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African Americans: Books For Kids

This list of the best kids books about African Americans is sure to include a new favorite for the voracious young reader in your life! From What Is Given from the Heart to My First Kwanzaa Book there's something here for everyone's tastes. Do you have a favorite book about African Americans? Let us know!

What Is Given from the Heart book
#1
What Is Given from the Heart
Written by Patricia C McKissack and illustrated by April Harrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This final, magnificent picture book from three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and Newbery Honor author Patricia McKissack is a poignant and uplifting celebration of the joy of giving. "Misery loves company," Mama says to James Otis. It's been a rough couple of months for them, but Mama says as long as they have their health and strength, they're blessed. One Sunday before Valentine's Day, Reverend Dennis makes an announcement during the service— the Temples have lost everything in a fire, and the church is collecting anything that might be useful to them. James thinks hard about what he can add to the Temple's "love box," but what does he have worth giving? With her extraordinary gift for storytelling, McKissack—with stunning illustrations by Harrison—delivers a touching, powerful tale of compassion and reminds us all that what is given from the heart, reaches the heart.

Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott book
#2
Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Written by Dee Romito and illustrated by Laura Freeman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

This stunning picture book looks into the life of Georgia Gilmore, a hidden figure of history who played a critical role in the civil rights movement and used her passion for baking to help the Montgomery Bus Boycott achieve its goal. Georgia decided to help the best way she knew how. She worked together with a group of women and together they purchased the supplies they needed-bread, lettuce, and chickens. And off they went to cook. The women brought food to the mass meetings that followed at the church. They sold sandwiches. They sold dinners in their neighborhoods. As the boycotters walked and walked, Georgia cooked and cooked. Georgia Gilmore was a cook at the National Lunch Company in Montgomery, Alabama. When the bus boycotts broke out in Montgomery after Rosa Parks was arrested, Georgia knew just what to do. She organized a group of women who cooked and baked to fund-raise for gas and cars to help sustain the boycott. Called the Club from Nowhere, Georgia was the only person who knew who baked and bought the food, and she said the money came from "nowhere" to anyone who asked. When Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested for his role in the boycott, Georgia testified on his behalf, and her home became a meeting place for civil rights leaders. This picture book highlights a hidden figure of the civil rights movement who fueled the bus boycotts and demonstrated that one person can make a real change in her community and beyond. It also includes one of her delicious recipes for kids to try with the help of their parents!

A Poem for Peter book
#3
A Poem for Peter
Written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Lou Fancher, Steve Johnson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

A celebration of the extraordinary life of Ezra Jack Keats, creator of The Snowy Day. The story of The Snowy Day begins more than one hundred years ago, when Ezra Jack Keats was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. The family were struggling Polish immigrants, and despite Keats’s obvious talent, his father worried that Ezra’s dream of being an artist was an unrealistic one. But Ezra was determined. By high school he was winning prizes and scholarships. Later, jobs followed with the WPA and Marvel comics. But it was many years before Keats’s greatest dream was realized and he had the opportunity to write and illustrate his own book. For more than two decades, Ezra had kept pinned to his wall a series of photographs of an adorable African American child. In Keats’s hands, the boy morphed into Peter, a boy in a red snowsuit, out enjoying the pristine snow; the book became The Snowy Day, winner of the Caldecott Medal, the first mainstream book to feature an African American child. It was also the first of many books featuring Peter and the children of his — and Keats’s — neighborhood. Andrea Davis Pinkney’s lyrical narrative tells the inspiring story of a boy who pursued a dream, and who, in turn, inspired generations of other dreamers.

Grandmama's Pride book
#4
Grandmama's Pride
Written by Becky Birtha and illustrated by Colin Bootman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

While on a trip in 1956 to visit her grandmother in the South, six-year-old Sarah Marie experiences segregation for the first time, but discovers that things have changed by the time she returns the following year.

Brown Girl Dreaming book
#5
Brown Girl Dreaming
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-16

In vivid poems that reflect the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, an award-winning author shares what it was like to grow up in the 1960s and 1970s in both the North and the South.

