The 26 Best Black History Month Books for Kids of 2023

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best books to read during black history month for kids

Verywell Family / Danie Drankwalter

Established in 1976, Black History Month is held every February and is an annual celebration and recognition of the sacrifices and contributions of Black Americans. Black History Month is a great time (though certainly not the only time) to introduce your children to the important people and events that have helped to shape America. Books about historical figures, including the leaders of the civil rights movement and our country’s first Black president, are an accessible way for children to learn about the artists, activists, and pioneers who acted as catalysts for change.

Reviewed & Approved

The “ABCs of Black History” explores important moments in a playful way that your little one will love. For older kiddos, “The Story of Ruby Bridges” will teach them lessons about history and bravery.

“The best types of books are ones that share stories of everyday Blackness: Most of us are regular people, trying to figure out our worlds, love each other, make friends, struggle with our worries.” says Kim Parker, the director of the Crimson Summer Academy at Harvard University and the co-founder of #DisruptTexts. 

Pick a book that will pique your child’s interest and contains historically accurate and up-to-date information about Black culture and history. We carefully considered age recommendations, kids' appeal, historical and cultural accuracy, and empowerment when reviewing products.

ABCs of Black History

ABCs of Black History by Rio Cortez

Courtesy of Amazon

A colorful and vibrant celebration of Black history, the "ABCs of Black History" is an upbeat book that explores important moments in a playful way that your little one will love. It highlights incredible historic figures like Zora Neale Hurston and Malcolm X in addition to important moments like the Great Migration, so children will be learning about Black history alongside their ABCs. The rhythmic theme gives this title an alluring beat that will make it a home library essential.

Price at time of publication: $15

Written after America elected its first Black president, “The Undefeated” is Kwame Alexander’s ode to the storied history of Black people in the country. The poem recounts significant events in Black American history, including the traumas of slavery and the protests of the civil rights movement. Originally introduced as a video poem on ESPN’s “The Undefeated,” this book explores themes of endurance, grit, and spirit, with references to Martin Luther King Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and more. 

Price at time of publication: $18

Put Your Shoes On & Get Ready!

Put Your Shoes On & Get Ready!

Amazon

As a child, Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock started each day with his father telling him and his 11 siblings, “Put your shoes on and get ready!” Children can put themselves in the shoes of the first Black senator from Georgia as the story follows him from childhood in Savannah to Morehouse College to the United States Senate. Featuring bright illustrations, this picture book offers the inspirational message that kids can make a powerful difference.

Price at time of publication: $20

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

Courtesy of Amazon

Introduce your kids to some of the most inspirational, trailblazing women in Black history. From renowned scientist Alice Ball to fearless revolutionary Rosa Parks, kids will learn more about some familiar faces and discover new leaders they never knew existed. The charming illustrations and delightful pastel colors make this title perfect for little ones.

Price at time of publication: $17

A Children’s Anthem

A Children’s Anthem

Amazon

Written by National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, “Change Sings” follows a young girl with a guitar as she gathers up a band of musicians to help out others that they meet. Through the lyrical, rhyming text, young readers will learn that they have the power to enact change in the world, their communities, and themselves. The vibrant illustrations accompany the rousing text, including a mural of kids of varying skin colors and abilities.

Price at time of publication: $19

Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming

Amazon

This autobiographical collection of kids’ poems illustrate Jacqueline Woodson’s childhood in South Carolina and New York during the civil rights movement and the lingering effects of Jim Crow laws. She also shares how she found her voice through a love of writing, despite her reading struggles as a child. Woodson’s personal narrative and accessible poetry help kids imagine what it was like to be a child during important historical events, and they share important lessons on finding your own place in the world.

Price at time of publication: $11

Baby Ballers: Venus and Serena Williams

Baby Ballers: Venus and Serena Williams

Amazon

This adorable board book tells the story of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams, all the way from growing up in California learning the sport from their dad to winning Grand Slam titles. It features a simple rhyming scheme that your baby will love listening to, as well as colorful illustrations. The “Baby Ballers” series also includes a biography of basketball star Michael Jordan.

Price at time of publication: $8

The Story of Ruby Bridges

The Story of Ruby Bridges

Walmart

When school starts up in the fall, little 6-year-old Ruby Bridges is standing on the steps of her new school. But, unlike typical school drop-offs, this day is quite different. Ruby is the first Black student to be integrated into the all-White William Frantz Elementary School under the order of a judge in 1960. This title takes readers through the journey of Ruby’s momentous first day of school and illustrates what her brave act means for children today.

