Children have so many influential mediums lobbying for their attention, so before they spend their most valuable learning years catching up on the latest reality show, take a moment and sit and read to them about Black History Month.
From the little girl who is unaware of the various shades of brown to the adolescent boy who never understood the battles of race, Black History Month is a month to be celebrated for our wins while also reflecting upon the sacrifices made to get to where we are today. Our American History won’t be forgotten as long as you keep it alive through inspiration, curiosity, and the freedom of knowledge gained by reading influential books. Add this inspiring collection of books to your library for you and your children to enjoy!
Black History Month Books For Preschoolers & Young Students
By and By
Even though most African Americans were slaves, Charles Tindley was born free. Like some kids, his childhood was far from easy. He still had to work long, hard hours in the fields and didn’t have a chance to learn and go to school. However, read along as the spirituals that he heard while working stirred his heart to know more about the Gospel. Teaching himself, he learned to read with only scraps of newspaper. This Black History Month, choose a book that is an awe-inspiring story that shows children you can use so little to become so great; just like the writer of the Civil Rights anthem, “We Shall Overcome.”
The Power of Her Pen
If your kids love to tell stories, they’ll enjoy Ethel Payne. She always had an ear for stories while seeking the truth, justice, and equality within them. Read how her love for writing led her to the White House briefing room, where she broke barriers as the only black female journalist. Teach your kids not to be afraid to ask tough and scary questions, just like Ethel wasn’t afraid to ask. As a fearless and determined lady, she earned the title, “First Lady of the Black Press”, and shined a light on the darkest moments in history during the fight for Civil Rights.
Counting the Stars
Inspire your future mathematician with the story of Katherine Johnson. Known as one of the geniuses in a group of women who were known as “human computers”, she used her knowledge, pencils, adding machines, and simple writing paper to calculate the complicated orbital mechanics needed to launch a spacecraft. This book will inspire your little ones to use the knowledge they already possess to literally shoot for the stars!
This Little Dreamer
It’s never too early to start your little ones learning about the importance of people in history who dared to dream big for a better future. Highlight 10 unforgettable dreamers who made a way, despite their social status, giving your child a vision for themself and how they can make a difference in the world. It’s a mini inspirational primer full of fun, age-appropriate facts, and bold illustrations.
Showcase to your daughters how having big dreams can truly come true. Venus and Serena Williams were sisters with their own big dreams growing up in Compton, California. Read how diligence and practice in the early mornings, led them to compete in their first tournament and both win! Despite adversity and health challenges, the sisters become two of the greatest tennis players of all time. It’s an inspiring story of sisterhood, hard work, and determination for the budding athletes or any young reader with a big dream. Black History Month reminds us that young, dark-skinned girls can do anything, especially when they support each other.
Parker Looks Up
Imagine coming face to face with a grand portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama at the National Portrait Gallery. That’s exactly what little Parker saw when she looked up and thought she was looking at a queen. A woman who exemplified dynamic self-assurance, regality, beauty, and truth to this young girl’s imagination. A nearby museum-goer snapped a candid photo of a mesmerized Parker, which became an internet sensation. Inspired by this visit, Parker, and her mother, Jessica Curry, tell the story of a young girl and her family, whose trip to a museum becomes an extraordinary moment, in a moving picture book.
Your child may not know about people who experience inequality and had to fight for the freedom to vote that was only allowed for the white men of means. It’s an unflinching read that inspires youth about our history of voting rights and the activists who answered equality’s call. They worked tirelessly to secure the right to vote across all races while still looking to the future for the work that has yet to be done. This book helps reflect on why we celebrate Black History Month and the importance of those who made voting possible for people of color.
Imagine having skin so dark, hues of midnight blue shine through. That’s how Sulwe feels as everyone in her family and kids in her school have lighter and brighter skin than she. A little girl’s wish is to be beautiful and bright like her mother and sister, however, a magical journey quickly changes her mind and opens her eyes to what beauty really means.
In this stunning debut picture book, actress Lupita Nyong’o creates a whimsical and heartwarming story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty.
Read along with brother and sister, Millicent and John, in their life as slaves on Simon Plenty’s plantation, where they suffer one hurt and heartbreak after another. They cling to the hope their parents told them about, old tales of how their ancestors had flown away to freedom just as free and easy as a bird. Get excited with your children as a mysterious bird appears in their lives. Just like people today can have signs and hope to transform a situation, so does this bird who gives them the courage to set a plan into motion and escape to freedom.
Read More: Examples of White Privilege From Observation
Settle in the for the night to read to your child about a little boy who gets ready for bed while the sounds of a wild storm echo around him, inviting him to a peaceful night of sleep. Learn about how listening to crashing thunder, the pitter-patter of raindrops, and the rhythmic beat of passing cars is like a symphony created by the city. A bedtime soundtrack for all to hear.
