• Adelle Southall

9 Kids Books for Black History Month

I love how we are getting so many more books that represent so many skin tones, cultures, and backgrounds. This isn’t the only month we should be reading books about black people. However, it is a good time to point out some well awarded children’s books by black authors

I have several books to share with you this Black History Month that star African-American characters, heroes, and everyday people. I tried to choose some from a different reading levels so that you have a variety to pick from for your children. I have included books about black people, books by black authors, and books about black history in America.

The first book I want to tell you about is called, “Daddy Calls Me Man” by Angela Johnson. This story goes through a little boy's day ending the day with his daddy calling him a man and his mommy calling him sweetheart. Throughout the story there are lots of verbs and action words that you can point out to your child to throw in a little grammar practice.

Encourage your child to express their own talents and never hide them from the world while reading Nola's Scribbles Save the Day by Christina Lalli. Nola shows us how she loves to draw. Something happens that causes Nola to hide her scribbles from the world. Watch as Nola navigates her way to freedom of expression as she helps herself and others share their talents with the world.

One of my favorite types of books for reluctant readers are wordless books. With a wordless book you become the storyteller. You won’t have to worry about reading the words wrong as you immerse yourself into the beautifully crafted pictures.

In the book Hike by Pete Oswald we follow a father and son on their annual trip through the mountains. You can see the joy in their trek as they share the ups and downs of hiking the mountains of America.

In Lubaya’s Quiet Roar by Marilyn Nelson a little girl learns how to take her quiet behind the scenes talents and turn them into something that can be very meaningful for others. She takes the things that she sees on TV and that she hears at her house and turns them into art. She feels the words from the TV reports and the time that she spends with her friends. She draws what she hears and

feels on the backs of old protest posters. Ones that their family hoped they’d never use again. Her roar might be quiet, but it makes an impact when the protesters once again need her signs to stand for truth and justice. This story shows that you don’t have to be in the spotlight to make a difference.

Angela Johnson is a famous black author of children's books. She has won awards for her writing about freedom and justice in ways that even the smallest of citizens can understand.

In A Sweet Smell of Roses, Angela Johnson tells the story of two girls who sneak out to go to Dr. Martin Luther King’s Freedom March. As they stand brave and tall they smell a sweet smell of roses all along the way. The sweet smell of roses that matches the safety of their home and the hope for equality. Before the story unfolds, there is a snippet about the setting of this book and about the civil rights movement.

I Dream of Trains by Angela Johnson tells the story of a young boy who works in the cotton fields. Set in the time of the Great Migration, this boy dreams of hopping on Casey Jones’ train to escape to the north. He dreams of a new life and even dreams of driving a train himself one day. I love how Angela gives a short synopsis of the Great Migration and Casey Jones’ true tale in the back of the book.

Also set in the era of the Great Migration is a short novel for ages 8-12. Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome tells the story of 11 year old Langston who moves from Alabama to Chicago. Nothing is comfortable for Langston as he navigates a new city, a new school, and a new way of life. That is until he finds the poems of his namesake, Langston Hughes in the local library. This book includes rich historical details and doesn’t shy away from topics like bullying, death, grieving, and the complexity of being human.

Nikki Grimes gives a wonderful depiction of Harriet Tubman and Susan B Anthony in the book Chasing Freedom. Two inspiring women in America’s journey towards equality for African Americans and women. Imagine Harriet Tubman and Susan B Anthony chatting over tea and reminiscing about their extraordinary lives and all those who helped them along the way. The back matter in this book gives several resources for diving deeper.

Patricia Polacco is hands down my favorite children's book author. I don't know how she crams so many life lessons into all of her stories but she does it again and again.

In her book Mr. Lincoln's Way, Polacco tells the story of a patient principal and a tough student, Mean Jean. Mean Jean hates everyone who is different from him and becomes quite a bully in the school. Read to see how Mr. Lincoln guides Gene to have acceptance for those who are different from him.

Reading books with your child is the best way to make reading a part of your family. When you read together it can create memories and past times that you and your child will enjoy for years to come.

If you want help getting your child to read more independently you can set reading goals with them. Grab my reading goals packet here to learn how to set reading goals, have several different tracking sheets, and take the stress out of setting reading goals with your child.

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