  1. Bippity Bop Barbershop - In this companion book to the bestselling I Love My Hair, a young boy, Miles, makes his first trip to the barbershop with his father. Like most little boys, he is afraid of the sharp scissors, the buzzing razor, and the prospect of picking a new hairstyle. But with the support of his dad, the barber, and the other men in the barbershop, Miles bravely sits through his first haircut. Written in a reassuring tone with a jazzy beat and illustrated with graceful, realistic watercolors, this book captures an important rite of passage for boys and celebrates African-American identity.

  2. Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut - Named one of the best books of 2017 by NPR, the Huffington Post , Publishers Weekly , Kirkus Reviews , the Los Angeles Times , the Boston Globe , the Horn Book Magazine , the News & Observer , BookPage , Chicago Public Library, and more The barbershop is where the magic happens. Boys go in as lumps of clay and, with princely robes draped around their shoulders, a dab of cool shaving cream on their foreheads, and a slow, steady cut, they become royalty. That crisp yet subtle line makes boys sharper, more visible, more aware of every great thing that could happen to them when they look good: lesser grades turn into As; girls take notice; even a mother’s hug gets a little tighter. Everyone notices. A fresh cut makes boys fly. This rhythmic, read-aloud title is an unbridled celebration of the self-esteem, confidence, and swagger boys feel when they leave the barber’s chair—a tradition that places on their heads a figurative crown, beaming with jewels, that confirms their brilliance and worth and helps them not only love and accept themselves but also take a giant step toward caring how they present themselves to the world. The fresh cuts. That’s where it all begins. Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is a high-spirited, engaging salute to the beautiful, raw, assured humanity of black boys and how they see themselves when they approve of their reflections in the mirror.

  3. I Am Rosa Parks - Recounts Rosa Parks' daring effort to stand up for herself and other African Americans by helping to end segregation on public transportation.

  4. Words Set Me Free - "Words Set Me Free is the inspiring story of young Frederick Douglass's path to freedom through reading"--

The Snowy Day book
#10
The Snowy Day
Written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Celebrate a major anniversary of a true classic! In 1962, a little boy named Peter put on his snowsuit and stepped out of his house and into the hearts of millions of readers. The Snowy Day transformed children’s literature with its pioneering portrayal of an African-American child and the charming story and artwork that won it the Caldecott Medal. Fifty years later, Viking proudly celebrates Peter’s adventure in this very special edition. Featuring eight pages of bonus material and a festive cover, this oversized edition of Keats’s beloved book is a must-have.

Martin's Big Words book
#11
Martin's Big Words
Written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

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.

The Legendary Miss Lena Horne book
#12
The Legendary Miss Lena Horne
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Celebrate the life of Lena Horne, the pioneering African American actress and civil rights activist, with this inspiring and powerful picture book from award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford. You have to be taught to be second class; you’re not born that way. Lena Horne was born into the freedom struggle, to a family of teachers and activists. Her mother dreamed of being an actress, so Lena followed in her footsteps as she chased small parts in vaudeville, living out of a suitcase until MGM offered Lena something more—the first ever studio contract for a black actress. But the roles she was considered for were maids and mammies, stereotypes that Lena refused to play. Still, she never gave up. “Stormy Weather” became her theme song, and when she sang “This Little Light of Mine” at a civil rights rally, she found not only her voice, but her calling.

So Tall Within book
#13
So Tall Within
Written by Gary D. Schmidt and illustrated by Daniel Minter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From celebrated author Gary D. Schmidt comes a picture book biography of a giant in the struggle for civil rights, perfectly pitched for readers today. Sojourner Truth was born into slavery but possessed a mind and a vision that knew no bounds. So Tall Within traces her life from her painful childhood through her remarkable emancipation to her incredible leadership in the movement for rights for both women and African Americans. Her story is told with lyricism and pathos by Gary D. Schmidt, one of the most celebrated writers for children in the twenty-first century, and brought to life by award winning and fine artist Daniel Minter. This combination of talent is just right for introducing this legendary figure to a new generation of children.

