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Sharing Stories of Black History


The stories on this list acknowledge the hard history of Black struggle in the United States. They also highlight the strength and power of an ongoing push for liberation. In nonfiction, fiction and picture books, these books honor the Black American experience, from individual heroes to mighty collective movements.

Changing The Equation : 50+ Us Black Women In Stem
Bolden, Tonya, author.
Nonfiction. Grades 5-8. "Award-winning author Tonya Bolden explores the black women who have changed the world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in America. Including groundbreaking computer scientists, doctors, inventors, physicists, pharmacists, mathematicians, aviators, and many more, this book celebrates over 50 women who have shattered the glass ceiling, defied racial discrimination, and pioneered in their fields. In these profiles, young readers will find role models, inspirations, and maybe even reasons to be the STEM leaders of tomorrow. These stories help young readers to dream big and stay curious" (publisher's description).
Pathfinders : The Journeys Of 16 Extraordinary Black Souls
Bolden, Tonya, author.
Nonfiction. Grades 5-8. "Profiles sixteen high-achieving African Americans, including magician Richard Potter, concert singer Sissieretta Jones, and architect Paul R. Williams" (publisher's description)
Lifting As We Climb : Black Women's Battle For The Ballot Box
Dionne, Evette, author.
Nonfiction. Grades 4-8. "For African American women, the fight for the right to vote was only one battle. An eye-opening book that tells the important, overlooked story of black women as a force in the suffrage movement--when fellow suffragists did not accept them as equal partners in the struggle" (publisher's description).
Never Caught, The Story Of Ona Judge [young Readers Edition] : George And Martha Washington's Courageous Slave Who Dared To Run Away
Dunbar, Erica Armstrong, author.
Nonfiction. Grades 5-8. "A National Book Award Finalist for Non-Fiction, Never Caught is the eye-opening narrative of Ona Judge, George and Martha Washington's runaway slave, who risked everything for freedom" (publisher's description).
Little Legends : Exceptional Men In Black History
Harrison, Vashti, author.
Nonfiction. Grades 3-7. "Profiles thirty-five prominent men in African American history, including James Armistead Lafayette, Thurgood Marshall, Alvin Ailey, and Leland Melvin" (publisher's description).
A Ride To Remember : A Civil Rights Story
Langley, Sharon, 1963- author.
Nonfiction. Grades 1-4. "When Sharon Langley was born, amusement parks were segregated, and African American families were not allowed in. This picture book tells how a community came together--both black and white--to make a change. In the summer of 1963, because of demonstrations and public protests the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in Maryland became desegregated and opened to all for the first time" (publisher's description).
Now Or Never! : 54th Massachusetts Infantry's War To End Slavery
Shepard, Ray Anthony, author.
Nonfiction. Grades 6 and up. "Here is the riveting dual biography of two little-known but extraordinary men in Civil War history George E. Stephens and James Henry Gooding. These Union soldiers not only served in the Massachusetts 54th Infantry, the well-known black regiment but were also war correspondents who published eyewitness reports of the battlefields. Their dispatches told the truth of their lives at camp, their intense training, and the dangers and tragedies on the battlefield. Like the other thousands of black soldiers in the regiment, they not only fought against the Confederacy and the inhumanity of slavery, but also against injustice in their own army. The regiment's protest against unfair pay resulted in America's first major civil rights victory; equal pay for African American soldiers" (publisher's description).
Box : Henry Brown Mails Himself To Freedom
Weatherford, Carole Boston, 1956- author.
Nonfiction. Grades 4 and up. "Henry Brown wrote that long before he came to be known as "Box," he "entered the world a slave." He was put to work as a child and passed down from one generation to the next - as property. When he was an adult, his wife and children were sold away from him out of spite. Henry Brown watched as his family left, bound in chains, headed to the deeper South. What more could be taken from him? But then hope - and help - came in the form of the Underground Railroad. Escape! The author, in poems, narrates Henry Brown's story of how he came to ship himself in a box from slavery to freedom" (publisher's description).
