Recommended Black History Month Titles for Every Grade Level

There are many rich stories and themes to explore in the classroom with students during Black History Month and any time of the year. All kids deserve to see themselves represented in the books they read, and all kids can benefit from reading books about people unlike themselves. Our title recommendations offer a wide variety of genres and levels to hook the interests of every type of reader across grade levels. These amazing and awe-inspiring books offer information about the past as well as celebrating Black joy and can lead to greater understanding and empathy. 

Black Gold
by Laura Obuobi
Interest level: P-3 

Black Gold Cover Image

When the Universe decides to create a child, she draws from the earth: rich, dark and full of everything that gives life, including eyes like black star sapphires and full lips to speak the truth. With help from the Sun and the Moon, they create a child of the Universe: beautiful, powerful and boundless with the brilliance of Black Gold.

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Hold Them Close
by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
Interest level: P-3 

Hold Them Close Cover Image

This lyrical and poignant treasure honors the glory, triumph and pride of African American history and future. Each word on the page encourages young children to hold close their joy, the words of their ancestors and elders and their power to change the world. Detailed back matter is included, which references important historical figures and time periods within African American history. 

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The Talk
by Alicia D. Williams
Interest level: P-3 

The Talk Cover Image

As a little boy grows into a bigger boy, ready to take on the world, he first must have that very difficult conversation far too familiar to so many Black and Brown Americans in this gentle and ultimately hopeful picture book. As Jay gets older, Grandpa warns him about being in too big a group with his friends, Grandma worries others won't see him as quite so cute now that he's older, and Dad has to tell Jay how to act if the police pull them over. Jay just wants to be a kid. All Black and Brown kids get The Talk, which could mean the difference between life and death in a racist world. 

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We Are Here
by Tami Charles
Interest level: P-3 

We Are Here Cover Image

Lyrical, affirmational and bursting with love, this picture book is a poignant story about Black and Brown heritage and community. Full of assurance, tenderness and triumph, this much-anticipated follow-up to the New York Times bestselling picture book All Because You Matter offers an equally inspirational and arresting ode to all of the Black women and men throughout history who have made momentous contributions from the beginning of time. Tami Charles shares the beauty and excellence in the history of the Black community, assuring Black and Brown children of the extraordinary legacy from which they come. 

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Going Places: Victor Hugo Green And His
Glorious Book

by Tonya Bolden
Interest level: 1-4 

Going Places Cover Image

As a mail carrier, Victor Hugo Green traveled across New Jersey every day. But with Jim Crow laws enforcing segregation since the late 1800s, traveling as a Black person in the U.S. could be stressful and dangerous. So in the 1930s, Victor created a guide, The Negro Motorist Green-Book, also known as the Green Book, compiling all the information he could find to help Black travelers know where to go and what places to avoid in order to have a pleasant and safe time. While the Green Book started out small, over the years it became an expansive, invaluable resource for Black people throughout the country.

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Ruby Bridges
by Kekla Magoon
Interest level: 1-4 

Ruby Bridges Cover Image

Inspired by the #1 New York Times bestseller She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger, comes a chapter book series about women who stood up, spoke up and rose up against the odds! In this chapter book biography by award-winning author Kekla Magoon, readers learn about the amazing life of Ruby Bridges and how she persisted. As a first grader, Ruby Bridges was the first Black student to integrate William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana. This was no easy task, especially for a six-year-old. Ruby's bravery and perseverance inspired children and adults alike to fight for equality and social justice.

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An American Story
by Kwame Alexander
Interest level: 1-5 

An American Story Cover Image

New York Times bestselling author Kwame Alexander pens a powerful picture book that tells the story of American slavery through the voice of a teacher struggling to help her students understand its harrowing history. From the fireside tales in an African village, through the unspeakable passage across the Atlantic, to the backbreaking work in the fields of the South, this is a story of a people's struggle and strength, horror and hope. This is the story of American slavery, a story that needs to be told and understood by all of us. A testament to the resilience of the African American community, this book honors what has been and envisions what is to be. 

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Build A House
by Rhiannon Giddens
Interest level: 2-5

Build A House Cover Image

As an acclaimed musician, singer, songwriter and cofounder of the traditional African American string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Rhiannon Giddens has long used her art to mine America's musical past and manifest its future, passionately recovering lost voices and reconstructing a nation's musical heritage. Written as a song to commemorate the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, which was originally performed with famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Build a House tells the moving story of a people who would not be moved and the music that sustained them. Steeped in sorrow and joy, resilience and resolve, turmoil and transcendence, this dramatic debut offers a proud view of history and a vital message for readers of all ages: honor your heritage, express your truth and let your voice soar. 

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The 1619 Project: Born On The Water
by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renee Watson
Interest level: 2-7

The 1619 Project Cover Image

The 1619 Project's lyrical picture book in verse chronicles the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States. A young student receives a family tree assignment in school, but she can only trace back three generations. Grandma gathers the whole family, and the student learns that 400 years ago, in 1619, their ancestors were stolen and brought to America by white slave traders. But before that, they had a home, a land, a language. She learns how the people said to be born on the water survived. And the people planted dreams and hope, willed themselves to keep living.

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Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley And Emmett Till Sparked The Civil Rights Movement
by Angela Joy
Interest level: 3-7

Choosing Brave Cover Image

A picture book biography of the mother of Emmett Till and how she channeled grief over her son's death into a call to action for the Civil Rights Movement. Mamie Till-Mobley is the mother of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy who was brutally murdered while visiting the South in 1955. His death became a rallying point for the Civil Rights Movement, but few know that it was his mother who was the catalyst for bringing his name to the forefront of history. Timely, powerful and beautifully told, this thorough and moving story has been masterfully crafted to be both comprehensive and suitable for younger readers. 