Lift Every Voice and Sing book
#14
Lift Every Voice and Sing
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

First written by a schoolteacher and activist in 1900 and then declared the official African American National Anthem by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1919, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” has been a cornerstone hymn chronicling the black experience for more than one hundred years. Lyrics to this moving history are paired with the linocuts of Elizabeth Catlett, a Harlem Renaissance artist best known for her unique representations of the struggles and triumphs of black men, women, and children. Newly back in print and updated with a fresh design as well as an introduction from beloved author and illustrator Ashley Bryan, Lift Every Voice and Sing is a more relevant than ever celebration of black lives.

  1. Li'l Rabbit's Kwanzaa - Li'l Rabbit is not having a very good Kwanzaa. Granna Rabbit is sick, and so his family won't celebrate his favorite part of Kwanzaa this year: a big feast called Karamu. Li'l Rabbit knows what to do! He'll find Granna Rabbit a special treat for Karamu so she can celebrate anyway. He looks under a pile of logs, in the field, and in the pond and along the way meets Groundhog, Momma Field Mouse, and the frogs—but he doesn't find anything for Granna Rabbit. Maybe I'm just too little to help Granna Rabbit celebrate Kwanzaa, Li'l Rabbit thinks. Or maybe he just needs a little help from his family and friends. Inspired by Brer Rabbit, a trickster character from the African-American folklore tradition, the story of Li'l Rabbit captures the true meaning of Kwanzaa—coming together to help others.

  2. The Women Who Caught the Babies - Through narrative and photographs, Eloise Greenfield highlights important aspects from a few hundred years of the lives of African American midwives and the people they selflessly served. Greenfield incorporates expressive poetry, which is paired with the evocative art of Daniel Minter to bring the powerful story of midwifery to life. The poem "Africa to America" begins the journey, while "The Women," concludes it with a note of gratitude. Also included is a piece titled "Miss Rovenia Mayo," which pays tribute to the midwife who caught newborn Eloise.

  3. Teammates - This is the moving story of how Jackie Robinson became the first black player on a Major League baseball team when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940s, and how on a fateful day in Cincinnati, Pee Wee Reese took a stand and declared Jackie his teammate. Illustrated with a blend of historic photographs and eloquent watercolors by Paul Bacon.

  4. The President Sang Amazing Grace - Lyrical account of the day President Obama sang with a grieving nation following the 2015 shooting in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina When nine people were killed in a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, the nation grieved as one, and when President Barack Obama sang "Amazing Grace" during his eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney, it was acknowledged as one of the most powerful moments of his presidency. Singer/songwriter Zoe Mulford was so moved that she wrote the song "The President Sang Amazing Grace," which was then illustrated by filmmaker and painter Jeff Scher for a video that has been viewed countless times. This book presents the lyrics to the song, Scher's paintings, excerpts from Obama's eulogy, biographies of those who were killed, historical context, and sheet music.

This Jazz Man book
#19
This Jazz Man
Written by Karen Ehrhardt and illustrated by R. G. Roth
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

In this toe-tapping jazz tribute, the traditional "This Old Man" gets a swinging makeover, and some of the era's best musicians take center stage. The tuneful text and vibrant illustrations bop, slide, and shimmy across the page as Satchmo plays one, Bojangles plays two . . . right on down the line to Charles Mingus, who plays nine, plucking strings that sound "divine." Easy on the ear and the eye, this playful introduction to nine jazz giants will teach children to count—and will give them every reason to get up and dance! Includes a brief biography of each musician.

Ice Breaker book
#20
Ice Breaker
Written by Rose Viña and illustrated by Claire Almon
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

In the 1930s, only white figure skaters were allowed in public ice rinks and to compete for gold medals, but Mabel Fairbanks wouldn't let that stop her. With skates two sizes too big and a heart full of dreams, Mabel beat the odds and broke down color barriers through sheer determination and athletic skill. After skating in ice shows across the nation and helping coach and develop the talents of several Olympic champions, Mabel became the first African-American woman to be inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.

