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Black History Books for Kids and Teens

This is a selection of books that celebrate and honor the experiences, struggles and achievements of Black people in history.

Picture Books

Cover of Overground Railroad
James E. Ransome

A girl named Ruth Anne tells the story of her family's train journey from North Carolina to New York City as part of the Great Migration.

Cover of The History of Me
Erin Robinson

A mother's account of her experience as the only Black child in school serves as an empowering message to her daughter.

Cover of Magnolia Flower
Zora Neale Hurston and
Ibram X. Kendi
Loveis Wise

The acclaimed writer of several American classics, Zora Neale Hurston wrote this stirring folktale brimming with poetic prose, culture, and history. It was first published as a short story in The Spokesman in 1925. Tenderly retold, Magnolia Flower is a story of a transformative and radical devotion between generations of Indigenous and Black people in America. 

Cover of Fighting with Love: The Le
James E Ransome

John Lewis left a cotton farm in Alabama to join the fight for civil rights [when] he was only a teenager. He soon became a leader of a moment that changed a nation. Walking at the side of his mentor, Dr. Martin Luther King, Lewis was led by his belief in peaceful action and voting rights. Today and always his work and legacy will live on.

Cover of The Artivist

Motivated by the realization of global inequities, a young boy embraces his dual identities as an artist and activist, becoming an "Artivist" to make a difference by using his viral mural as a catalyst for positive change.

Cover of An American Story
Dare Coulter

A picture book in verse that threads together past and present to explore the legacy of slavery during a classroom lesson.

Cover of That Flag
Nikkolas Smith

Bianca is Keira's best friend. At school, they are inseparable. But Keira questions their friendship when she learns more about the meaning of the Confederate flag hanging from Bianca's front porch. Will the two friends be able to overlook their distinct understandings of the flag? Or will they reckon with the flag's effect on yesterday and today? In That Flag, Tameka Fryer Brown and Nikkolas Smith graciously tackle the issues of racism, the value of friendship, and the importance of understanding history so that we move forward together in a thought-provoking, stirring, yet ultimately tender tale.

Cover of Unstoppable: How Bayard Ru
Michael G
Bea Jackson

This powerful and triumphant picture book biography tells the story of Bayard Rustin, an openly gay civils rights leader, who, with the support of Dr. King and future congressman John Lewis, led 250,000 people to the doorstep of the U.S. government demanding change.

Cover of Coretta: the autobiography
Coretta Scott
Ekua Holmes

This picture book adaptation of her critically acclaimed adult memoir paints a vivid portrait of the wife of Martin Luther King, Jr. and a singular 20th-century American civil and human rights activist who fought for justice against all odds, becoming an unforgettable champion of social change.

Cover of Rock, Rosetta, Rock! Roll,
R. Gregory Christie

Before there was Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Johnny Cash, there was Sister Rosetta Tharpe. The godmother of rock & roll started as a little girl from Arkansas with music in her air, in her hair, in her bones, wiggling her toes. With a big guitar in hand and a big voice in her soul, she grew into a rock & roll trailblazer in a time when women were rarely seen rocking out. Her guitar picking was like nobody else's.

Cover of To Boldly Go
Lauren Semmer

Perfect for fans of Hidden Figures and Mae Among the Stars! To Boldly Go tells the true story of Nichelle Nichols and how she used her platform on Star Trek to inspire and recruit a new generation of diverse astronauts and many others in the space and STEM fields. As Lieutenant Uhura on the iconic prime-time television show Star Trek, Nichelle Nichols played the first Black female astronaut anyone had ever seen on screen. A smart, strong, independent Black woman aboard the starship Enterprise was revolutionary in the 1960s when only white men had traveled to outer space in real life and most Black characters on TV were servants. Nichelle not only inspired a generation to pursue their dreams, but also opened the door for the real-life pioneering astronaut Sally Ride, Dr. Mae Jemison, and more. This empowering tribute to the trailblazing pop culture icon reminds us of the importance of perseverance and the power of representation in storytelling. You just might be inspired to boldly go where no one like you has ever gone before!

Elementary and Middle Grade Non-Fiction

Cover of Stamped (for Kids): Racism
Jason Reynolds, Ibram X. Kendi
adapted by Sonja Cherry-Paul
Rachelle Baker

Adapted from the award-winning, bestselling Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, this book takes readers on a journey from present to past and back again. Kids will discover where racist ideas came from, identify how they impact America today, and meet those who have fought racism with antiracism. Along the way, they'll learn how to identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their own lives.

Cover of  Seeking Freedom: The Unto
E.B. Lewis

In this dramatic Civil War story, a courageous enslaved fugitive teams with a cunning Union general to save a Union fort from the Confederates--and triggers the end of slavery in the United States.

Cover of Evicted!: The Struggle for
Alice Faye
Charly Palmer

This book examines the little-known Tennessee's Fayette County Tent City Movement in the late 1950s and reveals what is possible when people unite and fight for the right to vote. Powerfully conveyed through interconnected stories and told through the eyes of a child, this book combines poetry, prose, and stunning illustrations to shine light on this forgotten history.

Cover of Speak Up, Speak Out!: The

A biography of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to the House of Representatives and the first Black woman to run for president with a major political party.

Cover of Young, Gifted and Black, T
Andrea Pippins

Young, Gifted and Black Too celebrates the lives of 52 more leaders, heroes, sportspeople, and artists of color from around the world.

