33 Children’s Books for Black History Month
Looking for a special way to observe Black History Month with the children in your life?
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.
A Dance Like Starlight By Kristy Dempsey and Floyd Cooper ISBN: 9780399252846 The story of the first Black ballerina in the 1950s, Janet Collins.
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.
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.
Brick by Brick By Charles R. Smith, Jr.; Illustrated by Floyd Cooper ISBN: 9780061920820 The true story of the building of the White House.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.