This Black History Month, Common Threads is sharing a list of children’s books that feature Black authors and characters. We know that representation matters and that the books children read help shape their thoughts and views as they grow. It’s essential that kids not only see themselves in these stories, but also see and learn stories of those who are different from them.
We encourage any and all parents, teachers, and friends of young people to look through this list the next time they’re book searching.
Tea Cakes for Tosh by Kelly Starling Lyons
(early elementary, grade K)
Tosh learns about his family’s history from his grandmother while making tea cakes together. This book illuminates the power of food as a means of storytelling and connecting across generations.
Buzzing with Questions: The Inquisitive Mind of Charles Henry Turner by Janice N. Harrington
(early elementary, grades K-2)
This book shares the story of Charles Henry Turner, remembering how he never stopped asking questions and doing what he could to answer them. He ultimately became one of the leading African American scientists of his time, encouraging and mentoring other young students of color – and always, learning and asking questions.
Where’s Rodney? by Carmen Bogan
(4-8 years, grades K-2)
Where’s Rodney? follows a young boy who struggles in a traditional classroom. He wants to be outside! This story recognizes how children learn differently, and how impactful outside experiences can be.
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
(all ages of elementary)
This story is a beautiful picture book that celebrates differences between people, whether it be a difference of race, religion, ability, or background, as strengths within a community.
Zora Hurston and the Chinaberry Tree by William Miller
(early elementary, grades 1-4)
This book shares the story of well-known writer Zora Neale Hurston, and what she learned from her mother as a child – that her dreams are always within reach.
Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
(6-12 years, grades 1-5)
Will Allen turns an abandoned city lot into a farm to feed his community. With the support of his community, red wiggler worms, and the ability to see what others can’t, Will Allen does what he can to share food and knowledge.
*Common Threads will publish a read aloud video of this book in late February*
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
(early elementary, grades 1-5)
Author Jacqueline Woodson empathizes with the experience of feeling different, using this to empower children to embrace their uniqueness as a beautiful strength. This story shows kids that being themselves can lead to building connections and relationships they may not have previously thought possible.
Our School Garden! by Rick Swann
(8-12 years, grades 3-5)
Michael is in a new city at a new school and feeling lonely. Yet when he discovers the school garden this all changes. Learning in the garden becomes a source of joy and acceptance for Michael.
Midnight Teacher: Lilly Ann Granderson and Her Secret School by Janet Halfmann
(upper elementary, grades 3-5)
This book shares the story of Lilly Ann, an enslaved woman who taught hundreds of others to read and write in secret. Lilly Ann’s story shows how powerful an education can be.
A Sweet Smell of Roses by Angela Johnson
A Sweet Smell of Roses follows two young girls as they sneak out of their house to join a march for freedom. This story offers readers a glimpse into an important historical moment from a youth perspective, offering insight into the role of children during the civil rights movement.
Under the Freedom Tree by Susan VanHecke and London Ladd
This story illuminates the strength and courage of thousands of enslaved people during the civil war as they escaped their owners in the south by fleeing to the north where they developed contraband (refugee) camps. These camps became the first Black communities in the US.
- Find more books on socialjusticebooks.org.
- Listen to stories read aloud by their authors on Netflix Jr’s Book Read Alouds Celebrating Black History Month.
- Access materials to learn more about Black history at home here.