35 Black History Books for Kids of All Ages

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Your little kids will love the two from Brad Meltzer’s I Am series

Did you know that African American inventors are responsible for the modern-day supermarket and for cell phone microphones? Or that a nine-year-old was arrested at a Civil Rights protest in 1963? Here are 35 Black History books for kids that celebrate the rich history of Black people in the United States. Enlighten, encourage, and inspire your kids with these titles.

Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans

Heart and Soul is an important Black history book for kids

If you want to talk about Black History with your kids, this book will take you back to the beginning. Told from the point of view of a 100-year-old African-American woman, Heart and Soul takes kids on a journey through the history of slavery to Jim Crow laws to the quest for equality and freedom in our schools and beyond. It shows them the reality and the inspiring truth about the men, women, and children of all colors who rallied to change education laws and end segregation and who fight still for truth, justice, and the American way. Kadir Nelson is an award-winning author and illustrator whose honors include the Coretta Scott King Author and Illustrator Award. 

Recommended age: 6–10

Buy it here, $7

Free at Last

Free at Last is a good Black history book for young kids

Do your young ones know the story of Juneteenth? Originating in Texas, this holiday marks the day slaves were finally free: June 19. Told in a simple poetic style and coupled with beautiful illustrations, this is the perfect Black history book for little kids.

Recommended age: 4-8

Buy it here, $18

The Undefeated

A poem about the reality of slavery and all of its trauma, the power of the civil rights movement, and the determination of some of our country's greatest heroes, this historical book is a must for your bookshelf. Kids will get a deeper insight into an integral period of our nation's history and learn the words of change-makers like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gwendolyn Brooks.

Recommended age: 6-9

Buy it here, $9

Sweet Justice: Georgia Gilmore and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Sweet Justice is a good Black history book for kids

It was Dec. 5, 1955, and Georgia Gilmore no longer had to boycott Montgomery, Alabama busses alone. After Rosa Parks was kicked off a local bus, things had to change. With her cooking skills by her side, Georgia uses her love of justice (and her friendship with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) to make sweeping changes for integration. This book by Mara Rockliff is accompanied by stunning illustrations by Caldecott Honor Winner R. Gregory Christie.

Recommended age: 4-8

Buy it here, $16

I Am Harriet Tubman

Books for Kids About Racism

In Brad Meltzer's Ordinary People Change the World series, we learn the story of Harriet Tubman and her bravery as she fought to abolish slavery. She helped hundreds of African Americans escape slavery and find freedom through the Underground Railroad and is and this is one book that will inspire your kids to become heroes themselves. 

Recommended age: 5-8

Buy it here, $11

Segregated Skies: David Harris’s Trailblazing Journey to Rise Above Racial Barriers

Segregated Skies is a good Black history book for kids

After serving for years in the United States Air Force as a B-52 bomber pilot, David Harris began applying to be a commercial airline pilot. He was turned down until, in 1964, American Airlines hired him, making him the first African American commercial pilot in history. The story itself discusses a lesser-known hero in the fight for justice, and perhaps most importantly, the book itself is exquisitely written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and renowned journalist Michaelell H. Cottman, who spent more than two years researching, interviewing, and getting to know David E. Harris.

Recommended age: 9-12

Buy it here, $27.

Speak Up, Speak Out!: The Extraordinary Life of Fighting Shirley Chisholm

Coretta Scott King Honor Winner Tonya Bolden introduces kids to the first Black woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives: Shirley Chisholm. Expertly researched, this story follows Shirley on her journey of speaking up and out.

Recommended age: 10-14

Buy it here, $13

Black Ballerinas: My Journey to Our Legacy

Black Ballerinas: My Journey to Our Legacy is a good Black history book for kids

Before there was Misty Copeland, there was Aesha Ash, Debra Austin, Raven Wilkinson, and so many more. Copeland's book, filled with stunning illustrations by Salena Barnes, shares how each Black ballerina who came before her influenced the dance community, and how Misty herself has changed the world for Black dancers.

