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Civil Rights: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about civil rights?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to civil rights. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about civil rights.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.

When it comes to children’s stories about civil rights, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr to popular sellers like March: Book One to some of our favorite hidden gems like Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr..

We hope this list of kids books about civil rights can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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Top 10 Books About Civil Rights

#1
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This Little Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer
Written by Joan Holub & illustrated by Daniel Roode
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-5

Learn all about influential women who changed history in this engaging and colorful board book perfect for trailblazers-in-training!

Paving the way to a future that’s bright. Helping the world with their skills, smarts, and might.

Little trailblazers cause great big changes.

In this follow up to This Little President and This Little Explorer, now even the youngest readers can learn all about great and empowering female trailblazers in history! Highlighting ten memorable women leaders who paved the way, parents and little ones alike will love this girl power primer full of fun, age-appropriate facts and bold illustrations.

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#2
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Maya Angelou
Written by Lisbeth Kaiser & illustrated by Leire Salaberria
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Meet Maya Angelou, the world’s most beloved writer and speaker! Now available as a board book in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the life of Maya Angelou, from her early traumatic childhood to her time as a singer, actress, civil rights campaigner and, eventually, one of America’s most beloved writers of poetry, memoirs, and essays. With stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!

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#3
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I Have a Dream
Written by & illustrated by Kadir Nelson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Presents the text of the famous speech given on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. by Martin Luther King, Jr., complemented by paintings illustrating the ideals the civil rights leader described.

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#4
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Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Written by Dee Romito & 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!

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#5
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Rosa Parks
Written by Lisbeth Kaiser & illustrated by Marta Antelo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

New in the Little People, Big Dreams series, discover the incredible life of Rosa Parks, ‘ The Mother of the Freedom Movement’, in this inspiring story. In this true story of an inspiring civil rights activist, Rosa Parks grew up during segregation in Alabama, but she was taught to respect herself and stand up for her rights. In 1955, Rosa refused to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Her decision had a huge impact on civil rights, eventually leading to the end of segregation on public transport. With stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!

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#6
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Let the Children March
Written by Monica Clark-Robinson & illustrated by Frank Morrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Under the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, children and teenagers march against segregation in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963.

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#7
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The Story of Ruby Bridges
Written by Robert Coles & illustrated by George Ford
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

For months six-year-old Ruby Bridges must confront the hostility of white parents when she becomes the first African American girl to integrate William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans in 1960.

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#8
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I Am Rosa Parks
Written by Brad Meltzer & illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Recounts Rosa Parks’ daring effort to stand up for herself and other African Americans by helping to end segregation on public transportation.

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#9
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Maya Angelou
Written by Lisbeth Kaiser & illustrated by Leire Salaberria
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In the Little People, Big Dreams series, discover the lives of outstanding people from designers and artists to scientists. All of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. The book follows Maya Angelou, from her early traumatic childhood to her time as a singer, actress, civil rights campaigner and, eventually, one of America’s most beloved writers. This inspiring and informative little biography comes with extra facts about Maya’s life at the back.

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#10
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A Ride to Remember: A Civil Rights Story
Written by Sharon Langley and Amy Nathan & illustrated by Floyd Cooper
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

The true story of how a ride on a carousel made a powerful Civil Rights statement
 
_A Ride to Remember_ tells how a community came together—both black and white—to make a change. When Sharon Langley was born in the early 1960s, many amusement parks were segregated, and African-American families were not allowed entry. This book reveals how in the summer of 1963, due to demonstrations and public protests, the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in Maryland became desegregated and opened to all for the first time. Co-author Sharon Langley was the first African-American child to ride the carousel. This was on the same day of Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Langley’s ride to remember demonstrated the possibilities of King’s dream. This book includes photos of Sharon on the carousel, authors’ notes, a timeline, and a bibliography.

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Table of Contents
Scroll to books about Civil Rights and...

Books About Civil Rights and Antiracism

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I Have a Dream
Written by & illustrated by Kadir Nelson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Presents the text of the famous speech given on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. by Martin Luther King, Jr., complemented by paintings illustrating the ideals the civil rights leader described.

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$18.99
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$16.14
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$13.40
Used $4.38
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Let the Children March
Written by Monica Clark-Robinson & illustrated by Frank Morrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Under the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, children and teenagers march against segregation in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963.

