Leslie’s Black History Month Homage to Retro “YA”Titles

These books were all originally published between the years of 1967 and 1973, and I hadn’t seen or thought about them in decades.  But while considering the “Young Adult/Middle Grade” theme for February 3rd of the #ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge my mind drifted back to the earliest books I ever read that featured young black characters.  I barely remember the stories and novels that I began to read in the 1970s, yet I DO remember the hallelujah! feeling of discovering voices in literature who could have been me or my classmates; our families and communities.  This tile collage is a small symbol of my gratitude to those visionary authors and publishers—and librarians!—who brought the voices of Pesty and Francie Coffin to chime in with Huck Finn and Jo March.


  1. WOW! The only book I know on this list is Sounder & that’s only because I saw the film. So many more books to dive into. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Old school books reppin’ hard! The only novel I recognize is ‘Gorilla, My Love’ by Toni Cade Bambara. But I love the book cover art 🙂
    Are the themes of these books very different from contemporary books? I’m guessing themes like segregation, civil rights etc are heavy in these?

    1. Well, the burden of reppin’ the old school titles had to fall to someone—-may as well be me! Actually there is slammin’ original cover art for The Friends but I couldn’t locate it to include in the collage. I am guilty of barely remembering their themes but I don’t remember them being “issue heavy” as much as they were about growing-up in the times.

  3. Thank you! I remember being puzzled by “A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ But A Sandwich,” because I always called them submarine sandwiches — so it was an educational sort of story in a lot of ways. I loved “Sounder,” too — anything with dogs found me, just as the dogs themselves seem to! Thanks.

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