Celebrate Black History at Home and in the Classroom: Books for Young Readers

February is Black History Month and it’s the perfect time to talk to children about race, civil rights, and the history of African Americans. One great way to teach children about the impact of black history is to start with reading books!

When selecting books, you will find many options: you can pick stories that focus on a historical or contemporary perspective, books that are fiction or non-fiction, or just classic reads by African American authors. No matter what type of book you choose, it’s a great opportunity to “jump start” conversations with a child in your life.

We’ve compiled a list of a few of our favorites to get you started. Happy reading!

If A Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks, by Faith Ringgold
While on her way to school one day, a girl named Marcie learns about Rosa Parks and her leadership in civil rights movement, from a talking bus.

Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman, by Kathleen Krull
Wilma Rudolph overcomes obstacles and perseveres to become the first American Woman to earn three gold medals in the Olympics.

I Am Jackie Robinson, by Brad Meltzer
Jackie Robinson leads the way towards equality in sports by paving the way as the first black Major League Baseball player.

Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by Doreen Rappaport
Martin Luther King, Jr. uses his words to inspire people to action to fight injustice without violence.

Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald, by Roxanne Orgill
This story follows Ella Fitzgerald from her beginning as an orphaned child to her career as a much-loved jazz singer with a number-one hit.

The Story of Ruby Bridges, by Robert Coles
Ruby’s story of courage and hope as she becomes the first African-American child to integrate a school in New Orleans.

Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills, by Renee Watson
Born to parents of former slaves, Florence Mills is a woman with a beautiful voice that she used not only for singing, but also for speaking out about injustice.

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin, by Jen Bryant
Horace Pippen suffers a war injury in World War I, but works hard to regain use of his arm and paint again, succeeding by having his paintings displayed in museums across the country.

Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, by Laurie Ann Thompson
Because Emmanuel’s mother teaches him to reach for his dreams, he goes on to cycle across Ghana spreading an important message – disability is not inability.

This Jazz Man, by Karen Ehrhardt
Using the tune of This Old Man, this book introduces children to jazz legends, such as Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker.

Vice President of Education & Research at Jumpstart

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