Buy book
$17.99
Bookshop
$15.29
Amazon
$13.70
Used $9.95
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Add to list
A Ride to Remember: A Civil Rights Story
Written by Sharon Langley and Amy Nathan & illustrated by Floyd Cooper
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

The true story of how a ride on a carousel made a powerful Civil Rights statement
 
_A Ride to Remember_ tells how a community came together—both black and white—to make a change. When Sharon Langley was born in the early 1960s, many amusement parks were segregated, and African-American families were not allowed entry. This book reveals how in the summer of 1963, due to demonstrations and public protests, the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in Maryland became desegregated and opened to all for the first time. Co-author Sharon Langley was the first African-American child to ride the carousel. This was on the same day of Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Langley’s ride to remember demonstrated the possibilities of King’s dream. This book includes photos of Sharon on the carousel, authors’ notes, a timeline, and a bibliography.

Buy book
$18.99
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$16.14
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$16.99
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Honorable Mentions
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  1. The Youngest Marcher - Meet the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963, in this moving picture book that proves you’re never too little to make a difference. Nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks intended to go places and do things like anybody else. So when she heard grown-ups talk about wiping out Birmingham’s segregation laws, she spoke up. As she listened to the preacher’s words, smooth as glass, she sat up tall. And when she heard the plan—picket those white stores! March to protest those unfair laws! Fill the jails!—she stepped right up and said, I’ll do it! She was going to j-a-a-il! Audrey Faye Hendricks was confident and bold and brave as can be, and hers is the remarkable and inspiring story of one child’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.

  2. 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.

  3. Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation - A 2015 Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book and a 2015 Robert F. Sibert Honor Book
    Almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. An American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, Mendez was denied enrollment to a “Whites only” school. Her parents took action by organizing the Hispanic community and filing a lawsuit in federal district court. Their success eventually brought an end to the era of segregated education in California.
    Praise for Separate is Never Equal
    STARRED REVIEW**S**
    “_Tonatiuh masterfully combines text and folk-inspired art to add an important piece to the mosaic of U.S. civil rights history.”
    –_Kirkus Reviews
    , starred review
    “Younger children will be outraged by the injustice of the Mendez family story but pleased by its successful resolution. Older children will understand the importance of the 1947 ruling that desegregated California schools, paving the way for Brown v. Board of Education seven years later.”
    School Library Journal, starred review
    “Tonatiuh (Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote) offers an illuminating account of a family’s hard-fought legal battle to desegregate California schools in the years before Brown v. Board of Education.”
    Publishers Weekly
    “Pura Belpré Award-winning Tonatiuh makes excellent use of picture-book storytelling to bring attention to the 1947 California ruling against public-school segregation.”
    Booklist
    “The straightforward narrative is well matched with the illustrations in Tonatiuh’s signature style, their two-dimensional perspective reminiscent of the Mixtec codex but collaged with paper, wood, cloth, brick, and (Photoshopped) hair to provide textural variation. This story deserves to be more widely known, and now, thanks to this book, it will be.”
    The Horn Book Magazine

  4. Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement - A collage-illustrated collection of poems and spirituals inspired by the life and work of civil rights advocate Fannie Lou Hamer.

Want to see books about antiracism?

Books About Civil Rights and Girls And Women

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Maya Angelou
Written by Lisbeth Kaiser & illustrated by Leire Salaberria
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Meet Maya Angelou, the world’s most beloved writer and speaker! Now available as a board book in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the life of Maya Angelou, from her early traumatic childhood to her time as a singer, actress, civil rights campaigner and, eventually, one of America’s most beloved writers of poetry, memoirs, and essays. With stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!

Buy book
$8.99
Bookshop
$7.64
Amazon
$5.59
Used $1.00
Prices as of Feb 24
Add to list
Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Written by Dee Romito & 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!

Buy book
$17.99
Bookshop
$15.29
Amazon
$14.47
Used $6.99
Prices as of Feb 24
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Lifting as We Climb: Black Women's Battle for the Ballot Box
Written by Evette Dionne
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-
For African American women, the fight for the right to vote was only
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  1. All the Way to the Top: How One Girl's Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything - This is the story of a little girl who just wanted to go, even when others tried to stop her.

