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#OwnVoices Stories of Black Heroes


It's relatively easy to find children's books about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman. How about other Black heroes?  We've put together a list of children's nonfiction by #OwnVoices authors and illustrators that showcases depth and diversity among African American historical figures.

Ira's Shakespeare Dream
Armand, Glenda.
"A biography chronicling Ira Aldridge's life, an African American actor who is considered to be one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of the nineteenth century. Includes afterword and author's sources" (publisher's description).
Whoosh! : Lonnie Johnson's Super-soaking Stream Of Inventions
Barton, Chris, author.
"Chronicles the life and achievements of the NASA engineer and inventor, from his childhood to his accidental invention of the Super Soaker water gun" (publisher's description).
March Forward, Girl : From Young Warrior To Little Rock Nine
Beals, Melba, author.
"A member of the Little Rock Nine shares her memories of growing up in the South under Jim Crow" (publisher's description).
Searching For Sarah Rector : The Richest Black Girl In America
Bolden, Tonya.
"Recounts the story of the 1914 disappearance of eleven-year-old Sarah Rector, an African American who was part of the Creek Indian people and whose land had made her wealthy, and what it reveals about race, money, and American society" (publisher's description).
This Is Your Time
Bridges, Ruby, author.
"Written as a letter from civil rights activist and icon Ruby Bridges to the reader, This Is Your Time is both a recounting of Ruby's experience as a child who had no choice but to be escorted to class by federal marshals when she was chosen as one of the first black students to integrate New Orleans' all-white public school system and an appeal to generations to come to effect change. Ruby's honest and impassioned words, imbued with love and grace, serve as a moving reminder that 'what can inspire tomorrow often lies in our past'" (publisher's description).
Infinite Hope : A Black Artist's Journey From World War Ii To Peace
Bryan, Ashley, author, illustrator.
"This book details artist Ashley Bryan's experiences as a Black soldier in the segregated army of WWII" (publisher's description).
The First Step : How One Girl Put Segregation On Trial
Goodman, Susan E., 1952- author.
"Shares the story of Sarah Roberts and her 1847 case petitioning that she be allowed to attend a white school, explaining how her heroic efforts established key precedents and paved the way for civil rights advancements" (publisher's description).
Buzzing With Questions : The Inquisitive Mind Of Charles Henry Turner
Harrington, Janice N., author.
"Questions buzzed endlessly in Charles Henry Turner's mind. Fascinated by bugs and other animals, he wondered: Can spiders learn? How do ants find their way home? Can bugs see color?" (publisher's description).
Sewing Stories : Harriet Powers' Journey From Slave To Artist
Herkert, Barbara, author.
"Harriet Powers learned to sew and quilt as a young slave girl on a Georgia plantation. She lived through the Civil War and Reconstruction, and eventually owned a cotton farm with her family, all the while relying on her skills with the needle to clothe and feed her children. Later she began making pictorial quilts, using each square to illustrate Bible stories and local legends. She exhibited her quilts at local cotton fairs, and though she never traveled outside of Georgia, her quilts are now priceless examples of African American folk art" (publisher's description).
Tiny Stitches : The Life Of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas
Hooks, Gwendolyn, author.
"Biography of Vivien Thomas, an African-American surgical technician who pioneered the procedure used to treat babies with a heart defect known as 'blue baby syndrome.' Includes author's note and author's sources" (publisher's description).
The Oldest Student : How Mary Walker Learned To Read
Hubbard, Rita L., author.
"A picture book biography sharing the inspiring and incredible true story of the nation's oldest student, Mary Walker, who learned to read at the age of 116" (publisher's description).
Take A Picture Of Me, James Vanderzee!
Loney, Andrea J., author.
"A biography of James Van Der Zee, innovative and celebrated African American photographer of the Harlem Renaissance. Includes an afterword, photos, and author's sources" (publisher's description).
The Vast Wonder Of The World : Biologist Ernest Everett Just
Mangal, Mélina, author.