Price at time of publication: $8

The newest installment in the “Happy Hair” series, which celebrates natural hair and self-love, “Smart Sisters” depicts girls of color with a variety of hairstyles, important representation for young girls who may not see people who look like them frequently reflected in the media. The book promotes a message of positivity and unity and features a simple rhyming scheme.

Price at time of publication: $17

Becoming Muhammad Ali

Becoming Muhammad Ali

Amazon

This biographical novel for older kids tells the story of the adolescence of Cassius Clay and his transformation into the boxer Muhammad Ali. A unique combination of Kwame Alexander’s verse and James Patterson’s prose, the book explores the boxer’s family, amateur training, and more. While sports fans are sure to love the story, “Becoming Muhammad Ali” is a worthwhile read for all kids.

Price at time of publication: $9

Tar Beach

Tar Beach

Amazon

Written and illustrated by award-winning artist Faith Ringgold, “Tar Beach” combines her dreamy artwork and stories about Black History, freedom, fiction, and Ringgold’s own life. The book is set on the tar rooftop of Cassie Louise Lightfoot’s family’s apartment building, where she dreams of the freedom to do whatever she wants with her life. She’s lifted up by the stars and flies over the New York City skyline, shown through Ringgold’s beautiful painted and quilted illustrations.

Price at time of publication: $9

Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story From the Underground Railroad

Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story From the Underground Railroad

Amazon

When freedom was seemingly out of reach, Henry Brown was willing to do anything to achieve it. During this harrowing true story, your child will be on the edge of their seat as they follow Henry’s journey from enslavement to freedom as he discovers an uncharted path to the North.

Price at time of publication: $18

Hidden Figures: The Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race

Hidden Figures: The Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race

Courtesy of Amazon

During a time when being Black and a woman automatically created insurmountable barriers to success, four young Black women completely changed history. Deemed natural math superstars, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden became household names in NASA helping to successfully route America’s first expedition into space. Your own little STEM enthusiast will truly appreciate this beautifully illustrated picture book.

Price at time of publication: $19

A Flag for Juneteenth

A Flag for Juneteenth

Amazon

Juneteenth is a holiday that celebrates the day the independence of Black Americans, serving as a day for reflection and empowerment. In this picture book, almost 10-year-old Huldah and her community learn of their emancipation on June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, and celebrate the very first Juneteenth by creating their own freedom flag. Each page features hand-sewn quilted illustrations, made by the author herself, giving the book an extra unique twist.

Price at time of publication: $19

Written by acclaimed ballerina Misty Copeland, this picture book tells the story of a young ballerina struggling with self-confidence and self-doubt. In the inspirational book, Copeland strikes up a dialogue with the young girl, telling her that with hard work and determination, she can reach new heights. The encouraging message is accompanied by vivid illustrations from Caldecott Honoree Christopher Myers. 

Price at time of publication: $18

Love Is Loud

Love is Loud

Amazon

“Love Is Loud: How Diane Nash Led the Civil Rights Movement” tells the story of Diane Nash, a prominent activist during the civil rights movement who worked alongside the likes of John Lewis. Using truth and love, rather than violence and anger, to fight for equality, Nash made her mark during the Freedom Rides, lunch counter sit-ins, and more. This book tells her story, starting as a child on the south side of Chicago all the way to marches in Nashville and Washington, D.C.

Price at time of publication: $19

If You Were a Kid During the Civil Rights Movement

If You Were a Kid During the Civil Rights Movement

Amazon

Your child might have a hard time imagining themselves living through the civil rights movement that propelled the United States into social change. This book, suitable for big kids between 7 and 9 years old, features two girls who have found themselves smack in the middle of a civil rights demonstration. Through their experience, your kiddo will learn how peaceful marches and protests changed the country for the better.

Price at time of publication: $8

Before She Was Harriet

Before She Was Harriet

Amazon

This award-winning picture book tells the story of the woman we now know as Harriet Tubman. Before she was known as “Harriet,” she was called General Tubman, a Union spy; Moses, who led hundreds of people to freedom through the Underground Railroad; Minty, an enslaved girl; and more. This digestible biography is written in verse and illustrated with beautiful watercolor art.

Price at time of publication: $19

The emotional impact of teachers and classmates pronouncing your name wrong can take a toll, as the little girl in this book finds. After a day of her name repeatedly being mispronounced, her mother teaches her all about the beauty and lyrical quality of African, Asian, Black-American, Latinx, and Middle Eastern names, which the little girl eagerly shares with her classmates the next day. Whether your child’s name is getting mispronounced or they are learning to be more culturally competent, this book is an important reminder about the importance of names and respect. There’s a glossary of each name in the book and a link to a recording of the author pronouncing each name is included.   