For Black Girls Like Me book
#21
For Black Girls Like Me
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

I am a girl but most days I feel like a question mark. Makeda June Kirkland is eleven-years-old, adopted, and black. Her parents and big sister are white, and even though she loves her family very much, Makeda often feels left out. When Makeda's family moves from Maryland to New Mexico, she leaves behind her best friend, Lena- the only other adopted black girl she knows- for a new life. In New Mexico, everything is different. At home, Makeda's sister is too cool to hang out with her anymore and at school, she can't seem to find one true friend. Through it all, Makeda can't help wondering: What would it feel like to grow up with a family that looks like me? Through singing, dreaming, and writing secret messages back and forth with Lena, Makeda might just carve a small place for herself in the world.

Hands Up! book
#22
Hands Up!
Written by Breanna J McDaniel and illustrated by Shane W. Evans
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This triumphant picture book recasts a charged phrase as part of a black girl’s everyday life–hands up for a hug, hands up in class, hands up for a high five–before culminating in a moment of resistance at a protest march. A young black girl lifts her baby hands up to greet the sun, reaches her hands up for a book on a high shelf, and raises her hands up in praise at a church service. She stretches her hands up high like a plane’s wings and whizzes down a hill so fast on her bike with her hands way up. As she grows, she lives through everyday moments of joy, love, and sadness. And when she gets a little older, she joins together with her family and her community in a protest march, where they lift their hands up together in resistance and strength

The Night Is Yours book
#23
The Night Is Yours
Written by Abdul-Razak Zachariah and illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

From the New York Times bestselling illustrator of I Am Enough, this glowing, empowering picture book about a nighttime hide-and-seek game celebrates blackness and self-confidence. Little one, so calm and so happy, the darkness of the night is yours like the darkness of your skin. This lyrical text, narrated to a young girl named Amani by her father, follows her as she plays an evening game of hide-and-seek with friends at her apartment complex. The moon’s glow helps Amani find the last hidden child, and seems almost like a partner to her in her game, as well as a spotlight pointing out her beauty and strength. This is a gorgeous bedtime read-aloud about joy and family love and community, and most of all about feeling great in your own skin.

  1. I Am Martin Luther King, Jr - "A biography of Martin Luther King Jr. that tells the story of how he used nonviolence to lead the civil rights movement"--

  2. Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 - The bold story of an African-American mathematician who worked for NASA during the space race and was depicted in the film "Hidden Figures, " and how she made sure that the crew of Apollo 13 returned home. Full color.

  3. I Am Harriet Tubman - "A biography of Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist leader who played a key role in helping enslaved people escape via the Underground Railroad."

  4. As Good As Anybody - A Baptist preacher from Atlanta. A rabbi born in Poland. Their names came to stand for the struggle for justice and equality. Martin Luther King Jr. grew up in a loving family in the American South, at a time when many of this country’s doors were closed to African Americans. He aimed to open those doors. He became a minister like his daddy, and he preached and marched for his cause. Abraham Joshua Heschel grew up in a loving family in a Europe that did not welcome Jews. He found a new home in America, where he was a rabbi like his father, carrying a message of peace and acceptance. Martin put out a call for others to join him. Abraham knew he must answer Martin’s call. Here is the story of how two men formed a remarkable friendship and turned their personal experiences of discrimination into a message of love and equality for all.

Charlie Takes His Shot book
#28
Charlie Takes His Shot
Written by Nancy Churnin and illustrated by John Joven
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Charlie Sifford loved golf, but in the 1930’s only white people were allowed to play in the Professional Golf Association. Sifford had won plenty of black tournaments, but he was determined to break the color barrier in the PGA. In 1960 he did, only to face discrimination from hotels that wouldn’t rent him rooms and clubs that wouldn’t let him use the same locker as the white players. But Sifford kept playing, becoming the first black golfer to win a PGA tournament and eventually ranking among the greats in golf.

