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33 Children’s Books for Black History Month

Looking for a special way to observe Black History Month with the children in your life?

black history month children books

One of the resources offered by the General Board of Church and Society’s is the Sacred Worth Books database. Here you can search through 450+ children’s books featuring diverse main characters: by title and author, or even by gender, ethnicity, or topic. Below is a list, curated from the Sacred Worth Books database, of 33 books, written and/or illustrated by Black creators, which feature stories that reflect Black history in America. From the lives of civil rights heroes, to artists, poets, and musicians who changed the cultural landscape, to windows into moments in our nation’s history through children’s perspectives, these books and their beautiful illustrations offer a way to engage children in conversation about African American history. And don’t stop here- there are many, many more books in the Sacred Worth Books database to discover that celebrate Black history, life, love and joy.

Learn more about why the Sacred Worth Books database was created.

  1. A Dance Like Starlight
    By Kristy Dempsey and Floyd Cooper
    ISBN: 9780399252846
    The story of the first Black ballerina in the 1950s, Janet Collins.

  2. Back of the Bus
    By Aaron Reynolds; Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
    ISBN: 9780399250910
    A child tells the story of witnessing Rosa Parks’ revolutionary civil disobedience on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.

  3. Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy US Marshall
    By Vaunda Micheaux Nelson; Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
    ISBN: 9780822567646
    A Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner, this book tells the story of Bass Reeves, who escaped from slavery and became the first Black Deputy U.S. Marshal in the West.

  4. Brick by Brick
    By Charles R. Smith, Jr.; Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
    ISBN: 9780061920820
    The true story of the building of the White House.

  5. Child of the Civil Rights Movement
    By Paula Young Shelton and Raul Colón
    ISBN: 9780385376068
    Paula Young Shelton, daughter of Civil Rights activist Andrew Young, writes about her own experience growing up in this movement and participating in the march from Selma to Montgomery.

  6. Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra
    By Andrea Davis Pinkney; Illustrated by Brian Pinkney
    ISBN: 9780786814206
    A picture book biography of Duke Ellington.

  7. Ellington was not a Street
    By Ntozake Shange; Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
    ISBN: 9780689828843
    An illustrated version of noted poet and playwright Ntozake Shange’s poem “Mood Indigo” in which she reflects on growing up on Ellington St, surrounded by African-American innovators like Paul Robeson, W. E. B. DuBois, and Duke Ellington.

  8. Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington
    By Jabari Asim; Illustrated by Bryan Collier
    ISBN: 9780316086578
    The story of Booker T. Washington’s early life: born into slavery, not given the opportunity to learn to read and write, Washington journeyed over 500 miles after emancipation with only 50 cents in his pocket to pursue the dream of a college degree and went on to become a great educator.

  9. Freedom Over Me
    Written and Illustrated by Ashley Bryan
    ISBN: 9781481456906
    A Newbery Honor Book, Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book, and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book, this beautiful book uses actual documents from slave auctions and plantation estates to contrast the way slaves were valued monetarily in American society with the priceless value of their humanity: their lives, experiences, dreams, and more that could not be stolen by the evils of slavery.

  10. Giant Steps to Change the World
    By Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee; Illustrated by Sean Qualls
    ISBN: 9780689868153
    Encourages children to make steps toward change in their own world by highlighting the stories of people throughout history who have made a difference.

  11. Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box
    By Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein; Illustrated by James E. Ransome
    ISBN: 9780763665937
    A boy’s perspective on the struggle for voting rights for his own family, growing up in the segregated American South during the civil rights era. Based on a true story.

  12. Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills
    By Renee Watson, Pictures by Christian Robinson
    ISBN: 9780375869730
    The story of Florence Mills, a 1920s Broadway singer who lifted up other Black performers and fought for civil rights, illustrated with beautiful cut-paper pictures.

  13. Henry’s Freedom Box
    By Ellen Levine; Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
    ISBN: 9780439777339
    A Caldecott Honor book, this book tells the true story of Henry “Box” Brown, who bravely escaped from slavery by mailing himself North to freedom.

  14. Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat
    Edited by Nikki Giovanni; Illustrations by Alicia Vergel de Dios, Damian Ward, Kristen Balouch, Tugeau, and Michele Noiset
    ISBN: 9781402210488
    A collection of poetry by Black writers from Maya Angelou to Tupac Shakur to Mos Def to Martin Luther King, Jr.