Black History Month Books for Middle Schoolers
Just South of Home
Twelve-year-old Sarah is finally in charge. At last, she can spend her summer months reading her favorite science books and bossing around her younger brother, Ellis, instead of being worked to the bone by their overly strict grandmother, Mrs. Greene. But when their cousin, Janie arrives for a visit, Sarah’s plans are completely squashed. A fun and witty read this Black History Month includes this novel for readers who appreciate a heartfelt mystery.
Frankie & Sparks and the Big Sled Challenge
Read about fun with an adventurous little girl who cannot wait to enter the town-wide sled design contest. Using only cardboard and duct tape, Frankie Sparks knows a lot about building a sled, but there is always more to learn. With tons of fun twists and turns along the way, you’ll find out if Frankie and her team of super-sled designers can create and build a dream sled and win the grand prize!
As we celebrate athletes this Black History month, pick up this book about the journey that Kevin Durant took to come to the NBA. He was born in a suburb of Washington, DC, where he quickly discovered basketball as a way off of the dangerous streets and out of a life of laboring for little reward. But he also learned that if he wanted to make it as a professional, he would need to work—and work hard! Durant wasn’t afraid to do that and by high school, he had become one of the best prospects in the thriving DC basketball scene. After a year of college, KD made the leap to the pros and he’s never looked back. A great book for the next basketball star in your home.
In soaring images and searing poems, this is the breathtaking story of what became known as the Zoot Suit Riots. Proud to do their part for the war effort, Jazz Owl girls are happy to dance with the sailors—until the blazing summer night when racial violence leads to murder. Suddenly the young white sailors are attacking the girls’ brothers and boyfriends. The cool, loose zoot suits they wear are supposedly the reason for the violence—when in reality the boys are viciously beaten and arrested simply because of the color of their skin.
Sloane Stephens comes from a family of athletes. Her mother was an All-American swimmer while her father was an NFL running back. However, maybe like you stumbled upon a sport, Sloane came to tennis by accident: she needed something to do while her mother played, so she picked up a racquet of her own and suddenly a star was in the making.
Reaching for the Moon
As a young girl, Katherine Johnson showed an exceptional aptitude for math. It was easy for her to quickly skip ahead several grades and onto studying complex equations with the assistance of a professor who saw great promise in her. However, as an African American and a girl growing up in an era of brutal racism and sexism, Katherine faced daily challenges. Despite the negativity surrounding her, all she heard would hear were her father’s words: “You are no better than anyone else, and nobody else is better than you.” This Black History Month, it’s important to remember that other’s opinion of you or about your race doesn’t have to determine your greatness.
Discovering History’s Heroes: Ida B. Wells
It only takes one moment, one event to reach a personal turning point. This Black History Month, read the story about one fateful train ride from Memphis to Nashville, in May 1884. A first-class ticket was rejected simply because Ida B. Wells was black. She refused to give up her paid seat and was forcibly removed from the train—but not before she bit one of the men on the hand. Wells courageously sued the railroad and won a $500 settlement. However, the decision was later overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court. Read how this injustice led Ida B. Wells to pick up a pen to write about issues of race and politics in the South.
Black History Month Books for Adolescents & Adults
The Legend of Buddy Bush
Pattie Mae adores and admires Uncle Buddy—he’s tall and handsome and he doesn’t believe in the country stuff most people believe in, like ghosts and stepping off the sidewalk to let white folks pass. But when Buddy is arrested for a crime against a white woman that he didn’t commit, Pattie Mae and her family are suddenly set to journeying on the long, hard road that leads from loss and rage to forgiveness and pride. Black History Month is also a time to forgive the wrongs of the past and the ignorance of those who choose not to know better.
Black History Month not only reflects on the years past but the present times of racism in the 21st century. Ready Player One meets The Hate U Give in this dynamite debut novel that follows a fierce teen game developer as she battles a real-life troll intent on ruining the Black Panther–inspired video game she created and the safe community it represents for Black gamers. Driven to save the only world in which she can be herself, game creator Kiera, must preserve her secret identity and harness what it means to be unapologetically Black in a world intimidated by Blackness. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?
This Black History Month read a somber tale on how Ashley Bryan was chosen and drafted to fight in World War II. For the next three years, he would face the horrors of war as a black soldier in a segregated army. He was assigned the grimmest, most horrific tasks, like burying fallen soldiers…but was told to remove the black soldiers first because the media didn’t want them in their newsreels. For the next forty years, Ashley would keep his time in the war a secret. But now, he tells his story.
The story of the kind people who supported him.
The story of the bright moments that guided him through the dark.
And the story of his passion for art that would save him time and time again.
Black History Month is about embodying humanity as a whole. The diversity and challenges of African Americans can never be fully understood by those who have never walked in their shoes. This collection of inspiring books sheds some light on the lives of those who have changed our country, unleashed what seemed like impossible freedoms, and a way for future young people, of all shades, to take the wisdom from their past and apply their own greatness into the future, of undeniable equality.
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Photo Credits: AndiL.