Celebrating Black History

It's important to celebrate the achievements and contributions of African Americans to U.S. History all year long, but in February-designated as Black History Month-we have an opportunity to recognize this history in a special way. Celebrate with your children by learning about the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans to our collective history.

 

Here's a selection of books you can read with your children. Some highlight historical figures, while others celebrate heart-warming stories of children of color.


book list

 

1 The Quilt By Ann Jonas

Age: 0-3 Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Publishers Weekly called this delightful book a "landmark in children's literature." Made from her old pajamas and curtains, a young girl's new quilt inspires a dream adventure. The squares of the quilt become part of a dreamscape she enters into in order to find her lost stuffed dog. An ALA Notable Children's Book

2 Amazing Grace By Mary Hoffman (author) & Caroline Binch (illustrator)

Age: 3-6 Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Grace loves to act, but one day some kids tell her she can't play the part of Peter Pan because of the way she looks. Grace's grandmother helps this young girl realize that, with effort, anything can be achieved. An inspiring and heartwarming story.

3 Bigmama's By Donald Crews

Age: 3-6 Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Every year the narrator and his family take a trip down to Cottondale, Florida, to visit his grandmother, Bigmama. This autobiographical story recalls the joys of summer and the contrast between the author's life in the city and Bigmama's lush, rural home. While the illustrations suggest it was a period of segregation, this thought never overpowers the carefree summer celebration.

4 Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

​By Doreen Rappaport (author) and Bryan Collier (illustrator)

Age: 6-9 Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Martin Luther King Jr. grew up fascinated by big words. He would later go on to use these words to inspire a nation and call people to action. In this award-winning book, powerful portraits of King show how he used words, not weapons, to fight injustice.

5 Whoever You Are By Mem Fox

Recommended ages: 4 and up

This book offers a preschooler-friendly introduction to the concepts of diversity and equality. Award-winning author, Mem Fox, tells little ones that wherever they are, whatever they look like, and no matter their customs, there are other kids like them all around the globe: "Joys are the same, and love is the same. Pain is the same, and blood is the same."

6 Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom By Carole Boston Weatherford

Recommended ages: 5 and up

Introduce children to Harriet Tubman, the champion of the Underground Railroad who earned the nickname "Moses" for leading hundreds of slaves to freedom. Spirited text and paintings portray how Tubman's compassion, courage, and deep religious faith helped her lead 19 trips from the south to the north in order to help fellow African-Americans.

7 Little Leaders and
Little Legends
By Vashti Harrison

Recommended age: 8 and up

These beautifully-illustrated biographies celebrate exceptional black men and women in history.

8 Teammates By Peter Golenbock

Recommended ages: 6 and up

This book takes us back to 1947, when Jackie Robinson became the first African-American player in Major League Baseball. He was taunted and terrorized by baseball fans, opposing players, and even his own teammates on the Brooklyn Dodgers. Historical photos and watercolor illustrations transport us to the fateful game when Pee Wee Reese, the Dodgers shortstop, embraced Robinson on the field as his teammate in front of a heckling crowd of spectators.

9 I Am Rosa Parks
By Rosa Parks and James Haskins (authors) and Wil Clay (illustrator)

Age: 6-9 Reading Level:
Independent Reader

The famous civil rights activist, Rosa Parks, has simplified her autobiography for young readers in this Puffin Easy-to-Read book. She describes how she was arrested for not giving up her bus seat and shows that her personal role was part of a wider political struggle.

10 Through My Eyes
By Ruby Bridges

Age: 9-12 Reading Level: Independent Reader

Six-year-old Ruby Bridges became the first African American to integrate an elementary school. Her memories of that year, when so much hatred was directed at her, makes for a powerful memoir. A 1999 Parents' Choice Gold Award Winner.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are countless titles to explore with your family. So visit your local library to expand your knowledge of Black History.

Book summaries adapted from pbs.org, familyeducation.com and amazon.com


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