Recommended age: 8+

Buy it here, $15

Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free: The True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth

Alice Fay Duncan shares the straightforward and inspiring history of Opal Lee and her journey of advocating for this important day to become an official holiday. She was 94 years old when Juneteenth was finally acknowledged as a holiday and has no plans to stop fighting until everyone is free. Illustrations by Keturah A. Bobo.

Recommended age: 6-8

Buy it here, $11

The New Black West: Photographs from America's Only Touring Black Rodeo

While this is not a children’s book per se, this stunning collection of photographs is both about Black history and Black history in the making. It belongs on every bookshelf (or coffee table) in America. The collections of full-color photographs by Gabriela Hasbun showcase the modern Black cowboys of the annual Black rodeo in Oakland, the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo. Simultaneously it brings to life the legacy of Black cowboys, including Bill Pickett, in America.

All ages

Buy it here, $34

Related: 10 Movies to Educate & Entertain During Black History Month

My Little Golden Book About Kamala Harris

Golden Books

The beloved My Little Golden Book series celebrates the history-maker Kamala Harris, the first woman, the first Black woman, and the first Indian American woman elected as Vice President. The simple format is ideal for young children. 

Recommended age: 2-5

Buy it here, $4

Bold Words from Black Women

This collection from Tamara Pizzoli celebrates Black womanhood with Monica Ahanonu's 50 different gorgeous illustrations of 50 different Black activists, leaders, and artists, all accompanied by powerful quotes.

Recommended age: 4-9

Buy it here, $13

The 1619 Projects - Born on the Water

This picture book is a kid-appropriate version of the New York Times' groundbreaking 1619 project. Created by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, bestselling author Renée Watson, and Artivist Nikkolas Smith, it chronicles the consequences of slavery in America. 

Recommended age: 7-10

Buy it here, $15

A Voice Named Aretha

In this gorgeous picture book by award-winning Author Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrator Laura Freeman, kids are introduced to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. The story follows the life of Franklin as she overcomes shyness as a child to become a legend, and of course, as she earned a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T along the way. 

Recommended age: 4-8

Buy it here, $11

A Ride to Remember

A Ride to Remember is a good Black history book for kids

The summer of 1963 was an important time in America. Not only did Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington take place, but the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in Maryland became desegregated and open to everyone. As the first African-American child to ride the carousel at the park that day, co-author Sharon Langley shares her story about how a community came together for positive change. 

Recommended age: 6-9

Buy it here, $11

Black Is a Rainbow Color

When debut author Angela Joy set out to teach her children their first Black History lesson she was not expecting her preschooler to say, "But Mama, we're not black, we're brown." It was then that she realized that she wanted her children, and all children, to understand that being Black was about culture as much as color. Vibrant, stained-glass-like artwork by Coretta-Scott King Award-winning illustrator Ekua Holmes accompanies Joy's poetic text as we join a little girl on a journey to discover all the wonderful things that Black is. It's an exceptionally designed, written, and thoughtful new book appropriate for kids of all ages and ethnicities.

Recommended age: Suggested age, is 4-8, but we think even older kids can benefit from this book due to the important historical talking points at the back of the book.

Buy it here, $13

A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks

Books for Kids About Racism

Celebrate the life and voice of poet Gwendolyn Brooks with this thoughtful story that combines Brooks' legacy with her life story. Known for being one of the foremost poets on the Black experience and the role of women in society, Gwendolyn Brooks went from a young child writing all the time to become the first Black author to win the Pulitzer Prize and authoring 20 books of poetry, two autobiographies, and one novel. Celebrated author and children's librarian Alice Faye Duncan makes Brooks come to life on the page for the young reader. 

Recommended age: 5 and up 

Buy it here, $16

The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA

The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA is a good Black history book for kids

Written by Coretta Scott King Honor-winning author Brenda Woods, The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA, tells the story of a unique friendship between a young white boy and a black WWII veteran. Mr. Meriwether Hunter returns to Jim Crow South in 1946; when he saves little Gabriel’s life during a bike accident, Gabriel’s father offers Meriwether a job as a mechanic at their family garage. Gabriel and Meriwether form a friendship that endures despite the extreme prejudices in the world around them. A beautiful read. 

