Black History Month Booklist

Black History Month Booklist

The Stratford Library Children’s Department has a large collection of books about and by Black authors and illustrators. Here is a selection of picture books, biographies, fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels and poetry. Please contact us for additional recommendations. Visit our website at stratfordlibrary.org to search our catalog and place holds on items.

Picture Books:

bookbhallbecauseyoumatterAll Because You Matter by Tami Charles (PJ Charles)
A lyrical, heart-lifting love letter to Black and Brown children everywhere reminds them how much they matter, that they have always mattered and they always will.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 4-8

 

bookbhcharlieparkerCarter Reads the Newspaper by Deborah Hopkinson (PJ Hopkinson)
The true story of Carter G. Woodson, the founder of Black History Month.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 6-10

Charlie Parker Played Be Bop by Chris Raschka (PJ Raschka)
Introduces the famous saxophonist and his style of jazz known as bebop.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 5-8

bookbhchildofthecivilChild of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton (PJ Shelton)
The daughter of a civil rights activist watches and listens to the struggles, eventually joining her family and thousands of others in the historic march from Selma to Montgomery.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 4-8

 

bookbhcrownCrown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes (PJ Barnes)
An African American boy celebrates the feeling that comes from walking out of a barber shop with newly-cut hair.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 3-8

 

 

eachkindnessEach Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson (PJ Woodson)
When Ms. Albert teaches a lesson on kindness, Chloe realizes that she and her friends have been wrong in making fun of new student Maya’s shabby clothes and refusing to play with her.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 4-9

 

book freedom in congo squareFreedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford (PJ Weatherford)
On Sunday afternoons, slaves put aside their work to gather with free blacks at Congo Square outside New Orleans.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 4-8

 

 

book true story hidden figuresHidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly (PJ Shetterly)
Explores the contributions of NASA’s African American women mathematicians to America’s space program, describing how Jim Crow laws segregated them despite their groundbreaking successes.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 4-8

 

book i too am americaI, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes (PJ Hughes)
Pullman porters are celebrated in this picture book edition of Langston Hughes’ classic poem.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 4-8

 

 

book jake makes a wonderJake Makes a World: Jacob Lawrence, a Young Artist in Harlem by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts (PJ Rh)
Young Jacob Lawrence finds inspiration in the vibrant colors and characters of his community in Harlem.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 4-8

 

book last stop

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Peña (PJ De La Peña)
A young boy rides the bus across town with his grandmother and learns to appreciate the beauty in everyday things.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 3-5

 

 

book m is forM Is for Melanin by Tiffany Rose (PJ Rose)
This book teaches children their ABCs while encouraging them to love the skin that they’re in.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 4-8

 

 

book mixed meMixed Me! by Taye Diggs (PJ Diggs)
Mike’s a mixed-race boy, comfortable with his identity, his parents, and his wild, curly hair.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 4-8

 

 

book my hair is a gardenMy Hair Is a Garden by Cozbi A. Cabrera (PJ Cabrera)
After being teased yet again about her unruly hair, MacKenzie consults her neighbor, Miss Tillie, who compares hair care with tending her beautiful garden.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 5-7

Sit-in: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney (PJ Pinkney)
A celebration of the Woolworth lunch counter sit-in, when four college kids staged a peaceful protest for racial equality during the civil rights movement.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 6-12

book the night is yoursThe Night Is Yours by Abdul-Razak Zachariah (PJ Zachariah)
From a vantage point high in their apartment, a parent narrates as Amani plays hide-and-seek at night with her friends in the neighborhood.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 3-7

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (PJ Keats)
The classic story of a boy’s adventures in the city on a very snowy day.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 2-5

book stealing homeStealing Home: Jackie Robinson, Against the Odds by Robert Burleigh (PJ Burleigh)
Jackie Robinson did what no one thought possible by crossing the color line of major league baseball.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 6-9

 

book sulweSulwe by Lupita Nyong’o (PJ Nyong’o)
When five-year-old Sulwe’s classmates make fun of her dark skin, she tries lightening herself to no avail, but her encounter with a shooting star helps her understand there is beauty in every shade.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 4-8

 

book tar beachTar Beach by Faith Ringgold (PJ Ringgold)
A young girl dreams of flying above her Harlem home, claiming all she sees for herself and her family.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 5-8

