By Ken Stoflet, Communications Specialist
This month is a special time. Since 1976, February has been officially recognized as Black History Month, although the celebration goes back decades beforehand. Black History Month honors not only the achievements of African Americans, but also recognizes their importance in U.S. history.
Need some ideas for celebrating the occasion in your classroom? Below are nine great books to share with your students during Black History Month:
1. Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
By: Doreen Rappaport
In this powerful picture-book biography, Doreen Rappaport tells the story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from his experiences as a child to his profound impact as an adult. Rappaport mixes actual quotes from Dr. King with her own words to tell the story. The book is written with simple, direct language and features bright, vivid drawings, making it a perfect way to introduce Dr. King’s legacy to students.
2. The Story of Ruby Bridges
By: Robert Coles
Based on true events, The Story of Ruby Bridges follows the six-year-old’s journey as the first African-American student at an all-white school in New Orleans, Louisiana. Despite strong opposition, with parents pulling their students out of the school and angry protesters, Ruby perseveres. The story paints a portrait of the turmoil in 1960s America and the strength of Ruby and her family.
3. Henry’s Freedom Box
By: Ellen Levine
Henry has no idea how old he is. Nobody keeps records of slaves’ birthdays. Dreaming of freedom and a better life, Henry comes up with an idea. He’ll mail himself to the north. Written by Ellen Levine, Henry’s Freedom Box follows Henry’s thrilling journey to freedom.
4. The Other Side
By: Jacqueline Woodson
A fence separates Clover and her best friend, Annie. Because Clover’s mom won’t let her cross over to the white side of the fence, the two girls sit on top of it. The Other Side showcases the power of friendship, despite differences.
5. The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963
By: Christopher Paul Curtis
A Newbery Honor-winning classic, The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963, tells the story of ten-year-old Kenny and his family as they take a trip from their hometown in Michigan to Birmingham, Alabama.
6. Bud, Not Buddy
By: Christopher Paul Curtis
Also by Christopher Paul Curtis, Bud, Not Buddy, follows ten-year-old Bud’s journey to find his father. Taking place in the depression, Bud, Not Buddy has won a Newbery Medal and Christopher Paul Curtis was recognized with the 2000 Coretta Scott King Award, given to outstanding African-American authors.
7. Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass
By: Dean Robbins
What would Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass talk about if they were to sit down and have tea? Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass answers that exact question. Dean Robbins’ take on the conversation sees the two discussing the rights of women and African Americans in a thrilling read tailored toward students.
By: Laurie Halse Anderson
If an entire nation could seek its freedom, why not a girl?
Chains, a novel by Laurie Halse Anderson, follows thirteen-year-old Isabel’s continuous fight for freedom after she was falsely promised it upon her previous owner’s death. The novel offers a unique viewpoint from the Revolutionary War.
By: Nikki Giovanni
Rosa by Nikki Giovanni, retells the classic story of how Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama during the 1950s. Told from a unique and original perspective, Rosa is a great way to introduce Rosa Park’s story to your students.
How else do you celebrate Black History Month with your students? Did we miss any books that they’re reading this month? Let us know in the comments.
Looking for more ideas? Explore Accelerated Reader Bookfinder for hundreds of book ideas and so much more!