Celebrate Black History this year by reading some of the best children’s books about figures and events in black history.
Today I am sharing some of my favorite children’s books for Black History Month.
We are currently learning about the history of blacks in America as February is Black History Month.
In preparation for the month, we made a trip to the library and gathered biographies and books about figures and events in black history.
Children’s Books for Black History Month
We’ve been having a ton of fun reading about different people, places, and events that shape the history of African Americans.
I have listed some of my favorite children’s books for black history. I hope this list is helpful to you.
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Picture Book Biographies
Tiny Stitches is an endearing picture book biography about Vivien Thomas. It’s a compelling account of how Vivien Thomas overcomes racism and resistance from his colleagues to usher in a new era of medicine. Readers learn how Vivien pioneered open-heart surgeries on infants and yet remained unrecognized until the 1970s.
This book brings to life Booker T. Washington‘s journey to learn, to read, and to realize a dream. captures the hardship and the spirit of one of the most inspiring figures in American history.
Set in New Orleans, If I Only Had A Horn tells the story of young Louis Armstrong’s childhood journey. The story details how he came to play the horn and eventually become the legendary trumpeter we know him as today. *The realities of poverty and gang violence are referenced in the book
This beautifully illustrated story tells the life story of famed contralto Marian Anderson. When Marian Sang, tells of Marian’s life as a child raised in Philadelphia during segregation.
We follow Marian’s journey from a child singing in church, to being rejected from a music school because of her skin color. Finally, we see one of Marian’s dreams realized when she becomes the first black person to sing at the Metropolitan Opera.
Words Set Me Free is a short picture book biography that focuses on Fredrick Douglass’ early years of life as a slave. It is the story of how learning to read and write became the key to Douglas becoming a free man.
This picture book biography journeys through the life of Frederick Douglass. He was a leader of the abolitionist movement, a celebrated writer, and an esteemed speaker. Douglass was a courageous and thoughtful man whose personal actions greatly affected the course of history. His life story highlights the importance of reading and writing.
Frederick’s Journey offers children an overview of the life of Frederick Douglass. This book is great for young readers just beginning to learn about this legendary man. The illustrations in this book are remarkable. The author effectively incorporates some of his own words with quotes from his own writings on nearly every page.
A fun book about one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century – the king of the keys – Duke Ellington. Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was an American composer, pianist, and leader of a jazz orchestra from 1923 through the rest of his life The illustrations complement the text nicely in this lively picture book biography, making the story jump off the page.
She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story is a beautiful picture book biography. Through this story, we learn that baseball’s finest moments don’t always happen on the field.
Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave is the beautifully illustrated story of the little-known artist, poet, and slave who lived in South Carolina during the 1800s.
This is the true account of the brave six-year-old who became the first African-American sent to first grade in an all-white school. Most importantly, The Story of Ruby Bridges captures the bravery of young Ruby in a way that is suitable for the youngest readers.
Mary McLeod Bethune is an inspiring picture book biography about educator and college founder Mary Mccloud Bethune. Born to former slaves, Mary dedicated her life to ensuring the right to education for black Americans
From her athletic early childhood to the height of her success as an Olympic champion, Flying High is the story of the world’s greatest gymnast. The simple illustrations and text make this a sweet book for preschool-aged children.
This historical fiction about the jubilee singers is an absolutely beautiful picture book. Based on the life of Ella Sheppard Moore, A Band of Angels is the glowing story of a determined and resilient singing group with a lasting legacy.
African-American Inventors & Scientists
This sweet picture book introduces children to the life of George Washington Carver. Children will relate to carver as this book highlights his curiosity throughout his childhood and how that led him to accomplish amazing things.
George Washing Carver by Tonya Bolden follows Carver’s life from slave and orphan to his college days as the first African American to attend Iowa State College. Illustrated with historical artifacts and photographs, this book traces Carver’s life, discoveries, and legacy.
A collection of biographies about African American scientists and inventors.
Whoosh: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions is a terrific book! It is the kind of story that I immediately wanted to share with everyone. It tells of the life of Lonnie Johnson, inventor of the super soaker.
We initially borrowed this book from the library but I just had to purchase a copy to keep in our home. Whoosh is an awesome book about a brilliant engineer, and the perfect book for little ones who love to create, tinker with things, build and use their imagination.