My Hair is a Garden book
#29
My Hair is a Garden
Written and illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

After a day of being taunted by classmates about her unruly hair, Mackenzie can’t take any more and she seeks guidance from her wise and comforting neighbor, Miss Tillie. Using the beautiful garden in the backyard as a metaphor, Miss Tillie shows Mackenzie that maintaining healthy hair is not a chore nor is it something to fear. Most importantly, Mackenzie learns that natural black hair is beautiful.

Young, Gifted and Black book
#30
Young, Gifted and Black
Written by Jamia Wilson and illustrated by Andrea Pippins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Meet 52 icons of color from the past and present in this celebration of inspirational achievement - from figureheads, leaders and pioneers such as Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Rosa Parks, to cultural trailblazers and sporting heroes, including Stevie Wonder, Oprah Winfrey and Serena Williams. Strong, courageous, talented and diverse, these extraordinary men and women's achievements will inspire a new generation to chase their dream … whatever it may be.

Twice As Good- William Powell book
#31
Twice As Good- William Powell
Written by Richard Michelson and illustrated by Eric Velasquez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

Willie Powell had been told, “If you are going to get ahead in this world, you can’t be as good as the white children; you have to be twice as good.” He took this advice to heart. Willie dreamed of becoming a professional golfer, but his accomplishments went far beyond playing the game of golf. Willie was often denied the opportunity to play golf because he was African American. Determined, he decided to build his own course, and welcome people of all color to play golf.

Someday is Now book
#32
Someday is Now
Written by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and illustrated by Jade Johnson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Someday Is Now tells the inspirational story of the celebrated civil rights leader, Clara Luper, who led one of the first lunch-counter sit-ins in America. How will you stand against something you know is wrong? One way is to follow the lessons of bravery taught by civil rights pioneers like Clara Luper. As a child, Clara saw how segregation affected her life. Her journey famously led her to Oklahoma, where she and her students desegregated stores and restaurants that were closed to African-Americans. With courage and conviction, Clara Luper led young people to “do what had to be done.” This moving title includes additional information on Clara Luper's extraordinary life, her lessons of nonviolent resistance, and a glossary of key civil rights people and terms.

  1. Strange Fruit - The audience was completely silent the first time Billie Holiday performed a song called ""Strange Fruit."" In the 1930s, Billie was known as a performer of jazz and blues music, but this song wasn't either of those things. It was a song about injustice, and it would change her life forever. Discover how two outsiders--Billie Holiday, a young black woman raised in poverty, and Abel Meeropol, the son of Jewish immigrants--combined their talents to create a song that challenged racism and paved the way for the Civil Rights movement.""The audience was completely silent the first time Billie Holiday performed a song called ""Strange Fruit."" In the 1930s, Billie was known as a performer of jazz and blues music, but this song wasn't either of those things. It was a song about injustice, and it would change her life forever. Discover how two outsiders--Billie Holiday, a young black woman raised in poverty, and Abel Meeropol, the son of Jewish immigrants--combined their talents to create a song that challenged racism and paved the way for the Civil Rights movement.

  2. Gordon Parks - His white teacher tells her all-black class, You’ll all wind up porters and waiters. What did she know? Gordon Parks is most famous for being the first black director in Hollywood. But before he made movies and wrote books, he was a poor African American looking for work. When he bought a camera, his life changed forever. He taught himself how to take pictures and before long, people noticed. His success as a fashion photographer landed him a job working for the government. In Washington DC, Gordon went looking for a subject, but what he found was segregation. He and others were treated differently because of the color of their skin. Gordon wanted to take a stand against the racism he observed. With his camera in hand, he found a way. Told through lyrical verse and atmospheric art, this is the story of how, with a single photograph, a self-taught artist got America to take notice.

  3. Lift Your Light a Little Higher - The story of Stephen Bishop, a slave and early explorer and guide at Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.

  4. Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe - A beautiful picture book about Ann Cole Lowe, a little-known African-American fashion designer who battled personal and social adversity in order to pursue her passion of making beautiful gowns and went on to become one of society’s top designers. Wisps of cloth would fall from their worktables like confetti, and Ann would scoop them up and turn them into flowers as bright as roses in the garden. Ann’s family came from Alabama. Her great grandma had been a slave, so her family knew about working hard just to get by. As soon as Ann Cole Lowe could walk, her momma and grandma taught her to sew. She worked near her momma in their Alabama family shop in the early 1900s, making glorious dresses for women who went to fancy parties. When Ann was 16, her momma died, and Ann continued sewing dresses. It wasn’t easy, especially when she went to design school and had to learn alone, segregated from the rest of the class. But the work she did set her spirit soaring, as evidenced in the clothes she made, including Jackie Kennedy's wedding dress and Olivia de Havilland's dress at the Oscars when she won for Best Actress in To Each His Own. Rarely credited, Ann Cole Lowe became “society’s best kept secret.” This beautiful picture book shines the spotlight on a little-known visionary who persevered in times of hardship, always doing what she was passionate about: making elegant gowns for the women who loved to wear them.

Meet Miss Fancy book
#37
Meet Miss Fancy
Written by Irene Latham and illustrated by John Holyfield
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A charming and significant story set prior to the Civil Rights Movement about a boy who finds a way to challenge segregation laws. Frank has always been obsessed with elephants. He loves their hosepipe trunks, tree stump feet, and swish-swish tails. So when Miss Fancy, the elephant, retires from the circus and moves two blocks from his house to Avondale Park, he’s over the moon! Frank really wants to pet her. But Avondale Park is just for white people, so Frank is not allowed to see Miss Fancy. Frank is heartbroken but he doesn’t give up: instead he makes a plan! Frank writes to the City Council so his church can host a picnic in the park, and he can finally meet Miss Fancy. All of his neighbors sign the letter, but when some protest, the picnic is cancelled and Frank is heartbroken all over again. Then Miss Fancy escapes the zoo, and it’s up to Frank to find her before she gets hurt.

My Year in the Middle book
#38
My Year in the Middle
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Miss Garrett’s classroom is like every other at our school. White kids sit on one side and black kids on the other. I’m one of the few middle-rowers who split the difference. In a racially polarized classroom in 1970 Alabama, Lu’s talent for running track makes her a new best friend—and tests her mettle as she navigates the school’s social cliques. Sixth-grader Lu Olivera just wants to keep her head down and get along with everyone in her class. Trouble is, Lu’s old friends have been changing lately—acting boy crazy and making snide remarks about Lu’s newfound talent for running track. Lu’s secret hope for a new friend is fellow runner Belinda Gresham, but in 1970 Red Grove, Alabama, blacks and whites don’t mix. As segregationist ex-governor George Wallace ramps up his campaign against the current governor, Albert Brewer, growing tensions in the state—and in the classroom—mean that Lu can’t stay neutral about the racial divide at school. Will she find the gumption to stand up for what’s right and to choose friends who do the same?

Sugar Hill book
#39
Sugar Hill
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by R Gregory Christie
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Take a walk through Harlem's Sugar Hill and meet all the amazing people who made this neighborhood legendary. With upbeat rhyming, read-aloud text, Sugar Hill celebrates the Harlem neighborhood that successful African Americans first called home during the 1920s. Children raised in Sugar Hill not only looked up to these achievers but also experienced art and culture at home, at church, and in the community. Books, music lessons, and art classes expanded their horizons beyond the narrow limits of segregation. Includes brief biographies of jazz greats Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Sonny Rollins, and Miles Davis; artists Aaron Douglas and Faith Ringgold; entertainers Lena Horne and the Nicholas Brothers; writer Zora Neale Hurston; civil rights leader W. E. B. DuBois and lawyer Thurgood Marshall.