  2. Viola Desmond Won't Be Budged! - In 1946, Viola Desmond bought a movie ticket at the Roseland Theatre in Nova Scotia. After settling into a main floor seat, an usher came by and told her to move, because her ticket was only good for the balcony. She offered to pay the difference in price but was refused: You people have to sit in the upstairs section. Viola refused to move. She was hauled off to jail, but her actions gave strength and inspiration to Canada s black community. Vibrant illustrations and oral-style prose tell Viola s story with sympathy and historical accuracy.”

  3. She Spoke - When the world tells you to stay quiet, do you listen, or do you speak up? In She Spoke: 14 Women Who Raised Their Voices and Changed the World, with the touch of a button readers can hear Maya Angelou, Mary McLeod Bethune, Shirley Chisholm, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Tammy Duckworth, Leymah Gbowee, Jane Goodall, Temple Grandin, Suzan Shown Harjo, Dolores Huerta, Joanne Liu, Abby Wambach, and Malala Yousafzai. Through succinct profiles, stunning portraits by illustrator Kathrin Honesta, and the original voices of these women, She Spoke will inspire readers of all ages to share their own truths and change the world.

  4. Dissenter on the Bench: Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Life and Work - The life and career of the fiercely principled Supreme Court Justice, now a popular icon, with dramatic accounts of her landmark cases that moved the needle on legal protection of human rights, illustrated with b/w archival photographs. Dramatically narrated case histories from Justice Ginsburg’s stellar career are interwoven with an account of RBG’s life—childhood, family, beliefs, education, marriage, legal and judicial career, children, and achievements—and her many-faceted personality is captured. The cases described, many involving young people, demonstrate her passionate concern for gender equality, fairness, and our constitutional rights. Notes, bibliography, index.

Books About Civil Rights and Historical Figures

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This Little Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer
Written by Joan Holub & illustrated by Daniel Roode
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-5

Learn all about influential women who changed history in this engaging and colorful board book perfect for trailblazers-in-training!

Paving the way to a future that’s bright. Helping the world with their skills, smarts, and might.

Little trailblazers cause great big changes.

In this follow up to This Little President and This Little Explorer, now even the youngest readers can learn all about great and empowering female trailblazers in history! Highlighting ten memorable women leaders who paved the way, parents and little ones alike will love this girl power primer full of fun, age-appropriate facts and bold illustrations.

Buy book
$7.99
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$6.79
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$4.99
Used $1.27
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Maya Angelou
Written by Lisbeth Kaiser & illustrated by Leire Salaberria
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In the Little People, Big Dreams series, discover the lives of outstanding people from designers and artists to scientists. All of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. The book follows Maya Angelou, from her early traumatic childhood to her time as a singer, actress, civil rights campaigner and, eventually, one of America’s most beloved writers. This inspiring and informative little biography comes with extra facts about Maya’s life at the back.

Buy book
$15.99
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$13.59
Amazon
$10.24
Used $2.00
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I Am Martin Luther King, Jr
Written by Brad Meltzer & illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

“A biography of Martin Luther King Jr. that tells the story of how he used nonviolence to lead the civil rights movement”–

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  1. Martin and Anne - Anne Frank and Martin Luther King Jr. were born the same year a world apart. Both faced ugly prejudices and violence, which both answered with words of love and faith in humanity. This is the story of their parallel journeys to find hope in darkness and to follow their dreams.

  2. Be a King - You can be a King. Stamp out hatred. Put your foot down and walk tall. You can be a King. Beat the drum for justice. March to your own conscience. Featuring a dual narrative of the key moments of Dr. King’s life alongside a modern class as the students learn about him, Carole Weatherford’s poetic text encapsulates the moments that readers today can reenact in their own lives. See a class of young students as they begin a school project inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and learn to follow his example, as he dealt with adversity and never lost hope that a future of equality and justice would soon be a reality. As times change, Dr. King’s example remains, encouraging a new generation of children to take charge and change the world . . . to be a King.

  3. My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - What was it like growing up as a son of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? This picture book memoir, My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King III, provides insight into one of history’s most fascinating families and into a special bond between father and son. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Martin Luther King III was one of those four little children mentioned in Martin Luther King’s groundbreaking “I Have a Dream” speech. In this memoir, Martin Luther King Jr.’s son gives an intimate look at the man and the father behind the civil rights leader. Mr. King’s remembrances show both his warm, loving family and a momentous time in American history. AG Ford is the illustrator of several other books for children, including the New York Times bestselling Barack. He is the recipient of an NAACP Image Award.

