During the short month of February, you never want to run out of reading material. I’ve compiled a list of 25 black history month books for kids. Since lots of themes are running around black history, base your reading curriculum on that. No matter the age of your little reader, there’s something to hold their attention. History is not always an easy topic for very young children, but there are lots of stories that will hold their attention just as well. Many of the stories on this list feature figures they can relate to.

Remember, black history isn’t just for black children. All of these stories have lessons anyone can learn from, no matter what their color. Enjoy this black history month book list.

Salt In His Shoes by Delores Jordan with Roslyn M. Jordan

Most basketball fans are familiar with Michael Jordan. Here, his mother and his sister team up to share an inspirational story about determination and hard work.

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe

In this classic African version of Cinderella, two sister compete to be the bride of the king. One is selfish and aggressive, the other is mild and kind. This is a wonderful story about being a good person.

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman

Grace loves stories, and she jumps at a chance to play Peter Pan in a play. When others tell her that she can’t because she’s a girl and because she’s black, Grace learns a lesson about making achievements despite adversity.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

This is a great story about a little boy and a snowy day. There’s no mention of race, but the main character is African American. A great story to share in the middle of winter.

Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine

Based on a true story, this is the case of Henry Brown, a slave who mailed himself to freedom. This is a great way to introduce the difficult topic of slavery to young children.

Counting on Katherine by Helaine Becker

You may know the story of Apollo 13, but do you know the whole story? Thanks to the movie, Hidden Figures, this story is more familiar to the general public. Counting on Katherine is a story tailored for children, telling the story of how Katherine Johnson loved mathematics from an early age and used her skills to save lives.

Emmanuel’s Dream by Laura Ann Thompson

Based on the true story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, Emmanuel’s Dream is a lesson of inspiration. Born with a deformed leg in Ghana, he hopped on one leg two miles every day to school, learned to play soccer, and eventually became a successful cyclist. This story is perfect for children of all ages, especially those with disabilities. It lets them know that anything is possible.

The Boy Who Became King by Anthony Curcio

Basketball fan or not, very few children of this generation are unfamiliar with the success of LeBron James. This brightly illustrated book not only entertains young children, but it tells them of a story about a young boy who finds success despite struggling with a single mother. This is a great story of modern black history for young children to easily relate to.

Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen

Debbie Allen defied stereotypes of her time and grew to be a successful dancer, actress, and director. She writes the story of Sassy, an African-American girl who dreams of becoming a ballerina but worries that she doesn’t fit the typical look. This story is loosly based on Debbie Allen’s own experiences.

I Love My Hair by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley

Children follow the story of Keyana, a child who grows to appreciate her unique hair. This helps young children to discover what’s unique about them, and to be proud of differences and develop self-confidence.

Hip Hop Speaks to Children by Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni edits this beautiful book that introduces children to poetry with a beat. It includes an audio CD of works read aloud in a tone that catches attention. It’s a great way to introduce children to poetry while learning about the African-American experience. Bright illustrations accompany poems by Tupac Shakur, Queen Latifah, Langston Hughes and more.

My People by Langston Hughes

Vibrant photographs by Charles R. Smith Jr. accompany the words of this poem written by Langston Hughes. This book holds a young child’s attention with few words and teaches them about the lives of African-Americans today.

My Black Me by Arnold Adoff

Another great introduction to black poetry. My Black Me was edited by Arnold Adoff and features a variety of poems by 26 African-American writers. It’s a great way to start conversations and introduce children to a whole new world of writers.

Aunt Flossie’s Hats (and Crab Cakes Later) by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard

A great little story about the African American experience, we meet Sarah and Susan, who spend a typical Sunday afternoon with their great aunt Flossie. A classic story, this has entertained children since 1991. 

Chicken Sunday by Patricia Pollacco

Patricia Polacco has written many stories based on her childhood, and Chicken Sunday is one of the most popular. As a Russian American, she is accepted as a member of the family of her African-American friends. She helps her “brothers” buy a Easter hat for their grandma Eula. 

Flower Garden by Eve Bunting

This is a great gardening story about an African-American girl and her father. Together they take the bus through their urban neighborhood to buy plants to put together a special gift for her mother back at their apartment. 

Refilwe by Zukiswa Wanner

Kids will love this South African retelling of the classic story, Rapunzel. Reading familiar stories retold by other cultures is a great way to learn about those cultures. Here, Refilwe is a beautiful girl with long dreadlocks who waits for her prince at the top of a mountain.

Black All Around by Patricia Hubbell

 This story is a celebration of the color black, not just black skin, but black everywhere. In a poetic story, a young girl appreciates black objects found all around her. It brings a light of positivity to a color with many negative perceptions. 

D is for Drinking Gourd by Nancy Sanders

This classic story combines African-American history and culture with the alphabet. Children can also learn about African-American achievements. Bright illustrations hold each child’s attention as they review the alphabet from this new perspective.

Riley Can Be Anything by Davina Hamilton

In this adorable story about an African-American boy named Riley, he discusses the things he wants to be when he grows up. The rhyming scheme makes this story fun to read and shows children that they can be anything they aspire to be.

Marvelous Me Inside and Out by Lisa Bulani

An African-American boy named Alex has fun exploring not only what makes him unique, but what makes him similar to others. After reading this story, your child will have just as much fun learning about themselves in a similar way.

Anansi the Spider by Gerald McDermott

In this classic retelling of an Ashanti folktale, children learn about Anansi the Spider. The story is accompanied by bright illustrations and it’s been told and retold for generations. This is a Caldecott Honor Book.

Emi’s Curly Coily, Cotton Candy Hair by Tina Olajide

Emi is a seven year old girl who has a lot of fun explaining what she likes about her hair. African-American girls learn to appreciate their natural hair and take care of it in this fun and brightly illustrated story.

Curlilocks and the Three Pink Pandas by Yolanda King

This is a great retelling of the classic, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Curlilocks loves many different things and curiosity leads her to a cottage in the woods. She learns a lesson about manners in this cute story.

101 African-American Read Aloud Stories by Susan Kanter

Just in case you’re running low on African-American stories, you won’t have trouble with this collection of classic tales designed to be read aloud. The stories here have been selected for not only for history but for it’s bright and colorful characters.

What about you? Are there any books with African-American characters that you remember fondly? Sound off in the comments below!

 

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