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Clean Getaway
by Nic Stone
Interest level: 3-7

Clean Getaway Cover Image

From New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone comes a middle-grade road-trip story through American race relations past and present. Set against the backdrop of the segregation history of the American South, take a trip with an eleven-year-old boy who is about to discover that the world hasn't always been a welcoming place for kids like him, and things aren't always what they seem, his G'ma included.

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She Raised Her Voice! 50 Black Women Who Sang Their Way Into Music History
by Jordannah Elizabeth
Interest level: 3-7

She Raised Her Voice Cover Image

A fully illustrated middle-grade anthology celebrating Black women singers throughout history in a first-of-its-kind collection. From jazz and blues, hip hop and R&B, pop, punk and opera, Black women have made major contributions to the history and formation of musical genres for more than a century. In this fully illustrated middle grade anthology, 50 strong, empowering and inspiring Black women singers' bios will teach kids to follow their dreams, to think outside the box and to push the boundaries of what's expected.

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Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood 
by Kwame Mbalia, Ed. 
Interest level: 4-7

Black Boy Joy Cover Image

Celebrate the joys of Black boyhood with stories from seventeen bestselling, critically acclaimed Black authors, including Jason Reynolds (Track series), Jerry Craft (New Kid), and Kwame Mbalia (Tristan Strong series)! Black boy joy is: picking out a fresh first-day-of-school outfit; saving the universe in an epic intergalactic race; finding your voice; during tough times; flying on your skateboard like nobody's watching; and more!  

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Before the Ever After
by Jacqueline Woodson
Interest level: 5-9

Before Ever After Cover Image

For as long as ZJ can remember, his dad has been everyone's hero. As a charming, talented pro football star, he's as beloved to the neighborhood kids he plays with as he is to his millions of adoring sports fans. But lately life at ZJ's house is anything but charming. His dad is having trouble remembering things and seems to be angry all the time. ZJ's mom explains it's because of all the head injuries his dad sustained during his career. ZJ can understand that, but it doesn't make the sting any less real when his own father forgets his name. As ZJ contemplates his new reality, he has to figure out how to hold on tight to family traditions and recollections of the glory days.  

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Recognize!: An Anthology Honoring And Amplifying Black Life
by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson, Eds.
Interest level: 5-9

Recognize! Cover Image

Prominent Black creators lend their voice, their insight and their talent to an inspiring anthology that celebrates Black culture and Black life. Essays, poems, short stories and historical excerpts blend with a full-color eight-page insert of spellbinding art to capture the pride, prestige and jubilation that is being Black in America. In these pages, find the stories of the past, the journeys of the present and the light guiding the future.

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Speak Up, Speak Out: The Extraordinary Life Of Fighting Shirley Chisholm
by Tonya Bolden
Interest level: 5-9

Speak Up, Speak Out Cover Image

This biography tells the story of the first Black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first Black woman to run for president with a major political party: Shirley Chisholm. While fighting for a better life for her constituents in New York’s 12th Congressional District, Chisholm routinely fought against sexism and racism in her own life and defied the norms of the time. Shirley Chisholm laid the groundwork for those who would come after her. While the presidential campaign trail in 1972 did not end in victory, Shirley Chisholm shows us how you can change a country when you speak up and speak out. 

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And We Rise: The Civil Rights Movement In Poems
by Erica Martin
Interest level: 7-12

And We Rise Cover Image

A powerful, impactful, eye-opening journey that explores the Civil Rights Movement in 1950s-1960s America in spare and evocative verse, with historical photos interspersed throughout. In stunning verse and vivid use of white space, Erica Martin's debut poetry collection walks readers through the Civil Rights Movement 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. This is a poignant, powerful, all-too-timely collection that is both a vital history lesson and much-needed conversation starter in our modern world. 

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Say Her Name
by Zetta Elliott
Interest level: 7-12

Say Her Name Cover Image

Inspired by the #SayHerName campaign launched by the African American Policy Forum, these poems pay tribute to victims of police brutality as well as the activists saying that Black Lives Matter. Elliott engages poets from the past two centuries to create a chorus of voices celebrating the creativity, resilience and courage of Black women and girls. This provocative collection will move every reader to reflect, respond and act.

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Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, And You: A Remix Of The National Book Award-Winning Stamped From
The Beginning

by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
Interest level: 7-12

Stamped Cover Image

This is NOT a history book. This is a book about the here and now. A book to help us better understand why we are where we are. A book about race. The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi's National Book Award-winning Stamped From The Beginning reveals the history of racist ideas in America and inspires hope for an antiracist future. Through a gripping, fast-paced and energizing narrative written by beloved award-winner Jason Reynolds, this book shines a light on the many insidious forms of racist ideas and on ways readers can identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives.

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Black Enough: Stories Of Being Young And Black
In America

by Ibi Zoboi, Ed.
Interest level: 8-12

Black Enough Cover Image

Black Enough is an essential collection of captivating stories about what it's like to be young and Black in America. Black is sisters navigating their relationship at summer camp in Portland, Oregon, as written by Rene Watson. Black is three friends walking back from the community pool talking about nothing and everything, in a story by Jason Reynolds. Black is Nic Stone's bougie debutante dating a boy her momma would never approve of. Black is urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants and more.

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What are your favorite titles to explore with your students during Black History Month? Tell us in the comments below! 

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