Children's Books That Celebrate Black History, to Read All Year Round

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

Vashti Harrison, an award-winning illustrator, wrote and illustrated Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, which features 18 Black women in history who made a big mark for generations of women to come. 

You can also read Harrison’s book, Little Legends:  Exceptional Men in Black History. 

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The I Look Up To… Series

Introduce your children to figures throughout history  this series of board books, written by Anna Membrino and illustrated by Fatti Burke, that are designed to be read aloud. 

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Mae Among the Stars

Mae Among the Stars, by Roda Ahmed and illustrated by Stasia Burrington, is inspired by Mae Jemison, the first Black woman to travel in space. It tells young readers that, “If you believe it, and work hard for it, anything is possible.”

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Let the Children March

Monica Clark-Robinson and Frank Morrison’s Let the Children March is a book about the bravery of children during the Civil Rights Movement and how, in 1963, in Birmingham, Alabama, thousands of children marched for their rights after hearing Martin Luther King Jr. speak.

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The I Am Series

Brad Meltzer’s bestselling I Am series introduces children to famous figures throughout history including Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and more, through accessible biographies and illustrations by Christopher Eliopoulos. 

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Little People Big Dreams Series

Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara’s Little People Big Dreams Series is a perfect addition to your child’s library. The series — which includes figures like Harriet Tubman, Prince, RuPaul and more — introduces children to the people throughout history that changed the world. It is illustrated by Pili Aguado. 

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Fly High!: The Story of Bessie Coleman

Fly High!: The Story of Bessie Coleman by Louise Borden and Mary Kay Kroeger, with illustrations by Teresa Flavin, tells the story of the first African-American to earn a pilot’s license. 

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Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story From the Underground Railroad

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story From the Underground Railroad, written by Ellen Levine and illustrated by Kadir Nelson, tells the story of Henry Brown, an enslaved person who mailed himself to freedom inside of a box. 

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The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read

At 116 years old (yes, you read that right) Mary Walker learned to read. Now you can read her story, written by Rita Lorraine Hubbard and illustrated by Oge Mora, in The Oldest Student: How Mary Walked Learned to Read. 

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Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment

A story about a little girl who visits the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. and is immediately inspired by Michelle Obama’s portrait, Parker Looks Up is a reminder that representation matters. It’s based off of the true story of Parker Curry and the viral moment that she saw Amy Sherald’s famed portrait, which Parker and her mother, Jessica Curry, then turned into a children’s book. 

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Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills

Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills by Renée Watson and illustrated by Christian Robinson tells the story of the famous singer, also called the “Queen of Happiness,” Florence Mills. 

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Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o’s debut book, Sulwe follows a young girl (for whom the book is named) who has darker skin than her family or people at school, and wishes she were different. One night, she takes a journey into the night sky that changes her outlook. Illustrated by Vashti Harrison, Sulwe is a New York Times bestseller and was featured on Netflix’s Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices

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Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters

Barack Obama’s beautiful letter to his daughters, Sasha and Malia is a tribute to how the famous Americans before them. In Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, Obama sees pieces of these celebrated figures in his children and in America as a whole. 

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Simon B. Rhymin’

Simon B. Rhymin’ by Dwayne Reed is about Chicago fifth grade Simon Barnes, who is afraid to use his voice but dreams of being a rapper. Written by Reed — a Chicago teacher who went viral back in 2016 for his “Welcome to the Fourth Grade” rap — the story touches on everything from bullying to volunteering to finding your voice. 

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Rosa Parks is one of the most recognizable names in history, a symbol of the Civil Rights Movement. Nikki Giovanni’s Rosa is a poignant look at Parks’ courageous and well-known action, paired with stunning illustrations by Bryan Collier. 

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Under the Same Sun

Written by Sharon Robinson, daughter of legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson, and illustrated by AG Ford, Under the Same Sun is the story of Robinson’s family in Tanzania, and how their love is felt even across oceans. 

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The Case for Loving

Whether you are part of a beautiful, blended family or not, you can teach your children about the monumental Supreme Court case of Loving v. Virginia. The Case for Loving tells the story of Mildred Loving and Richard Perry Loving, a couple who married in Washington D.C. but were arrested for breaking Virginia’s laws against interracial marriage, and how they took their case to the Supreme Court and won! It is written by Selina Alko and illustrated by Alko and Sean Qualls. 

