A Book List for Black History Month and Every Month

Posted by Lowell School on 2/28/15 11:10 AM

Updated: 2/18/2016

Last year, in honor of Black History Month, Lowell Primary School librarians created a book display for children K-5 showcasing titles, both fiction and non-fiction, that reflect the African-American experience. Since then, the library has acquired new books, which have been added to the list below. Check out our new titles—they’re not just for Black History Month; they’re for every month!

Hungry for even more books? Our librarians recommend that you peruse these additional resources:

School Library Journal: “African-American Experience Children’s Literary Reference Guide (2011-2016)” by Elizabeth Bird—This list includes books for children ages 0-12.

Booklist Online: “STEAM Titles for Black History Month” by Anastasia Suen—This list of five books includes titles for children in 1st-10th grade.

The Horn Book: Black History Month 2016: Horn Book Articles—If you want to read more about African-American authors, illustrators, and other “luminaries” in the writing world, this site is for you. You’ll find archived reviews, more lists, and other articles every week in the month of February.


New Titles 2016

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, 2014
by Katheryn Russell-Brown (author), Frank Morrison (illustrator)

Pass It On: African-American Poetry for Children, 1993
Poems selected by Wade Hudson, Floyd Cooper (illustrator)

Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom, 2011
by Shane W. Evans (author)

Who is Muhammad Ali? 2014
by James Buckley Jr. (author), Stephen Marchesi (illustrator)

Harlem Renaissance Party, 2015
by Faith Ringgold

Ruby and the Booker Boys: Brand New School, Brave New Ruby, 2008
by Derrick Barnes (author), Vanessa Brantley Newton (illustrator)

Jazz Age Josephine, 2012
by Jonah Winter (author), Marjorie Priceman (illustrator)

Chocolate Me! 2015
by Taye Diggs (author), Shane W. Evans (illustrator)

Giant Steps to Change the World, 2011
by Spike Lee, Tonya Lewis Lee (authors), Sean Qualls (illustrator)

Irene’s Wish, 2014
by Jerdine Nolen (author), AG Ford (illustrator)

Freedom Summer, 2005
by Deborah Wiles (author), Jerome Lagarrigue (illustrator)

The Granddaughter Necklace, 2013
by Sharon Dennis Wyeth (author), Bagram Ibatoulline (illustrator)

Little Sister Is Not My Name! 2009
by Sharon M. Draper

Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel, 2010
by Nickki Grimes (author), R. Gregory Christie (illustrator)

From Slave to Soldier, 2007
by Deborah Hopkinson (author), Brian Floca (illustrator)



This list that follows, first created in 2015, is arranged by topic and genre, including arts, innovators, sports, history and agents of change, poetry, and fiction (both picture books and chapter books). We’re always adding new titles to the collection—if you have a suggestion, please leave a comment below!


Mahalia Jackson, Walking with Kings and Queens, 2015
by Nina Nolan (Author), John Holyfield (illustrator)

Jazz, 2006
by Walter Dean Myers (Author), Christpher Myers (Illustrator)

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker, (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book) 2014
by Patricia Hruby Powell (Author), Christian Robinson (Illustrator)

Faith Ringgold, 1993
by Robyn Montana Turner (Author)

Louis Armstrong Musician, 1989
by Sam Tanenhaus (Author) 

Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century, 2014
by Carole Boston Weatherford (Author), Raul Colon (Illustrator)

I see the rhythm, 2013
by Toyomi Igus (Author), Michele Wood (Illustrator)

Jazz: My Music, My People, 1994
by Morgan Monceaux (Author, Illustrator)

Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa, 2002
by Andrea Pinkney (Author), Brian Pinkney (Illustrator)

Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra, 2006
by Andrea Davis Pinkney (Author), Brian Pinkney (Illustrator)

Duke Ellington (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers), 1996
by Mike Venezia (Author)

Jimi Hendrix, 1995
by Sean Piccoli (Author)

When Louis Armstrong Taught Me Scat, 2008
by Muriel Harris Weinstein (Author)

Play, Louis, Play!: The True Story of a Boy and His Horn, 2013
by Muriel Harris Weinstein (Author), Frank Morrison (Illustrator)