"Presents the life and accomplishments of the African American scientist, whose keen observations of sea creatures revealed new insights about egg cells and the origins of life" (publisher's description).
Brave Ballerina : The Story Of Janet Collins
Meadows, Michelle.
"Presents the story of a remarkable pioneer, who was the first African American prima ballerina in the Metropolitan Opera, in a time when racial segregation was widespread in the United States" (publisher's description).
Let 'er Buck! : George Fletcher, The People's Champion
Nelson, Vaunda Micheaux, author.
"African American George Fletcher loved horses from an early age. When he unfairly lost the 1911 Pendleton Round-Up to a white man, the outraged audience declared him "people's champion" (publisher's description).
Josephine : The Dazzling Life Of Josephine Baker
Powell, Patricia Hruby, 1951-
"A portrait of the passionate performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker, the woman who worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. Meticulously researched by both author and artist, Josephine's powerful story of struggle and triumph is an inspiration and a spectacle, just like the legend herself" (publisher's description).
The Stone Thrower
Richardson, Jael Ealey, 1980- author.
"Describes the childhood of Chuck Ealey, who dreamed of becoming a football quarterback despite the prejudices he faced as an African American" (publisher's description).
Something To Prove : The Great Satchel Paige Vs. Rookie Joe Dimaggio
Skead, Robert.
"In 1936, the New York Yankees wanted to test a hot prospect named Joe DiMaggio to see if he was ready for the big leagues. They knew just the ballplayer to call, Satchel Paige, the best pitcher anywhere, black or white.For the game, Paige joined a group of amateur African-American players, and they faced off against a team of white major leaguers plus young DiMaggio" (publisher's description).
With Books And Bricks : How Booker T. Washington Built A School
Slade, Suzanne.
"Booker T. Washington had an incredible passion for learning. Born a slave, he taught himself to read. When the Civil War ended, Booker finally fulfilled his dream of attending school. After graduation, he was invited to teach in Tuskegee, Alabama. Finding many eager students, but no school, Booker set out to build his own school--brick by brick" (publisher's description).
Radiant Child : The Story Of Young Artist Jean-michel Basquiat
Steptoe, Javaka, 1971- author, illustrator.
"Jean-Michel Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocked to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art work had ever seen. But before that, he was a little boy who saw art everywhere: in poetry books and museums, in games and in the words that we speak, and in the pulsing energy of New York City. Now, award-winning illustrator Javaka Steptoe's vivid text and bold artwork echoing Basquiat's own introduce young readers to the powerful message and art doesn't always have to be neat or clean--and definitely not inside the lines--to be beautiful" (publisher's description).
Gordon Parks : How The Photographer Captured Black And White America
Weatherford, Carole Boston, 1956- author.
"Presents the life and accomplishments of the first black director in Hollywood who became the first African American photographer for Life magazine" (publisher's description).
The Legendary Miss Lena Horne
Weatherford, Carole Boston, 1956- author.
"Surveys the life of the actress and civil rights activist, describing her childhood, early years in vaudeville, and achievements as the first African American actress to be offered a studio contract" (publisher's description).
Leontyne Price : Voice Of A Century
Weatherford, Carole Boston, 1956- author.
"An introduction to the life and career of the African American opera singer" (publisher's description).
Schomburg : The Man Who Built A Library
Weatherford, Carole Boston, 1956- author.
"Traces legal clerk Arturo Schomburg's efforts to curate a collection of African books, letters, music, and art" (publisher's description).
Voice Of Freedom : Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit Of The Civil Rights Movement
Weatherford, Carole Boston, 1956- author.
"Presents a collage-illustrated treasury of poems and spirituals inspired by the life and work of civil rights advocate Fannie Lou Hamer" (publisher's description).
Mumbet's Declaration Of Independence
Woelfle, Gretchen, author.
"Tells the story of a Massachusetts slave from the Revolutionary era--in 1781, she successfully used the new Massachusetts Constitution to make a legal case that she should be free" (publisher's description).