Attention to all bookworms! August 9 marks National Book Lovers Day, the unofficial holiday celebrating literature and reading. For the occasion, libraries, bookstores, online communities and book lovers alike are encouraging everyone to pick up a book.
Book Lovers Day is also the occasion to discover up and coming authors. There are several Black Gen Z authors who have already stepped into the world of publishing and that you will want to add to your list. From novels to self-help books and collections of poems, young authors have written a wide variety of books.
Highlighting Black authors is especially important as representation in the publishing industry remains scarce. A 2018 study conducted by the New York Times revealed that only 11% of books published that year were written by people of color. This lack of representation ties to other research indicating that 46% of Black children don’t see themselves in what they read.
These Gen Z authors are closing this gap. They are also proving that being an author doesn’t mean you can’t pursue other endeavors such as social media, music and activism.
On National Book Lovers Day, here is our list of Gen Z authors to know.
Dai Time, 16, is an author but also an influencer, internet show host and the creator of Dai Time Magazine. In 2016, she published My Tutu, a children’s book she read in schools as part of her “Reading Is Lit” tour. Her goal was to reach 1000 children per school year and encourage them to read and become entrepreneurs. The Georgia native is also a skater and a singer.
At 16 years old, Dias is the founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks, a campaign to collect books featuring Black girls as main characters. Since starting the campaign in 2015, she has collected over 13,000 books. Dias is also the author of the self-help book Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You! Published in 2018, it aims at inspiring children to read and turn their dreams into reality. The book explores themes of activism, social justice, diversity and literacy.
Born and raised in New York, Garrett has published two novels, Full Disclosure in 2019 and Off the Record in 2021. She recently graduated from NYU and hopes to also pursue a career in film. In 2019, she was included in Teen Vogue’s 21 under 21 list and named Glamour’s College Woman of the Year. Her third novel is set to be released on January 10, 2023. Entitled Friday I’m in Love, it is a romance celebrating Black joy and queer pride.
Jackson was named the National Youth Poet Laureate in 2019. The same year, the Illinois native published Bloodstone Cowboy, a collection of poems exploring her Southern heritage and the impact of racism. “I’m constantly thinking about the ways in which I honor my lineages, but also the ways in which I deviate from those lineages,” she told PBS. “I think that every Black person, every Black artist should be given the space to talk about whatever they want, and to articulate themselves in a way that feels natural.” Jackson is also a singer, songwriter and musician. She self-released her EP A Song for Every Chamber of the Heart in 2019.
A Brown University graduate, McQueen received a Watty Award for Science Fiction for their works on Wattpad including December, Beautiful Dreamer, and Superior. In 2020, they published their first novel The Invincible Summer Of Juniper Jones, a coming of age story set in 1950s Alabama. The novel follows Ethan Harper, a biracial child, who is confronted for the first time with what it means to be Black in America.
McQueen talked to Insider about the importance of representation in literature. “The first time I ever saw a Black character in a book – at least, that I remember – was in Jacqueline Woodson’s book ‘After Tupac and D Foster,’” they told the outlet. “I think I didn’t even realize that representation was something that had been missing from what I was reading, because I was so surprised to see characters in a book that looked like me.”
Born in London, Àbíké-Íyímídé is the author of Ace of Spades, the New York Times bestseller referred to as “Get Out meets Gossip Girl.” She completed her BA in Scotland and is the winner of the 53rd NAACP Image Awards in the Outstanding Literary Work for Youth/Teens. Àbíké-Íyímídé also runs a mentorship scheme for writers of color who don’t have literary agents.
A high school senior, Tate published Signing With Khy in 2021 – a book teaching readers how to sign. The 18-year-old wants to increase the representation of Black deaf people like herself. “I’m here as living proof to show people I can teach others, I can learn and I can be an educator,” she said, according to Blavity. “I am not beneath a hearing person or another person. I am just like everybody else.” Tate wants to bridge the gap between the deaf and hearing communities. “It’ll be easy because they can look at my book and see pictures along with the alphabet – the words and the signs and it’s all there – ready for them to learn to sign,” she said. “More than anything I want people to know – the deaf can – deaf people can do just what any hearing person does, and that’s what I want to see.”