Price at time of publication: $17

One Crazy Summer

One Crazy Summer

Amazon

A great pick for middle grade readers, this Newbery Honor Award-winning novel tells the story of three sisters who travel from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend the summer with their mother. There, they’re sent to a day camp run by the Black Panthers, where they learn about their country, history, family, and themselves. As historical fiction, the book is an insightful extension of the reader’s history classes from the point of view of kids their age.

Price at time of publication: $9

This uplifting picture book imagines astronaut Mae Jemison as a little girl, long before she was the first Black woman in outer space. She dreams of dancing and floating through space, determined to one day become an astronaut. The story is an inspiring tale about pursuing your dreams and reaching for the stars.

Price at time of publication: $19

If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks

The Story of Rosa Parks

Courtesy of Amazon

This title tells the story of Rosa Parks from the perspective of a bus. Written with a unique spin, the bus takes the main character, Marcie, on a magical ride through Rosa Parks' brave decision to take a stand. With themes of courage, bravery, and inspiration, your little one will be blown away by the story of how one woman sparked an incredible movement.

Price at time of publication: $9

Carter Reads the Newspaper

Carter Reads the Newspaper

Amazon

Have you ever thought about how Black History Month was started? As a teenager working in the coal mines, Carter G. Woodson, or the “Father of Black History Month,” was asked to research topics he could read about to the miners, and there his interest in the history of his people was born. This book tells the inspiring tale of his life dedicated to sharing important stories about the achievements of Africans and African Americans, some of which are featured in the book’s illustrations.   

Price at time of publication: $18

Young, Gifted, and Black

Young, Gifted, and Black

Amazon

Filled with some of the most historical figures in Black history, this striking title is as captivating as it is informative. Featuring biographies of Black leaders, changemakers, pioneers, and intellectuals from both past and present, this book will be one to hold on to for years to come. Each page is exploding with vibrant colors that will instantly draw readers in to learn about each historical figure. From Barack and Michelle Obama to George Washington Carver, there are endless people to discover. Plus, there’s a separate version for younger babies that features a mirror.

Price at time of publication: $24

Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman

Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman

Amazon

Using a series of monologues, this book tells the story of Bessie Coleman, the first Black woman and first Native American woman to hold a pilot’s license. Inspired by the Wright brothers’ historic flight when she was just 11 years old, Bessie decides to dedicate her life to aviation, overcoming obstacles of poverty, racism, and gender discrimination while breaking barriers. “Talkin’ About Bessie” is a Coretta Scott King Honor recipient.

Price at time of publication: $19

Papa’s Mark

Papa’s Mark

Amazon

Older kids might be learning about the 15th Amendment or discriminatory voting literacy laws in their history classes, so consider extending the lesson with this book that takes place in the post-Civil War South. In Lamar County, Texas, a son helps his father learn how to write his name so that he can vote for the first time. This is a reissue of the book, featuring an added author’s note about the voting barriers that Black Americans faced after the Civil War as well as the dangers of modern voter suppression.

Price at time of publication: $19

How We Selected Black History Month Books for Kids

To make our list of the best Black History Month books for kids, researched dozens of books, ranging from new releases to popular titles. We also spoke with educator Kim Parker, the director of the Crimson Summer Academy at Harvard University and the co-founder of #DisruptTexts, about how to choose books that educate and uplift children while holding their interest. When choosing our top picks, we considered age recommendations, appeal, historical and cultural accuracy, and empowerment when reviewing products.

What to Look for in Black History Month Books for Kids

Age-Appropriateness

You’ll want to pick books that are suitable for your child’s age and developmental level. That will help ensure that your child can fully appreciate and absorb the books you are sharing with them. For younger children, consider books with bright, engaging illustrations. Elementary-aged kids often still enjoy books with illustrations, but they also have the ability to listen to longer, more detailed stories. Graphic novels are a win for this age as well. Older children may enjoy novels and historical fiction.

Kid Appeal

Pick a book that will fit your child’s interests to give them an entryway into the conversation. Besides offering insights about Black culture and history, many of these books have other themes that children find interesting, from STEM to sports to inspiring women leaders. “It's important to remember who your child is at this moment: their personalities, their interests, their strengths and areas of growth,” says Parker. “These considerations matter because books can be great for matching and extending interests.” Starting with a book containing themes that your child can easily latch onto is a great way to help them engage with the subject matter.