Schomburg: the Man Who Built a Library book
#40
Schomburg: the Man Who Built a Library
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Eric Velasquez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

In luminous paintings and arresting poems, two of children’s literature’s top African-American scholars track Arturo Schomburg’s quest to correct history. Where is our historian to give us our side? Arturo asked. Amid the scholars, poets, authors, and artists of the Harlem Renaissance stood an Afro–Puerto Rican named Arturo Schomburg. This law clerk’s life’s passion was to collect books, letters, music, and art from Africa and the African diaspora and bring to light the achievements of people of African descent through the ages. When Schomburg’s collection became so big it began to overflow his house (and his wife threatened to mutiny), he turned to the New York Public Library, where he created and curated a collection that was the cornerstone of a new Negro Division. A century later, his groundbreaking collection, known as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, has become a beacon to scholars all over the world.

Preaching to the Chickens book
#41
Preaching to the Chickens
Written by Jabari Asim and illustrated by E.B. Lewis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Critically acclaimed author Jabari Asim and Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator E. B. Lewis give readers a fascinating glimpse into the boyhood of Civil Rights leader John Lewis. John wants to be a preacher when he grows up—a leader whose words stir hearts to change, minds to think, and bodies to take action. But why wait? When John is put in charge of the family farm’s flock of chickens, he discovers that they make a wonderful congregation! So he preaches to his flock, and they listen, content under his watchful care, riveted by the rhythm of his voice. Celebrating ingenuity and dreaming big, this inspirational story, featuring Jabari Asim’s stirring prose and E. B. Lewis’s stunning, light-filled impressionistic watercolor paintings, includes an author’s note about John Lewis, who grew up to be a member of the Freedom Riders, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and demonstrator on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. John Lewis is now a Georgia congressman, who is still an activist today, recently holding a sit-in on the House floor of the U.S. Capitol to try to force a vote on gun violence. His March: Book Three recently won the National Book Award, as well as the American Library Association’s Coretta Scott King Author Award, Printz Award, and Sibert Award.

  1. The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. - An easy-to-read biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his impact on society.

  2. Voices from the Underground Railroad - Siblings Mattie and Jeb escape slavery via the Underground Railroad, meeting helpful conductors and dodging slave catchers as they travel from Maryland to Massachusetts

  3. Waiting for Pumpsie - In 1959 the Boston Red Sox was the last team in the Major Leagues to integrate. But when they call Elijah “Pumpsie” Green up from the minors, Bernard is overjoyed to see a black player on his beloved home team. And, when Pumpsie’s first home game is scheduled, Bernard and his family head to Fenway Park. Bernard is proud of Pumpsie and hopeful that this historic event is the start of great change in America. This fictionalized account captures the true story of baseball player Pumpsie Green’s rise to the major leagues. The story is a snapshot of the Civil Rights Movement and a great discussion starter about the state of race relations in the United States today.

  4. The Quilts of Gee's Bend - Since the early nineteenth century, the women of Gee s Bend in southern Alabama have created stunning, vibrant quilts. In the only photo-essay book about the quilts of Gee s Bend for children, award-winning author Susan Goldman Rubin explores the history and culture of this fascinating group of women and their unique quilting traditions. Rubin uses meticulous research to offer an exclusive look at an important facet of African American art and culture. In the rural community of Gee s Bend, African American women have been making quilts for generations. They use scraps of old overalls, aprons, and bleached cornmeal sacks anything they can find. Their traditions have been passed down through the decades. Much to the women s surprise, a selection of the quilts was featured in an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in 2002. The exhibition then traveled to the Whitney Museum in New York City. Eye-poppingly gorgeous, wrote a critic for the "New York Times "about the exhibition. He continued, Some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced. The Metropolitan Museum of Art will exhibit its newly acquired collection of Gee s Bend quilts in 2017. Rubin is known for producing well-researched, highly praised, and sophisticated biographies of artists and other important figures. Through similar research, "The Quilts of Gee s Bend" shares specifics about this rare community and its rich traditions, allowing children to pause to consider history through the eyes of the people who lived it and through a legacy that is passed on to the next generation. This book should be of great interest to classrooms, libraries, and those interested in African American art in the United States, in addition to quilting, life in early emancipated colonies in the South, and Gee s Bends importance in the Civil Right s movement. The quilts and the incredible stories behind them are powerful motivators for anyone who wishes to accomplish anything. A map, directions on how to make a quilt square, endnotes, and an index round out this stunning nonfiction book. "

Fearless Mary book
#46
Fearless Mary
Written by Tami Charles and illustrated by Claire Almon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

"The true story of Mary Fields, aka "Stagecoach Mary," a trailblazing African American woman who helped settle the American West."--Provided by the Publisher.

