In honor of Black History Month, we’re celebrating some of our favorite books that celebrate the African-American experience as well as honor those who made their mark on history.
Books for Younger Readers
With imagination and power, the award-winning Pinkney duo celebrates MLK's nonviolent struggle for civil rights — as he transforms America through the spirit of love.
In this extraordinary new tale from Peter H. Reynolds, Jerome discovers the magic of the words all around him — short and sweet words, two-syllable treats, and multisyllable words that sound like little songs. Words that connect, transform, and empower.
Simple words and colorful paintings tell the warm, engaging story of new parents who buy a rocking chair when they are expecting a baby. Bright, sunny illustrations show the precious intimacy between parents and their children; the new mother glows with affection, and the new father reads aloud to their young son.
Time passes, and the boy grows up; the beloved rocker is moved to the attic and gathers dust. But when the boy becomes a man, the cycle begins anew. He and his wife have a baby girl, and the rocking chair is needed again.
I Am a Super Girl!: An Acorn Book (Princess Truly #1) by Kelly Greenawalt; Illustrated by Amariah Rauscher
Meet Princess Truly! With the help of her rocket boots and her magical, sparkly curls, she becomes a super girl and uses her smarts and strength to save the day. But when her friend Lizzie has a rescue mission of her own, Lizzie doesn't feel so super. Can Truly help her friend believe in herself and find her confidence?
Twelve-year-old Charlie is down on his luck: His dad just died, the share crops are dry, and Cap'n Buck, the most fearsome man in Possum Moan, South Carolina, has come to collect a debt. Fearing for his life, Charlie strikes a deal with Cap'n Buck and agrees to track down some folks accused of stealing from the Cap'n and his boss. It's not too bad of a bargain for Charlie, until he comes face-to-face with the fugitives and discovers their true identities. Torn between his guilty conscience and his survival instinct, Charlie needs to figure out his next move, and soon. It's only a matter of time before Cap'n Buck catches on.
As the daughter of Jackie Robinson, Sharon had incredible access to some of the most important events of the era, including her family hosting several fundraisers for Martin Luther King Jr. at their home in Connecticut, other civil rights heroes of the day calling Jackie Robinson for advice and support, and even attending the March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs.
But Sharon was also dealing with her own personal problems, like going through puberty, being one of the only black children in her wealthy Connecticut neighborhood, and figuring out her own role in the fight for equality. This memoir follows Sharon as she goes through that incredible year of her life.
Twelve-year-old Kingston James is sure his brother Khalid has turned into a dragonfly. When Khalid unexpectedly passed away, he shed what was his first skin for another to live down by the bayou in their small Louisiana town. Khalid still visits in dreams, and King must keep these secrets to himself as he watches grief transform his family.
Hope believes it's always a good day to champion a cause, defend an underdog, and save the future. And most of all, she believes in dreaming big. That's why she's enrolled in all of the advanced classes at her new middle school. She's smart and confident in her abilities. But though Hope seems super strong on the outside, there's another side of her, too. She's just a regular girl trying to survive middle school.
On a cold winter night, Iris and her best friend, Daniel, sneak into a clearing in the woods to play in the freshly fallen snow. There, Iris carefully makes a perfect snow angel — only to find the crumbling gravestone of a young girl, Avery Moore, right beneath her. Immediately, strange things start to happen to Iris: She begins having vivid nightmares. She wakes up to find her bedroom window wide open, letting in the snow. She thinks she sees the shadow of a girl lurking in the woods. And she feels the pull of the abandoned grave, calling her back to the clearing...
Obsessed with figuring out what's going on, Iris and Daniel start to research the area for a school project. They discover that Avery's grave is actually part of a neglected and forgotten Black cemetery, dating back to a time when White and Black people were kept separate in life — and in death. As Iris and Daniel learn more about their town's past, they become determined to restore Avery's grave and finally have proper respect paid to Avery and the others buried there.
Rebeka Uwitonze was born in Rwanda with curled and twisted feet, which meant she had to crawl or be carried to get around. At nine years old, she gets an offer that could change her life. A doctor in the US might be able to turn her feet. But it means leaving her own family behind and going to America on her own.
The letter waits in a book, in a box, in an attic, in an old house in Lambert, South Carolina. It's waiting for Candice Miller. When Candice finds the letter, she isn't sure she should read it. It's addressed to her grandmother, who left Lambert in shame. But the letter describes a young woman. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery enfolding the letter-writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle. So with the help of Brandon Jones, the quiet boy across the street, she begins to decipher the clues. The challenge will lead them deep into Lambert's history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and one great love; and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets. Can they find the fortune and fulfill the letter's promise before the answers slip into the past yet again?
Dark Sky Rising: Reconstruction and the Dawn of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. with Tonya Bolden
This is a story about America during and after Reconstruction, one of history's most pivotal and misunderstood chapters. In a stirring account of emancipation, the struggle for citizenship and national reunion, and the advent of racial segregation, the renowned Harvard scholar delivers a book that is illuminating and timely.
Real-life accounts drive the narrative, spanning the half century between the Civil War and 'Birth of a Nation'. Here, you will come face-to-face with the people and events of Reconstruction's noble democratic experiment, its tragic undermining, and the drawing of a new "color line" in the long Jim Crow era that followed. In introducing young readers to them, and to the resiliency of the African American people at times of progress and betrayal, Professor Gates shares a history that remains vitally relevant today.
On November 14, 1960, a tiny six-year-old black child, surrounded by federal marshals, walked through a mob of screaming segregationists and into her school. From where she sat in the office, Ruby Bridges could see parents marching through the halls and taking their children out of classrooms. The next day, Ruby walked through the angry mob once again and into a school where she saw no other students. The white children did not go to school that day, and they wouldn't go to school for many days to come. Surrounded by racial turmoil, Ruby, the only student in a classroom with one wonderful teacher, learned to read and add.This is the story of a pivotal event in history as Ruby Bridges saw it unfold around her. Ruby's poignant words, quotations from writers and from other adults who observed her, and dramatic photographs recreate an amazing story of innocence, courage, and forgiveness. Ruby Bridges' story is an inspiration to us all.
Zora Emerson is not here to play. She's enrolled in a prestigious summer program, and is ready to use what she's learning to change the world (or at least her corner of New Jersey, for now). Zora's not expecting to vibe with any of her super-privileged classmates. So she's shocked to find she's got chemistry with Owen Whittelsey, who is charming, funny, undeniably cute...and turns out to literally be a prince. As in, his parents are the king and queen of a small European country. What?
Suddenly, Zora's summer is looking a lot more complicated -- especially when Owen asks her to be his date at his older brother's wedding. Can her feelings for Owen, not to mention her sense of self, survive the royal chaos?
Take the Mic: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance edited by Bethany C. Morrow
This anthology features fictional stories — in poems, prose, and art — that reflect a slice of the varied and limitless ways that readers like you resist every day.