Cover of More Than a Dream
Michael G Long

Six decades ago, on August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom--a moment often revered as the culmination of this Black-led protest. But at its core, the March on Washington was not a beautiful dream of future integration; it was a mass outcry for jobs and freedom NOW--not at some undetermined point in the future. It was a revolutionary march with its own controversies and problems, the themes of which still resonate to this day. Without diminishing the words of Dr. King, More Than a Dream looks at the march through a wider lens, using Black newspaper reports as a primary resource, recognizing the overlooked work of socialist organizers and Black women protesters, and repositioning this momentous day as radical in its roots, methods, demands, and results. From Yohuru Williams and Michael G. Long, the acclaimed authors of Call Him Jack, comes a classic-in-the-making that will transform our modern understanding of this legendary event in the fight for racial justice and civil rights.

Cover of Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X
Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith,
adapted by Margeaux Weston

Freshly adapted for young readers, this in-depth portrait showcases the complex bond between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X, revealing how Malcolm aided in molding Cassius Clay into Muhammad Ali and helped him become an international symbol of Black pride and Black independence.

Chapter Book Fiction

Cover of The Door of No Return

This is a novel in verse about an Asante boy who is captured and taken from his village during the nineteenth century.

Cover of Indigo and Ida
Heather Murphy

Indigo, an eighth-grade investigative reporter, is torn between fighting a racist school policy and keeping her friends--until she discovers a series of letters written by Black journalist and activist Ida B. Wells

Cover of We Were the Fire: Birmingh
Shelia P.

Determined to stand up for their rights, eleven-year-old Rufus, a Black boy, and his friends participate in the 1963 civil rights protests in Birmingham, Alabama.

Cover of Clouds Over California

Stevie struggles to fit in at her new California middle school and is experiencing changes at home, while the Black Panthers and women's rights movements influence her life from the background. 

Cover of Ways to Build Dreams
Nina Mata

During Black History Month, Ryan learns more about her ancestors and local Black pioneers, and their hope for her generation.

Cover of Kin: Rooted In Hope
Carole Boston
Jeffery Boston Weatherford

From scraps of history, Carole and Jeffery have conjured the voices of their kin, creating an empowering story of who their people were in a breathtaking book that is shaped by loss, erasure, and ultimate reclamation. This is the story of not only Carole and Jeffery's family, but of countless other Black families in America.

Teen/YA Non-Fiction

Cover of And We Rise

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.

Cover of The Burning: Black Wall St
Tim Madigan and
Hilary Beard

The Burning recreates Greenwood at the height of its prosperity, explores the currents of hatred, racism, and mistrust between its Black residents and Tulsa's White population, narrates events leading up to and including Greenwood's devastation, and documents the subsequent silence that surrounded this tragedy. Delving into history that's long been pushed aside, this is the true story of Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre, with updates that connect the historical significance of the massacre to the ongoing struggle for racial justice in America.

Cover of Overground Railroad (the Y

Overground Railroad chronicles the history of the Green Book, which was published from 1936 to 1966 and was the "Black travel guide to America." For years, it was dangerous for African Americans to travel in the United States. This young reader's edition includes her own photographs of Green Book sites, as well as archival photographs and interviews with people who owned and used these facilities.

Cover of Defiant: Growing Up in the

The memoir of Wade Hudson, a Black man and Civil Rights activist who came of age in the 1960s at the height of the Civil Rights Movement.

Cover of Nearer My Freedom: The Int
Lesley Younge and
Monica Edinger

Using Olaudah Equiano's autobiography as the source, the text shares Equiano's life story in found verse. Readers will follow his story from his childhood in Africa, enslavement at a young age, liberation, and life as a free man.

Cover of Revolution in Our Time: Th

Kekla Magoon introduces readers to the Panthers' community activism, grounded in the concept of self-defense, which taught Black Americans how to protect and support themselves in a country that treated them like second-class citizens. For too long the Panthers' story has been a footnote to the civil rights movement rather than what it was: a revolutionary socialist movement that drew thousands of members--mostly women--and became the target of one of the most sustained repression efforts ever made by the U.S. government against its own citizens.

Cover of Those Who Saw the Sun: Afr
Jaha Nailah

This is a collection of oral histories told by Black people who grew up in the South during the time of Jim Crow. Jaha Nailah Avery is a lawyer, scholar, and reporter whose family has roots in North Carolina stretching back over 300 years. These interviews have been a personal passion project for years as she's traveled across the South meeting with elders and hearing their stories.

Teen/YA Fiction

Cover of All You Have to Do

Two Black young men attend prestigious schools nearly thirty years apart, and yet both navigate similar forms of racism. As their lives overlap in powerful ways, they risk losing the opportunities their parents worked hard to provide and discover who they want to be instead of accepting who society and family tell them they are.

Cover of The Deep Blue Between
Ayesha Harruna

This powerful portrait of fiercely independent sisters offers a rare glimpse of empowered young women in 19th-century Ghana, Nigeria, and Brazil, with the enduring bonds of family (both biological and chosen) at its core. 

Cover of For Lamb

For Lamb follows a family striving to better their lives in the late 1930s Jackson, Mississippi. An interracial friendship between two teenaged girls goes tragically wrong in this novel set in the Jim Crow South.

Cover of Black Was the Ink
Justin Johnson

Through the help of a ghostly ancestor, sixteen-year-old Malcolm is sent on a journey through Reconstruction-era America to find his place in modern-day Black progress.

Cover of Angel of Greenwood

Though they've attended the same schools, Isaiah never noticed Angel.. Then their English teacher offers them a job on her mobile library, a three-wheel, two-seater bike. Angel can't turn down the money and Isaiah is soon eager to be in close quarters with Angel every afternoon. But life changes on May 31,1921, when a vicious white mob storms the Black community of Greenwood, leaving the town destroyed and thousands of residents displaced. 

Cover of African Town
Charles Water and
Irene Latham

This chronicles the story of the last Africans brought illegally to America in 1860 in a powerful novel-in-verse told in 14 distinct voices.