Did you know that African-American inventors are responsible for the modern day supermarket and cell phone mikes? Or that a 9-year-old was arrested at a Civil Rights protest in 1963? Here are nine Black History books that will teach children the rich history of African Americans and enlighten, encourage and inspire your kids to stand up for what is right. Scroll down to see the list.
If you want to talk about Black History with your kids, this book will take you back to the beginning. Told from the point of view of a 100-year-old African-American woman, Heart and Soul takes kids on a journey through the history of slavery to Jim Crow laws to the quest for equality and freedom in our schools and beyond. It teaches them about the reality and the inspiring truth: the men, women and children of all colors who rallied to change education laws and end segregation and who fight still for truth, justice and the true American way. Kadir Nelson is an award-winning author and illustrator, whose honors include the Coretta Scott King Author and Illustrator Award. Find it here.
Recommended age: 6–10
You are never too young to learn about real-life heroes and Brad Meltzer’s “I Am” series proves it. I Am Rosa Parks shows kids how Rosa Parks dared to stand up for herself by staying seated and refusing to give up her seat. Not only will they learn about her courage and her role in helping to end bus segregation and fight for Civil Rights, they will be empowered with the idea that one person, one small act, can change the world. Illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos. Also in the collection are I Am Jackie Robinson and I Am Martin Luther King Jr. Order your copy here.
Recommended age: 5–8
Written by President Barack Obama as a letter to his own daughters, this is the story of 13 key players in American history. From Jackie Robinson to Georgia O’Keefe to George Washington, Obama illustrates how his own children—and all kids—have these heroic traits in themselves. Uplifting and encouraging, your kids will gain an understanding of the history of the United States and know that “yes!” they can. Illustrated by Loren Long. Click here to find your copy.
Recommended age: 5 and up
Both a picture book and a biography, this intro to the life, times and actions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a bestseller for a reason. Illustrated with stunning, lush pictures by Bryan Collier, author Doreen Rappaport has hit the sweet spot with telling the true history and making a book kids won’t want to put down. Shop here for your fam’s copy.
Recommended age: 5–8 years
Like the “I Am” series, the Little People, Big Dreams series explores amazing men and women of history, from artists to scientists to activists, teaching kids that one person can make a difference. This book covers the inspiring Maya Angelou’s journey, from a traumatic childhood to one of the world’s best loved authors. If you thought you knew who Maya Angelou is, you are in for a treat: this book will leave you even more in awe than you already were. Written by Lisbeth Kaiser and illustrated by Leire Salaberria. Buy it here.
Recommended age: 5–8 years
This collection tells the story of influential African Americans through poetry. From Gwendolyn Brooks to Thurgood Marshall to Mae Jemison, each poem gives kids a memorable and relatable description of the important contribution of these individuals. Photos throughout. Written by Dina Anastasio. Find out more at Reading A-Z.
Recommended age: 8–10 years
In 1963, Audrey Faye Hendricks was just nine-years-old. Confident, brave and bold, she joined the Civil Rights Movement and was arrested! Cynthia Levinson brings this true tale of the youngest known child to be arrested at a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama. Kids will cheer for Audrey, equality and the rights of all children. Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton.
Recommended age: 5–10
Co-authored by NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, learn about 16 inventors who not only broke the color barrier, they created some of the most widely used and extraordinary things in the world. From refrigerated trucks to the ice cream scoop to open-heart surgery, join Kareem and his team as you explore history you use every day. Co-authored by Raymond Obstfeld and illustrated by Ben Boos and A.G. Ford.
Recommended age: 8–12
Told in chronological order from pre-slavery to modern times, this book is not only packed with facts, stories and pictures, it also includes more than 70 activities to engage children in the learning process. From recipes to crafts to songs and games, this is the most interactive history book you’ll ever own. Written by Nancy I. Sanders. Order one today.
Recommended age: 7–9 years
What’s your favorite kid’s book about African American history? Tell us in the comments below.
All book covers courtesy Goodreads; photo of Mae Jemison courtesy Wikimedia commons.