To me, there is no greater way to honor this month than by learning about the achievements by Black Americans in U.S. history. You can do this through the many wonderful books available at your local bookstore and library.
Here are recommendations from Watchung Booksellers, Montclair Public Library and Barista Kids for wonderful Children’s Bbooks for Black History Month:
I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes
Illustrator Brian Collier was just awarded the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration. Langston Hughes heartfelt poem speaks of the relentless courage and dignity of the Pullman Porters.
P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia
Winner of the Coretta Scott King Award 2014. In this spirited stand-alone sequel to “One Crazy Summer,” the Gaither sisters return to Brooklyn after a summer spent with their mother in Oakland, California. Delphine, Vonetta and Fern thrive in the tumultuous era of the late 1960s, but Delphine is tasked by her mother to, “P.S. Be Eleven.”
Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills by Renee Watson, illustrated by Christian Robinson.
Little-known Florence Mills was one of the Harlem Renaissance elites. She used her gift to promote other black performers and sang songs that heralded the call for civil rights. 32 pages
Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men who Changed America by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney
Won the Coretta Scott King Award for author last week. From Colonial times through the Civil Rights to present day, the Pinkneys pay tribute to American history these stories of triumph. 238 pages
A Splash of Red, The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant, Melissa Sweet
A delightful picture book about self-made artist Horace Pippin (1888-1946). Melissa Sweet’s illustrations honor Pippin’s style. 32 pages.
Zora: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston by Dennis Brindell Fradin and Judith Bloom Fradin
Larger than life Zora Neale Hurston, anthropologist and Harlem Renaissance writer. She grew up in an all-black town, Eatonville Florida, which she wrote about beautifully and unsparingly in Their Eyes Were Watching God. Perfect for middle readers. 170 pages.
The wonderful librarians at Montclair Public Library’s Children’s Department shared their list of favorites, in alphabetical order, along with the MPL call numbers:
- D is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet by Nancy I. Sanders: Grade 1-2, Age 6-7 (J 973.0496 SAN)
- The Dream Keeper and Other Poems by Langston Hughes: Grade 4-6, Age 9-11 (J 811.52 HUG)
- Freedom River by Doreen Rappaport: Grade 1-2, Age 6-7 (J 973.7 RAP)
- Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter: Grade 2-3, Age 7-8 (J E WIN)
- Friend On Freedom River by Gloria Whelan: Grade 3-4, Age 8-9 (J E WHE)
- Harriet Tubman, Secret Agent : How Daring Slaves and Free Blacks Spied for the Union During the Civil War by Thomas B. Allen: Grade 4-6, Age 9-11 (J BIO TUBMAN)
- Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine: Grade 3-4, Age 8-9 (J E LEV)
- I, Too, Sing America: Three Centuries of African American Poetry (Selected and Annotated) by Catherine Clinton: Grade 4-6, Age 9-11 (J 811.008 CLI)
- King for Kids: Featuring Recordings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Clayborn Carosn (Editor): Grade 4-6, Age 9-11 (J CD BOOKS BIO KING)
- Malcolm X: A Fire Burning Brightly by Walter Dean Myers (JB X)
- Nothing But Trouble: Story of Althea Gibson by Sue Stauffacher (JB GIBSON)
- The Patchwork Path: A Quilt Map to Freedom by Bettye Stroud: Grade 1-2, Age 6-7 (J E STR)
- To Be a Drum by Evelyn Coleman: Grade 1-2, Age 6-7 (J E COL)
- Uncle Jed’s Barbershop by Margaree King Mitchell: Grade 1-2, Age 6-7 (J E MIT)
- The Underground Railroad for Kids: From Slavery to Freedom with 21 Activities by Mary Kay Carson: Grade 4-6, Age 9-11 (J 973.7 CAR)
- Unspoken: a Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole: Grade 2-3, Age 7-8 (J E COL)
- Uptown by Bryan Collier: Kindergarten, Age 5-6 (J E COL)
- The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis: Grade 4-6, Age 9-11 (J CURTIS)
- What Color Is My World? The Lost History of African-American Inventors by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Grade 3-4, Age 8-9 (J ABDUL-JABBAR)
- Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass by Lesa Cline Ransome (JB DOUGLASS)
- 5,000 miles to Freedom : Ellen and William Craft’s Flight from Slavery by Judith Bloom Fradin: Grade 4-6, Age 9-11 (J 973.71 FRA)
You can also check out some of these books, which were given the Coretta Scott King Book Award, an honor given to African-American authors and illustrator for outstanding inspirational and educational contributions.