Help your children learn about an important part of our culture and history with these books that celebrate key African American figures.
by Sharon Wyeth
This uplifting story follows a young girl on her journey to find beauty in her abrasive urban neighborhood. Wyeth crafts a strong and determined character who seeks to look past frightening events to find something "beautiful" after her teacher brings up the word in class. After asking people in her town about it, she realizes that beauty can be found anywhere if you look hard enough (ages 3 and up, $7, amazon.com).
by Mary Hoffman
Young Grace is sure she'll get to play the boy who never grows up in her class's production of Peter Pan. But her spirits are crushed when fellow classmates deny her the role for two reasons: Peter isn’t a girl; and Peter isn’t black. Even so, after receiving reassuring advice from Ma and Nana that she can be anything that she wants to be, Grace is determined to prove her classmates wrong and have her moment in the spotlight (ages 3–6, $11, amazon.com).
The Story of Ruby Bridges
by Robert Coles
It's 1960, and the Bridges family moves from their home state of Mississippi to Louisiana in search of a better way of life. But this is tough for 6-year-old Ruby. A judge decides that she will attend an all-white elementary school, and she faces angry white parents who refuse to send their kids to the same school. This is a classic tale of a courageous young girl amidst a movement of social change (ages 4 and up, $6, amazon.com).
If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks
by Faith Ringgold
While en route to school one day, Little Marcie hears about Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights Movement from a talking bus. She learns, as young readers will, about how Parks held her ground and refused to suffer further belittlement during a time of adversity—and that a bit of courage goes a long way (ages 5 and up, $8, amazon.com).
Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
by Doreen Rappaport
Growing up, Martin Luther King Jr. felt that words had a power and zeal that was hard to come by. Little did he know that his own words would one day inspire great change and a dream of a better social justice system. Readers will grasp their magnitude, as well as their message: that you can fight injustice without violence (ages 5 and up, $13, amazon.com).
Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt
by Deborah Hopkinson
Clara was born into a life of slavery and longs to be reunited with her momma. An exceptional seamstress, she realizes her skill may help fulfill her dreams of freedom. After overhearing two slaves speak of the Underground Railroad and a route to Canada, she begins to design a quilt—one that doubles as a map to her freedom (ages 6–9, $7, amazon.com).
A Kid's Guide to African American History
by Nancy I. Sanders
Both a children’s book and an interactive learning tool, this guide features activities, games, songs and critical facts about the role of African-Americans in shaping our nations' history. Children will also learn about important inventors, musical artists and social reformers such as Benjamin Banneker, Langston Hughes and Rosa Parks (ages 7 and up, $11, amazon.com).
A President from Hawaii
by Dr. Terry Carolan and Joanna Carolan
Barack Obama, our first black President, is one of the most important political figures in the world today. This book showcases his strong cultural ties to his home state of Hawaii and how the state has helped shape him into the person he is today. Including photos from President Obama's childhood and quotes from his interviews and speeches, the book offers children new facts about our country's current leader (ages 7–10, $13, amazon.com).
The Gold Cadillac
by Mildred Taylor
It's the 1950s, and Lois and Wilma are proud that their father has just bought a brand-new gold Cadillac. But when they move from Ohio to Mississippi, they face suspicion in their new town about how a black man could have purchased such a nice car. The sisters encounter racism for the first time and learn what it feels like to be afraid because of the color of their skin (ages 9–12, $6, amazon.com).
What Color Is My World? The Lost History of African-American Inventors
by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld
This lively book shares important but little-known facts about great discoveries that African-Americans have made throughout U.S. history—despite the odds they may have faced. Included are fast facts and funny blurbs, plus a dynamic look at several unsung heroes whose ingenuity and perseverance have made our world a better place (ages 8–12, $8, amazon.com).