Observing Black History Month: children’s books about notable African American authors

As an educator, I feel that it is important to learn about other cultures, countries and ethnic backgrounds. We live in a country that is rich with many different cultures and backgrounds, and all of us have ancestors who have made significant contributions to our nation.

Our history is full of African American people who have contributed to scientific fields (Have you seen Hidden Figures?), music, poetry and performing arts, sports, politics, and industry. If you’re a parent of elementary or middle school children, a great way to observe Black History Month is by celebrating the contributions of notable Black Americans in history. Today, I’d love to share some of my favorite children’s books for observing Black History Month.

1. “This is My Dream! A Picture Book Variation of Langston Hughes’ Dream Variation”

Outside of the internet, my real job is “middle school English teacher.” I absolutely love teaching about Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance. This is one of my favorite Hughes poems, and the pictures in this book are just beautiful. While you’re reading and enjoying this book with your child, you can also read the minibio about Langston Hughes on the book jacket. There are even audio recordings of the real Langston Hughes reading on YouTube.

2. Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race

I’m actually going to mention two books about these ladies. This book is a picture storybook and is recommended for ages 4 and up. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden completed the calculations that led NASA to the moon…and they did it all at a time when women were very limited in what they could accomplish, and African American people were very limited in what they can accomplish. These ladies were both- and they put astronauts on the moon.

I’m also sharing the Young Adult (middle school appropriate) version of the book below.

3. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison

Vashti Harrison’s book contains many well-known African American women with a variety of notable achievements. From Sojourner Truth, to Bessie Coleman, to Maya Angelou, this book talks of African American women who flew planes, were inventors, who wrote books, and who were agents for change. My youngest daughter owns this book and we have enjoyed reading it and learning together.

4. “Flying High: the Story of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles

Who says the books on this list have to all be about well, history? How about we also read about some African American people are MAKING history right now? If you follow the Olympics, you’re probably very familiar with Simone Biles’ accomplishments. I’m impressed not only with Simone Biles’ athletic ability, but also with her campaign to educate others about mental health.

5. Who is Barack Obama?

Barack Obama was our first African American president. This book is available in both a primary readers’ version, as well as this short chapter book for kids who are beginning to read longer texts. You can also find videos on YouTube of the real Barack Obama reading children’s books.

There are many more great children’s and young adults books you can find about notable African Americans. I highly recommend checking Amazon and Barnes and Noble’s book lists if you want to find some excellent reading. If there is a book you love that I didn’t mention, I’d love for you to comment below and let me know. Happy reading!!

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: