Children’s Books for Black History Month

A graphic with the text "Celebrating Black History Month Part Three: Children's Books for Black History Month" with the Image of a Young Black Girl Reading a Book

Throughout the month of February, we are sharing posts written by Imagine Institute training program assistant Lourdes Flores about Black History Month. This series will follow the long history of Black History Month, Black History in the United States, and how we can all celebrate Black History Month in a way that is supportive, healthy, and, most importantly, empowering.

Yesterday, we shared a list of Washington-based Black-owned places to buy books. Today, we have a wonderful list of books for young readers that celebrate important people from Black history and tell stories of Black excellence and joy.

The cover of the book Glow, which includes an illustration of a young black boy in front of a brightly glowing moon

Glow by Ruth Forman, illustrated by Geneva Bowers

Ages 0 to 3

This simple, playful, and elegant board book stars a young boy who joyfully celebrates his dark skin with a bright moon at the end of a perfect day.

The Kindest Red by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S. K. Ali, illustrated by Hatem Aly

Ages 4 to 9

It’s picture day, and Faizah can’t wait to wear her special red dress with matching hair ribbons, passed down from her mother and sister. Faizah’s teacher starts the day by asking her students to envision the kind of world they want, inspiring Faizah and her friends to spend the day helping one another in ways large and small. But when it’s time for sibling pictures, Faizah realizes that she and her older sister, Asiya, don’t match like her classmates do with their siblings. With help from her classmates inspired by Asiya’s hijab, Faizah finds that acts of kindness can come back to you in unexpected ways.

The cover of the picture book The Kindest Red, which includes an illustration of a young Black girl in a bright red dress imagining a girl in a blue hijab flying pastor on a paper airplane
The cover of the picture book Rocket Says Speak Up! Which includes an illustration of a young black girl with glasses and a blue shirt and a cat holding a sign that says "you can make a difference"

Rocket Says Speak Up!, by Nathan Bryon, illustrated by Dapo Adeola

Ages 4 to 9

When Rocket finds out that her town’s library is closing, she knows something must be done. Inspired by the activism of Rosa Parks, Rocket rallies support from her peers, and together they lead a peaceful protest that spreads awareness and raises enough money to save their beloved library.

Kind Like Marsha: Learning from LGBTQ+ Leaders, by Sarah Prager, illustrated by Cheryl Thuesday

Ages 4 to 9

This book celebrates 14 amazing and inspirational LGBTQ+ people throughout history. Fan favorites like Harvey Milk, Sylvia Rivera, and Audre Lorde are joined by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Frida Kahlo, and more in this striking collection. With a focus on a positive personality attribute of each of the historical figures, readers will be encouraged to be brave like the Ugandan activist fighting for LGBTQ+ rights against all odds and to be kind like Marsha P. Johnson, who took care of her trans community on the New York City streets.

The cover of the picture book Kind like Marsha, Learning from LGBTQ+ Leaders, which includes an illustration of a black woman in a red dress with a colorful hat made of flowers and illustrations of other people
The cover of the young adult adaptation of the book "Barracoon," which includes an illustration of a black boy in a green shirt looking out at a ship on the sea with a man's face in the clouds behind him

Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo,” by Zora Neale Hurston, adapted by Ibram X. Kendi

Ages 10 to 12 

This historic text is adapted from the work of Zora Neale Hurston. It details the story of Cudjo Lewis, who was a person brought to the United States through the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Cudjo tells of his childhood in Africa and the horrors of the raid of his home, being captured, and held in a barracoon for sale. He spent years in slavery until the end of the Civil War.

And We Rise, by Erica Martin

Ages 13 to 18

In stunning verse and vivid use of white space, Erica Martin’s debut poetry collection walks readers through the Civil Rights Movement—from the well-documented events that shaped the nation’s treatment of Black people, beginning with the “Separate but Equal” ruling—and introduces lesser-known figures and moments that were just as crucial to the Movement and our nation’s centuries-long fight for justice and equality.

The cover of the poetry book And We Rise which includes an illustration of four black young people wearing shades of pink and yellow
The cover of the book The Awakening of Malcolm X which includes an illustration of Malcolm X, a black man in glasses, a white shirt and a dark jacket

The Awakening of Malcolm X, by Ilyasah Shabazz and Tiffany D. Jackson

Ages 13 to 18

In Charlestown Prison, Malcolm Little struggles with the weight of his past. Plagued by nightmares, he 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 and 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.