  4. Preaching to the Chickens - 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.

Books About Civil Rights and Race Relations

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Rosa Parks
Written by Lisbeth Kaiser & illustrated by Marta Antelo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

New in the Little People, Big Dreams series, discover the incredible life of Rosa Parks, ‘ The Mother of the Freedom Movement’, in this inspiring story. In this true story of an inspiring civil rights activist, Rosa Parks grew up during segregation in Alabama, but she was taught to respect herself and stand up for her rights. In 1955, Rosa refused to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Her decision had a huge impact on civil rights, eventually leading to the end of segregation on public transport. With stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!

Buy book
$14.99
Bookshop
$12.74
Amazon
$11.20
Used $5.20
Prices as of Feb 24
Add to list
I Am Rosa Parks
Written by Brad Meltzer & illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Recounts Rosa Parks’ daring effort to stand up for herself and other African Americans by helping to end segregation on public transportation.

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$13.59
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$9.89
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Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-Winning Stamped from the Beginning
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 13-17
The #1 New York Times bestseller and a USAToday bestseller!
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  1. Lizzie Demands a Seat!: Elizabeth Jennings Fights for Streetcar Rights - In 1854, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Jennings, an African American schoolteacher, fought back when she was unjustly denied entry to a New York City streetcar, sparking the beginnings of the long struggle to gain equal rights on public transportation. One hundred years before Rosa Parks took her stand, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Jennings tried to board a streetcar in New York City on her way to church. Though there were plenty of empty seats, she was denied entry, assaulted, and threatened all because of her race–even though New York was a free state at that time. Lizzie decided to fight back. She told her story, took her case to court–where future president Chester Arthur represented her–and won! Her victory was the first recorded in the fight for equal rights on public transportation, and Lizzie’s case set a precedent. Author Beth Anderson and acclaimed illustrator E. B. Lewis bring this inspiring, little-known story to life in this captivating book.

  2. Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down - It was February 1, 1960.<br>They didn’t need menus. Their order was simple.

  3. Someday is Now - 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.

  4. National Geographic Readers: Rosa Parks - Find out about the life of Rosa Parks and how her actions in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 helped end racial segregation in America. This book follows the same standards as other National Geographic Readers with the same careful text, brilliant photographs, and fun approach that kids love. The life story of Rosa Parks has enduring lessons to teach us and this biography should appeal to kids, parents, and teachers.

Books About Civil Rights and Segregation

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The Story of Ruby Bridges
Written by Robert Coles & illustrated by George Ford
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

For months six-year-old Ruby Bridges must confront the hostility of white parents when she becomes the first African American girl to integrate William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans in 1960.

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Grandmama's Pride
Written by Becky Birtha & 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.

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This Promise of Change: One Girl's Story in the Fight for School Equality
Written by Jo Ann Boyce & illustrated by Debbie Levy
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-12

In 1956, one year before federal troops escorted the Little Rock 9 into Central High School, fourteen year old Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve African-American students who broke the color barrier and integrated Clinton High School in Tennessee. At first things went smoothly for the Clinton 12, but then outside agitators interfered, pitting the townspeople against one another. Uneasiness turned into anger, and even the Clinton Twelve themselves wondered if the easier thing to do would be to go back to their old school. Jo Ann–clear-eyed, practical, tolerant, and popular among both black and white students—found herself called on as the spokesperson of the group. But what about just being a regular teen? This is the heartbreaking and relatable story of her four months thrust into the national spotlight and as a trailblazer in history. Based on original research and interviews and featuring backmatter with archival materials and notes from the authors on the co-writing process.

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  1. Freedom Summer - John Henry swims better than anyone I know.
    He crawls like a catfish,
    blows bubbles like a swamp monster,
    but he doesn't swim in the town pool with me.
    He's not allowed.

  2. Through My Eyes - Ruby Bridges recounts the story of her involvement, as a six-year-old, in the integration of her school in New Orleans in 1960.

