Children’s books for Black History Month 2022
This month we celebrate the triumphs and remember the struggles of the black community. Using the past as inspiration and the present as a springboard, children’s authors commemorate historical heroes and their contributions to the fight for racial equality. We’ve rounded up a selection of recent fiction and non-fiction titles, including the story of a woman who served mouth-watering food with a side of justice; the movement of a little-known town in Tennessee to vote; an exploration of race and recent events in America; and more.
Picture books and biographies
Tracey Baptiste, ill. by Tonya Engel. Dial, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-593-32640-4. 6 to 8 years old.
When 15-year-old Claudette Colvin boarded a separate bus on March 2, 1955, she had no idea she was about to make history. This illustrated biography pays tribute to his pivotal role in the civil rights movement. The book received a starred review from TP.
The Faith of Elijah Cummings: The North Star of Equal Justice
Carole Boston Weatherford, ill. by Laura Freeman. Random House Studio, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593-30650-5. 6 to 9 years old.
Best known as a spokesperson for people of color and an equal opportunity advocate, Elijah Cummings was a warrior for equality and change. Weatherford and Freeman feature this politician and civil rights champion, detailing his inspiring story. The book received a starred review from TP.
A story of me
Adrea Theodore, ill. by Erin K.Robinson. Holiday Home/Porter, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4257-7. 4 to 8 years old.
Life can be tough for the only brunette girl in a class full of white students. When the teacher talks about slavery or civil rights, she can feel her classmate’s gaze and hear the whispers about her in the playground. She wonders, is that all you see when you look at me?
Ida B. Wells, Voice of Truth: Educator, feminist, and anti-lynching civil rights leader
Michelle Duster, ill. by Laura Freeman. Holt/Godwin, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-250-23946-4. 4 to 8 years old.
Wells challenged racist and sexist norms of the late 19th and early 20th century through her writing and her words. In the face of criticism and death threats, she never gave up. This true story is told by his great-granddaughter, Michelle Duster, who has been recognized for her activism and fight for contemporary racial justice.
Opal Lee and what it means to be free: the true story of Juneteenth’s grandmother
Alice Faye Duncan, ill. by Ketura A. Bobo. Thomas Nelson, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4002-3125-6. 4 to 8 years old.
Every year, Opal looked forward to the June 19 picnic. She knew from Grandpa Zak’s stories that Juneteenth celebrated the day news of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation finally reached Texas in 1865. But Opal didn’t always see freedom in her Texas town. . Then, on June 16, an angry mob burned down her brand new home. Could Opal bring national recognition for Juneteenth?
In Search of Freedom: The Untold Story of Fortress Monroe and the End of Slavery in America
Selene Castrovilla, ill. by EB Lewis. Calkins Creek, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-63592-582-1. 7 to 10 years old.
The night Virginia secedes from the Union, three enslaved men approach Fortress Monroe. Knowing that Virginia’s secession meant they would be separated from their families and sent further south to work for the Confederacy, the men decided to plead for refuge. And they were lucky.
Sweet Justice: Georgia Gilmore and the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Mara Rockliff, ill. by R. Gregory Christie. Random House Studio, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5247-2064-3. 4 to 8 years old.
Georgia Gilmore was cooking when she heard the news of Rosa Parks’ arrest. The radio urged everyone to stay off city buses for a day in protest. Throughout what became a 13-month boycott, Gilmore served up his fried chicken, spicy collard greens and sweet potato pie, eventually selling them to raise money to help the cause.
When Schools Close: The Story of a Young Girl from Virginia’s “Lost Generation” and the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
Yolanda Gladden, told to Tamara Pizzoli, ill. by Keisha Morris. HarperCollins, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-301116-8. 4 to 8 years old.
This autobiographical picture book presents the untold story of a young African American girl who lived during the closure of public schools in Farmville, Virginia following the historic civil rights scandal. Brown v. Topeka Board of Education. The book received a starred review from TP.
Forced out ! The struggle for the right to vote
Alice Faye Duncan, ill. by Charlie Palmer. Calkins Creek, $18.99 (64p) ISBN 978-1-68437-979-8. 9 to 12 years old.
Duncan examines the little-known tent city movement in Fayette County, Tennessee in the late 1950s and reveals what is possible when people unite and fight for the right to vote. Carried by interconnected stories and told through the eyes of a child, this tale brings to light this forgotten history.
Skies Apart: David Harris’ Pioneering Journey to Rise Above Racial Barriers
Michael Cottman. National Geographic Kids, $18.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-4263-7197-4. 9-12 years old.
After years of flying B-52 bombers in the US Air Force, David Harris applied to be a commercial airliner pilot, an opportunity no other African American before him had ever had. After rejection after rejection, he finally signed with American Airlines in 1964. But that success was just the start of another uphill battle for equal treatment.
Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler
Ibi Zoboi. Dutton, $16.99 (128p) ISBN 978-0-399-18738-4. 10 years and over.
Zoboi illuminates the young life of visionary storyteller Octavia E. Butler in poetry and prose. Born into the Space Race, the Red Scare and the nascent civil rights movement, Butler had an American childhood that shaped her into a groundbreaking science fiction storyteller.
When Winter Robeson Came
Brenda Woods. Penguin/Paulsen, $16.99 (176p) ISBN 978-1-5247-4158-7. 10 years and over.
When Winter, Eden’s cousin, comes to visit, it turns out he’s not just there for sightseeing. He wants to figure out what happened to his father, who disappeared 10 years earlier from the Watts area of Los Angeles. The cousins set out to investigate together, and what they discover brings them both joy and sorrow.
Ain’t burnt all the shine
Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin. Atheneum/Dlouhy, $19.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-5344-3946-7. 12 years and over.
Author Reynolds and artist Griffin, friends and former collaborators, explore race and recent events in America through a poetic multimedia partnership told in three “breaths”. See our conversation with Reynolds and Griffin. The book received a starred review from TP.
Augusta Savage: The Shape of a Sculptor’s Life
Marilyn Nelson. Small, Brown/Ottaviano, $18.99 (128p) ISBN 978-0-316-29802-5. 14 years and over.
Savage was arguably the most influential American artist of the 1930s. A gifted sculptor, she was commissioned to create a portrait bust of WEB Du Bois for the New York Public Library. After being denied an artists’ fellowship abroad because of his race, Savage worked to advance equal rights in the arts. This verse biography received a star-studded review from TP.