Celebrating Black History Month with Children’s Literature


Black History Month is celebrated every February as a way to celebrate and honor the amazing African Americans who have helped shape our great nation. Here’s a list of some children’s books to help teach your kiddos about some of these important historical figures. These books are meant to serve as an introduction to the incredible literature that’s available about and authored by black voices.

Books that Teach About Slavery and Finding Freedom

Henrey’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine

Readers are introduced to Henry “Box” Brown who was a slave in the 1800s. Henry gained freedom when he found a way to ship himself in a wooden crate. Henry declares his own birthday on the day he became a free man!

Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter

This story teaches readers about the Underground Railroad and how slaves would sing the song, “Follow the Drinking Gourd” as a euphemism to follow the Big Dipper constellation.

Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky by Faith Ringgold

This book follows Cassie from Ringold’s Tar Beach and how she learns the history of the Underground Railroad with the help of Harriet Tubman.

Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Brooker T. Washington by Jabari Asim

This story tells the of Brooker T. Washington who was a slave who wanted to learn to read and write. It took him until becoming an adult to achieve this dream.

Books About Civil Rights Leaders

Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport

This beautifully illustrated book introduces readers to Martin Luther King Jr. Highlights of this book include quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speeches, his childhood where he learned of segregation, and ultimately how he became one of the leaders of the Civil Rights  Movement in the United States.

Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz

This story written by Malcolm X’s daughter tells the story of how her father grew up to become Malcolm X. Shabazz writes about how Malcolm was a born leader and when he learned about racism and discrimination he vowed to take a stand. He learned to make a difference without compromising his values to fight for freedom and justice.

Books Celebrating African Americans and Diversity

Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o

Lupita Nyong’o (award-winning actress) wrote this book encouraging girls to love their skin no matter how dark it is. The book talks about how night (and Sulwe) are the most beautiful when they are the darkest and most like themselves.

Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed

This exciting book tells the story of Mae Jemison and how she became the first African American female in space.  She was a mission specialist on the Space Shuttle Endeavor. This book tells her story of her childhood and how she eventually made it to outer space as an astronaut.

I am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer

In this short board book, kids will learn about the first African American baseball player, Jackie Robinson. It emphasizes being brave and how his bravery changed the way sports were played in the United States forever.

Stacey’s Extraordinary Words by Stacey Abrams

This book written by politician and activist Stacey Abrams tells her story about how she loved spelling and competing in spelling bees. She goes on to explain the prejudice she experienced during this event and how she had to go against the school bully. Stacey tells a powerful tale of perseverance and strength.


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Julia Whalen
Julia resides in Perrysburg with her husband, their three children (Ari (6), Annie (3), and Jonah (9 months)), and two cats (Godric and Cali). Her children are the most amazing, funny, lovable, and crazy little humans she’s ever met. Julia moved here from the Cleveland area right after college. Some of her favorite things about living in NW Ohio are being able to do legal U-Turns and going over 25 mph on a main road. When she is not fulfilling her Ravenclaw dreams of working as a STEM teacher or moming, Julia is most likely rewatching The Office or rereading Harry Potter for the billionth time. Her favorite places are Target, Starbucks, and Disney World. Feel free to follow on Instagram @jwhalen1


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