  3. Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My True Story - The extraordinary true story of Ruby Bridges, the first African-American child to integrate a New Orleans school–now with simple text for young readers! <p/>In 1960, six-year-old Ruby Bridges walked through an angry crowd and into a school where she changed history. <p/>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.

  4. Ron's Big Mission - Nine-year-old Ron loves going to the Lake City Public Library to look through all the books on airplanes and flight. Today, Ron is ready to take out books by <i>himself</i>. But in the segregated world of South Carolina in the 1950s, Ron’s obtaining his own library card is not just a small rite of passage–it is a young man’s first courageous mission. Here is an inspiring story, based on Ron McNair’s life, of how a little boy, future scientist, and <i>Challenger</i> astronaut desegregated his library through peaceful resistance.

Books About Civil Rights and America

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V Is for Voting
Written by Kate Farrell & illustrated by Caitlin Kuhwald
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

V Is for Voting is an ABC book that introduces progressive families to concepts like social justice and civil rights and reminds readers that every vote counts!

A is for active participation.
B is for building a more equal nation.
C is for citizens’ rights and our duty.
D is for difference, our strength and our beauty.

An engaging introduction to the tenets of democracy, V Is for Voting is a playful, poetic, and powerful primer about the importance of voting and activism. Featuring Kate Farrell’s rhyming text and Caitlin Kuhwald’s bold art, plus thoughtful back matter, the book is a gorgeous, and crucial, addition to every young reader’s library. It makes the perfect gift for fans of A Is for Activist, Woke Baby, and Feminist Baby.

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Free for You and Me: What Our First Amendment Means
Written by Christy Mihaly & illustrated by Manu Montoya
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

It’s a free country! But what does that mean? Find out the five liberties protected by the First Amendment. Vivid examples from history and everyday life demonstrate the meaning of freedom of religion, speech, and the press, and the rights to assemble peacefully and to petition the government.

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March: Book Three
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 13-16

Welcome to the stunning conclusion of the award-winning and best-selling MARCH trilogy. Congressman John Lewis, an American icon and one of the key figures of the civil rights movement, joins co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell to bring the lessons of history to vivid life for a new generation, urgently relevant for today’s world. <p/>By the fall of 1963, the Civil Rights Movement has penetrated deep into the American consciousness, and as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, John Lewis is guiding the tip of the spear. Through relentless direct action, SNCC continues to force the nation to confront its own blatant injustice, but for every step forward, the danger grows more intense: Jim Crow strikes back through legal tricks, intimidation, violence, and death. The only hope for lasting change is to give voice to the millions of Americans silenced by voter suppression: “One Man, One Vote.” <p/>To carry out their nonviolent revolution, Lewis and an army of young activists launch a series of innovative campaigns, including the Freedom Vote, Mississippi Freedom Summer, and an all-out battle for the soul of the Democratic Party waged live on national television. <p/>With these new struggles come new allies, new opponents, and an unpredictable new president who might be both at once. But fractures within the movement are deepening … even as 25-year-old John Lewis prepares to risk everything in a historic showdown high above the Alabama river, in a town called Selma. <p/><b>Winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature<br>#1 <i>New York Times</i> Bestseller<br>2017 Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner<br>2017 Michael L. Printz Award Winner<br>2017 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal Winner<br>2017 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction - Winner<br>2017 Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature - Winner<br>2017 Flora Stieglitz Straus Award Winner<br>2017 <i>LA Times</i> Book Prize for Young Adult Literature - Finalist<br> </b>

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  1. March: Book Two - Congressman John Lewis, an American icon and one of the key figures of the civil rights movement, continues his award-winning graphic novel trilogy with co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell, inspired by a 1950s comic book that helped prepare his own generation to join the struggle. Now, March brings the lessons of history to vivid life for a new generation, urgently relevant for today’s world. After the success of the Nashville sit-in campaign, John Lewis is more committed than ever to changing the world through nonviolence - but as he and his fellow Freedom Riders board a bus into the vicious heart of the deep south, they will be tested like never before. Faced with beatings, police brutality, imprisonment, arson, and even murder, the movement’s young activists place their lives on the line while internal conflicts threaten to tear them apart. <p/>But their courage will attract the notice of powerful allies, from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy… and once Lewis is elected chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, this 23-year-old will be thrust into the national spotlight, becoming one of the “Big Six” leaders of the civil rights movement and a central figure in the landmark 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. <p/><b>New York Times Bestseller<br>One of YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens</b><br><b>2016 Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work - Winner</b><br><b>2016 Harvey Award for Best Biographical, Historical, or Journalistic Presentation - Winner</b><br><b>2016 Harvey Award for Best Graphic Album Original - Winner</b><br><b>2016 Street Literature Book Award Medal for Best Graphic Novel - Winner</b><br><b>2016 Denver Independent Comic & Art Expo Award for Best Work - Mid/Large Press - Winner</b>

