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. On OOM we’re recognizing these pivotal men and women with some great 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. 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.
The Case for Loving (Ages 4–8) by Sean Qualls & Selina Alko: For most kids today, it would come as a great shock to know that before 1967, they could not marry a person of a race different from their own. Mildred Loving and Richard Perry Loving fell in love and got married in Washington, D.C. But when they moved back to their hometown in Virginia, they were arrested for violating that state’s laws against interracial marriage. The Lovings refused to allow their children to hear the message that their parents’ love was wrong and so they fought the unfair law, taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court—and won!
Unbound: A Novel in Verse (Ages 9–12) by Ann E. Burg: Unbound is told in the voice of Grace, a young slave girl, and is based on the remarkable true stories of runaway slaves who sought sanctuary in the Great Dismal Swamp—a vast, wild wetland spanning the coastal areas of Virginia and North Carolina.
The Harlem Charade (Ages 8–12) by Natasha Tarpley: Harlem is home to all kinds of kids. When three strangers—Jin, Alex and Elvin—join forces to find out what happened to Elvin’s grandfather after he is mysteriously attacked, their digging leads them to an enigmatic artist whose missing masterpieces are worth a fortune—one that might save the neighborhood from development by an ambitious politician who wants to turn it into Harlem World, a ludicrous historic theme park. But if they don’t find the paintings soon, nothing in their beloved neighborhood will ever be the same.
The Freedom Summer Murders (now in paperback! Ages 12 and up) by Don Mitchell: In June of 1964, three idealistic young men (one black and two white) were lynched by the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi. They were trying to register African Americans to vote as part of the Freedom Summer effort to bring democracy to the South. Their disappearance and murder caused a national uproar and was one of the most significant incidents of the Civil Rights Movement, and contributed to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.