Moses : When Harriet Tubman Led Her People To Freedom
Weatherford, Carole Boston, 1956-
Nonfiction. Grades 2-5. "Describes Tubman's spiritual journey as she hears the voice of God guiding her north to freedom on that very first trip to escape the brutal practice of forced servitude. Tubman would make nineteen subsequent trips back south, never being caught, but none as profound as this first one" (publisher's description).
The Roots Of Rap : 16 Bars On The 4 Pillars Of Hip-hop
Weatherford, Carole Boston, 1956- author.
Nonfiction. Kindergarten-4th grade. "Presents the history of hip-hop including, how it evolved from folktales, spirituals, and poetry, to the showmanship of James Brown, to the culture of graffiti art and breakdancing that formed around the art form" (publisher's description).
Zora And Me : The Song Of Ivory
Bond, Victoria, 1979-
Fiction. Grades 4-7. "A fictionalized account of Zora Neale Hurston's childhood with her best friend Carrie, in Eatonville, Florida, as they learn about life, death, and the differences between truth, lies, and pretending. Includes an annotated bibliography of the works of Zora Neale Hurston, a short biography of the author, and information about Eatonville, Florida" (publisher's description).
Finding Langston
Cline-Ransome, Lesa, author.
Fiction. Grades 2-7. "Discovering a book of Langston Hughes' poetry in the library helps Langston cope with the loss of his mother, relocating from Alabama to Chicago as part of the Great Migration, and being bullied" (publisher's description).
The Magic In Changing Your Stars
Henderson, Leah, author.
Fiction. Grades 3-7. "After bungling his audition to play the Scarecrow in The Wiz, fifth-grader Ailey is magically transported to 1930s Harlem where he meets his own grandfather and legendary tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson" (publisher's description).
Loretta Little Looks Back : Three Voices Go Tell It! : A Monologue Novel
Pinkney, Andrea Davis, author.
Fiction. Grades 5-8. "Loretta, Roly, and Aggie B. Little relate their Mississippi family's struggles and triumphs from 1927 to 1968 while struggling as sharecroppers, living under Jim Crow, and fighting for Civil Rights" (publisher's description).
Rhodes, Jewell Parker.
Fiction. Grades 5-8. "In 1870, Reconstruction brings big changes to the Louisiana sugar plantation where spunky ten-year-old Sugar has always lived, including her friendship with Billy, the son of her former master, and the arrival of workmen from China" (publisher's description).
Betty Before X
Shabazz, Ilyasah, author.
Fiction. Grades 4-7. "Raised by her aunt until she is six, Betty, who will later marry Malcolm X, joins her mother and stepfamily in 1940s Detroit, where she learns about the civil rights movement" (publisher's description).
Roll Of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Taylor, Mildred D., author.
Fiction. Grades 4-8. "A Black family living in Mississippi during the Depression of the 1930s is faced with prejudice and discrimination which its children do not understand" (publisher's description).
One Crazy Summer
Williams-Garcia, Rita.
Fiction. Grades 3-7. "In the summer of 1968, after traveling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet, and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp" (publisher's description).
The Undefeated
Alexander, Kwame, author.
Picture book. Kindergarten and up. "The Newbery Award-winning author of The Crossover pens an ode to black American triumph and tribulation, with art from a two-time Caldecott Honoree" (publisher's description).
Memphis, Martin, And The Mountaintop : The Sanitation Strike Of 1968
Duncan, Alice Faye, author.
Picture book. Grades 2-5. "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" (publisher's description).
The Book Itch : Freedom, Truth & Harlem's Greatest Bookstore
Nelson, Vaunda Micheaux.
Picture book. Kindergarten-4th grade. "Relates the story of the National Memorial African Bookstore, founded in Harlem by Louis Michaux in 1939, as seen from the perspective of Louis Michaux Jr., who met famous men like Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X while helping there" (publisher's description).