Each February, Black History Month shines a spotlight on the experiences, legacies, and contributions of Black Americans. It’s a time to honor stories that should be part of the everyday fabric of our lives all year round—from school curricula to the entertainment industry, book publishing, and more—but are too often relegated to the sidelines or distorted to fit preconceived notions. Fortunately, this year starts off with a number of fantastic YA reads by Black authors that offer a range of different ways to engage with Black history and contemporary life.

Two new volumes harness the power of poetry to move us emotionally in ways that prose often cannot achieve:

Poemhood: Our Black Revival: History, Folklore & the Black Experience: A Young Adult Poetry Anthology, edited by Amber McBride, Taylor Byas, and Erica Martin (HarperTeen, Jan. 30): This rich collection pulls together poems spanning centuries, arranged so that they are in conversation with one another and followed by brief outros that offer meaningful context. Together, they demonstrate what is “at the center of every folktale—a universal truth.”

Black Girl You Are Atlas by Renée Watson, illustrated by Ekua Holmes (Kokila, Feb. 13): Two Coretta Scott King Book Award winners collaborated on this memorable combination of vibrant artwork and wise, insightful poetry: “I have no Black Girl Magic / to give today. // Today, I am regular. / Not insufficient, / not more than enough. / Just me. Just right.”

Memoirs such as the following provide teen readers with valuable models for facing challenges and moving ahead:

Everything I Learned About Racism I Learned in School by Tiffany Jewell (Versify/HarperCollins, Feb. 27): In this thought-provoking, must-read memoir, a Black biracial antiracist author and educator opens up in honest and vulnerable ways, sharing episodes and insights from her school years. Her experiences are amplified and expanded through the interspersed reflections of other contributors of color.

How the Boogeyman Became a Poet by Tony Keith Jr. (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins, Feb. 6): This inspiring memoir in verse by a gay spoken-word artist and educator follows the author from his childhood in greater Washington, D.C., to becoming a first-generation college student. Keith grappled with affirming, despite many obstacles, that “I am meant to be here with purpose.”

The page-turning readability of genre fiction is an ideal vehicle for exploring equity and injustice in engaging ways, as these books show:

Out of Body by Nia Davenport (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, Feb. 6): This gripping debut thriller follows Megan, an Atlanta teen who’s thrilled to make a new best friend in magnetic and exciting LC. But it all goes wrong when Megan wakes up inhabiting LC’s body; her journey back to herself explores themes of trauma and Black girlhood.

Tender Beasts by Liselle Sambury (McElderry, Feb. 27): The latest from rising star Sambury, a Trinidadian Canadian author, digs into questions of privilege and race through a compelling supernatural horror story that will keep readers guessing until the end, as a teen girl races to investigate a murder that’s been pinned on her brother.

Laura Simeon is a young readers’ editor.

[See our list of 31 great Black History Month books for teens and children.]