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African American Heritage Month: Children's Non-Fiction

Updated: March 2, 2016

A selected list of children's non-fiction books about African American history and the African American experience.

by Woodson, Jacqueline, author.
Call Number: x 92 W8985
Grades 5 - 8
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child's soul as she searches for her place in the world.

by Alko, Selina.
Call Number: x 323.1 A415
Grades 1 -5
The story of interracial couple Mildred and Richard Loving, who got married in Washington, D.C., and were arrested after they returned to Virginia, and took their legal case all 
the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

by Shelton, Paula Young.
Call Number: x 323.1 S545

Paula Young Shelton, daughter of Civil Rights leader and later U.N. ambassador Andrew Young, presents an intimate, moving story of a child’s experience living under racist, Jim Crow laws and participating in the Civil Rights movement. Raul Colón’s bright, warm illustrations complement Shelton’s free-verse poems to convey both the comfort of family and a tight-knit community of caring adults, and the gravity and danger of the work of these uncles and aunts who were also leaders in the struggle for Civil Rights. Grades K-3.

by Freedman, Russell.
Call Number: x 323.1 F853
Grades 4 - 7
Covers the events surrounding and including the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the end of segregation on buses.

by Weatherford, Carole Boston, 1956- author.
Call Number: x 92 P252We

Grades 1-3

This is an admirable introduction to the photographer Gordon Parks and his work, and an evocative testament to the important role artists can play in movements for social justice. Weatherford’s spare, clear prose, and Jamey Christoph’s expressive art create a moving biography belied by its brevity. Gordon Parks is most famous for being the first black director in Hollywood. Before he made movies and wrote books, he was a poor African American looking for work. When he bought a camera, his life changed forever. He taught himself how to take pictures and before long, people noticed.




by Greenfield, Eloise.
Call Number: x 811 G812-12
Gr. 2-5. Shines a spotlight on The Great Migration in the United States, where over a million African Americans moved to the North, with free verse poetry and intricate, mixed media illustrations.

by Pinkney, Andrea Davis.
Call Number: x 920 P655-1
Grades 5 - 8
Presents the stories of ten African-American men from different eras in American history, organized chronologically to provide a scope from slavery to the modern day.

by King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968.
Call Number: x 323.1 K53 2012
Grades 1 and up
Presents illustrations and the text of the speech given by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on August 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, in which he described his visionary dream of equality and brotherhood for humankind.All ages. The iconic speech, interpreted by one of the finest illustrators working today.

by Powell, Patricia Hruby, 1951-
Call Number: x 92 B1667Po
Grades 2 - 5
A portrait of the passionate performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker, the woman who worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. Meticulously researched by both author and artist, Josephine's powerful story of struggle and triumph is an inspiration and a spectacle, just like the legend herself.

by Shapiro, J. H.
Call Number: x 92 G992Sh
Gr. 1-5. Lovely picture book biography of artist Tyree Guyton, who changed the face of his East Detroit neighborhood with his playful community art projects. Nice read-aloud, fine illustrations.

Call Number: x 796.8 L888Pe
Gr. 2-5. Picture book biography focusing on Joe Louis's two fights against Max Schmeling, the second of which brought black and white Americans together to celebrate. Gorgeously illustrated by award-winning artist Kadir Nelson.

by Obama, Barack.
Call Number: x 973 O12
Gr. K-3. In a lovely letter to his two daughters, President Barack Obama writes about thirteen groundbreaking Americans, including both obvious examples (Martin Luther King, Jr., Jackie Robinson, Abraham Lincoln) and those less obvious (Billie Holiday, Cesar Chavez, Maya Lin).

by Rockwell, Anne F.
Call Number: x 92 T734Ro
Gr. 3-5. Rockwell tells the remarkable story of the 18th century hero who led the first triumphant slave rebellion in history on the island of St. Domingue (now Haiti). Paintings in bright, Caribbean-inspired colors illustrate the action.

by Morrison, Toni.
Call Number: x 370 M882
Grades 3 - 8. Archival photographs focus on the children and teens and the role they played in school integration, with text imagining how the participants must have felt.

by Giovanni, Nikki.
Call Number: x 323.1 G512
Gr. 3-5. Sometimes the smallest act galvanizes people into decisive action. In this case, it was a woman refusing to give up her seat on a bus and a bus boycott that lasted nearly a year before the Supreme Court ruled that segregation on buses was illegal. Includes one fold-out spread. A handsomely illustrated look at a watershed event.

by Vernick, Audrey.
Call Number: x 796 M2793Ve
Gr. 2-5. Charming picture book biography of one of the unsung heroines of baseball and the first woman to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame for her civil rights work and for getting the major leagues to treat Negro League players with respect.

by Pinkney, Andrea Davis.
Call Number: x 323.1 P655 folio
Grades 2-5. Presents the 50th anniversary of the momentous Woolworth's lunch counter sit-in, when four college students staged a peaceful protest that became a defining moment in the struggle for racial equality and the growing civil rights movement.

by Bridges, Ruby.
Call Number: x 370 B851
Gr. 3 and up. Ruby Bridges tell her own story of what it was like, as a six-year-old child, to be the first black student to attend a formerly segregated school in New Orleans in 1960. An inspiring first-hand account from someone on the front line at a very early age.

by Andrews, Troy, author.
Call Number: x 92 A571
Grades K - 4
Hailing from the Tremé 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.

by Nelson, Kadir.
Call Number: x 796 N4269
Gr. 3 and up. An elderly ball player regales his audience with the trials and triumphs of determined athletes and fans, beautifully enhanced by Nelson's glorious art. Includes a forward by Hank Aaron, himself once a player in the Negro League.

by Hill, Laban Carrick, author.
Call Number: x 92 K82Hi

Grades 1 - 4

From his childhood in Jamaica to his youth in the Bronx, Laban Carrick Hill's book tells how Kool Herc came to be a DJ, how kids in gangs stopped fighting in order to breakdance, and how the music he invented went on to define a culture and transform the world.