My Story, My Dance book
#47
My Story, My Dance
Written by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by James E. Ransome
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

A boy discovers his passion for dance and becomes a modern hero in this inspiring picture book biography of Robert Battle, artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. When Robert Battle was a boy wearing leg braces, he never dreamed he’d study at Juilliard. Though most dancers begin training at an early age, it wasn’t until Robert was a teenager that his appreciation for movement—first from martial arts, then for ballet—became his passion. But support from his family and teachers paired with his desire and determination made it possible for Robert to excel. After years of hard work, the young man who was so inspired by a performance of Alvin Ailey’s Revelations became the artistic director of the very company that motivated him. Today, under Robert’s leadership, Alvin Ailey continues to represent the African American spirit through dance. Featuring illustrations brimming with vibrant color and swirling motion, this biographical picture book from husband-and-wife team James Ransome and Lisa Cline-Ransome includes a foreword from Robert Battle himself as well as a bibliography, suggested further reading, and an author’s note. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was founded in 1958 by choreographer Alvin Ailey. He envisioned a company dedicated to enriching the American modern dance heritage and preserving the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience. When Mr. Ailey began creating dances, he drew upon his “blood memories” of his home state of Texas, the blues, spirituals, and gospel inspiration, which resulted in the creation of his most popular and critically acclaimed work, Revelations. Since its founding, the company has performed in seventy-one countries on six continents. It’s repertory includes works by Mr. Ailey and ninety other choreographers, and new works are commissioned each year. Judith Jamison succeeded Mr. Ailey as artistic director, and in 2011, she selected Robert Battle to be her successor. Learn more at AlvinAiley.org.

Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town book
#48
Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town
Written by A. LaFaye and illustrated by Nicole Tadgell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When Dede sees a notice offering land for black people in Kansas, her family decides to quit sharecropping and become homesteading pioneers.Inspired by the true story of Nicodemus, Kansas, a town founded in the late 1870s by Exodusters—former slaves leaving the Jim Crow South in search of a new beginning— this fictional story follows Dede and her parents as they set out to stake and secure a claim, finally allowing them to have a home to call their own.

Climbing Lincoln's Steps book
#49
Climbing Lincoln's Steps
Written by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Colin Bootman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

Interweaves the story of black Americans' struggle for equality with important moments in African-American history that have occurred at the Lincoln Memorial, including Marian Anderson's concert in 1939; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous speech in 1963; and a visit from the first African-American president and his family in 2009.

Hidden Figures Young Readers' Edition book
#50
Hidden Figures Young Readers' Edition
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

New York Times bestselling author Margot Lee Shetterly’s book is now available in a new edition perfect for young readers. This is the amazing true story of four African-American female mathematicians at NASA who helped achieve some of the greatest moments in our space program. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kirsten Dunst, and Kevin Costner. Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. This book brings to life the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, four African-American women who lived through the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the movement for gender equality, and whose work forever changed the face of NASA and the country.

  1. Bird & Diz - When sax player Charlie “Bird” Parker and trumpeter John “Dizzy” Gillespie make music together, they toss notes back and forth like a game of tag and chase each other with sounds. As Dizzy’s cheeks puff out like a frog with glasses, the two friends beep and bop and push each other to create a new kind of music—a thrilling fast jazz full of surprises. Blending a playful, rhythmic narration with expressive illustrations as fluid and dynamic as their subjects, this tribute to the masters of bebop by acclaimed biographer Gary Golio and beloved artist Ed Young will have readers hankering to listen for themselves!

  2. My First Kwanzaa Book - Introduces Kwanzaa, the holiday in which Afro-Americans celebrate their cultural heritage.

Did you enjoy our children's book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!