Historical and Cultural Accuracy

Make sure the books you purchase for your students are historically accurate and contain up-to-date information about Black culture and history. When possible, purchase books by Black authors and authors who are well-versed in Black history. You’ll also want to look for books with inclusive and affirming themes and language.

Authenticity is an important consideration when selecting a kids’ book for Black History Month, Parker says. “Corinne Duyvis gave us #OwnVoices to help us select books that are written by cultural insiders—Black people and other POCs, LGBQTIA+ folks, etc. must tell our own stories, and we must center those books as the ones we select.” She also recommends purchasing these books from Black-owned bookstores when possible.


Empowerment

Black History Month isn’t just about education: It’s about inspiring us all to take action in our own lives so that we can all live in a more equitable world. Select books for your children that show what it means to stand up for one’s rights and how to engage in positive social and cultural change. Parker suggests choosing books that “affirm Black children and help build their racial socialization in all the ways that make children amazing while also giving them the tools to handle challenges, dream up solutions, and create the worlds we need to have them imagine.”

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is reading important for children?

    Reading sharpens a child's comprehension and analytical skills. It also helps a child's vocabulary to grow. You can help to foster a love of reading in your child by reading to them even as they are learning. In fact, research shows that reading to children at a young age improves language and cognitive development.

  • How often should kids be reading?

    Experts say children should read every day. Reading for just 20 minutes outside of school can have a profound impact. Whether it's a page, a book, or a novel, kids should flex their mental muscles with daily reading. It can build confidence, improve memory retention, and even lead to better results in the classroom.

  • How do I encourage my child to read?

    Set a good example for your child to follow. Let your child see you reading and enjoying books. You can also visit the library and take part in summer reading programs. Seek out books on topics your child is interested in, from marine life to superheroes, and remember that graphic novels and comic books can be great options. If you have a reluctant reader, consider offering a reward as an encouragement for spending time reading.

  • How can books help kids learn about and celebrate Black History Month?

    Books are a useful and accessible way to teach kids about Black history and deepen their understanding beyond what they’re taught in school. “Black History is American History, both past and present,” Parker tells Verywell Family. “Books about Black people—in our full range of being—are critically important. Black children need to understand their histories beyond enslavement, which tends to be the throughline in schools, unfortunately. And even in enslavement, there are stories of resistance and agency that we can lift up in books.” 


    Parker recommends choosing books that celebrate “the everyday beauty, joy, and fullness of the robust Black experience. Not only are they helpful texts for Black History month and beyond, they provide important representation for young kids of color, too. While diverse books are important, “they can’t be the only tool,” she adds. “However, we know that diverse texts help readers develop empathy, help them to understand that the world is bigger than them, and, if they are reading these texts regularly and discussing them, help them to develop the tools to discuss issues of race, racism, and more and work to figure out their personal responsibility.”

  • Why is Black History Month important?

    Black History Month is a celebration of the many contributions of Black Americans throughout history. The focus of the month goes beyond stories of slavery and racism; it also highlights stories of Black excellence, achievement, and joy.

    Black History is far more than a month, Parker emphasizes. “If we limit it to a month, we limit our own possibilities of the texts we can share with children.” Look for books that share stories about everyday Blackness, she says: “Children need to see those experiences and so many others in the books they read that center Black people.”

    Furthermore, it’s important for parents, caregivers, and educators to engage with these same texts and lessons so they can “talk to children about them and [address] any issues or questions they have,” Parker says.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Latifah Miles is the former Commerce Editor for Verywell Family with years of experience as a freelance writer in the parenting space. Storytime has always been a wonderful way of bonding with her son since toddlerhood. Books are a great way to incorporate lessons about Black History Month in a way that is fun and enjoyable.

Phoebe Sklansky is Verywell Family’s Associate Commerce Editor. As a commerce writer and avid shopper herself, she enjoys helping readers find the best products for their unique needs. The daughter of a children’s book author, she is passionate about family reading time and the importance of encouraging early reading skills.

4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Dickinson DK, Griffith JA, Golinkoff RM, Hirsh-Pasek K. How reading books fosters language development around the world. Child Dev Res. 2012;2012:e602807. doi:10.1155/2012/602807

  2. Logan JAR, Justice LM, Yumuş M, Chaparro-Moreno LJ. When children are not read to at home: the million word gap. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2019;40(5):383-386. doi:10.1097/DBP.0000000000000657

  3. Bobowski K. Parent strategies for improving their child's reading and writing. NWEA.

  4. World Economic Forum. Black History Month: What is it and why do we need it?.