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At NewsOne, we believe that the child who reads is the child who leads. In keeping with that idea, we decided this summer to take a look at the state of reading for black youth.

Research has found that the proportion of young people who are daily readers drops has dropped dramatically in recent years. According to some studies, since 1984, the percentage of 13-year-olds who are weekly readers dropped from 70% to 53%. Even worse, the percentage of 17-year-olds who are weekly readers fell from 64% to a startling 40%. And the percentage of 17-year-olds who never or hardly read tripled during the same period, from 9% to 27%. It’s jarring news.

To find answers to how we can encourage more young people to read, NewsOne headed out to the streets of New York City and asked young people themselves for solutions. Watch what they had to say.

And, as a bonus, we tapped our brother and sister sites: Hello Beautiful and The Urban Daily to get the staff’s summer reading recommendations. Here are a few titles they said had an impact on them and that every black youth should read.

50 Books Every Black Teen Should Read
Portrait of 12 year old boy reading a book
49 photos
    • “Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine” by Bebe Moore Campbell
    • “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison
    • “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho
    • “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” as told to Alex Haley
    • “Miles: The Autobiography” by Miles Davis
    • “Soledad Brother” by George Jackson
    • “The Coldest Winter Ever” by Sister Souljah
    • “Flyy Girl” by Omar Tyree
    • “Nile Valley Contributions To Civilization” by Tony Browder
    • “Picking Cotton” by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino
    • “Monster” by Walter Dean Myers
    • “Roots” by Alex Haley
    • “Blues People” by Amiri Baraka
    • “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker
    • “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston
    • “Song of Solomon” by Toni Morrison
    • “If Beale Street Could Talk” by James Baldwin
    • “Summer Of My German Soldier” by Bette Greene
    • “Twelve Years a Slave” by Solomon Northup
    • “Moonwalk” by Michael Jackson
    • “Sula” by Toni Morrison
    • “Kindred” by Octavia Butler
    • “When Chickenheads Come Home To Roost” by Joan Morgan
    • “A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry
    • “Manchild in the Promised Land” by Claude Brown
    • “Purple Cow” by Seth Godin
    • “Invisible Life” by E. Lynn Harris
    • “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou
    • “Good To Great” by Jim Collins
    • “Dreams from My Father” by Barack Obama
    • “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz
    • “Down These Mean Streets” by Piri Thomas
    • “Letter to My Daughter” by Maya Angelou
    • “Mis-Education of the Negro” by Carter G. Woodsen
    • “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison
    • “Who Am I Without Him?” by Sharon Flake
    • “Assata: An Autobiography” by Assata Shakur
    • “Sag Harbor” by Colson Whitehead
    • “I Am Not Sidney Poitier” by Percival Everett
    • “Our Kind of People” by Lawrence Otis Graham
    • “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki
    • “Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center” by bell hooks
    • “Kaffir Boy” by Mark Mathabane
    • “Outliers” Malcolm Gladwell
    • “Interiors: A Black Woman’s Healing…in Progress” by Iyanla Vanzant
    • “Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man in America” by Nathan McCall
    • “Visions for Black Men” by Na’im Akbar
    • “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe
    • “What is the What” by Dave Eggers
    • “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn