During the month of February, it is a time to celebrate, honor and remember the achievements, contributions, and accomplishments of black Americans in history and culture. Not only do we want to highlight books about famous African Americans who have contributed to our history, but we also want to highlight books by African American authors, as well as books about self-love.
Don’t worry, if you have teens or middle-grade students we this list includes books for them as well!
Check out our list below of our favorite books, that would be the perfect addition to your home library.
In 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, thousands of African American children volunteered to march for their civil rights after hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak. They protested the laws that kept black people separate from white people. Facing fear, hate, and danger, these children used their voices to change the world. Frank Morrison’s emotive oil-on-canvas paintings bring this historical event to life, while Monica Clark-Robinson’s moving and poetic words document this remarkable time.
Meet 40 trailblazing women who broke barriers of race and gender to pave the way for future generations. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History is important, timely, and written in a style that kids will enjoy.
|28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World|
A great classroom and bedtime read-aloud, Mae Among the Stars is the perfect book for young readers who have big dreams and even bigger hearts!
When Little Mae was a child, she dreamed of dancing in space. She imagined herself surrounded by billions of stars, floating, gliding, and discovering.
She wanted to be an astronaut.
Her mom told her, “If you believe it, and work hard for it, anything is possible.”
Little Mae’s curiosity, intelligence, and determination, matched with her parents’ encouraging words, paved the way for her incredible success at NASA as the first African American woman to travel in space.
This book will inspire other young girls to reach for the stars, to aspire for the impossible, and to persist with childlike imagination.
Mahalia Jackson: Walking with Kings and Queens by Nina Nolan
Even as a young girl, Mahalia Jackson loved gospel music. Life was difficult for Mahalia growing up, but singing gospel always lifted her spirits and made her feel special. She soon realized that her powerful voice stirred everyone around her, and she wanted to share that with the world. Although she was met with hardships along the way, Mahalia never gave up on her dreams. Mahalia’s extraordinary journey eventually took her to the historic March on Washington, where she sang to thousands and inspired them to find their own voices. With a timeline and further reading section, this book is perfect for Common Core.
Rosa by Nikki Giovanni
Mazie is ready to celebrate liberty. She is ready to celebrate freedom. She is ready to celebrate a great day in American history ― the day her ancestors were no longer slaves. Mazie remembers the struggles and the triumph, as she gets ready to celebrate Juneteenth.
Hair Like Mine is a fun and easy read following a little girl who doesn’t like that her naturally curly hair looks different from the other kids around her. On her quest to find someone with hair like hers, she soon realizes we are all unique and special in our own way.
“You are beautiful. You are smart. You are a leader. You are you and that is exactly who God created you to be.” “Mirror, Mirror. Who Am I?” is an affirmation book created for young girls of color to appreciate the person they were birthed to be. The way we see ourselves, oftentimes, is a mirror of the things we were told about ourselves. The way we feel about ourselves and the way we treat other people. This book is designed to deposit positivity and esteem into our daughters. By showing them their beauty, giving them their inner voice and imparting them with wisdom they will never forget. For they are all wonderfully and fearfully made in the image of God, they just don’t know it yet. Until now… Mirror, Mirror. Who Am I? You are you, and that’s exactly who God created you to be.
Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama
Black Girl Magic by Mahogany L. Browne
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy by Tony Medina
What Color Is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors
by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra by Andrea Davis Pinkney
What Was the Underground Railroad? by Yona Zeldis McDonough
Little Leaders: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o, Vashti Harrison
Going Down Home with Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons
Fresh Princess by Denene Millner
By and By: Charles Albert Tindley, the Father of Gospel Music by Carole Boston Weatherford
In her debut picture book, Misty Copeland tells the story of a young girl–every girl–whose confidence is fragile and who is questioning her own ability to reach the heights that Misty has reached. Misty encourages this young girl’s faith in herself and shows her exactly how, through hard work and dedication, she too can become Firebird.
Lyrical and affecting text paired with bold, striking illustrations that are some of Caldecott Honoree Christopher Myers’s best work, makes Firebird perfect for aspiring ballerinas everywhere.
The Legendary Miss Lena Horne by Carole Boston Weatherford, Elizabeth Zunon
Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You by Carole Boston Weatherford
You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen by Carole Boston Weatherford, Jeffery Boston Weatherford
Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century by Carole Boston Weatherford, Raúl Colón
Sugar Hill: Harlem’s Historic Neighborhood by Carole Boston Weatherford, R. Gregory Christie
Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole Boston Weatherford, Floyd Cooper
Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford
I Am Perfectly Designed is an exuberant celebration of loving who you are, exactly as you are, from Karamo Brown, the Culture Expert of Netflix’s hit series Queer Eye, and Jason Brown―featuring illustrations by Anoosha Syed.
In this empowering ode to modern families, a boy and his father take a joyful walk through the city, discovering all the ways in which they are perfectly designed for each other.
The roots of rap and the history of hip-hop have origins that precede DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash. Kids will learn about how it evolved from folktales, spirituals, and poetry, to the showmanship of James Brown, 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. Written in lyrical rhythm by award-winning author and poet Carole Boston Weatherford and complete with flowing, vibrant illustrations by Frank Morrison, this book beautifully illustrates how hip-hop is a language spoken the whole world ’round, it and features a foreword by Swizz Beatz, a Grammy Award-winning American hip-hop rapper, DJ, and record producer.
A young biracial girl looks around her world for her color. She finally chooses her own and creates a new word for herself―honey smoke.
Simone wants a color.
She asks Mama, “Am I black or white?”
“Boo,” Mama says, just like mamas do, “a color is just a word.”
She asks Daddy, “Am I black or white?”
“Well,” Daddy says, just like daddies do, “you’re a little bit of both.”
For multiracial children, and all children everywhere, this picture book offers a universal message that empowers young people to create their own self-identity.
Simone knows her color―she is honeysmoke.
For the youngest member of an exuberant extended family, Sunday dinner at Grannie’s can be full indeed – full of hugs and kisses, full of tasty dishes, full to the brim with happy faces, and full, full, full of love. With a special focus on the bond between little Jay Jay and his grannie, Trish Cooke introduces us to a gregarious family we are sure to want more, more, more of.
Middle-Grade & Young Adult
If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson
Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
All Ida Mae Jones wants to do is fly. Her daddy was a pilot, and years after his death she feels closest to him when she’s in the air. But as a young black woman in 1940s Louisiana, she knows the sky is off-limits to her, until America enters World War II, and the Army forms the WASP-Women Airforce Service Pilots. Ida has a chance to fulfill her dream if she’s willing to use her light skin to pass as a white girl. She wants to fly more than anything, but Ida soon learns that denying one’s self and family is a heavy burden, and ultimately it’s not what you do but who you are that’s most important.
Roll of Thunder, Hear Me Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
The Boy In the Black Suit, by Jason Reynolds
This Side of Home, by Renée Watson
Monster, by Walter Dean Myers
Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson
Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes
The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long, Jim Demonakos, Nate Powell
Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha, #1) by Tomi Adeyemi
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Slay by Brittney Morris
Twisted in a Positive Way by Chikamso C. Efobi
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
AN EMBER IN THE ASHES BY SABAA TAHIR
THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN BY ROSHANI CHOKSHI
Monday’s Not Coming, Tiffany D. Jackson
Pride, Ibi Zoboi
Watch Us Rise, Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan
Akata Witch and Akata Warrior, Nnedi Okorafor
The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith
Do you have any favorite books by African American authors? Share them below!