Black Boy Joy is a collection of 17 short stories, including a poem and a comic, written by Black male and nonbinary authors about the joys of black boyhood. As Mbalia describes, the “Black Boy Joy” is a term “coined back in 2016 by Danielle Young and has grown to encompass the revelry, the excitement, and the sheer fun of growing up as boys in and out of the hood. Their stories – our stories – deserve to be highlighted on the afternoon news.” This anthology truly is a joy to read and has a story for every middle grade reader.

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The summary, from Amazon:

Celebrate the joys of Black boyhood with stories from seventeen bestselling, critically acclaimed Black authors–including Jason Reynolds (the Track series), Jerry Craft (New Kid), and Kwame Mbalia (the Tristan Strong series)!

“Pick up Black Boy Joy for a heavy dose of happiness.” —Booklist, starred review

Black boy joy is…

Picking out a fresh first-day-of-school outfit.
Saving the universe in an epic intergalactic race.
Finding your voice—and your rhymes—during tough times.
Flying on your skateboard like nobody’s watching.

And more! From seventeen acclaimed Black male and non-binary authors comes a vibrant collection of stories, comics, and poems about the power of joy and the wonders of Black boyhood.

Contributors include: B. B. Alston, Dean Atta, P. Djèlí Clark, Jay Coles, Jerry Craft, Lamar Giles, Don P. Hooper, George M. Johnson, Varian Johnson, Kwame Mbalia, Suyi Davies Okungbowa, Tochi Onyebuchi, Julian Randall, Jason Reynolds, Justin Reynolds, DaVaun Sanders, and Julian Winters

Buy Black Boy Joy here.

Wow, what a book. Seventeen stories are tied together through Mbalia’s magical realism title in excerpts throughout, “The Griot of Grover Street”. Aside from that, the titles stand independently and can be read individually or as an entire book. I loved that these stories showed that joy can stand alongside sadness, fear, and anger, and while some stories weren’t favorites of mine, I saw the kid appeal in all of them. I will note that one story does take place during the COVID-19 pandemic. I liked being introduced to some new-to-me authors as well as visiting stories from favorites of mine.

My favorite titles were:

  • “There’s Going to Be a Fight In the Cafeteria on Friday and You Better Not Bring Batman” by Lamar Giles
  • “The McCoy Game” by B.B. Alston
  • “The Legendary Lawrence Cobbler” by Julian Winters
  • “Extinct” by Dean Atta
  • “The Gender Reveal” by George M. Johnson
  • “But Also, Jazz” by Julian Randal
  • “Our Dill” by Justin A. Reynolds
  • “Percival and the Jab” By P. Djèlí Clark
  • “Embracing My Black Boy Joy” by Jerry Craft

This was such a good anthology and a 5 star read for me for sure.

Find out more about how I rate books here.

Black Boy JoyBlack Boy Joy by Kwame Mbalia
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Favorite stories were:
• There’s Going to Be a Fight In the Cafeteria on Friday and You Better Not Bring Batman
• The McCoy Game
• The Legendary Lawrence Cobbler
• Extinct
• The Gender Reveal
• But Also, Jazz
• Our Dill
• Percival and the Jab
• Embracing My Black Boy Joy

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Book Club Questions

  1. How are all of these stories related?
  2. Which story was your favorite? Why?
  3. Have you read any of these authors before? What books did you enjoy by them?
  4. What does joy mean to you?

Interested? Buy Black Boy Joy.
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