Black History Month may officially last through February, but the education can continue all year long. We’ve put together a sample reading list for readers of all ages. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but a starting point. Grab your library card, or order a book on Amazon, and get to reading!
Please help broaden our list by sharing your favorite books and authors in the comments.
Black History Month Picture Books
While today’s generation of children will not have the privilege of hearing Maya Angelou read her poetry live, this picture book is a perfect introduction to the poet’s voice. The full-color photograph book tells the story of a South African girl and her pet chicken. After reading this book with your littlest ones, make sure to find some audio recordings of Angelou to share with older children.
Black History Month Books for Beginning Readers
This book tells the story of Clover, a young black girl who wonders about the fence separating the white and black neighborhoods in her town. It can be a daunting task to explain some of the harsher aspects of life to younger children, but this book can be read to kindergarteners, or read by second graders.
Black History Month Books for Grade School Readers
This beautifully illustrated book employs the folk song “Follow the Drinking Gourd” to tell the story of the Underground Railroad. While the folk-art illustrations make this book stand out, the reading level is perfect for grades 3-5, according to Scholastic.
Black History Month Young Adult Books
This winner for the Coretta Scott King Honor Book Award tells the story of Steve, a young, black 16-year-old who has been accused of murder. Steve is coping with his trial by writing a movie script (included in the book), and the accompanying illustrations make this an engaging read. Even teens who don’t enjoy reading will be pulled along with the fast pace of this book. After reading Monster, start a conversation with your teens about the real-life issues in the book, like young adults navigating the judicial system.
Black History Month Fiction Books
History can be learned through fiction, as well, and this NAACP Image Award Finalist gives a beautifully nuanced story of the Underground Railroad. Liz Spocott is a runaway slave, escaping through Maryland in the days before the Civil War. This is her story, fiction, but based on historical events.
Black History Month Non-Fiction Books
As the first African-American president, Barack Obama has firmly cemented his place in black history, but it wasn’t an easy path for him. This memoir details his younger life and how he reconciled his identity with a black African father and a white American mother.
While the history books are full of stories about Dr. King, nothing can really tell his story like his own words. He changed the world through his words, and they are worth reading again, and sharing with your children.
Black History Month Movie Suggestions
While it may not have received the expected slew of Academy Award nominations, this account of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., has still been a box office success. David Oyelowo is a new face for many moviegoers, but the British actor perfectly captures the spirit of the epic march 50 years ago. The historical drama can still be found in many theaters now.