Patricia’s Vision is the inspiring story of Dr. Patricia Bath, a groundbreaking ophthalmologist who pioneered laser surgery—and gave her patients the gift of sight. Patricia became the first African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology at New York University. She was the first African American female doctor to receive a medical patent.
In Black Pioneers of Science and Invention, Louis Haber profiles the lives of fourteen Black innovators who changed the world. Benjamin Banneker, Louis Tompkins Wright, Norbert Rillieux, and Charles Richard Drew are some of the great minds highlighted by Haber.
The Real McCoy: The Life of an African-American inventor is a picture book biography about Elijah McCoy. It tells of his life and many inventions.
All Aboard! Elijah Mccoy’s Steam Engine tells the story of Elijah McCoy who invented the oil cup for train engines. Because of his invention, trains no longer had to stop periodically to be oiled. It is especially a wonderful book for any young train enthusiast.
In George Crum and the Saratoga Chip readers get some insight into George Crum’s life and how the modern-day potato chip came to be. It’s a short and interesting biographical picture book that young readers will enjoy.
Dear Benjamin Banneker is the wonderfully illustrated picture book biography of almanac author, surveyor, naturalist, and farmer Benjamin Banneker.
Written by Vivian Kirkfield, Sweet Dreams, Sarah is a wonderful picture book biography about female inventor, Sarah E. Goode.
Inspired by the life of Mae Jemison, Mae Among The Stars is about the first African American woman to travel in space. Little Mae’s curiosity, intelligence, paved the way for her success at NASA. A great book for preschool-aged children.
Poetry and Folktales
The Poems of Phillis Wheatley is a collection of Wheatley’s writings. Phillis Wheatly is America’s first black published poet. We enjoyed reading many of her poems.
Poetry for Young People (Langston Hughes) is a beautifully illustrated, hand-picked collection of some of Langston Hughes’ poems. This book is recommended for children 9 years and older.
In The People Could Fly, Virginia Hamilton retells 24 black American folk tales.
The Great Migration is a lovely picture book that tells of the African Americans who made their move to the North after World War I.
Black Heros of the American Revolution is a wonderful read-aloud to introduce children to lesser-known black men and women who contributed to the American Revolution. This Biographical Reference shares the stories of Dabney, William Lee, Crispus Attucks, and others.
Picture Books About Slavery
Narrated by 10-year-old Tommy, The Drinking Gourd is historical fiction. Subsequently, young readers are able to easily connect with the narrator. The Drinking Gourd is a great story to teach children about slavery in American History. In it, we see the courage of those who helped slaves reach freedom along the underground railroad.<
In Freedom in Congo Square, Carole Boston Weatherford highlights a unique part of history and takes readers through a week in the life of slaves in New Orleans. Once a week slaves could break away from their labor to commune in Congo Square. There, they would make music, sing, dance, and help one another prepare for the week ahead.
“They rejoiced as if they had no cares; half-day, half free in Congo Square.” The rhythmic text in Congo Square will captivate young readers. It is one of my personal favorite non-fiction picture books.
Picture Books About Segregation and Jim Crow
Ruth and the Green Book is the story of Ruth and her parent’s road trip from their home in Chicago to her grandma’s in Alabama during the 1940s.
I Have A Dream is an exceptional tribute to MLK’s monumental speech. Power and beauty meet as Kadir Nelson’s beautiful, life-like illustrations are the perfect complement to King’s powerful words.
I Have A Dream comes with an accompanying CD with the original delivery of King’s I Have A Dream Speech.
Pies From Nowhere is an engaging book that introduces children to a little-known figure in the fight for Civil Rights. This book looks into the life of Georgia Teresa Gilmore, an African-American woman from Montgomery, Alabama, who participated in the Montgomery bus boycott through her fund-raising effort selling food at boycott mass meetings. Georgia Gilmore’s Homemade Poundcake Recipe is included in the finale of this book.
I’d love to hear from you. Have you read any of the books mentioned? Which of the books was your favorite?
Feel free to leave a comment letting me know what books you’re reading with your children.
Also, check out some of the activities we’ve been doing in our homeschool. See my Instagram post below.