Today, I’m excited to have Erica (aka Mom and Kiddo) from What Do We Do All Day? sharing a list of picture books for Black History Month. If you have never visited What Do We Do All Day?, you need to check it out. Erica routinely empties her library’s shelves while putting together some of the best book lists for kids that you will find.
Picture Books for Black History Month
In January, Americans celebrated the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., and in February we acknowledge the important contributions of all African-Americans during Black History Month. I’m pleased to share with No Twiddle Twaddle readers a list of wonderful books that parents can read with their children to learn more about the lives and experiences of black Americans. But don’t limit your reading of these books to February! They can be enjoyed any time of year.
Note: Since many of you are Kindle owners, I’ve indicated which books are available for the Kindle. Age recommendations are my personal opinion, publisher recommendations may vary.
The Story Of Ruby Bridges. My son came home from school one day to tell me about Ruby Bridges, so we checked this book out from the library. To me, the stories of racism against children are truly heartbreaking ,but in many ways they are the most important tales to share with our kids and a meaningful way to begin important conversations about history and how we treat others. This book celebrates Ruby’s courage as she stands strong in the face of a community where white parents refuse to send their children to school with her. Ages 5+
Henry’s Freedom Box. Teach your kids about the underground railroad with this true story of a slave who managed to mail himself to freedom. This is a powerful tale about a man torn from his family when he was a boy. Ages 6+
These Hands. As a man teaches his grandson how to use his hands to tie shoes, play ball, and make music he relates his own personal story of how he was not allowed to touch the bread in the Wonder Bread factory he worked in. Age 4+
We March is a beautifully illustrated picture book with a spare text telling the story of a young boy as he and his family prepare to attend the March on Washington to hear the famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Beautiful, this is one of my “must reads”. (Kindle version available.) Ages 3+
Harlem’s Little Blackbird. This relatively new book tells the story of singer Florence Mills, who used her fame to fight for civil rights in the 1920s. She was well-known for her compassion for the less-fortunate and for helping to advance the careers other African-American performers who faced profound racism. If you’re looking for a book with a good role-model, this is the one. (Kindle version available.) Ages 4+
Nobody Owns the Sky: The Story of “Brave Bessie” Coleman. Lovely illustrations accompany this fascinating story of the first licensed African-American pilot, who also happened to be a woman! Written in poetic form, kids will relate to the young Bessie who just wants to follow her dreams. Ages 4+
Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave. This Caldecott Honor book is one of my favorites on this list. Few slaves were allowed to learn a skilled trade, but Dave’s story has reached us through his splendid pottery and the poetic words he inscribed on it. History knows Dave only by his first name, a few scattered mentions in historical papers and by the pottery he created. Yet, his story speaks volumes about the history of African-Americans and slavery in this country. Highly recommended. Ages 4+
Molly, by Golly!: The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter. I’m so glad I have picture books to teach me about obscure but fascinating bits of history I didn’t hear about it school! In the early 1800s, Molly was a cook for a New York City firehouse but during a snowstorm her courage turned her into the first female firefighter in the United States. The book also contains fascinating facts about early firefighting and includes a useful bibliography. Ages 5+
Let Them Play. In South Carolina an all-black Little League team became the 1955 champions by default when the white teams in the league refused to play against them. Like the story of Ruby Bridges, this book is an important reminder that kids were also victims of segregation and racism. (Kindle version available.) Ages 5+
He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands. Multi-award winning Kadir Nelson’s books are incredibly beautiful. Although this is not a history book, round out your reading for Black History Month by sharing this illustrated version of the well-known children’s spiritual with your children. All ages.
Do you have a favorite picture book about African-American history? If so, leave a comment and us! We’ll be sure to head to the library to check it out!
Erica (aka “Mom and Kiddo”) is a SAHM to two very rowdy boys who love to read. She blogs at What Do We Do All Day? where she shares a new book list every Monday (like her very popular 50+ Chapter Books to Read Aloud to Preschoolers), and fun learning ideas for kids. You can check out her Giant List of Indoor Activities for Kids and connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest or Google+.