During February and throughout the year, I spend time teaching my children about the bravery, determination, and organized activism of Americans who endured centuries of heinous obstacles because of something in which they had no control – the color of their skin. Their dreams and actions have manifested into triumphs we experience today such as all Black Americans and other minority groups having equal human and civil rights as our White brothers and sisters and enforced repercussions for those who infringe upon those rights. For that reason, Black history isn’t only for Black people, it’s for all people, regardless of what separates us. It’s a time to acknowledge and honor the African-American individuals who helped reshape our country for the better.
I have compiled a list of children’s books, some of which I have on my bookshelves at home and others we found at our local library. The books I selected depict different periods in Black history in an honest, yet kid-friendly manner from slavery through segregation to contributions made to the country in areas including, but not limited to, education, science, medicine, politics, entertainment, and sports.
These are powerful stories that teach children no matter how different we may be, we are all capable of overcoming adversity to accomplish great things and create positive changes for the greater good of those who love humanity and our country.
Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed is inspired by the childhood of Mae Jemison, the first African American woman astronaut that traveled to space and encourages all children to believe in yourself and work to make your dreams come true.
The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko tells the story of Mildred and Richard Loving, a courageous couple who fought to legalize marriage between two people from different racial backgrounds in Virginia.
I am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer is based on the pre-Civil Rights experiences of Jackie Robinson, an amazing athlete, and the first African-American Major Baseball League player.
If You Were a Kid During the Civil Rights Movement by Gwendolyn Hooks features two fictional characters living through segregation along with key non-fictional experiences during the Civil Rights Movement.
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison shares her gorgeous artwork alongside one-page biographies of forty inspiring women.
Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine details the true story of Henry “Box” Brown, a slave who became a free man by shipping himself to Philadelphia in a wooden box crate.
A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant is a biographical story, with excellent illustrations by Melissa Sweet, about how through perseverance and a passion for art Horace Pippin grew to become a great American artist.
28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World by Charles R. Smith Jr. chronicles 28 of the most important dates in Black History beginning at the year 1770 up until today. From the momentous events to the artwork, it’s one of my favorites.
The Girl With a Mind For Math: The Story of Raye Montague (Amazing Scientists) by Julia Finley-Mosca is a rhyming picture book about Raye Montague, an engineer who overcame adversity to complete an amazing task.
The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles depicts the powerful true story of a 6-year-old child who was the first African-American to integrate a white-only school in New Orleans.
Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton is an intriguing biography about Lonnie Johnson, a nuclear engineer, inventor, and genius who created one of America’s best-selling toys, the Super Soaker water gun.
The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson will tug at your family’s heartstrings. It tells a fictional story of how two young children, one Black and one White, who are separated by a fence and forbidden from playing with one another, become friends in spite of the circumstances.
Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas by Gwendolyn Hooks is about a doctor who developed a procedure he used to perform the first successful open heart surgery on a child.
Meet Miss Fancy by Irene Latham is about how a fictional character, a determined kid named Frank, managed to finally meet an elephant who resides in a whites-only park. The elephant is based on true events surrounding a circus elephant named Miss Fancy who was moved into Avondale Park.
Firebird by Misty Copeland. Misty Copeland’s character helps a young dancer gain confidence through words of encouragement. Misty Copeland is the first African-American woman to become a principal ballerina with the American Ballet Theater.
Light in the Darkness: A Story About How Slaves Learned in Secret by Lesa Cline-Ransome
Bedtime Inspirational Stories: 50 Amazing Black People Who Change the World by L.A. Amber
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
What Color is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Of Thee, I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama
There are numerous other books that can be added to this list. Hopefully, this is a good reference for those of you who plan to participate in Black History Month with your family. Please feel free to add more titles below in the comments section – we always are looking to add to our collection.