Black History is an important part of American History, and there are so many wonderful books about fascinating and inspiring people to share with the young readers in your life during February and all year long! We hope this list of books inspires you to learn more about Black Americans throughout history and how they have contributed to a richer America.
Ideas for things to discuss:
- Did you learn about any unfamiliar people, events or concepts while reading?
- Which Black American do you find most inspiring?
- Do you share any interests or skills with any of the people in these books?
Ideas for things to do:
- Look for videos and movies about the people from these books and watch them together. How do they compare to the books?
- Write a poem about one of the events or people.
- Make a drawing or collage inspired by one of the books.
- Check out a Black History exhibit at a museum.
And now, the list!
Lizzie Demands a Seat!: Elizabeth Jennings Fights for Streetcar Rights by Beth Anderson illustrated, by E. B. Lewis, is the inspiring story of a young African-American school teacher who in 1854 (a century before the Civil Rights Movement) was kicked off a 'whites only' street car then went to court to fight for the right to have integrated trolley cars and won!
Making their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe by Vivian Kirkfield, illustrated by Alleanna Harris. This book is a beautiful story of the special friendship between jazz great Ella Fitzgerald and movie star Marilyn Monroe, with a wonderful message of the power of friendship in overcoming obstacles and achieving dreams.
Draw What You See: The Life and Art of Benny Andrews by Kathleen Benson, illustrated with paintings by Benny Andrews. An inspiring story for any young artist, showing how Benny Andrews drew inspiration for his art from everything around him.
Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Lyrical and gorgeously illustrated, this story focuses on Harriet’s trust in God as she led herself, her family, and her people to freedom.
We Wait for the Sun by Kate McCabe, illustrated by Raissa Figueroa. This book demonstrates the importance of having a caring adult during a child's development.
Firebird written by Misty Copeland and illustrated by Christopher Myers. The illustrations capture the elegance and beauty of dance and the text shows the importance of dedication and hard work. Misty Copeland is an inspiring ballerina.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Frank Morrison. Each page has a one word title that reflects different aspects of Aretha’s life. The bold and vivid illustrations are stunning!
Counting on Katherine by Helene Becker, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk. This book tells the true story of mathematician Katherine Johnson and how she saved the Apollo 13 mission, using her calculations to bring the astronauts safely home.
Mae Among the Stars by Rhoda Ahmed, illustrated by Stasia Burrington. A charming and empowering story inspired by Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space.
The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver by Gene Barretta, illustrated by Frank Morrison. A creative story about the George Washington Carver and his secret childhood garden.
by Deborah Hopkins, illustrated by James Ransome. This book is a fascinating look at how quilters used quilts as maps and as safe houses on the Underground Railroad.
The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, illustrated by Oge Mora. This is an inspirational picture book biography of how Mary Walker, a former slave, learned to read at age 116! It's never too late to learn. A story of hope and never giving up on a dream.
Sweet Dreams, Sarah by Vivian Kirkfield, illustrated by Chris Ewald. The true story of Sarah Good, who left a life of slavery and became a furniture store owner and one of the first African American women to be awarded a U.S. patent.
Do you have any favorite books about Black History to add to this list?