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Books to Celebrate Black History Month

Jan 31, 2020    |   Celebrating DiversityChildren’s Books

February is Black History Month. This celebration was initially introduced as National Negro History Week in 1926, in an effort to raise awareness of the contributions of African Americans to US history, and was expanded to a full month in the 1970s. This month provides an opportunity to celebrate, discuss, and learn from stories written by Black authors, about Black heritage and the historic impact of Black men and women in America.

This month also reminds us of the ongoing need to curate our classrooms with books and materials that are representative of our diverse communities. The books in this list are excellent ways to facilitate conversations about Black history, but the conversations don’t need to stop at the end of the month — these books can stay in your library all year long!

Books for Preschoolers

Mae Among the Stars

Written by Roda Ahmed and illustrated by Stasia Burrington

This book shares the story of Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel in space. Starting with her childhood dreams of being an astronaut and ending with her success at NASA, this story is an inspiring read for young children.


Hey Black Child

Written by Useni Eugene Perkins and illustrated by Bryan Collier

This story’s message is shared in an empowering poem, written by Useni Eugene Perkins in 1975. The book is optimistic, inspiring, and hopeful as it celebrates Black children and their potential. The bright illustrations match positive text that seeks to inspire all young readers to dream big and reminds them that they have the ability to accomplish great things.

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

Written by Vashti Harrison

Featuring forty trailblazing Black women in American history, Little Leaders educates and inspires young readers with stories of black women who broke boundaries and made history. Through the sweet illustrations and thought-provoking stories, young children find heroes and role models who helped to make the world a better place for generations to come.

Books for Pre-K

These Hands

Written by Margaret H. Mason and illustrated by Floyd Cooper

This beautifully illustrated story explores the legacy of a grandfather and his fight against discrimination in the 1950s and 60s. This touching story of the love between a grandfather and his grandson uses simple, gentle language to explore a deeply and emotionally moving topic with young readers.

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race

Written by Margot Lee Shetterly and illustrated by Laura Freeman

This book tells the story of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, who provided the calculations for America’s first journeys into space. This book’s story of four women with an incredible gift for math and science is a great read to inspire young children’s interest in STEM learning!

Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis

Written by Jabari Asim and illustrated by E. B. Lewis

This book offers a glimpse into the childhood of John Lewis, a Civil Rights leader and important figure in American history. The story explores John’s desire to be a preacher when he grew up and how he practiced his leadership and speaking skills by preaching to a flock of chickens on his family farm.

Board Books for Infants and Toddlers

Dream Big, Little One

Written by Vashti Harrison

Featuring 18 trailblazing Black women in American history, this book is a board book adaptation of Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History. Learn about heroes, role models, and everyday women who did extraordinary things to make the world better for generations of girls and women to come.

I Look Up To…Michelle Obama

Written by Anna Membrino and illustrated by Fatti Burke

This board book explores Michelle Obama in a simply illustrated story. The text is easy to share with young readers and includes quotes from Michelle. If you and your little ones enjoy this book, you might check out some of the author’s other stories of inspiring Black women, I Look Up to…Serena Wiliams and I Look Up to…Oprah Winfrey.

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