February is Black History Month, when we celebrate the achievements of African Americans and honor the generations of people who struggled to achieve equality in American society. Did you know that black history is also celebrated in other countries like Canada and the United Kingdom? In this blog, we have collected a number of worthy titles, many written by black authors*, that you can use in your classroom, read with your child, or read on your own.
Titles for Younger Readers by Grades
Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
True story of an ingenious man who mailed himself to freedom. (grades K–2)
Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill
Inspiring tale of a nineteenth century man who rose from slavery to fame as an artist. (grades 1–3)
Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin A. Ramsey*
Ruth’s family travels from Chicago to Alabama to visit her grandmother with a very special guidebook. (grades 2–5)
Marching for Freedom: Walk Together Children, and Don’t You Grow Weary by Elizabeth Partridge
Focuses on the children who marched in Selma, Alabama, in 1965 with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (grades 4–8)
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor*
An African American family fights to stay together in the face of racism and poverty in the 1930s. (grades 5–8)
A fourth-grade class interviews parents, grandparents, and friends to learn exciting true stories of the Civil Rights Movement. (grades 5–9)
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip M. Hoose
An impassioned African American woman refuses to give up her seat on a bus. Rosa Parks? No—teenager Claudette Colvin. (grades 6–8)
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson*
Memoir of a poet growing up in the 1960s and 70s, learning her own history and telling her own story. (grades 6–8)
Coffee Will Make You Black by April Sinclair*
Coming-of-age novel about a young girl discovering herself and the world during the tumultuous Civil Rights era. (grades 9–12)
The People Could Fly: American Black Folk Tales by Virginia Hamilton*
We have two versions of this celebrated collection of classic legends and folktales shared by African Americans across time. One is a richly illustrated picture book for grades K–2; one is the longer original text for older readers, grades 4–8.
Titles for Adults
Freedom’s Daughters by Lynne Olson
Portraits of the dynamic women who played crucial roles in the success of the Civil Rights Movement.
Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery by Leon F. Litwack
Pulitzer Prize–winning account of the transition from slavery to freedom experienced by four million African Americans.
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson*
Epic history of the decades-long migration of black citizens to northern and western cities in quest of a better life.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston*
Classic novel of an independent and indomitable African American woman meeting life head on.
The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates*
Memoir of two African American brothers and their passionate father seeking to raise his children to adulthood under inner city pressures.
The Peculiar Institution by Kenneth M. Stampp
A remarkable, pioneering examination of the disastrous impact of slavery across society in the American South.
Winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in fiction, this complex novel follows the career of a former slave and farmer.
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander*
Do we live in a “colorblind” society—or are there new and devastating ways that racial biases are impacting African American lives?
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines*
In the tradition of To Kill A Mockingbird, a wrenching story of death and identity exploring the tragic aftermath of a murder.
Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable*
Complex and multifaceted, Malcolm X rewrote his own story again and again, until his assassination at 39.
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