Must-read picture books for Black History Month. Learn about African American inventors, athletes, artists, activities, authors, and illustrators. Which books would you add to this list?
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I received review copies of some of these books, but no other compensation and I was not required to review them here. All opinions are my own.
Books About African-American Inventors
Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar penned What Color Is My World, a fascinating book about African-American inventors. Did yo know that we have black inventors and innovators to thank for refrigerated trucks, open-heart surgery innovations, cortisone, those tiny microphones in cell phones, and more?
Dr. Patricia Bath developed surgery techniques that allowed people suffering with cataracts around the world to see again. Read her story in The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes. She is an amazing role model for any child.
Books About African-American Athletes
Gold Medal Olympian Wilma Rudolph was paralyzed in her left leg after an early childhood bout with polio, and told she would never walk again. Wilma not only walked; she ran – all the way to becoming the first American woman to earn three gold medals in a single Olympiad. Discover her story in Wilma Unlimited.
Did you know that Michael Jordan nearly gave up his basketball dreams as a child? Learn how his parents gave him the growth mindset that led to his incredible success in Salt in His Shoes.
Books About African-American Artists
When Marian Sang tells the story of Marian Anderson, the first African-American to sing in the Metropolitan Opera and an incredibly gifted singer. In 1939, Anderson performed in the Lincoln Memorial, drawing an integrated audience of over 75,000 people.
Harlem’s Little Blackbird tells the story of Florence Mills. Besides singing beautifully, Mills worked hard to promote equal rights and sought to support and promote her fellow black artists.
Books About Working for Equal Rights
Discover former slave turned abolitionist and women’s rights activities Sojourner Truth in her own words through the book My Name Is Truth.
There are many books about Ruby Bridges, the first African-American child to integrate a New Orleans school. I like Ruby Bridges Goes to School, because it’s written by Ruby Bridges herself.
I Have a Dream pairs Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous speech with beautiful illustrations.
The National Geographic Kids book, Rosa Parks, introduces children to Rosa Parks while also explaining racial segregation in America in terms that are easy for children to understand.
Nelson Mandela tells the story of this South African leader’s lifelong work to promote equality for all people.
Malcolm Little is a look at Malcolm X’s early life, written by his daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz.
Fiction Picture Books by African American Authors and Illustrators
James E. Ransome’s The Bell Rang is the most powerful picture book I have found that deals with life in slavery. A young girl struggles with wanting her brother back and hoping he successfully ran to freedom. Gorgeous illustrations complete the story.
Dancing in the Wings is the story of a young dancer’s dreams is written by African-American choreographer Debbie Allen. Illustrations are done by African-American artist Kadir Nelson.
The Other Side tells the tale of an African-American girl striking up a friendship with the white girl next door; despite both mothers’ misgivings. Written by African-American author Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by African-American artistrator E.B. Lewis.