Recommend age: 10 and up

Buy it here, $17

The Quickest Kid in Clarksville

Little Alta is the quickest kid in Clarksville, Tennessee, and tomorrow is the big parade where three-time Olympic gold medalist Wilma Rudolph will be riding on a float. Just like Alta, Wilma was once the quickest kid in Clarksville, and just like Alta, Wilma once had holes in her shoes. What will happen when a new girl comes to town, a new girl with shiny brand new shoes, and challenges Alta to a race? This clever story teaches kids about Wilma Rudolph and the power of dreams and grit, in a manner that they'll get (and remember). 

Recommended age: 5-8

Buy it here, $7

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

This little book packs a big punch! Featuring forty trailblazing women in African-American history, each entry is accompanied by a beautiful illustration. From pilot Bessie Coleman to crooner Nina Simone to poets, inventors, athletes, and more, this book will inspire children of any gender to be bold, and beautiful, and make history. 

Recommended ages: 3 and up, but we think you should read it to your baby. 

Buy it here, $9

Related: 30 Kids Books That Feature Diverse Characters

Starstruck: The Cosmic Journey of Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson was starstruck when he first visited his local planetarium in New York City as a young boy. His quest for knowledge knew no bounds, and this is the story of how young Neil went from stargazer to one of the most respected astrophysicists in the world. Beautifully illustrated and excellent for young readers. 

Recommended age: 4-8

Buy it here, $13

We Are the Change: Words of Inspiration from Civil Rights Leaders

Black history books for kids like We Are the Change are important

Sixteen award-winning children's book artists illustrate the civil rights quotations that inspire them in this amazing book. With an introduction by Harry Belafonte, words from Eleanor Roosevelt, Maya Angelou, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the book includes illustrations by Selina Alko, Alina Chau, Lisa Congdon, Emily Hughes, Molly Idle, Juana Medina, Innosanto Nagara and many, many more. 

Recommended age: 8-12

Buy it here, $13

Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten

Chronicle Books

Singer-songwriter Laura Veirs brings the story of the folk singer Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten to life in this beautiful book illustrated by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. Libba, best known for the song g Freight Train, taught herself to play guitar as a child: upside down and backward no less (Libba was left-handed and did not have a left-handed guitar). She wrote the song Freight Train when she was just 13 but wasn’t really “discovered” until she was in her 60s. Learn about the woman behind the song and teach your children that creativity and productivity are important no matter your age. 

Recommended age: 5-8

Buy it here, $18

You Should Meet: Katherine Johnson

Who was Katherine Johnson? This book will tell you: she is said to be one of the greatest minds of all time! She worked in the 1950s for the NASA space program and was such a brilliant mathematician that she figured out the math needed to send a rocket to the moon in her head. She didn't even use a computer or a calculator. This book will teach kids about her early life as a child growing up in a small town in Virginia that didn't have a high school for African Americans (schools were segregated then), how her family moved to a town with a high school she could attend, and her incredible career as a scientist and mathematics marvel.

Recommended age: 6-8

Buy it here, $5

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library

Afro-Puerto Rican immigrant and hero Arturo Schomburg was a law clerk with a passion: he collected books, letters, art, and music from Africa and the African diaspora. When the collection got too big for his shelves, he turned to the New York Public Library where, in 1905, he curated a collection known then as the "Negro Division." Not only does this book take you through the life and times of Schomburg, but it also details critical and often overlooked African Americans and African American history throughout events in the forming of the United States of America, including revolutionaries, the woman who wrote poems in praise of George Washington, the writings of Frederick Douglass and the whitewashing of African history. 

