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Black History Month is a time to honor the achievements, history, and culture of African Americans. One of the best ways to celebrate is by educating ourselves and the younger generation. Books can be powerful tools in this journey of learning and understanding. Here’s a curated list of book recommendations perfect for kids of different ages. Each book is a gateway to inspiring stories, groundbreaking achievements, and beautiful tales of resilience and courage.

AGES 3-5

  1. “The ABCs of Black History” by Rio Cortez

   – A vibrant and lyrical book that takes readers through the alphabet of Black history and culture. Illustrated by Lauren Semmer, it’s a great introduction for young children to the richness of Black history.

black history

  1. “I Am Enough” by Grace Byers”

   – This book is a lyrical ode to self-confidence and kindness, inspired by the author’s life experiences. Illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo, it teaches kids about loving who they are and respecting others.

black history

  1. “Dream Big, Little One” by Vashti Harrison”

   – Featuring 18 trailblazing black women in American history, this board book version of “Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History” is perfect for the youngest readers.

black history

 AGES 6-8

  1. “Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History” by Vashti Harrison

   – This book introduces children to forty inspiring Black women in American history. It’s beautifully illustrated and tells the stories of these women’s incredible contributions.

black history

  1. “Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race” by Margot Lee Shetterly and Winifred Conkling

   – Based on the adult book and movie, this version for young readers tells the remarkable story of four African American women who helped NASA launch men into space.

black history

  1. “Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters” by Andrea Davis Pinkney

   – A collection of stories about ten powerful women who were instrumental in the fight for civil rights and social justice.

black history

AGES 9-12

  1. “Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson

   – Told through poetry, this autobiographical book shares the author’s experiences growing up as an African American girl in the 1960s and 1970s in both South Carolina and New York.

black history

  1. “The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963” by Christopher Paul Curtis

   – This historical novel follows an African American family from Flint, Michigan, to Birmingham, Alabama, during a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement.

black history

  1. “One Crazy Summer” by Rita Williams-Garcia

   – This novel tells the story of three sisters who travel to Oakland, California, in 1968 to meet their mother, who abandoned them. It beautifully intertwines themes of civil rights, Black Power, and family.

black history

  1. “March: Book One” by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin

   – This graphic novel is the first in a trilogy that tells the story of the late Congressman John Lewis’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. It’s an accessible and engaging way for older kids to learn about history.

black history

AGES 13 – 18

  1. “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas 

– This novel is a powerful contemporary story that resonates deeply with today’s social climate. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, it follows Starr Carter, a 16-year-old girl who witnesses the police shooting of her unarmed friend. This book tackles themes of racism, police violence, and activism, making it a relevant and thought-provoking read for teenagers.

black history

2. Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice” by Phillip Hoose

 – This is the true story of Claudette Colvin, a courageous teenager who refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama, nine months before Rosa Parks’ more famous protest. This National Book Award winner uses interviews, photographs, and narrative to bring to life the story of a forgotten heroine of the Civil Rights Movement, offering young readers a different perspective on the fight against Jim Crow laws and racial injustice.

black history

3. “Monster” by Walter Dean Myers 

– This novel takes an innovative approach by blending a script for a play with traditional narrative to tell the story of Steve Harmon, a 16-year-old African American boy on trial for murder. As Steve struggles to come to terms with his identity in the face of a legal system eager to label him a monster, readers are invited to explore themes of race, justice, and the complexity of human nature. The unique format and gripping storyline make it a compelling read for teenagers.

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Books serve as a vital bridge to comprehending the world and the rich tapestry of its inhabitants. During Black History Month, and indeed throughout the entire year, it is crucial that we immerse ourselves in narratives that celebrate, enlighten, and motivate. By delving into the lives of historical figures, the aspirations of young girls, and the ambitions of young boys, each book provides a distinct lens through which to view the African American experience.

Young readers need to engage with these stories; they broaden their understanding of history and foster empathy, resilience, and a sense of justice. Reading and discussing these stories can help dismantle stereotypes and build a foundation of respect and appreciation for the struggles and achievements of Black individuals. As we celebrate Black History Month, let us commit to making these powerful stories a part of children’s reading experiences year-round, thereby nurturing informed, empathetic, and empowered future generations. Happy Reading!

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