by their cover, it’s important to purchase and display books with a person of color on the cover. Below is a list of books that not only feature Black protagonists but a person of color is on the cover. Please note that the following books are not necessarily urban fiction.
- Endangered by Lamar Giles
Panda (Lauren) is a photographer whose mission is to expose the secrets of the assholes at her school. It’s initially fun until a mysterious classmate exposes Panda’s secrets.
- The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
After a serious accident left singer Elyse mute, she decides to live a life of solitude. During a party Elyse meets Christian, a playboy who doesn’t treat her like glass. Will Elyse give her heart to a boy who steals many hearts?
- Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz
Etta isn’t gay enough for The Dykes, her old clique, and she’s not skinny or white enough to be a ballerina. Etta begins to feel alone when she meets Bianca, a straight white Christian.
- Into White by Randi Pink
Latoya Williams is a black girl in an all white school and makes a wish to make her life easier and to be white. Find out what happens when Latoya’s wish comes true.
- Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters
Set in 1920’s Oregon, this Hamlet reimagining features Hanalee the daughter of a white woman and black man. When her father’s accidental death is rumored to be a murder, Hanalee seeks answers even though the main suspect is her step father.
- Mirage by Tracy Clark
Ryan loves the rush of sky diving but after a near death experience, Ryan changes. Will she regain her passion for adventure and loose herself in her own head?
Following the death of his mother, Matt takes a job at a funeral home to help take care of the bills and his alcoholic father. Lost in loneliness, Matt meets Lovey, a confident girl who drives Matt to be tougher person.
- This Side of Home by Renee Watson
Identical twins Nikki and Maya are inseparable and agreeable. When their tough neighborhood becomes trendy, Nikki is excited while Maya is opposes to the change. Will this difference of opinions about their home and culture cause a rift in their sisterhood?
- Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham
Scarlett is a kick butt detective who’s vowed to tackle the crime in her city. When a new crime ring comes to town, Scarlett discovers her family might be involved.
- Everything but the Truth by Mandy Hubbard
Holly’s mother works at a retirement home for wealthy people and when the grandson of a wealthy resident mistakes Holly for a relative of a resident, Holly decides to continue the ruse. Will Malik end the relationship when he finds out Holly is the daughter of the help?
Here’s a PDF of the books and authors listed above. Urban YA Fiction
— Dawn Abron, currently reading Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
You may feel like you just finished reading The Graceling Realm series, but the current reader who is 16 years old was 8 when this book was published. Some young adult literature has a short shelf-life; pop culture references, trends, technology, even the language teens use to communicate, evolves. Fantasy is often more enduring because the worlds are entirely different from our own, yet the conflicts and themes are universal.
Katsa lives in a world where Gracelings are commonplace. Gracelings are noted by the fact that they have two different colored eyes and a special skill or ability. The skill may be as simple as being an excellent baker or climber, or an excellent swordsman or archer, but it can also be more complicated than that. Katsa’s grace is unique; Her ability is to kill. It does not matter the size or strength of her opponent, Kasha will kill them before they even have time to register what is happening.
However, even with this remarkable power, Katsa is being used by the king, her uncle, as nothing more than muscle. Katsa hates this, but even though she is secretly fighting back and trying to undo the evil her uncle has created, she is still scared to stand up to him. Until she meets Po. Running into Po was an accident. They were both on a mission to save a former king, now known as Prince Tealiff, who was kidnapped. Kasha is doing this undercover as her way to give back for the cruel services performed through her uncle. Po is doing this because this former king is his grandfather. Who kidnapped Prince Tealiff? Why would he matter now? Po plans on finding out and asks Kasha to assist him, which her uncle refuses. Can Katsa find her inner strength to leave the kingdom she has grown up in and help Po and his family? This fantasy novel will keep you on your feet as you go through the multiple layers of deception, danger, and depth. The guarded romance adds to the complicated relationship between Katsa and Po.
#TBT Graceling by Kristin Cashore, published in 2008
Readers who enjoy Graceling have more adventures in the Seven Realms to explore: the story continues in companion novels Fire and Bitterblue.
Fire by Kristin Cashore, published in 2009
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore, published in 2012
Hand Graceling to readers who loved
-A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Mass, published in 2015
-Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin Trilogy) by Robin LaFevers, published in 2012
-Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo, published in 2012
— Mariela Siegert, currently reading Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway