25 Amazing Kids Books For Black History Month

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25 Black History Month Books for Kids

February is Black History Month here in the US. Having formerly been a preschool teacher and a homeschool mom, and a former and current lover of history, cultures, and the people who’ve lived them, I put together a list of some of my favorite kids books for Black History Month.

The children’s African folktale books listed below, I loved as a child and now share with my own children. The biographical books about African Americans who paved the way for freedom and civil rights are inspiring to children of all races and all socioeconomic backgrounds.

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.

~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Why Mosquitos Buzz in People's Ears

Why Mosquitos Buzz in People’s Ears

In this Caldecott Medal winner, Mosquito tells a story that causes a jungle disaster. Ages 5+

 The People Could Fly

The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales

A classic collection of American black folktales, winner of the Coretta Scott King Award. By turns droll, grisly, and spine-tingling, the 24 stories celebrate the indomitable human spirit, surviving under the most crushing circumstances of slavery. Bruh Rabbit, He Lion, Tar Baby, and other animals populate many of the stories. In others, John, the traditional trickster hero, outwits the slave owner time after time to win his freedom. Ages 8+

 The Patchwork Path

The Patchwork Path: A Quilt Map to Freedom

A child tells of escaping to Canada on the Underground Railroad, accompanied by her father, and of following secret signs sewn into quilt patterns. The exciting escape story makes the history immediate, and the fascinating quilt-code messages will have children revisiting the page that shows each symbol and its secret directions. Bennett’s bright oil paintings make dramatic use of collage to show the quilt code and the brave fugitives. Ages 5-8

 The Other Side

The Other Side

Clover’s mom says it isn’t safe to cross the fence that segregates their African-American side of town from the white side where Anna lives. But the two girls strike up a friendship, and get around the grown-ups’ rules by sitting on top of the fence together. Ages 5-8

 tar beach

Tar Beach

The dream adventure of eight-year-old Cassie Louise Lightfoot, who flies above her apartment-building rooftop, the ‘tar beach’ of the title, looking down on 1939 Harlem. Part autobiographical, part fictional, this allegorical tale sparkles with symbolic and historical references central to African-American culture. The spectacular artwork resonates with color and texture. Children will delight in the universal dream of mastering one’s world by flying over it. Ages 4-8

 Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt

Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt

As a seamstress in the Big House, Clara dreams of a reunion with her Momma, who lives on another plantation–and even of running away to freedom. Then she overhears two slaves talking about the Underground Railroad. In a flash of inspiration, Clara sees how she can use the cloth in her scrap bag to make a map of the land–a freedom quilt–that no master will ever suspect. Ages 3-8

Salt In His Shoes

Salt In His Shoes

As a child, Michael almost gave up on his hoop dreams, all because he feared he’d never grow tall enough to play the game that would one day make him famous. That’s when his mother and father stepped in and shared the invaluable lesson of what really goes into the making of a champion — patience, determination, and hard work. Ages 4+

Ruby Bridges Goes to School

Ruby Bridges Goes to School

This is the true story of an extraordinary little girl who helped shape our country when she became the first African-American to attend an all-white school in New Orleans. With simple text and historical photographs, this easy reader explores an amazing moment in history and the courage of a young girl who stayed strong in the face of racism. Ages 4-9

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale

This is the tale of Mufaro’s two daughters, two beautiful girls who react in different ways to the king’s search for a wife – one is aggressive and selfish, the other kind and dignified. The king takes on disguises to learn the true nature of both girls and of course chooses Nyasha, the kind and generous daughter, to be his queen. Ages 4+


Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom

This poetic book is a resounding tribute to Tubman’s strength, humility, and devotion. With proper reverence, Weatherford and Nelson do justice to the woman who, long ago, earned over and over the name Moses. Ages 5-8

Martin's Big Words

Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This picture-book biography is an excellent and accessible introduction for young readers to learn about one of the world’s most influential leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Doreen Rappaport weaves the immortal words of Dr. King into a captivating narrative to tell the story of his life. With stunning art by acclaimed illustrator Bryan Collier, Martin’s Big Words is an unforgettable portrait of a man whose dream changed America-and the world-forever. Ages 4+

Martin Luther King Jr.

National Geographic Readers: Martin Luther King, Jr.

The most effective method used to influence children to read is to incorporate the information that interests them the most. National Geographic Readers are educational, high-interest, and comprehensive for children. In this title, readers will learn about the fascinating life and legacy civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Ages 5-8

I have a Dream

I Have a Dream

On August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Martin Luther King gave one of the most powerful and memorable speeches in our nation’s history. His words, paired with Caldecott Honor winner Kadir Nelson’s magnificent paintings, make for a picture book certain to be treasured by children and adults alike. The themes of equality and freedom for all are not only relevant today, 50 years later, but also provide young readers with an important introduction to our nation’s past. Ages 5+

 John Henry

John Henry

John Henry is stronger than ten men, and can dig through a mountain faster than a steam drill. Julius Lester’s folksy retelling of a popular African-American folk ballad has warmth, tall tale humor, and boundless energy. Ages 5+

I am Rosa Parks

I am Rosa Parks

Meltzer’s first-person narration and Eliopoulos’ comic-style illustrations bring an altogether different look and feel to the story of Rosa Parks. Beginning with childhood incidents that guided her later actions, this entry in the Ordinary People Change the World series proceeds with examples of Jim Crow laws and separate-but-equal disparities. These set the scene for Parks’ involvement in civil rights, her now-celebrated refusal to give up her seat on a bus, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott she inspired. Ages 5-8

Henry's Freedom Box

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad

The true story of Henry Brown, a slave who mailed himself to freedom. As a boy, separated from his mother, he goes to work in his new master’s tobacco factory and eventually meets and marries another slave, with whom he has three children. In a heartwrenching scene Henry watches as his family—suddenly sold in the slave market—disappears down the road. Henry then enlists the help of an abolitionist doctor and mails himself in a wooden crate “to a place where there are no slaves!” Ages 4+

Freedom Summer

Freedom Summer

Joe and John Henry are a lot alike. But there’s one important way they’re different: Joe is white and John Henry is black, and in the South in 1964, that means John Henry isn’t allowed to do everything his best friend is. Then a law is passed that forbids segregation and opens the town pool to everyone. Joe and John Henry are so excited they race each other there…only to discover that it takes more than a new law to change people’s hearts. Ages 4+

Freedom on the Menu

Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-ins

This picture book tells a story of desegregation from the viewpoint of one little girl. Growing up in the South, Connie understands that there are places where she and other African Americans can and cannot eat, drink, swim, and use the bathroom. But after Dr. King visits the local college chapel to preach and her older siblings become active in the NAACP, she also knows that her people are working for change. Ages 4+

Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington

Told in a swingy conversational tone and highlighting the musician’s childhood, early ragtime days, and stellar rise to popularity, playing at the Cotton Club and, later, Carnegie Hall, this is a jazzy treat. Young readers will find more than just a few facts here. They will learn what Duke Ellington did for the jazz world, how his music was played, and the legacy he left behind. Ages 5+

 Anasi the spider

Anansi The Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti

In this traditional Ashanti tale, Anansi sets out on a long, difficult journey. Threatened by Fish and Falcon, he is saved from terrible fates by his sons. But which of his sons should Anansi reward? In adapting this popular folktale, Gerald McDermott merges the old with the new, combining bold, rich color with traditional African design motifs and authentic Ashanti language rhythms. Ages 4-8

 Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

When her class plans a presentation of Peter Pan , “Grace knew who she wanted to be.” She holds fast despite her classmates’ demurrals; Nana, meanwhile, reminds her granddaughter that she can do anything she imagines. When Nana takes Grace to see a famous black ballerina–“from back home in Trinidad”–the determined youngster is aroused by the performance, and wins the role of her dreams. Ages 4-8

 A Sweet Smell of Roses

A Sweet Smell of Roses

This quiet, gentle story pays tribute to the many unnamed children who participated in the African-American struggle for civil rights. It opens: “After a night of soft rain there is a sweet smell of roses as my sister, Minnie, and I slip past Mama’s door and out of the house down Charlotte Street.” They head toward the curb market where folks, mostly adults, are gathering to listen to and march with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Ages 5-9

 Sojourner Truth's Step Stomp Stride

Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride

Born into slavery, Belle had to endure the cruelty of several masters before she escaped to freedom. But she knew she wouldn’t really be free unless she was helping to end injustice. That’s when she changed her name to Sojourner and began traveling across the country, demanding equal rights for black people and for women. Ages 5-9

A Picture Book of Frederick Douglass

A Picture Book of Frederick Douglass

A biography of the man who, after escaping slavery, became an orator, writer, and leader in the abolitionist movement in the nineteenth century. Ages 6+


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About Amy @ Oh So Savvy Mom

Amy is mom to three, wife to one, and a sister and aunt to many. Her family is a former military family now settled in Lehi, Utah. Oh So Savvy Mom began as a way for Amy to share parenting and product advice with others. Just as she has evolved, Oh So Savvy Mom has evolved into a resource for Healthy Living for Families, Food, Parenting, and Family Travel.