Thematic Reading List: Black History Month- 25 best books
|Martin’s Big Words: the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
By: Doreen Rappaport
A picture book biography that introduces the ideas and accomplishments of a gifted and influential speaker by using some of his own words to tell the story.
By: Milton Meltzer
Tells the story of a leading poet of the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920s who devoted his life to writing about the black experience in America.
|Poet: the remarkable story of George Moses Horton
By: Don Tate
George Horton, an enslaved person living in early-nineteenth-century North Carolina, taught himself to read by listening to white children recite the alphabet and puzzling through an old spelling book. He could not write, but he began composing poetry and memorizing his work. Sent by his master to sell produce at the University of North Carolina, he started sharing his poetry with the students, who commissioned him to write poems for their sweethearts.
|Barack Obama: 44th U.S. President
By: Darlene Stille
Highlights important parts of Obama’s childhood, education, and adult activities and positions leading to his presidency, without including so much detail that a young reader would be overwhelmed.
|Dear Benjamin Banneker
By: Andrea Davis Pinkney
Describes the life of America’s first Black scientist, Benjamin Banneker, who published his own almanac, helped survey the site for the nation’s capital, and spoke out against slavery.
|A Splash of Red: the life and art of Horace Pippin
By: Jennifer Bryant
Traces Horace Pippin’s life from his early years as a child with a passion for art to his entrance in the 1940s into the American art world. Pippin created paintings of African-American life, Bible stories, and images of war and emancipation.
By: Troy Andrews
Hailing from the Trem neighborhood in New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews got his nickname by wielding a trombone twice as long as he was high. A prodigy, he was leading his own band by age six, and today this Grammy-nominated artist headlines the legendary New Orleans Jazz Fest.
|I am Jackie Robinson
By: Brad Meltzer
A biography of Jackie Robinson for beginner readers.
|Wilma Unlimited: how Wilma Rudolph became the world’s fastest woman
By: Kathleen Krull
A biography of the African-American woman who overcame crippling polio as a child to become the first woman to win three gold medals in track in a single Olympics.
By: Ntozake Shange
A poetic biography of Coretta Scott, from her walking five miles to school with her siblings to continuing her husband’s civil rights work after his death.
|Art from her heart: folk artist Clementine Hunter
By: Kathy Whitehead
Clementine Hunter’s paintings went from hanging on her clothesline to hanging in museums, yet because of the color of her skin, a friend had to sneak her in when the gallery was closed.
|Perfect timing: how Isaac Murphy became one of the world’s greatest jockeys
By: Patsi B. Trollinger
How one offer to ride a horse changed Isaac Murphy’s life and gave him the chance to become one of the greatest jockeys of all time.
|In Her Hands: the story of sculptor Augusta Savage
By: Alan Schroeder
A biography of African American sculptor Augusta Savage, who overcame many obstacles as a young woman to become a premier female sculptor of the Harlem Renaissance. Includes an afterword about Savage’s adult life and works, plus photographs.
|Harriet Tubman and the Freedom Train
By: Sharon Gayle
Introduces Harriet Tubman, from her birth into slavery, through her daring escape to freedom in the north, to her tireless efforts during the Civil War to free other slaves via the Underground Railroad.
By: Nikki Giovanni
Provides the story of the black woman whose refusal to give up her seat on a bus in Alabama set in motion all the events of the civil rights movement that resulted in the end of the segregated South.
By: Christine Taylor-Butler
Follow Michelle Obama’s life from her childhood to her role as the nation’s first lady in this biography highlighting various aspects of her life.
|Only Passing Through: the story of Sojourner Truth
By: Anne F. Rockwell
A biography of the woman who was born a slave with no status and became one of the most powerful voices in the abolitionist movement.
|Fancy Party Gowns: the story of Ann Cole Lowe
By: Deborah Blumenthal
As soon as Ann Cole Lowe could walk, her momma and grandma taught her to sew. When her mom died, Ann continued sewing dresses. It wasn’t easy, especially when she went to design school and had to learn alone, segregated from the rest of the class. But the work she did set her spirit soaring, as evidenced in the clothes she made. Rarely credited, Ann Cole Lowe became “society’s best kept secret.” This beautiful picture book shines the spotlight on a figure who proved that with hard work and passion, any obstacles can be overcome.
|When Marian Sang: the true recital of Marian Anderson
By: Pam Munoz Ryan
An introduction to the life of Marian Anderson, extraordinary singer and civil rights activist, who was the first African American to perform at the Metropolitan Opera, whose life and career encouraged social change.
|Ella Fitzgerald: American jazz singer
By: Grace Hansen
Ella Fitzgerald went from a poor girl living on the streets to the one of the greatest Jazz singers of her time and ours. This title will take readers through the grand life of Ella and show them that nothing can hold you back if you have a dream and determination. Complete with a timeline and wonderful historical photographs.
|Serena Williams: champion on and off the court
By: Jodie Shepherd
Easy to read biography about tennis great Serena Williams.
|Ira’s Shakespeare Dream
By: Glenda Armand
A biography chronicling the life of Ira Aldridge, an African American actor who is considered to be one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of the nineteenth century.
|Dave the Potter: artist, poet, slave
By: Laban Carrick Hill
Chronicles the life of Dave, a nineteenth-century slave who went on to become an influential poet, artist, and potter.
|It Jes’ Happened: when Bill Traylor started to draw
By: Don Tate
A biography of twentieth-century African American folk artist Bill Traylor, a former slave who at the age of eighty-five began to draw pictures based on his memories and observations of rural and urban life in Alabama.
|Bill Pickett, Rodeo-Ridin’ Cowboy
By: Andrea Davis Pinkney
Describes the life and accomplishments of the son of a former slave whose unusual bulldogging style made him a rodeo star.