We March by Shane W. Evans (PJ Evans)
Illustrations and brief text portray the events of the 1963 march in Washington, D.C., where the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a historic speech.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 4-9

book wind flyersWind Flyers by Angela Johnson (PJ Johnson)
Introduces young readers to the contributions of the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 5-9

See all the picture books

Fiction Books:

Becoming Muhammad Ali by Kwame Alexander and James Patterson (J Alexander)
Before he was a household name, Cassius Clay was a kid with struggles like any other. This book imagines his life up to age 17 in prose and verse, including his childhood friends, struggles in school, the racism he faced, and his discovery of boxing.
Reading/Interest Level: 8-12

Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz (J Shabazz)
A powerful fictionalized account of the childhood activism of Betty Shabazz, who later became Malcolm X’s wife.
Reading/Interest Level: 10-13

The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods (J Woods)
A biracial girl finally gets the chance to meet the African American side of her family.
Reading/Interest Level: 9-12

Clean Getaway by Nic Stone (J Stone)
Scoob goes on a road trip with G’ma, using her old maps and a strange pamphlet called the ‘Travelers’ Green Book.’
Reading/Interest Level: 8-12

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (J Alexander)
Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health.
Reading/Interest Level: 10-12

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis (J Curtis)
In 1859, Elijah Freeman, the first free-born child in Buxton, confronts the lying preacher who has stolen money that was supposed to buy a family’s freedom.
Reading/Interest Level: 8-12

Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome (J Cline-Ransome)
Discovering a book of Langston Hughes’s poetry in the library helps Langston cope with the loss of his mother, relocating from Alabama to Chicago as part of the Great Migration, and being bullied.
Reading/Interest Level: 9-12

A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramee (J Ramee)
Shayla just wants to follow the rules. But after experiencing a powerful protest, she starts wearing an armband to school in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 10-13

The Hero Two Doors Down by Sharon Robinson (J Robinson)
Steve is thrilled when Jackie Robinson moves into his Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn in 1948.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 9-12

Jayla Jumps In by Joy Jones (J Jones)
After learning that her mother was a Double Dutch champion, eleven-year-old Jayla forms a team hoping to stand out in her big, quirky family, and finds her life changed in ways she never imagined.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 8-11

Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth (J Booth)
When his mother takes in a twelve-year-old foster boy, Jarrett is forced to share his room and his friends with the new boy.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 8-12

Like Vanessa by Tami Charles (J Charles)
It is 1983 and Vanessa Martin, a thirteen-year-old African American girl in Newark’s public housing, dreams of following in the footsteps of the first black Miss America, Vanessa Williams.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 9-14

Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes (Bridge Books J Grimes)
With her can-do attitude and awesome brain power, Dyamonde Daniel takes the whole neighborhood by storm.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 7-9

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes (J Rhodes)
In New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, Lanesha and her adopted grandmother have no choice but to stay and weather the storm as Hurricane Katrina bears down upon them.
Reading/Interest Level: 10-12

One Crazy Summer / P.S. Be Eleven / Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia (J Williams-Garcia)
In the late 1960s, Delphine and her sisters encounter the Black Panthers in California, get a new stepmother in Brooklyn, and learn about their secret family history in Alabama.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 8-12

The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert (J Clobert)
Two black seventh-graders, Alberta and Edie, find hidden journals that uncover family secrets and speak to race relations in the past.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 10-13

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson (J Johnson)
Candice finds herself caught up in a mystery to find her grandmother’s inheritance and expose an injustice once committed against an African American family in Lambert, SC.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 8-12

Patina (and others in the Track series) by Jason Reynolds (J Reynolds)
A newbie to the track team, Patina must learn to rely on her family and teammates as she tries to outrun her personal demons.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 10-13

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor (J Taylor)
A black family living in Mississippi during the Depression of the 1930s is faced with prejudice and discrimination which its children do not understand.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 9-12

The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon (J Magoon)
Caleb and his younger brother spend an extraordinary summer with their new, older neighbor, Styx Malone, a foster boy from the city.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 8-12

Some Places More Than Others by Renee Watson (J Watson)
Amara visits her father’s family in Harlem for her twelfth birthday, hoping to better understand her family and herself, but New York City is not what she expected.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 8-12