  15. Homemade Love
    By bell hooks; Illustrated by Shane W. Evans
    ISBN: 9780786806430
    A board book written by the legendary bell hooks, Black feminist activist, poet and author, which shows the love between a little girl and her family.

  16. I Have Heard of a Land
    By Joyce Carol Thomas; Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
    ISBN: 9780064436175
    Author Joyce Carol Thomas draws from her family’s history to make tribute to African-American pioneers who made the dangerous journey west seeking opportunity after freedom in the 1880s.

  17. In the Land of Milk and Honey
    By Joyce Carol Thomas; Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
    ISBN: 9780060253837
    The true story of the author’s journey as a girl from Oklahoma to San Francisco in 1948, as her family, like many African-American families during that time, sought a new life in diverse community in the west.

  18. Let My People Go: Bible Stories told by a Freeman of Color
    By Patricia & Frederick McKissack; Illustrated by James E. Ransome
    ISBN: 9780689808562
    A collection of Bible stories as told by a former slave to his daughter.

  19. Little Melba and Her Big Trombone
    By Katheryn Russell-Brown; Illustrated by Frank Morrison
    ISBN: 9781600608988
    The story of trombone player Melba Doretta Liston who played with and arranged for many famous jazz musicians and is an unsung hero of the musical genre.

  20. Mahalia Jackson: Walking with Kings and Queens
    By Nina Nolan; Illustrated by John Holyfield
    ISBN: 9780060879440
    A picture book biography of the Queen of Gospel.

  21. My Brother Martin
    By Christine King Farris, Illustrated by Chris Soentpiet
    ISBN: 9780689843877
    The older sister of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. tells the childhood story of when Martin was first inspired to change the world around him.

  22. My People
    By Langston Hughes, Photographs by Charles R. Smith, Jr.
    ISBN: 9781416935407
    A Coretta Scott King award winning book combining beautiful photographs of Black Americans with the classic poetry of Langston Hughes.

  23. Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis
    By Jabari Asim; Illustrated by E. B. Lewis
    ISBN: 9780399168567
    This book tells a story from Civil Rights leader John Lewis’s childhood. He dreamed of being a preacher and practiced his preaching skills to his family’s chickens. This story shows his passion for sharing the love of God.

  24. Ruth and the Green Book
    By Calvin Alexander Ramsey with Gwen Strauss; Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
    ISBN: 9780761352556
    Tells the story of the difficulties of traveling around the country in the 1950s as a Black American from the perspective of a young girl who learns about the dangers of Jim Crow laws. Her family is introduced to the Green Book, which helps them avoid these dangers as they travel.

  25. Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride
    By Andrea Davis Pinkney & Brian Pinkney
    ISBN: 9780786807673
    A picture book biography of the brave Sojourner Truth, who escaped from slavery to become an advocate for abolition and equal rights for all.

  26. Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt
    By Deborah Hopkinson
    ISBN: 9780679874720
    Clara, a young slave and a seamstress, creates a quilt that functions as a map to help fellow slaves escape to freedom on the Underground Railroad.

  27. Tar Beach
    Written and Illustrated by Faith Ringgold
    ISBN: 9780517885444
    This book tells the semi-autobiographical story of a young girl’s experience growing up in 1939 Harlem and dreaming of flying above the city.

  28. The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales
    By Virginia Hamilton; Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon
    ISBN: 9780375824050
    A Coretta Scott King honor book that tells a folk tale of slaves flying to freedom, as well as those who were left behind.

  29. The Youngest Marcher
    By Cynthia Levinson; Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
    ISBN: 9781481400701
    This book tells the story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, who at nine years old is the youngest known child to have been arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

  30. This is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration
    By Jacqueline Woodson; Illustrated by James Ransome
    ISBN: 9780399239861
    A story of the Great Migration told using the image of a rope passed down through a family for generations.

  31. Two Friends
    By Dean Robbins; Illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko
    ISBN: 9780545399968
    This book shows the friendship between Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony, and teaches about the fight for rights for African-Americans and the fight for women’s rights. A picture of intersectionality.

  32. Women Who Broke the Rules: Coretta Scott King
    By Kathleen Krull; Illustrated by Laura Freeman
    ISBN: 9780802738264
    The story of Coretta Scott King’s journey and activism for civil rights.

  33. Zora Hurston and the Chinaberry Tree
    By William Miller; Illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu
    ISBN: 9781880000335
    This book tells how famous writer Zora Neale Hurston grew up learning from her mother and her hometown to cherish and learn from stories, and to pursue her dreams.