Children’s Books for Black History Month

Check out our lists of recommended picture books, chapter books, non-fiction, and biographies to celebrate Black History Month and beyond.

Picture Books

Jabari Tries by Gaia Cornwall

Jabari is making a flying machine all by himself, but when it doesn’t work the way he imagined, he learns about perseverance and problem-solving.

Layla’s Happiness by Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie

Seven-year-old Layla divulges many things that make her happy, especially her family and their community garden.

Brown: the many shades of love by Nancy Johnson James

In this loving ode to the color brown, a boy describes the many hues of his family.

Saturday by Oge Mora

When all of their special Saturday plans go awry, Ava and her mother still find a way to appreciate one another and their time together.

Find more picture books here.

Middle Grade Books

Betty before X by Ilyasah Shabazz

Raised by her aunt until she is six, Betty, who will later marry Malcolm X, joins her mother and stepfamily in 1940s Detroit, where she learns about the civil rights movement.

Look both ways : a tale told in ten blocks by Jason Reynolds

A collection of ten short stories that all take place in the same day about kids walking home from school.

My life as an ice cream sandwich by Ibi Zoboi

In the summer of 1984, twelve-year-old Ebony-Grace of Huntsville, Alabama, visits her father in Harlem, where her fascination with outer space and science fiction interfere with her finding acceptance.

King and the dragonflies by Kheryn Callender

In a small but turbulent Louisiana town, one boy’s grief takes him beyond the bayous of his backyard, to learn that there is no right way to be yourself

Find more books here.

Non-Fiction Titles

Brave. Black. First. : 50+ African American women who changed the world by Cheryl Willis Hudson

Profiles notable African American women in various fields from Phillis Wheatley, Harriet Tubman, and Ida B. Wells to Condoleeza Rice, Beyoncé, and the founders of Black Lives Matte.

The undefeated by Kwame Alexander 

Originally performed for ESPN’s The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes.

28 days : moments in Black history that changed the world by Charles R. Smith Jr.

A picture book look at many of the men and women who revolutionized life for African Americans throughout history.

A ride to remember : a civil rights story by Sharon Langley and Amy Nathan

A Ride to Remember tells how a community came together–both black and white–to make a change. When Sharon Langley was born in the early 1960s, many amusement parks were segregated, and African-American families were not allowed entry. 

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The oldest student : how Mary Walker learned to read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard 

A picture book biography sharing the inspiring and incredible true story of the nation’s oldest student, Mary Walker, who learned to read at the age of 116.

Chasing space by Leland Melvin

A memoir by the former NASA astronaut and NFL wide receiver traces his personal journey from the gridiron to the stars, examining the intersecting roles of community, perseverance, and grace that create opportunities for success.

Schomburg : the man who built a library by Carole Boston Weatherford

Traces legal clerk Arturo Schomburg’s efforts to curate a collection of African books, letters, music, and art.

Trailblazer : the story of ballerina Raven Wilkinson by Leda Schubert

This picture book tells the uplifting story of the first African American woman to dance for a major classical ballet company and how she became a huge inspiration for Misty Copeland.

Find more books here.

Complied by our Youth Services Department. Note: Excerpts are taken from our LS2 PAC.