Honoring Black History Month with these Children’s Books

Board Books

A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara; Recommended for ages 0-3. Although this isn’t overtly black history, it introduces concepts of marching, race equality and justice for all. I love the rhythm of this book and the cats hiding on each page made it a favorite of my toddlers.

Antiracist Baby by Ibram X Kendi; Recommended for ages 0-3. In this playful book, Kendi introduces anti-racism to young readers and their grownups. This board book doesn’t look at black history, but rather at forming a just future.

Our Legendary Ladies: Harriett Tubman by Megan Callea; Recommended for ages 0-3. What I love about this is the simple, beautiful illustrations with a simple overview of who Harriett Tubman was. This book introduces the youngest readers to this incredible woman from our history.

Picture Books

Malcolm Little: The Boy who Grew Up to be Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz; recommended for ages 6-10; This book about Malcolm X as a child, written by his daughter, celebrates a vision of freedom and justice. It explores the theme of striving to do your best and how to actualize your dreams and hopes.

Hip Hop Speaks: 50 Inspiring Poems with a Beat  by Nikki Giovanni; Recommended for ages 7-11. From Tupac to Jay-Z, Queen Latifah to Maya Angelou, this book comes with a CD.  What could be more fun and inspiring than learning black history through music and poetry?

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison; Recommended for ages 8 – 12. Among these 18 women, you’ll find heroes, role models, and everyday women who did amazing things: bold women who contributed to making our world better. Check out the companion book Little Leaders: Bold Men in Black History.

Chapter Books & Young Adult Novels

The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert; Recommended for ages 13+. On the surface, this is a contemporary novel about two girls struggling with fitting in to a small, mostly white, beach community. However, there is also a mystery the girls are trying to figure out about a recently deceased community member and these revelations lead them to learn some black history along the way. I found it to be a very interesting lens to explore this history through!

Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi; Recommended for ages 13+. This nonfiction book is a “remix” of Kendi’s history book Stamped from the Beginning. This YA book explores the history of racism in America with a  digestible and relatable tone for teens.

people of color sitting at a counter for whites; graphic novel illustration

NPR.org

March Book 1 (& 2 & 3!) by John Lewis; Recommended for ages 13+. These are the memoirs of John Lewis told in graphic novel format. The illustrations are beautiful and I learned a lot not only about the late Congressmen but also some aspects of the Civil Rights movement that I had not known before. Couldn’t recommend this series of books more highly for teens and adults alike.

Black Birds in the Sky by Brandy Colbert; Recommended for ages 14-17. This nonfiction book is about the history and legacy of one of the most deadly and destructive acts of racial violence in American history: the Tulsa Race Massacre.

Other resources: 

This website has a great list of books for kids ages 0-7 by black authors

We Need Diverse Books has a blog about reading black voices year round. Their book list is an incredible compilation of books for all grade levels.

Looking for more books to add to the rotation, the New York Times released their best books of the year

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