Toddlers (Ages 1 – 3)
Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora
A toddler plays a game of peekaboo, and you’re invited to play too. Isadora’s brilliant, joyful pastel illustrations will delight babies with their cozy depictions of people, toys, and animals.
Baby Dance by Ann Taylor
While Mama is napping on the sofa, Father comforts his baby daughter, and soon they are dancing and singing lovingly across the pages.
I Can Do It Too! by Karen Baicker
With caring support from her family and friends, a young girl finds that she is big enough to do many things that grownups can do and to pass on loving encouragement of her own.
Picture Books (Pre K-K)
Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney
Born into slavery, Belle had to endure the cruelty of several masters before she escaped to freedom—but she knew she wouldn’t really be free until she began fighting to end injustice. That’s when she changed her name to Sojourner and began traveling across the country, demanding equal rights for black people and for women. Slowly, but as surely as Sojourner’s step-stomp stride, America began to change.
Lucky Beans by Becky Birtha
During the Great Depression, Marshall, an African-American boy, uses lessons learned in arithmetic class and guidance from his mother to figure out how many beans are in a jar in order to win her a new sewing machine in a contest.
Sweet Music in Harlem by Debbie A. Taylor
C.J., who aspires to be as great a jazz musician as his uncle, searches for Uncle Click’s hat in preparation for an important photograph and inadvertently gathers some of the greatest musicians of 1950s Harlem together.
Early Readers (Grades 1-3)
Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud
In Gee’s Bend, Alabama, Miz Pettway tells young Alex about the role her mule played in the struggle for civil rights led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Includes factual information about the community of Gee’s Bend and Martin Luther King, Jr.
White Water by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein
After tasting the warm, rusty water from the fountain designated for African-Americans, a young boy questions why he cannot drink the cool, refreshing water from the “Whites Only” fountain. Based on a true experience co-author Michael S. Bandy had as a boy.
A Band of Angels: A Story Inspired by the Jubilee Singers by Deborah Hopkinson
This is the touching and inspiring story of the Jubilee Singers, a group which came together after the Civil War. It describes how they performed to save the Fisk School (now Fisk University) and preserved such musical treasures as “Go Down Moses” and “Many Thousand Gone” for future generations to hear, learn, and appreciate.
Children’s Fiction (Grades 4-6)
Freedom Stone by Jeffrey Kluger
Lillie’s papa believes that all slaves have the right to be free. When the Confederate Army promises freedom for the families of every slave who fights for the Confederacy, whether the soldiers come home or not, Lillie’s papa enlists. When the army’s promise goes unfulfilled, Lillie travels to the site of the battle that killed her father and, using a little magic of her own, rights a few wrongs and buys her family their freedom.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
The ordinary interactions and everyday routines of the Watsons, an African-American family living in Flint, Michigan, are drastically changed after they go to visit relatives in Alabama in the summer of 1963. The story of the awful events of that summer is balanced by the family’s humor and the strength of their love for one another.
The Buffalo Soldier by Sherry Garland
Realizing that his future lies in owning land, not just being free, a young man raised as a slave becomes a buffalo soldier—a member of an all-black cavalry regiment formed to protect white settlers from Indians, bandits, and outlaws, and an important part of the Spanish-American War.
Teen Fiction and Nonfiction (Ages 12 & up)
Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children, and Don’t You Grow Weary by Elizabeth Partridge
This book documents the deadly three months of protests that culminated in the landmark march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. Focusing on the courageous children and teens who faced terrifying violence in order to march alongside King, this is an inspiring look at the fight for the vote. Stunningly emotional black-and-white photos accompany the text.
Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes
While studying the Harlem Renaissance, students at a Bronx high school read aloud poems they’ve written, revealing their innermost thoughts and fears to their formerly clueless classmates.
At Her Majesty’s Request: An African Princess in Victorian England by Walter Dean Myers
This enthralling biography of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, the African princess saved from execution and taken to England, was pieced together by popular author Myers from a packet of letters found in a London bookshop. Queen Victoria becomes Sarah’s godmother, and Sarah lives in England for years before marrying an African missionary.