Disclaimer: This page of books about Black History contains affiliate links for children’s books about Black history, for which I may receive a small income at no cost to you. The links here are provided for ease of searching – I encourage you to find books in a sustainable manner.
Books about Black History: Anthologies of Black History
This book is great for young children and the idea that it covers 28 days lends itself well to a Black History Month focus.
This book, a New York Times bestseller, covers 40 biographies of bold women in Black history. The 40 profiles include Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash. There are additional profiles in the conclusion of the book. The short profiles in history can be read to children as young as 5, and would work great as references for biography projects of older elementary students.
This book, a New York Times bestseller, covers 40 biographies of legendary men in Black history. The 40 profiles include writer James Baldwin, artist Aaron Douglas, filmmaker Oscar Devereaux Micheaux, lawman Bass Reeves, civil rights leader John Lewis, dancer Alvin Ailey, and musician Prince. One interesting choice is that some of the most famous individuals in history don’t get a main profile – the author contends that a child will likely be exposed to the story of Martin Luther King through other books. As a result, MLK and Obama are still referenced in the book, but as honorable mentions rather than full profiles. This book could be read to children as young as 5 or 6 for a bedtime story, or could be read by a 3rd grade student wanting to learn more.
This book about Black women in science contains 15 profiles of female Black scientists. Mathematicians, aviators, astronauts, researchers, and doctors are included in the profiles.
The Black women highlighted in this group of accomplished scientists: Rebecca Lee Crumpler, Annie Turnbo Malone, Bessie Coleman, Flemmie Pansy Kittrell, Mamie Phipps Clark, Katherine Johnson, Jane Cooke Wright, Margaret Strickland Collins, Gladys West, Annie J. Easley, Patricia Bath, Alexa Irene Canady, Mae Jemison, Gina Presley, and Renee Gordon
These are Black achievers from all over the world. In addition to the 50 stories, given over 1 to 2 pages per individual, there are affirmations and personal quotes that highlight the message of the individual’s life journey. Each story also ends with a few questions to the reader, which helps the message carry over into their own life.
Biographies of: Toussaint L’Ouverture, Thomas Jennings, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, Madam C. J. Walker, Mary McLeod Bethune, Bessie Coleman, Hattie McDaniel, Albert Luthuli, Ralph Bunche, Josephine Baker, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, James Baldwin, Malcolm X, Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King Jr., Chinua Achebe, Ray Charles, Carmen de Lavallade, Wole Soyinka, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, George Carruthers, Pele, Wangari Maathai, Jimi Hendrix, Muhammad Ali, Patricia Bath, Bob Marley, Shirley Jackson, Ben Carson, Beverly Johnson, Christopher Paul Gardner, Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Mae Jemison, Mark Dean, Michael Jackson, Barack Obama, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Michael Jordan, Derartu Tulu, Tegla Laroupe, Beyonce Knowles, Serena Williams, Alicia Keys, P.K. Subban, Leanna Archer
For families inspired by the first Bedtime Inspirational Stories, author L.A. Amber has made a second edition with 50 more important names in Black History. Some of these people are household names, others are generational changemakers, and some of these impressive people in Black history will be new discoveries even for adult readers (I learned about bioluminescence and efforts to stop food waste in this list of inspirational stories.)
Biographies of Benjamin Banneker, Edward Bouchet, Booker T. Washington, Zora Neale Hurston, Ethel Waters, Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson, Percy Julian, Louis Armstrong, Ella Baker, Charles Drew, Thurgood Marshall, Jane Bolin, Daisy Bates, Jackie Robinson, Shirley Chisholm, Emmett Chappelle, Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Jarmes Edward Maceo West, Toni Morrison, Zenzile Makeba, Quincy Jones, Nina Simone, Wilma Rudolph, Richard Pryor, Stokely Carmichael, Aretha Franklin, Alice Walker, Susana Baca de la Colina, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Stevie Wonder, Janet Emerson Bashen, Angela Bassett, Magic Johnson, Florence Griffith Joyner, Kwabena Boahen, Michelle Robinson Obama, Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson, Bisi Ezerioha, Shaquille O’Neal, Shawna Kimbrell, John Legend, John Dabiri, Misty Copeland, Jasmine Crowe, Usain Bolt, Gabby Douglas, and Simone Biles.
This book made many people cry, call it breathtaking. It won the Caldecott award for Kadir Nelson’s illustrations throughout. This picture book, for grades 3 and up, is about the tough moments in American history, and the people who propelled history forward through action and pain. Written as a “love letter to America”, it is an ode to the “undefeated,” the “unforgettable” – the ones who survived America by any means necessary. And the ones who didn’t.
The poem inside does read like it would a commercial before the Super Bowl, selling Coca Cola or Nikes, from close-ups of a person sweating hard with grit and determination, to the roaring crowd of the stands. The sentimental vibe doesn’t take away from the importance of the fight of ancestors that the book is recognizing.
The artwork that falls upon every page is what elevates it further, from a good poem to a magnificantly illustrated capturing of historical American faces – a snapshot of Black History in the United States contained in a 40 page picture book. Illustrator Kadir Nelson again shows the beauty of his artwork in The Undefeated.
These books about Black history will be sure to interest children.