When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson, 2002
by Pam Munoz Ryan (Author), Brian Selznick (Illustrator)

Firebird, 2014
by Misty Copeland (Author), Christopher Myers (Illustrator)

Story Painter: The Life of Jacob Lawrence, 1998
by John Duggleby (Author)

Lift Every Voice and Sing, 2007
by James Weldon Johnson (Author), Bryan Collier (Illustrator)

Katherine Dunham, Pioneer of Black Dance, 2000
by Barbara O’Connor



Mae Jemison, 2002
by LeeAnne Gellety (Author)

Dear Benjamin Banneker, 1994
by Andrea Davis Pinkney (Author)

Ron’s Big Mission, 2009
by Rose Blue (Author)

A Picture Book of George Washington Carver, 2000
by David Adler (Author), Dan Brown (Illustrator)

Onward: A Photobiography of African-American Polar Explorer Matthew Henson, 2005
by Dolores Johnson (Author)

Vision of Beauty: The Story of Sarah Breedlove Walker, 2000
by Kathryn Lasky (Author), Nneka Bennett (Illustrator)

Ben Carson, 1995
by Alex Simmons (Author)

George Crum and the Saratoga Chip, 2006
by Gaylia Taylor (Author), Frank Morrison (Author)

Space Challenger: The Story of Guion Bluford: An Authorized Biography, 1988
By James Haskins (Author), Kathleen Benson (Author)

Nobody Owns the Sky: The Story of "Brave Bessie" Coleman, 1998
by Reeve Lindbergh (Author), Pamela Paparone (Illustrator)

Talkin' About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman, (Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book) 2002
by Nikki Grimes (Author), Earl B. Lewis (Illustrator)



Joe Louis, My Champion, 2004
William Miller (Author), Rodney S. Pate (Illustrator)

Black Jack, The Ballad of Jack Johnson, 2010
Charles Smith, Jr.  (Author), Shaune W. Evans (Illustrator)

Rimshots: Basketball Pix, Rolls, and Rhythms, 2000
by Charles R. Smith (Author)

A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie "Peanut" Johnson, 2004
by Michelle Y. Green (Author), Kadir Nelson (Illustrator)

Playing to Win: The Story of Althea Gibson, 2007
by Karen Deans (Author), Elbrite Brown (Illustrator)

You Never Heard of Willie Mays?! 2013
by Jonah Winter (Author), Terry Widener (Illustrator)

Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman, 2000
by Kathleen Krull (Author), David Diaz (Illustrator)

Wilma Rudolph, 2000
by Victoria Sherrow (Author), Larry Johnson (Illustrator)

Arthur Ashe, 1998
by Caroline Lazo (Author)

Champion: The Story of Muhammad Ali, 2002
by Jim Haskins (Author), Eric Velasquez (Illustrator)

Jesse Owens, 1990
by Tony Gentry (Author), Nathan I. Huggins (Editor)

Jesse Owens, 1999
by Thomas Streissguth (Author), Tom Streissguth (Author)

A Picture Book of Jesse Owens, 1992
by David A. Adler (Author), Robert Casilla (Illustrator)

Long Shot: Never Too Small to Dream Big, 2009
by Chris Paul (Author), Frank Morrison (Illustrator)

Willie Mays, 1990
by John Grabowski (Author), Jim Murray (Introduction), Earl Weaver (Contributor)

Shadow Ball: The History of the Negro Leagues, 1994
by Geoffrey C. Ward (Author), Ken Burns (Author), Jim O'Connor (Author)

On the Court with...LeBron James, 2008
by Matt Christopher (Author), Stephanie Peters (Author)

Just as Good: How Larry Doby Changed America's Game, 2012
by Chris Crowe (Author), Mike Benny (Illustrator)

Satchel Paige, 2003
Lesa Cline-Ransome (Author), James E. Ransome (Illustrator)

Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream, 2003
by Deloris Jordan (Author), Roslyn M. Jordan (Author), Kadir Nelson (Illustrator)



28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World, 2015
by Charles Smith, Jr. (Author), Shane W. Evans (Illustrator)

Sit In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down, 2012
by Andrea Davis Pinkey (Author), Brian Pinkney (Illustrator)

Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Hunstville Alabama, 2015
by Hester Bass (Author), E.B. Lewis (Illustrator)

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, 2006
by Carole Bostone Weatherford (Author), Kadir Nelson (Illustrator)

Only Passing Through: The Story of Sojourner Truth, 2000
by Anne Rockwell (Author), R. Gregory Christie (Illustrator)

The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage, 2015
by Selina Alko (Author, Illustrator), Sean Qualls (Illustrator)

Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song, 2013
by Andrea Davis Pinkney (Author), Brian Pinkney (Artist)

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 2007
by Doreen Rappaport (Author), Bryan Collier (Illustrator)

My Brother Martin, A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 2006
by Christine King Ferris (Author), Chris Soentpiet (Illustrator)

Coretta Scott, 2011
by Ntozake Shange (Author), Kadir Nelson (Illustrator)

Rosa, 2007
by Nikki Giovanni (Author), Bryan Collier (Illustrator)

Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins, 2007
by Carole Boston Weatherford (Author), Jerome Lagarrigue (Illustrator)

Through My Eyes, 1999
by Ruby Bridges (Author), Margo Lundell (Compiler, Editor)

My Name Is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth, 2015
by Ann Turner (Author), James Ransome (Illustrator)

A Picture Book of Rosa Parks, 1995
by David A. Adler (Author), Robert Casilla (Illustrator)

I am Rosa Parks (Ordinary People Change World), 2014
by Brad Meltzer (Author), Christopher Eliopoulos (Illustrator)

Barack Obama: United States President, 2009
by Roberta Edwards (Author), Ken Call (Illustrator)

Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope, 2012
by Nikki Grimes (Author), Bryan Collier (Illustrator)

The Riches of Oseola McCarty, 1998
by Evelyn Coleman (Author), Daniel Minter (Illustrator)

A Picture Book of Thurgood Marshall, 1999
by David A. Adler (Author), Robert Casilla (Illustrator)

Coretta Scott King, 1998
by Lisa Renee Rhodes (Author)

John Lewis in the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement, 2006
by Jim Haskins (Author), Benny Andrews (Author)

A Picture Book of Frederick Douglass, 1995
by David A. Adler (Author), Samuel Byrd (Illustrator)

Frederick Douglass, 1987
by Sharman Apt Russell (Author), Nathan I. Huggins (Editor)

More Than Anything Else, 1995
by Marie Bradby (Author), Chris K. Soentpiet (Illustrator)



Ellington Was Not a Street, 2004
by Ntozake Shange (Author), Kadir Nelson (Illustrator)

I, Too, Am America, 2012
by Langston Hughes (Author), Bryan Collier (Illustrator) 

Bronzeville Boys and Girls, 2015
by Gwendolyn Brooks (Author), Faith Ringgold (Illustrator)

The Great Migration: Journey to the North, 2010
by Eloise Greenfield (Author), Jan Spivey Gilchrist (Illustrator)

I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery, 2011
by Cynthia Grady (Author), Michele Wood (Illustrator)

Nathaniel Talking, 1993
by Eloise Greenfield (Author), Jan Spivey Gilchrist (Illustrator)

In Praise of Our Fathers and Our Mothers: A Black Family Treasury by Outstanding Authors and Artists, 1997
by Wade Hudson (Compiler), Cheryl Hudson (Compiler)

Harriet and the Promised Land, 1997
by Jacob Lawrence (Author, Illustrator)

Freedom Like Sunlight, 2014
by J. Patrick Lewis (Author)

A Voice of Her Own: The Story of Phillis Wheatley, Slave Poet, 2003
by Kathryn Lasky (Author), Paul Lee (Illustrator)

Coming Home: From the Life of Langston Hughes, 1998
by Floyd Cooper (Author)

James Weldon Johnson: Lift Every Voice and Sing, 1990
by Pat McKissack (Author), Fredrick McKissack (Author)

Langston's Train Ride, 2004
by Robert Burleigh (Author), Leonard Jenkins (Illustrator)

In Daddy’s Arms I am Tall, African Americans Celebrating Fathers, (1997)
by Various Authors, Javaka Steptoe (Illustrator)

