February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of the achievements of the brave and incredible African Americans who had central roles in shaping U.S. history. Today on OOM we recognize these pivotal men and women with some great new reads for children of all ages.
Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass by Dean Robbins, illustrated by Sean Qualls & Selina Alko (Ages 4–8): In this beautiful picture book, Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass chat over tea about their efforts to win rights for women and African Americans. Two Friends recounts the stories of these two champions of freedom, showing how their backgrounds lead them to their life’s work: fighting for the rights of women and African Americans. And Two Friends is also a story of finding a true companion who you will share your ideas and plans. Susan and Frederick never stopped fighting for their ideals and never doubted each other’s visions, knowing a better world was possible, inspiring readers of all ages.
Ranger in Time: Long Road to Freedom by Kate Messner, illustrated by Kelley McMorris (Ages 7–10): Ranger is a golden retriever with search-and-rescue training. In this adventure, he travels to a Maryland plantation during the time of American slavery, where he meets a young girl named Sarah. When Sarah learns that the plantation owner has plans to sell her little brother, Jesse, to another plantation in the South, it means they could be separated forever. Sarah takes their future into her own hands and decides there’s only one way to run—north, along the Underground Railroad.
The Hero Two Doors Down: Based on the True Story of Friendship Between a Boy and a Baseball Legend by Sharon Robinson (Ages 8–12): Sharon Robinson, daughter of baseball great and civil rights icon Jackie Robinson, delivers a touching novel based on the true story of a boy in Brooklyn who became neighbors and friends with his hero, Jackie Robinson.
Ruby Lee & Me by Shannon Hitchcock (Ages 8–12): When a segregated North Carolina town gets its first black teacher, two girls—one black, one white—come face-to-face with how prejudice affects their friendship. Ruby Lee & Me is a powerful story about relationships and self-forgiveness by critically-acclaimed author Shannon Hitchcock.
My Name Is Not Friday by Jon Walter (Ages 12 and Up): In My Name is Not Friday, readers go back in history to the Civil War period and meet two siblings, who are freeborn black boys. Well-mannered Samuel and his mischievous younger brother Joshua are living in an orphanage during the end of the Civil War. Samuel takes the blame for Joshua’s latest prank, and the consequence is worse than he could ever imagine. He’s taken from the orphanage to the South, given a new name—Friday—and sold into slavery. What follows is a heartbreaking but hopeful account of Samuel’s journey from freedom to captivity, and back again.