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Freedom in Congo Square

Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford and R. Gregory Christie is a nonfiction story about New Orleans’ Congo Square, where slaves would gather on Sundays in the 19th century for half a day to socialize, sing, dance and play music — a testament to finding joy and hope in even the worst of circumstances.  

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Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas

Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas by Gwendolyn Hooks (with illustrations by Colin Bootman) tells the story of Thomas, who, in 1943, developed a procedure that led to the first successful open heart surgery on a newborn. Unfortunately, on top of the racism he endured in an all-white institution, he was not given credit for his innovation. This book is an honest re-telling of his story that ensures his legacy lives on innovations are recognized. 

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Look What Brown Can Do

Look What Brown Can Do! by T. Marie Harris and illustrated by Neda Ivanova, is a book that parents and children can read to encourage them that anything is possible, no matter the color of their skin, providing examples of iconic Black people who are leading the way.

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Coretta Scott

Written by Ntozake Shange and illustrated by Kadir Nelson, Coretta Scott tells the story of the eponymous woman and activist who, alongside her husband, Martin Luther King Jr., led change during the Civil Rights era and beyond. 

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Bippity Bop Barbershop

The companion book to Natasha Anastasia Tarpley’s best-selling I Love My Hair, Bippity Bop Barbershop is all about a young boy Miles’ first trip to the barbershop with his dad. It is illustrated by E.B. Lewis. 

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Juneteenth for Mazie

Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper follows the titular character as she celebrated Juneteenth with her family, friends and neighbors, remembering the struggles of her ancestors and celebrating the day they were no longer slaves. 

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Hair Love

Hair Love, an Academy Award-winning short film-turned-book by Matthew A. Cherry and illustrated by Vashti Harrison, tells the story of Zuri and her dad as he works hard to give her a beautiful hair style. 

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Ron’s Big Mission

Many people know Ron McNair as an American astronaut who tragically died during the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger, but Ron’s Big Mission by Rose Blue and Corinne Naden, with illustrations by Don Tate, tells a different story of the courageous McNair. 

In Ron’s Big Mission, a young McNair desegregates the Lake City Public Library through peaceful resistance. 

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The Nutcracker in Harlem

The Nutcracker in Harlem, by T.E. McMorrow with illustrations by James Ransome, is a reinvention of the traditional Christmas story through the lens of the Harlem Renaissance. 

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Ella Queen of Jazz

Written by Helen Hancocks, Ella Queen of Jazz is about the true story of Fitzgerald’s friendship with Marilyn Monroe, and how the pair worked together to overcome the prejudice that Fitzgerald was facing as she tried to perform. 

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She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story

Do you know the story of the first (and only) woman to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame? Learn about Effa Manley with your kiddos while you read She Loved Baseball, written by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Don Tate. 

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Freedom’s School

Freedom’s School by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by James E. Ransome takes place following the passage of the 13th amendment, when the main character, Lizzie, and her brother are finally able to go to school. As they try to get their education, they are thwarted by racist people who not only threaten them but eventually burn down their school. The story follows the community as it rebuilds a new school for the children. 

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A Kids Book About Racism

A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory is a book that clearly and concisely teaches your child about racism, how it makes people feel and how they can spot racism when it happens — all on their level. 

The Black-owned children’s book brand also has a Black History Month bundle available, with 13 books by Black authors. You can check it out here. 


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Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13

If you’ve seen Hidden Figures and wanted to share that story with your children, Counting on Katherine by Helaine Becker is a great way to do so. It tells the story of Katherine Johnson, the mathematician who worked for NASA during the space race and gives credit to her and other Black female mathematicians who made huge contributions to their field.

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Black Women in Science

Written by Kimberly Brown Pellum, Black Women in Science: A Black History Book for Kids explores the many, many contributions Black women have made across the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. 

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Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions

Did you know that the Super-Soaker was invented accidentally by Black inventor Lonnie Johnson? Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton is all about the impressive inventor’s fun contribution to society. 

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