Black History Month is celebrated every February, and recognizes the achievements and history of African Americans in the United States.
This celebration honors all Black people from all periods of U.S. history, from the enslaved people first brought over from Africa in the early 17th century to African Americans living in the United States today.
Check out the picture books below to learn about the contributions of Black Americans to society, culture, science, art, and more.
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James
The barbershop is where the magic happens. Boys go in as lumps of clay and, with princely robes draped around their shoulders, a dab of cool shaving cream on their foreheads, and a slow, steady cut, they become royalty. This rhythmic, read-aloud title is a celebration of the way boys feel when they leave the barber’s chair.
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly and Laura Freeman
Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math…really good. They participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America’s first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they worked hard. They persisted. And they used their genius minds to change the world.
Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams by Ashley Bryan
Through fierce paintings and expansive poetry Bryan imagines and interprets each person’s life on the plantation, as well as the life their owner knew nothing about—their dreams and pride in knowing that they were worth far more than an Overseer or Madam ever would guess. Visually epic, and never before done, this stunning picture book is unlike anything you’ve seen.
The Awakening of Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Tiffany D. Jackson
In Charlestown Prison, Malcolm Little struggles with the weight of his past. Plagued by nightmares, Malcolm drifts through days unsure of his future. Slowly, he befriends other prisoners and writes to his family. He reads all the books in the prison library, joins the debate team and the Nation of Islam. Malcolm grapples with race, politics, religion, and justice in the 1940s. And as his time in jail comes to an end, he begins to awaken — emerging from prison more than just Malcolm Little: Now, he is Malcolm X.
Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry and Vashti Harrison
Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way. Zuri knows it’s beautiful. When mommy does Zuri’s hair, she feels like a superhero. But when mommy is away, it’s up to daddy to step in! And even though daddy has a lot to learn, he LOVES his Zuri. And he’ll do anything to make her—and her hair—happy.
Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine and Kadir Nelson
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.
Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed and Stasia Burrington
When Little Mae was a child, she dreamed of dancing in space. She imagined herself surrounded by billions of stars, floating, gliding, and discovering. She wanted to be an astronaut. Her mom told her, “If you believe it, and work hard for it, anything is possible.” Little Mae’s curiosity, intelligence, and determination, matched with her parents’ encouraging words, paved the way for her success at NASA as the first African American woman to travel in space.
The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson
This poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present.
Ann Fights for Freedom: An Underground Railroad Survival Story by Nikki Shannon Smith
12-year-old Ann understands there is only one thing to be grateful for as a slave: having her family together. But when the master falls into debt, he plans to sell both Ann and her younger brother to two different owners. Ann is convinced her family must run away on the Underground Railroad. Will Ann’s family survive the dangerous trip to their freedom in the North? This Girls Survive story is supported by a glossary, discussion questions, and nonfiction material on the Underground Railroad, making it a valuable resource for young readers.
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford and Ekua Holmes
Despite fierce prejudice and abuse, even being beaten to within an inch of her life, Fannie Lou Hamer was a champion of civil rights from the 1950s until her death in 1977.
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o and Vashti Harrison
Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.
I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Kadir Nelson
On August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Martin Luther King gave one of the most powerful and memorable speeches in our nation’s history. His words, paired with Caldecott Honor winner Kadir Nelson’s magificent paintings, make for a picture book certain to be treasured by children and adults alike.
All book descriptions were borrowed from Goodreads.com.