Favorite Books for Black History Month-For Kids

The following are some of our favorite books for Black History Month (and anytime!). Some describe our different histories while others show the joys and challenges that are shared by children of all colors as they learn and grow.

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Here are some recommended books in the Southfield Public Library catalog with commentary by the article’s writer. If you don’t see a copy available, contact a librarian to place an item on hold for you!

A Chair for my Mother
Williams, Vera
After a fire destroys their home and possessions, Rosa, her mother, and her grandmother save their money to buy a big comfortable chair. Suffused with warmth and tenderness, A Chair for My Mother celebrates family love and determination. A Caldecott Honor book.
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Amazing Grace
Hoffman, Mary & Binch, Caroline
Grace loves to act, but one day some kids tell her she can't play the part of Peter Pan because of the way she looks. Grace's grandmother helps this young girl realize that with effort anything can be achieved. An inspiring and heartwarming story.
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Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti
McDermott, Gerald
Have you ever wondered how the moon got where it is? According to this Ashanti tale, Nyame, the god of all things, put it there when Anansi could not decide which of his sons deserved it. Brilliant illustrations accompany this classic retelling of a traditional tale.
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Crews, Donald
Every year the narrator and his family take a trip down to Cottondale, Florida, to visit his grandmother, Bigmama. This autobiographical story recalls the joys of summer and the contrast between the author's life in the city and Bigmama’s lush, rural home. While the illustrations suggest it was a period of segregation, this thought never overpowers the carefree summer celebration.
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Bill Pickett: Rodeo-Ridin' Cowboy
Pinkney, Andrea Davis
The most celebrated black cowboy was Bill Pickett, a fearless rodeo star with a knack for taming bulls that brought the crowds to their feet. The closing note in this book provides an overview of the history of rodeos and black cowboys.
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Bright Eyes, Brown Skin
Hudson, Cheryl & Ford, Bernadette & Ford, George Cephas
Four African American children interact with one another in a preschool environment, exploring their facial features, skin tones, what they wear, what they do, and how they learn from and enjoy each other. A happy book and nice addition to preschool and kindergarten classrooms.
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Hamilton, Virginia
Newbery Award winner Virginia Hamilton describes how Lindy and her family suffer through a long drought. Then a mysterious boy comes and teaches them the secrets of finding water hidden in the earth.
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Freedom Summer
Wiles, Deborah & Lagarrigue, Jerome
Joe and John Henry are friends who have many interests in common, including swimming. But because John Henry has brown skin and Joe's is the "color of pale moths," they cannot swim together in the town’s pool. Told by Joe and eloquently illustrated, the emotions and power of friends trying to understand an unfriendly world are timeless.
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Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Rappaport, Doreen
Martin Luther King Jr. grew up fascinated by big words. He would later go on to use these words to inspire a nation and call people to action. In this award-winning book, powerful portraits of King show how he used words, not weapons, to fight injustice.
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Show Way
Woodson, Jacqueline & Talbott, Hudson
Soonie's great grandmother was only seven-years-old when sold to the big plantation. A quilt that showed the way to freedom and chronicled the family's history connects the generations, and continues to do so. Idealized illustrations and the poetic text provide an unusual family story.
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Something Beautiful
Wyeth, Sharon & Soentpiet, Chris K.
A young girl learns to find beauty in her sometimes gritty urban neighborhood, showing how the way one sees makes a difference that affects others. Luminous watercolors detail the child, her neighborhood, and suggest what she sees around her.
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The Stories Huey Tells
Cameron, Ann & Smith, Roberta
These five short and funny stories show the mischief that Huey gets into in daily adventures with his annoying older brother Julian. The stories are filled with fun and warmth.
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Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt
Hopkinson, Deborah & Ransome, James
Clara is born into slavery but learns an important skill when she becomes a seamstress. Her quilting ability allows Clara to put together directions to escape north to freedom when she overhears a conversation about a route to Canada.
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The Dream Keeper and Other Poems
Hughes, Langston
The great American poet Langston Hughes chose the poems in this classic collection, originally published for young people in 1932.
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The Gold Cadillac
Taylor, Mildred & Hays, Michael
Set in the 1950s, this book by Mildred Taylor is frank in its portrayal of racism. Lois and Wilma are proud when their father buys a brand new gold Cadillac. Only their mother won't ride in it. On a trip from their home in Ohio to Mississippi, there are no admiring glances only suspicion directed toward the black man driving such a fancy car. For the first time, Lois knows what it's like to feel scared because of her skin color.
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The Quilt
Jonas, Ann
Publishers Weekly called this delightful book a "landmark in children's literature." Made from her old pajamas and curtains, a young girl's new quilt inspires a dream adventure. The squares of the quilt become part of a dreamscape she enters into in order to find her lost stuffed dog. An ALA Notable Children's Book.
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Through My Eyes
Ridges, Ruby
Six-year-old Ruby Bridges became the first African American to integrate an elementary school. Her memories of that year, when so much hatred was directed at her, makes for a powerful memoir. A 1999 Parents' Choice Gold Award Winner.
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Uncle Remus: The Complete Tales
Lester, Julius
One of the most well known of African American folktales are the Uncle Remus tales, originally written down by Joel Chandler Harris over a hundred years ago. This four-book series drops the heavy and difficult dialect of the original tales and adds contemporary language and references to Brer Rabbit's fun.
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Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer
Weatherford, Carole Boston
Stirring poems and vibrant collage illustrations combine to celebrate the life of Fannie Lou Hamer, a champion of the Civil Rights and voting rights movements during the 1950s through the 1970s. Born in the Mississippi delta, the youngest of 20 children, Hamer had to drop out of school after sixth grade to work in the cotton fields before she became a powerful voice for her people. The book vividly brings to life Hamer’s legacy with a message of hope, determination, and strength.
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