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As a young black woman grows and matures, there are a number of books she should read to help stimulate and inspire her. These books, written by some of the greatest African American authors of our time, serve as a right of passage for young black women. They provide an opportunity to educate black women on our history, provoke thought, and provide cultural references. Check out a brief list of some of the books every young black woman should read. And if you’re older and haven’t checked out these reads yet, please do!
Toni Morrison

Credit: WENN

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

This first novel written by Toni Morrison examines racism, incest, and skin tone complexities many black women face. The controversial book is one of the many novels written by Morrison that we recommend. Song of Solomon and Beloved are also great reads by the legendary author.

Maya Angelou


I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

The 1969 autobiography by one of the greatest poets/authors of our time is the perfect coming of age story.

Kindred by Octavia Butler

The novel tells one of the many sides of slavery through the character Edana Franklin.

Sister Souljah

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Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah

The Coldest Winter Ever serves as a coming of age novel for many Generation Y women. The novel tells the story of a teenage woman finding herself in Brooklyn, New York as she encounters drugs, money, dysfunctional relationships and love.


Alice Walker


The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Color Purple is simply a must read for everyone — young, old, black or white. The characters, the story, the message it sends, even the movie that follows, should be experienced by all.

Ntozake Shange


For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf by Ntozake Shange

Through a series of poems the author addresses the many struggles an African American woman faces, such as love, rape, abortion, HIV/AIDS and domestic violence.



Zora Neale Hurston


Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

When the novel was originally released in 1937, Hurston was rejected and received backlash. However in the 1970s, many began to celebrate the work of Hurston and the novel. In 2005 the novel was adapted into a television movie starring Halle Berry.


Angela Davis


Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur and Angela Davis

This autobiography tells the compelling story of Black Panter activist Assata Shakur who was the first woman to land on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists and currently lives in exile in Cuba.

Barack Obama

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama

The memoir tells the story of our president prior to his enrollment in law school.

Push: A Novel by Sapphire

Another novel that shines a light on the obstacles black women face not only in the world but in their own family.

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

A Raisin in the Sun is a play that tells the story of a black family’s experience in a Chicago subdivision in the ’50s. Premiering on Broadway in 1959, the play is a classic.

When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip-Hop Feminist Breaks it Down by Joan Morgan

This novel provides a modern examination of the complexities of a black woman.


Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree

Another coming of age story about a girl in the 80s, Flyy Girl is a great read for young black teenagers getting caught up in their first romance. It was recently announced the trilogy will be hitting the big screen soon!

All About Love: New Visions by Bell Hooks

Bell Hooks provides major insight on her ideas of love in this novel. It is both a refreshing and challenging book to read. It will question your every thought and idea of love and is perfect for a young woman trying to understand just what love is.

Waiting to Exhale by Terri McMillian

It’s simply not enough to just watch the movie. In order to fully understand the four characters and their friendship, everyone should read this novel. It examines the complexities of friendships, relationships and being a woman in her 30s.

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