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia (J Mbalia)
Tristan Strong tumbles into the MidPass and, with allies John Henry and Brer Rabbit, must entice the god Anansi to come out of hiding and seal the hole Tristan accidentally ripped in the sky.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 8-12

The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis (J Curtis)
An African American family living in Flint, Michigan go to visit Grandma in Alabama in the summer of 1963.
Reading/Interest Level: 8-12

What Lane? by Torrey Maldonado (J Maldonado)
Biracial sixth-grader Stephen notices the way strangers treat him when he hangs out with his white friends and learns about the Black Lives Matter movement.
Reading/Interest Level: 8-12

Zora and Me by Victoria Bond (J Bond)
A fictionalized account of Zora Neale Hurston’s childhood with her best friend Carrie, in Eatonville, FL.
Reading/Interest Level: 10-12

Graphic Novels:

The Adventures of Sparrow Boy by Brian Pinkney (J Comic Sparrow Boy)
After an encounter with a sparrow, Henry finds he is able to fly just like his favorite comic book hero HawkMan.
Reading/Interest Level: 5-8

New Kid by Jerry Craft (J Comic New Kid)
Seventh grader Jordan Banks must learn to navigate life at a prep school while staying true to his Black culture and friends.
Reading/Interest Level: 8-14
Also look for: Class Act

Twins by Varian Johnson (J Comic Twins)
Maureen and Francine Carter are twins and best friends who do everything together. But just before they start sixth grade, Francine finds some new interests. How will that affect their relationship?
Reading/Interest Level: 8-12

Nonfiction:

28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World by Charles R. Smith, Jr. (J973.0496 Smith)
A picture book look at many of the men and women who revolutionized life for African Americans throughout history.
Reading/Interest Level: 6-10

Brave. Black. First. 50+ African American Women Who Changed the World by Cheryl Hudson (J920.72 Hudson)
An illustrated biographical compilation of over fifty African American women from the 1700s through to the present day.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 8-11

A Child’s Introduction to African American History by Jabari Asim (J973.0468 Asim)
Highlights the contribution of African Americans to the arts, music, literature, culture, sports and more.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 9-12

The Civil Rights Movement for Kids: A History with 21 Activities by Mary C. Turck (J323.1196 T932C)
Describes the struggle for civil rights for African-Americans in the 1950s and 1960s and profiles important civil rights leaders.
Reading/Interest Level: Varies.

Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickels, America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone (J940.541 Stone)
Read about the untold story of the Triple Nickles as they became America’s first black paratroopers and fought a little-known World War II attack on the American West by the Japanese.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 10+

Freedom Riders: John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movement by Ann Bausum (J323.092 B351F)
This book introduces readers to the concept of nonviolent resistance as practiced by Zwerg, Lewis, and their classmates in Nashville, Tennessee.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 8-14

Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America by Andrea Davis Pinkney (J973.0496 Pinkney)
The stories of 10 men from different eras in American history, organized chronologically to provide a scope from slavery to the modern day.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 9-12

Let it Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters by Andrea Davis Pinkney (J323.092 P655L)
The stories of ten African-American women freedom fighters.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 8-12

Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester (J305.8 L642L)
An original and boldly painted exploration of the commonalities shared by everyone and the details that make each person unique.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 4-8

Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World
by Vashti Harrison (JB Little Legends)
Short profiles of several people who have shaped history and changed the world.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 6-12

The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop by Carole Boston Weatherford (J782.421649 Weatherford)
How rap evolved from folktales, spirituals, and poetry, to the culture of graffiti art and break dancing that formed around the art form and gave birth to the musical artists we know today.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 4-8

What Color is My World? The Lost History of African-American Inventors by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (J609.2 Abdul)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, basketball legend and the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, champions a lineup of little-known African-American inventors in this lively, kid-friendly book.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 8-12

Biographies:

42 is Not Just a Number: The Odyssey of Jackie Robinson, American Hero by Doreen Rappaport (JB Robinson)
A look at the life and legacy of the man who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 10-14

Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome (JB Tubman)
A biography of Harriet Tubman written in verse.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 4-7

Bessie Coleman: First African American and Native America Pilot by Cathleen Small (JB Coleman)
In 1916 American flight schools did not admit women. But that didn’t stop Bessie from becoming a successful civilian pilot and famous stunt flyer.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 12+

Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History by Walter Dean Myers (JB Douglass)
A picture book biography of the self-educated slave who became a leader of the abolitionist movement, a celebrated writer, an esteemed speaker, and a social reformer.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 4-8

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell (JB Baker, Josephine)
A portrait of the passionate performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker, the woman who worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 7-10

Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz
(JB X, Malcolm)
The story of the boy who became one of America’s most influential figures.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 7-12

Midnight Teacher: Lilly Ann Granderson and Her Secret School by Janet Halfmann (JB Granderson)
A picture-book biography of Lilly Ann Granderson, an enslaved teacher who strongly believed in the power of education and risked her life to teach others.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 7-10

A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech that Inspired a Nation by Barry Wittenstein (JB King)
The story behind the writing of Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 7-10

The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne by Lesa Cline-Ransome (JB Payne)
Read about the ‘First Lady of the Black Press’ who sought answers to the questions that mattered most in the fight for Civil Rights.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 4-8

Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis by Jabari Asim (JB Lewis)
A fascinating glimpse into the boyhood of Civil Rights leader John Lewis.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 6-12

The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver by Gene Barretta (JB Carver)
The inspiring life and history of a man who was born into slavery and became a celebrated botanist, scientist, and inventor.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 4-8

Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald by Roxane Orgill (JB Fitzgerald)
A swinging biography of young Ella Fitzgerald who pushed through the toughest of times to become one of America’s most beloved jazz singers.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 5-8

Strong Inside: The True Story of How Perry Wallace Broke College Basketball’s Color Line by Andrew Maraniss (JB Wallace)
When Vanderbilt University recruited Wallace to play basketball, he endured hateful experiences as he met the challenge to desegregate the Southeastern Conference.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 13-17

So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk Toward Freedom by Gary D. Schmidt (JB Truth)
The story of a woman who was born into slavery but became a leader in the movement for rights for both women and African Americans.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 4-8

Through My Eyes: Ruby Bridges by Ruby Bridges (JB Bridges)
Ruby Bridges recounts the story of her involvement, as a six-year-old, in the integration of her school in New Orleans in 1960.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 8-12

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford (JB Hamer)
A collage-illustrated collection of poems and spirituals inspired by the life and work of civil rights advocate Fannie Lou Hamer.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 9-12

When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan (JB Anderson)
An introduction to the life of Marian Anderson, singer and civil rights activist, whose life and career encouraged social change.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 7-12

William Still and His Freedom Stories: The Father of the Underground Railroad by Don Tate (JB Still)
Motivated by his own family’s experience, William collected the stories of thousands of freedom seekers.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 6-10

Who Was Louis Armstrong? by Yona Zeldis McDonough (JB Armstrong)
A biography of Louis Armstrong, a poor boy from New Orleans who became a jazz musician who is beloved around the world.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 8-11

Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton (JB Johnson)
Read how Lonnie invented this cool toy by accident.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 4-7

Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells by Philip Dray (JB Wells)
Ida B. Wells-Barnett, a journalist and teacher who wrote about and spoke against the injustices suffered by African-Americans.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 10-14

Poetry:

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (J Poetry, Woodson)
Writer Jacqueline Woodson tells the story of her childhood in free verse.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 9-14

Freedom Over Me: 11 Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life (J Poetry Bryan)
Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, poems contrast the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of life experiences and dreams that a slave owner could never take away.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 6-12.

Martin Rising: Requiem for a King by Andrea Davis Pinkney (J Poetry Pinkney)
A celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s nonviolent struggle for civil rights as he transforms America through the spirit of love.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 9-12

One Last Word: Poems from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes (J Poetry Grimes)
Grimes combines her poetry with famous poets of the Harlem Renaissance.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 10-14

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford (J Poetry Weatherford)
Traces legal clerk Arturo Schomburg’s efforts to curate a collection of African books, letters, music, and art.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 9-12

Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me by Eloise Greenfield (J Poetry Greenfield)
Thinker isn’t just an average puppy–he’s a poet. So is his owner, Jace. Together they turn the world around them into verse.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 4-8

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander (J Poetry, Alexander)
An ode to black American triumph and tribulation.
Reading/Interest Level: Ages 6-9

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