Soul Looks Back in Wonder, 1993
by Tom Feelings (Editor, Illustrator) 

Meet Danitra Brown, 1997
by Nikki Grimes (Author), Floyd Cooper (Illustrator)



Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad, 2007
by Ellen Levine (Author), Kadir Nelson (Illustrator)

Precious and the Boo Hag, 2004 (and other titles)
by Patricia C. McKissack (Author), Onawumi Jean Moss (Author), Kyrsten Booker (Illustrator)

Wings, 2000
by Christopher Myers

Across the Alley, 2006
by Richard Michelson (Author), E.B. Lewis (Illustrator)

Raising Dragons, 1997 (and other titles)
by Jerdine Nolen (Author), Elise Primavera (Illustrator)

Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky, 1995
by Faith Ringgold (Author)

A Storm Called Katrina, 2011
by Myron Uhlberg (Author), Colin Bootman (Illustrator)

This Is the Rope: A Story From the Great Migration, 2013 (and other titles)
by Jacqueline Woodson (Author), James Ransome (Illustrator)

Black Cowboy, Wild Horses, 1998
by Julius Lester (Author), Jerry Pinkney (Illustrator)

More Than Anything Else, 1995
by Marie Bradby (Author), Chris K. Soentpiet (Illustrator) 

Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, 1995
by Deborah Hopkinson (Author)

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom, 2014
by Angela Johnson (Author), E.B. Lewis (Illustrator)

Amazing Grace, 1991
by Mary Hoffman (Author), Caroline Binch (Illustrator)

What Kind of Baby-Sitter Is This? 1991
by Dolores Johnson (Author, Illustrator)

Mac and Marie and the Train Toss Surprise, 1993
by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard (Author), Gail Gordon Carter (Illustrator)

Aunt Flossie's Hats (and Crab Cakes Later), 1995
by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard (Author), James E. Ransome (Illustrator)

The Sunday Outing (Ernestine), 1994
by Gloria Jean Pinkney (Author), Jerry Pinkney (Illustrator)

Squashed in the Middle, (ALA Notable Children's Books for Younger Readers Awards) 2005
by Elizabeth Winthrop (Author), Pat Cummings (Illustrator)

Black All Around, 2003
by Patricia Hubbell (Author), Don Tate (Author)

Grandpa's Face, 1996
by Eloise Greenfield (Author), Floyd Cooper (Illustrator)

Hot Day on Abbott Avenue, (Jane Addams Honor Book) 2004
by Karen English (Author), Javaka Steptoe (Illustrator)

Yesterday I Had the Blues, 2008
by Jeron Ashford Frame (Author), R. Gregory Gregory Christie (Illustrator)

black is brown is tan, 2004
by Arnold Adoff (Author), Emily Arnold McCully (Illustrator)

The Patchwork Quilt, 1985
by Valerie Flournoy (Author)

Sail Away, 2000 (and other titles)
by Donald Crews (Author, Illustrator)

Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me, 2013
by Daniel Beaty (Author), Bryan Collier (Artist)

The Skin You Live In, 2005
by Michael Tyler (Author), David Lee Csicsko (Illustrator)

I Told You I Can Play! 2006
by Brian Jordan (Author), Cornelius Van Wright (Illustrator), Ying-Hwa Hu (Illustrator)

Uptown, 2004
by Bryan Collier (Author, Illustrator)

Jamaica's Find, 1997
by Juanita Havill (Author), Anne Sibley O'Brien (Illustrator)



Ruby and the Booker Boys, 2008 (series)
by Derrick Barnes (Author), Vanessa Brantley Newton (Illustrator)

The People Could Fly, 2004
by Virginia Hamilton (Author)

Streetball Crew Book One Sasquatch in the Paint, 2013
by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Author), Raymond Obstfeld (Author)

Chasing Freedom: The Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony, 2015
by Nikki Grimes (Author), Michele Wood (Illustrator)

Sahara Special, 2004
by Esme Raji Codell (Author)

Wild Card, 2012 (and other titles)
by Tiki Barber (Author), Ronde Barber (Author), Paul Mantell (Contributor)

