Black History Month through Picture Books

Are you unsure how to introduce your young children to African American History? You might want to start with a few of these picture books They tackle difficult subjects in a way that is very appropriate for children. Read the books together and follow your child’s lead in how much additional information to share.

Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford



Freedom in Congo Square amazed me when I first read it! I had never heard about the special Sunday privileges enjoyed by the slaves of New Orleans and how Congo Square became a mixing place for many African cultures.







The next two titles are set during the Civil War era. Hold the Flag High relates the story of Sgt. William Carney, the first African American to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. All Different Now tells of June 19, 1865 when the news of the Emancipation finally reached slaves in Galveston, Texas.

Hold the Flag High by Catherine Clinton   All Different Now by Angela Johnson

It’s always fun to learn history by reading about the people who left their mark on our culture. Bessie Coleman was the first woman of African-American descent, and the first of Native American descent, to hold a pilot license. Major Taylor was a world champion cyclist from Indiana; there is an open-air velodrome named for Taylor in Indianapolis. Langston Hughes, of course, was a widely-acclaimed poet and playwright.

Nobody Owns the Sky by Reeve Lindbergh  Major Taylor: Champion Cyclist by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Visiting Langston by Willie Perdomo

The next four books document the struggles of African Americans to gain their rights. These are the stories of our country, and all people need to learn about not only our past, but also about our current struggles for equality.

Papa's Mark by Gwendolyn Battle-Lavert  Back of the Bus by Aaron Reynolds

Sit-in: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney  A Sweet Smell of Roses by Angela Johnson

The book covers shown above are just a few of our picture books about the rich history of African Americans. If you are interested in a specific topic or event, please let me know. We also have great juvenile biographies of black musicians, artists, scientists and more! For older kids, I’d be happy to recommend other fiction and non-fiction books, including Heart and Soul: the Story of America and African Americans and We are the Ship: the Story of Negro League Baseball, both written and illustrated by the amazing Kadir Nelson.