  2. March: Book One - #1 New York Times Bestseller

  3. When Martin Luther King Jr. Wore Roller Skates - Martin Luther King Jr. led the American Civil Rights Movement. But do you know what he was like as a child? From roller skating to playing football and basketbal, Martin was a fun-loving child. This playful story of his childhood will help young readers connect with a historic figure and will inspire them to want to achieve greatness.

Books About Civil Rights and Civil Rights Movement

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Granddaddy's Turn
Written by Michael S Bandy and Eric Stein & illustrated by James E. Ransome
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Based on the true story of one family’s struggle for voting rights in the civil rights-era South, this moving tale shines an emotional spotlight on a dark facet of U.S. history. Life on the farm with Granddaddy is full of hard work, but despite all the chores, Granddaddy always makes time for play, especially fishing trips. Even when there isn’t a bite to catch, he reminds young Michael that it takes patience to get what’s coming to you. One morning, when Granddaddy heads into town in his fancy suit, Michael knows that something very special must be happening–and sure enough, everyone is lined up at the town hall! For the very first time, Granddaddy is allowed to vote, and he couldn’t be more proud. But can Michael be patient when it seems that justice just can’t come soon enough? This powerful and touching true-life story shares one boy’s perspective of growing up in the segregated South, while beautiful illustrations depict the rural setting in tender detail.

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Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race
Written by Margot Lee Shetterly & illustrated by Laura Freeman
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
This is a great introduction for little readers to the four true stories of how African American women helped the space program, overcoming gender and racial biases. I like how it exposes civil rights and women's rights issues at a level that is appropriate and understandable for children and focuses on how each of these four women worked hard and persevered.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Based on the New York Times bestselling book and the Academy Award–nominated movie, author Margot Lee Shetterly and illustrator Laura Freeman bring the incredibly inspiring true story of four black women who helped NASA launch men into space to picture book readers! Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math…really good. They participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America’s first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they worked hard. They persisted. And they used their genius minds to change the world. In this beautifully illustrated picture book edition, we explore the story of four female African American mathematicians at NASA, known as “colored computers,” and how they overcame gender and racial barriers to succeed in a highly challenging STEM-based career. “Finally, the extraordinary lives of four African American women who helped NASA put the first men in space is available for picture book readers,” proclaims Brightly in their article “18 Must-Read Picture Books of 2018.” “Will inspire girls and boys alike to love math, believe in themselves, and reach for the stars.”

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Love Will See You Through
Written by Angela Farris Watkins & illustrated by Sally Wern Comport
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-11

The niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. reveals six timeless and universal principles that encompass the civil rights leader’s greatest legacy: Love will see you through. Growing up as the niece of Martin Luther King Jr., Angela Farris Watkins witnessed firsthand the principles and values that “Uncle M.L.” practiced and lived by throughout his fight for equality. Drawing from experiences and episodes both personal and well-known, Dr. Watkins artfully details the guiding beliefs of one of the greatest men in history. Including “have courage” and “love your enemies,” these six hallmarks of virtue and nonviolence reinforce the truth that “the universe honors love” and will inspire readers of all ages.

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  1. This Is the Rope - A rope passed down through the generations frames an African-American family’s story as they journey north to New York City from the rural south during the time of the Great Migration. Full color.

  2. Martin Rising - In a rich embroidery of visions, musical cadence, and deep emotion, Andrea and Brian Pinkney convey the final months of Martin Luther King’s life – and of his assassination – through metaphor, spirituality, and multi-layers of meaning. Andrea’s stunning poetic requiem, illustrated with Brian’s lyrical and colorful artwork – brings a fresh perspective to Martin Luther King, the Gandhi-like, peace-loving activist whose dream of equality – and whose courage to make it happen – changed the course of American history. And even in his death, he continues to transform and inspire all of us who share his dream. Wonderful classroom plays of Martin Rising can be performed by using the “Now Is the Time” history, and the 1968 timeline at the back of the book as narration – and adding selected poems to tell the story!