EllRay Jakes and the Beanstalk,  2013 (series)
by Sally Warner (Author), Brian Biggs (Illustrator)

Dog Days: The Carver Chronicles, Book One, 2014
by Karen English (Author), Laura Freeman (Illustrator)

Keena Ford and the Second-Grade Mix-Up, 2009 (series)
by Melissa Thomson (Author)

Happy Birthday to Me #2 (Amy Hodgepodge), 2008 (series)
by Kim Wayans (Author), Kevin Knotts (Author), Soo Jeong (Illustrator)

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963, 2000
by Christopher Paul Curtis (Author)

Bud, Not Buddy, 2004
by Christopher Paul Curtis (Author)

The Stories Julian Tells, 1989 (series)
by Ann Cameron (Author), Ann Strugnell (Illustrator)

Nikki and Deja, 2009 (series)
by Karen English (Author), Laura Freeman (Illustrator)

Walking to the Bus-Rider Blues, 2002
by Harriette Gillem Robinet (Author), Raul Colon (Illustrator)

Jackson Jones and the Puddle of Thorns, 1995
by Mary Quattlebaum (Author)

Across the Lines, 1998
by Carolyn Reeder (Author)

Safe At Home, 2007
by Sharon Robinson (Author)

Trouble Don't Last, 2003
by Shelley Pearsall (Author)

My Name Is America: The Journal Of Biddy Owens, Birmingham, Alabama, 1948, 2001
by Walter Dean Myers (Author)

I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly: The Diary of Patsy, a Freed Girl, Mars Bluff, South Carolina 1865, 1997
by Joyce Hansen (Author)

A Picture of Freedom: The Diary of Clotee, a Slave Girl, Belmont Plantation, Virginia 1859, 1997
by Patricia C. McKissack (Author)

Porch Lies: Tales of Slicksters, Tricksters, and other Wily Characters, 2006
by Patricia McKissack (Author), Andre Carrilho (Illustrator)

Color Me Dark: The Diary of Nellie Lee Love, the Great Migration North, 2000
by Patricia C. McKissack (Author)

Bird, 2006
Angela Johnson (Author)

Under the Quilt of Night, 2005
by Deborah Hopkinson (Author), James E. Ransome (Illustrator)

Virgie Goes to School with Us Boys, 2005
by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard (Author), E.B. Lewis (Illustrator)

Freedom's School, 2015
by Lesa Cline-Ransome (Author), James E. Ransome (Illustrator)

The Story of Jonas, 2007
by Maurine F. Dahlberg (Author)

The Big Bike Race, 1997
by Lucy Jane Bledsoe (Author), Sterling Brown (Illustrator)

Meet Addy: An American Girl, 1993
by Connie Porter (Author), Dahl Taylor (Illustrator)

Welcome to Addy's World, 1864: Growing Up During America's Civil War, 1999
by Susan Sinnott (Author), Laszlo Kubinyi (Illustrator)

Addy Saves The Day, 1994
by Connie Porter (Author), Dahl Taylor (Illustrator)

Freedom's Fruit, 1995
William H. Hooks (Author)



Lowell’s library aims to provide quality, multicultural literature that allows students of all ages to experience other cultures AND see themselves reflected in the stories they read. Rudine Sims Bishop first spoke of the importance of having multicultural literature that offers children “windows and mirrors” in her essay Shadow and Substance: Afro-American Experience in Contemporary Children’s Literature (NCTE 1982).

Bishop’s book and the ongoing need for books that reflect the diversity of our global society are discussed further in this article by the review editors from School Library Journal, “Windows & Mirrors: Top recent titles that reflect the multicultural experience“ (May 2014). You might also be interested to follow the discussion #WeNeedDiverseBooks on social media.


Looking for a school for your child?

Lowell School is an independent school in the Colonial Village neighborhood of Washington, DC, that offers Pre-Primary, Primary, and Middle School programs. It offers a rigorous and hands-on curriculum that nurtures each child’s natural curiosity and desire to learn, and supports the development of individual voice and self-reliance. For more information, please call 202-577-2000, email admissions@lowellschool.org, or follow Lowell on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Topics: Reading and Books, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

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