Black History & Stories Prek-12th

Learn about Achievements and History of Black Americans by snuggling up with some great books!

Encourage your new reader to REVIEW the Books they read by downloading our FREE REVIEW and READING LOG SHEET (pdf). Also, Celebrate the life and legacy Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with these Easy NO-PREP MLK, Jr. Activity Ideas. Learn more about Teaching Black History All Year Long on Episode 062.

Ages 4-9

Ticktock Banneker’s Clock by Shana Keller

This is a gorgeously illustrated biography of colonial era math and science expert Benjamin Banneker. He was born free at a time in America when most African Americans were slaves. Inspired by a pocket watch he had seen, he built a strike clock based on his own drawings and using a pocket-knife. But even when he was born in Maryland in 1731, he was already an extraordinary person for that time period. He was born free at a time in America when most African Americans were slaves. Though he only briefly attended school and was largely self-taught, at a young age Benjamin displayed a keen aptitude for mathematics and science. Inspired by a pocket watch he had seen, at the age of 22 he built a strike clock based on his own drawings and using a pocket-knife. Ages 6-9

Ticktock Banneker’s Clock is a perfect book for your little engineers. Throughout his life, Benjamin Banneker was known and admired for his work in science, mathematics, and astronomy.

Goin’ Someplace Special by Patricia C. McKissack

There’s a place in this 1950s southern town where all are welcome, no matter what their skin color…and ’Tricia Ann knows exactly how to get there. To her, it’s someplace special and she’s bursting to go by herself. But when she catches the bus heading downtown, unlike the white passengers, she must sit in the back behind the Jim Crow sign and wonder why life’s so unfair.
Still, for each hurtful sign seen and painful comment heard, there’s a friend around the corner reminding ’Tricia Ann that she’s not alone. And her grandmother’s words—“You are somebody, a human being—no better, no worse than anybody else in this world”—echo in her head, lifting her spirits and pushing her forward. Ages 4-8

Goin Someplace Special is a beautiful story and illustrations. It sparked a good discussion about inner strength and personality and also about segregation.

Brick by Brick by Charles R. Smith Jr.

The home of the United States president was built by many hands, including those of slaves, who undertook this amazing achievement long before there were machines to do those same jobs.

Stirring and emotional, Floyd Cooper’s stunning illustrations bring to life the faces of those who endured hard, brutal work when the profit of their labor was paid to the master, not the slave. The fact that many were able to purchase their freedom after earning money from learning a trade speaks to the strength of those individuals. They created this iconic emblem of America, brick by brick. Ages 4-8

Brick by Brick is a compelling true story behind the building of the White House, a powerful part of history rarely taught.

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine

Henry Brown doesn’t know how old he is. Nobody keeps records of slaves’ birthdays. All the time he dreams about freedom, but that dream seems farther away than ever when he is torn from his family and put to work in a warehouse. Henry grows up and marries, but he is again devastated when his family is sold at the slave market. Then one day, as he lifts a crate at the warehouse, he knows exactly what he must do: He will mail himself to the North. After an arduous journey in the crate, Henry finally has a birthday — his first day of freedom. Ages 6-9

Henry’s Freedom Box is a true story telling the tale of the pain of growing up as a slave.

More Books for Young Children (ages 4-9):

Uncle Jed’s Barbershop by Margaree King Mitchell
Sit-In How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins by Carole Boston Weatherford
All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly, Winifred Conkling
Follow The Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter
A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams
The ABCs of Black History by Rio Cortez
Brown Boy Brown Boy What Can You Be? by Ameshia Arthur
Skin Like Mine by LaTashia Perry
Moses When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford
The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson
Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Doreen Rappaport
The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
White Socks Only by Evelyn Coleman Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson
The Juneteenth Story: Celebrating the End of Slavery in the United States by Alliah L. Agostini
Great Black Heros Series:
> 5 Notable Black Inventors
> 5 Bold Black Freedom Fighters
> 5 Brilliant Black Scientists

Download your FREE Reading Book Planner! Includes Book Wish List, Reading List, Book Review, Favorite Quotes, and Summary.

Ages 10-14

The Journey of York: The Unsung Hero of the Lewis and
Clark Expedition by Hasan Davis

Thomas Jefferson’s Corps of Discovery included Captains Lewis and Clark and a crew of 28 men to chart a route from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean. All the crew but one volunteered for the mission. York, the enslaved man taken on the journey, did not choose to go. Slaves did not have choices. York’s contributions to the expedition, however, were invaluable. The captains came to rely on York’s judgement, determination, and peacemaking role with the American Indian nations they encountered. But as York’s independence and status rose on the journey, the question remained what status he would carry once the expedition was over. This is his story. Ages 10+

The Journey of York was written in the style of journal entries as penned by York, a real person who was an enslaved individual accompanying the Lewis and Clark expedition.

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We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball

This is the story of gifted athletes and determined owners, racial discrimination, and international sportsmanship, of fortunes won and lost; of triumphs and defeats on and off the field. It is a perfect mirror for the social and political history of black America in the first half of the twentieth century. But most of all, the story of the Negro Leagues is about hundreds of unsung heroes who overcame segregation, hatred, terrible conditions, and low pay to do one thing they loved more than anything else in the world: play ball. Ages 8-12

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball is written in an inviting first-person voice. Kadir Nelson shares the engaging story of Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920s through its evolution, until after Jackie Robinson crossed over to the majors in 1947.

More Books for Middle Children (ages 10-14):

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Facing Frederick: The Life of Frederick Douglass, a Monumental American Man by Tonya Bolden
How to Build A Museum: Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture by Tony Bolden
March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin
The Gold Cadillac by Mildred Taylor
The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander
Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
Who Was Series:
> Maya Angelou
> Martin Luther King, Jr.
> Lois Armstrong
> George Washington Carver
> Sojourner Truth
> Harriet Tubman
> Jackie Robinson
> Muhammad Ali
> Nelson Mandela
> Jesse Owens
> Rosa Parks
> Roberto Clemente
> Barack Obama
> Michelle Obama
> Frederick Douglass

Ages 15-18+

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. Ages 15+

The Hate U Give is told from the point of view of Star Carter, a 16 year old black girl who is trying to live in two different worlds: one being the all black crime-ridden neighborhood where she lives and grew up in — and the other being the predominately white upper middle-class high school to which her parents send her and her two brothers.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare. Ages 15+

Becoming is the story of Michelle Obama’s life from the time she was a young girl growing up on the Southside of Chicago as part of a poor black family.

More Books for High School and beyond (ages 15-18+):

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
Home Going by Yaa Gyasi
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northrup Roots by Alex Haley

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