Recommended age: 9-12

Buy it here, $11

Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans

Marvelous Cornelius is a Black history book for kids

This heartwarming book tells the story of a New Orleans sanitation worker who would often dance down the streets along his route, inspiring other native New Orleanians to follow along. Find out how this humble man made a lasting impact in the aftermath of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Recommended age: 5-8

Buy it here, $17

42 Is Not Just a Number: The Odyssey of Jackie Robinson, American Hero

Jackie Robinson was an all-star from a young age: in baseball, basketball, and football, he excelled. Jackie joined the Negro Leagues, setting records and impressing the manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1946, Jackie became the first African American EVER to play in MLB. He faced cruelty, protests, and violence. But he persisted: he displayed courage, determination, restraint, and an incredible ability to win the game. This detailed chapter book will help parents and kids to remember never to give up. 

Recommended ages: 8-12

Buy it here, $15

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters

Written by President Barack Obama as a letter to his own daughters, this is the story of 13 key players in American history. From Jackie Robinson to Georgia O’Keefe to George Washington,  Obama illustrates how his own children—and all kids—have these heroic traits in themselves. Uplifting and encouraging, your kids will gain an understanding of the history of the United States and know that “yes!” they can. Illustrated by Loren Long. 

Recommended age: 5 and up

Buy it here, $11

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin's Big Words is an important Black history book for kids

Both a picture book and a biography, this intro to the life, times, and actions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a bestseller for a reason. Illustrated with stunning, lush pictures by Bryan Collier, author Doreen Rappaport has hit the sweet spot by telling the true history, making a book kids won’t want to put down. 

Recommended age: 5–8 years

Buy it here, $9

Maya Angelou (Little People, Big Dreams)

Like the “I Am” series, the Little People, Big Dreams series explores amazing men and women of history, from artists to scientists to activists, teaching kids that one person can make a difference. This book covers the inspiring Maya Angelou’s journey, from a traumatic childhood to one of the world’s best-loved authors. If you thought you knew who Maya Angelou is, you are in for a treat: this book will leave you even more in awe than you already were. Written by Lisbeth Kaiser and illustrated by Leire Salaberria. 

Recommended age: 5–8 years

Buy it here, $9

Related: 25 Black Heroes Our Kids Should Know by Name

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist

Cynthia Levinson brings this true tale of the youngest known child to be arrested at a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama. Kids will cheer for Audrey, equality, and the rights of all children. Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton. 

Recommended age: 5–10

Buy it here, $12

What Color Is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors

Co-authored by NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, learn about 16 inventors who not only broke the color barrier but created some of the most widely used and extraordinary things in the world. From refrigerated trucks to the ice cream scoop to open-heart surgery, join Kareem and his team as you explore the history you use every day. Co-authored by Raymond Obstfeld and illustrated by Ben Boos and A.G. Ford.

Recommended age: 8–12

Buy it here, $7

I Am Rosa Parks

You are never too young to learn about real-life heroes and Brad Meltzer’s “I Am” series proves it. I Am Rosa Parks shows kids how Rosa Parks dared to stand up for herself by staying seated and refusing to give up her seat. Not only will they learn about her courage and her role in helping to end bus segregation and fight for Civil Rights, but they will also be empowered with the idea that one person, one small act, can change the world. Illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos. Also in the collection are I Am Jackie Robinson and I Am Martin Luther King Jr. 

Recommended age: 5–8

Buy it here, $11

Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case

Loving vs. Virginia is an important Black history book for kids

This Black history book for older readers tells the story of a landmark civil rights case. Richard and Mildred Loving met in 1955 in Caroline County, Virginia, during a time when segregation, prejudice,  injustice, and cruelty were the norm. They fell in love and their love was at the heart of the Supreme Court case that legalized marriages between races.

Recommended age: 12 and up

Buy it here, $16

African Town

African Town is a black history book for older kids

This historical fiction novel for young adults chronicles the story of the last African slaves brought illegally over the Atlantic to America in 1860. Their journey includes being hidden in swamplands near the Alabama River, being divided among plantations, and finally, creating a community called African Town, which still exists today. Told from the point of view of 14 different characters, this novel is a gripping tale of Black history. 

Recommended age: 12 and up. 

Buy it here, $13

—with additional reporting by Karly Wood

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All book covers courtesy of the publishers unless otherwise specified

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