Five Black History Children's Books to Read

Updated: Mar 29

Sometimes we all need a little help on what to read. Check out these picture and chapter books on African American history.

The 1619 Project’s lyrical picture book in verse chronicles the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States, thoughtfully rendered by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and Newbery honor-winning author Renée Watson.


A young student receives a family tree assignment in school, but she can only trace back three generations. Grandma gathers the whole family, and the student learns that 400 years ago, in 1619, their ancestors were stolen and brought to America by white slave traders.
But before that, they had a home, a land, a language. She learns how the people said to be born on the water survived.

And the people planted dreams and hope,
willed themselves to keep
living, living.

And the people learned new words
for love
for friend
for family

for joy
for grow
for home.

With powerful verse and striking illustrations by Nikkolas Smith, Born on the Water provides a pathway for readers of all ages to reflect on the origins of American identity.


THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

This chapter book edition of the groundbreaking #1 bestseller by luminaries Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds is an essential introduction to the history of racism and antiracism in America


RACE. Uh-oh. The R-word.
But actually talking about race is one of the most important things to learn how to do.

Adapted from the award-winning, bestselling Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, this book takes readers on a journey from present to past and back again. Kids will discover where racist ideas came from, identify how they impact America today, and meet those who have fought racism with antiracism. Along the way, they’ll learn how to identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their own lives.

Ibram X. Kendi’s research, Jason Reynolds’s and Sonja Cherry-Paul’s writing, and Rachelle Baker’s art come together in this vital read, enhanced with a glossary, timeline, and more.


Essential reading on American and Black history, race, protest and youth activism.

★ Four Starred Reviews ★
Editors’ Choice Book ―The New York Times Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Top 10 Black History Books for Youth ―Booklist Best Books of the Year ―Booklist Best of 2012 ―Kirkus Reviews Best Books 2012 List ―Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year ―School Library Journal Parents’ Choice Gold Award A Junior Library Guild Selection
The inspiring story of the 1963 Birmingham Children’s March, one of the greatest moments in civil rights history, as seen through the eyes of four young people at the center of the action. From award-winning author Cynthia Levinson.


The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March was a turning point in American history. African Americans had had enough of segregation and police brutality, but with their lives and jobs at stake, most adults were hesitant to protest the city’s racist culture. So the fight for civil rights lay in the hands of children like Audrey Hendricks, Wash Booker, James Stewart, and Arnetta Streeter.
We’ve Got a Job tells the little-known story of the 4,000 Black elementary, middle, and high school students who answered Dr. Martin Luther King’s call to “fill the jails.” Between May 2 and May 11, 1963, these young people voluntarily went to jail, drawing national attention to the cause, helping bring about the repeal of segregation laws, and inspiring thousands of other young people to demand their rights.
Combining extensive research and in-depth interviews with protesters, award-winning author Cynthia Levinson recreates the events of the Birmingham Children’s March from a new and very personal perspective. Archival photography and informational sidebars throughout. Backmatter includes an afterword, author’s note, timeline, map, and bibliography.


Debut author Amina Luqman-Dawson pens a lyrical, accessible historical middle-grade novel about two enslaved children’s escape from a plantation and the many ways they find freedom.


Under the cover of night, 12-year-old Homer flees Southerland Plantation with his little sister Ada, unwillingly leaving their beloved mother behind. Much as he adores her and fears for her life, Homer knows there’s no turning back, not with the overseer on their trail. Through tangled vines, secret doorways, and over a sky bridge, the two find a secret community called Freewater, deep in the swamp.
In this society created by formerly enslaved people and some freeborn children, Homer finds new friends, almost forgetting where he came from. But when he learns of a threat that could destroy Freewater, he crafts a plan to find his mother and help his new home.
Deeply inspiring and loosely based on the history of maroon communities in the South, this is a striking tale of survival, adventure, friendship, and courage.


Jacqueline Woodson's National Book Award and Newbery Honor winner is a powerful memoir that tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse.

A President Obama "O" Book Club pick


Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

Includes 7 additional poems, including "Brown Girl Dreaming."

Praise for Jacqueline Woodson:

"Ms. Woodson writes with a sure understanding of the thoughts of young people, offering a poetic, eloquent narrative that is not simply a story . . . but a mature exploration of grown-up issues and self-discovery.”—The New York Times Book Review


And let's add one from me that's coming soon. UPDATE: NOW AVAILABLE

A Historical Fiction Novel
For ages 8-12

"I have to say—WOW! I am blown away. Honestly, I love this story so much. And I am so impressed with how the author included so much factual information in an engaging story. Kids will be so entertained as they learn." - ARC Reviewer



A fictional story about actual events in African American and Indigenous peoples’ history.

The underground railroad didn’t only run North, it also ran south to Spanish Florida. And out of that southern area came a young warrior on a quest to save her Black Seminole family.

Shortly after seeing curious smoke over the jungle, Talula finds her world’s peaceful existence breaking apart.

As the war of 1812 begins, changes are sweeping through Spanish Florida and are coming for ten-year-old Talula.
Slave hunters are capturing both freedmen and runaways and taking them back to Georgia plantations. But when the slave hunters arrived in Spanish Florida, they found something completely unexpected—flourishing villages and an alliance between the people they hunted and Seminole Indians. And a war they had no idea about was brewing.
Talula, a Black Seminole free girl, sets out to protect her family and her village and must convince others to help in the fight against the slave hunters. She is not just a girl on a horse, she is a warrior. Her story is one of survival and resilience.



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