  3. Meet Miss Fancy - 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.

  4. Gloria Takes a Stand - Throughout Gloria Steinem’s life, she stood up for many things. In a time when most women didn’t go to college, Gloria knew the importance of education and studied at Smith College. In a time when almost all women stayed at home to raise a family, Gloria traveled to India and wrote about what she learned there. In a time when many people were fighting for equality, Gloria wanted to write about these important events. And as she heard more and more stories from women who didn’t have as many rights as men, Gloria decided to start Ms. Magazine to give women a voice. This text introduces a new generation of children to Gloria Steinem, the icon who fought for a better world for all women—and encourages all readers to “stand up and speak for equal rights for all people.”

Books About Civil Rights and Clergy

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Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Written by Doreen Rappaport & illustrated by Bryan Collier
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

This picture book biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. brings his life and the profound nature of his message to young children through his own words. Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the most influential and gifted speakers of all time. Doreen Rappaport uses quotes from some of his most beloved speeches to tell the story of his life and his work in a simple, direct way. Bryan Collier’s stunning collage art combines remarkable watercolor pain

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A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr
Written by David A. Adler & illustrated by Robert Casilla
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A brief biography of Baptist minister and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Martin Luther King, Jr.
Written by Kitson Jazynka
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Introduces the life and legacy of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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  1. Who was Martin Luther King, Jr.? - An introduction to the life Martin Luther King, Jr. Including how he organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott and African American people across the country in support of the right to vote, desegregation, and other basic civil rights.

  2. Story of Martin Luther King Jr. -

  3. I Am Brave: A Little Book about Martin Luther King, Jr. - The littlest readers can learn about Martin Luther King, Jr., in this board book version of the New York Times bestselling Ordinary People Change the World biography.

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

Want to see books about clergy?

Books About Civil Rights and Black History

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A Sweet Smell of Roses
Written by Angela Johnson & illustrated by Eric Velasquez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Minnie and her sister hear about a freedom march and leave their home to go to their city’s downtown area where they listen to Dr. Martin Luther King and join the march, all the while smelling roses.

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A Place to Land
Written by Barry Wittenstein & illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

Much has been written about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the 1963 March on Washington. But there’s little on his legendary speech and how he came to write it. Find out more in this gripping book with illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Jerry Pinkney. Martin Luther King, Jr. was once asked if the hardest part of preaching was knowing where to begin. No, he said. The hardest part is knowing where to end. “It’s terrible to be circling up there without a place to land.” Finding this place to land was what Martin Luther King, Jr. struggled with, alongside advisors and fellow speech writers, in the Willard Hotel the night before the March on Washington, where he gave his historic “I Have a Dream” speech. But those famous words were never intended to be heard on that day, not even written down for that day, not even once. Barry Wittenstein teams up with legendary illustrator Jerry Pinkney to tell the story of how, against all odds, Martin found his place to land.

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Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song
Written by Andrea Davis Pinkney & illustrated by Brian Pinkney
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

They were each born with the gift of gospel. Martin’s voice kept people in their seats, but also sent their praises soaring. Mahalia’s voice was brass-and-butter - strong and smooth at the same time. With Martin’s sermons and Mahalia’s songs, folks were free to shout, to sing their joy. On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and his strong voice and powerful message were joined and lifted in song by world-renowned gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. It was a moment that changed the course of history and is imprinted in minds forever. Told through Andrea Davis Pinkney’s poetic prose and Brian Pinkney’s evocative illustration, the stories of these two powerful voices and lives are told side-by-side – as they would one day walk – following the journey from their youth to a culmination at this historical event when they united as one and inspiring kids to find their own voices and speak up for what is right.

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  1. Martin Luther King, Jr. - In this book from the critically acclaimed, multimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series, discover the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., the inspiring minister and civil rights activist. Little Martin grew up in a family of preachers: his dad was a preacher, his uncle was a preacher, his grandfather was a preacher…so maybe he’d become a great preacher too. One day, a friend invited him to play at his house. Martin was shocked when his mother wouldn’t let him in because he was black. That day he realized there was something terribly unfair going on. Martin believed that no one should remain silent and accept something if it’s wrong. And he promised himself that—when he grew up—he’d fight injustice with the most powerful weapon of all: words. This moving book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the inspiring activist’s life. Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream. This empowering series offers inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats. The board books are told in simple sentences, perfect for reading aloud to babies and toddlers. The hardcover versions present expanded stories for beginning readers. Boxed gift sets allow you to collect a selection of the books by theme. Paper dolls, learning cards, matching games, and other fun learning tools provide even more ways to make the lives of these role models accessible to children. Inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world with Little People, BIG DREAMS!

  2. Climbing Lincoln's Steps - 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.

Books About Civil Rights and Prejudice And Racism

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Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968
Written by Alice Faye Duncan & illustrated by R Gregory Christie
picture book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

This historical fiction picture book presents the story of nine-year-old Lorraine Jackson, who in 1968 witnessed the Memphis sanitation strike–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s final stand for justice before his assassination–when her father, a sanitation worker, participated in the protest. In February 1968, two African American sanitation workers were killed by unsafe equipment in Memphis, Tennessee. Outraged at the city’s refusal to recognize a labor union that would fight for higher pay and safer working conditions, sanitation workers went on strike. The strike lasted two months, during which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was called to help with the protests. While his presence was greatly inspiring to the community, this unfortunately would be his last stand for justice. He was assassinated in his Memphis hotel the day after delivering his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” sermon in Mason Temple Church. Inspired by the memories of a teacher who participated in the strike as a child, author Alice Faye Duncan reveals the story of the Memphis sanitation strike from the perspective of a young girl with a riveting combination of poetry and prose.

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Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama
Written by Hester Bass & illustrated by E.B. Lewis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Explore a little-known story of the civil rights movement, in which black and white citizens in one Alabama city worked together nonviolently to end segregation.

Mention the civil rights era in Alabama, and most people recall images of terrible violence. But something different was happening in Huntsville. For the citizens of that city, creativity, courage, and cooperation were the keys to working together to integrate their city and schools in peace. In an engaging celebration of this lesser-known chapter in American and African-American history, author Hester Bass and illustrator E. B. Lewis show children how racial discrimination, bullying, and unfairness can be faced successfully with perseverance and ingenuity.

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Night on Fire
Written by Ronald Kidd
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

Thirteen-year-old Billie Simms doesn’t think her hometown of Anniston, Alabama, should be segregated, but few of the town’s residents share her opinion. As equality spreads across the country and the Civil Rights Movement gathers momentum, Billie can’t help but feel stuck—and helpless—in a stubborn town too set in its ways to realize that the world is passing it by. So when Billie learns that the Freedom Riders, a group of peace activists riding interstate buses to protest segregation, will be traveling through Anniston on their way to Montgomery, she thinks that maybe change is finally coming and her quiet little town will shed itself of its antiquated views. But what starts as a series of angry grumbles soon turns to brutality as Anniston residents show just how deep their racism runs. The Freedom Riders will resume their ride to Montgomery, and Billie is now faced with a choice: stand idly by in silence or take a stand for what she believes in. Through her own decisions and actions and a few unlikely friendships, Billie is about to come to grips with the deep-seated prejudice of those she once thought she knew, and with her own inherent racism that she didn’t even know she had.

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  1. Stella by Starlight - When a burning cross set by the Klan causes panic and fear in 1932 Bumblebee, North Carolina, fifth-grader Stella must face prejudice and find the strength to demand change in her segregated town.

  2. Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass - Some people had rights, while others had none.<br></br>Why shouldn’t they have them, too?<br></br><br></br>Two friends, Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, get together for tea and conversation. They recount their similar stories fighting to win rights for women and African Americans. The premise of this particular exchange between the two is based on a statue in their hometown of Rochester, New York, which shows the two friends having tea.<br></br><br></br>The text by award-winning writer Dean Robbins teaches about the fight for women’s and African Americans’ rights in an accessible, engaging manner for young children. <i>Two Friends</i> is beautifully illustrated by Selina Alko and Sean Qualls, the husband-and-wife team whose <i>The Case for Loving</i> received three starred reviews! <i>Two Friends</i> includes back matter with photos of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass.

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