11 Black History Month Books That Make an Impact

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11 Black History Month Books That Make an Impact

Children observe and absorb more than we give them credit for. As the daughter of a white man and a Black woman, I’m making this Black History Month reading list while thinking about books that would have had an impact on me as a child. My hope is to encourage you to read with your children. No matter your family’s background, ethnicity, or race, a book can be a starting point for interesting, important, and meaningful conversations. We parents know there is no instruction manual for how to raise our children, and most of the time I think we are growing and learning right along with them.

If you have younger children like me, they may not be able to understand all the history and weight that comes with Black History Month. I begin with picture books and simple stories that offer realism and representation of children of color before moving into books for older kids that focus on real people and events in history that give more context and depth. 

Ada Twist Scientist by Andrea Beaty 

Ada is a girl that is misunderstood from the beginning of her childhood. She is quiet, observant, and always getting into things. As she begins to find her words, all she wants to know is how, when, why, and what. She loves science and tries all kinds of experiments throughout the book. At first, the adults in her life are mad that she is always making messes, but soon realize that her passion can lead to amazing things. This is a wonderful book representing girls of color, and girls who love science and math!

Crown: An Ode To The Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes

Crown is about a boy’s experience getting his hair cut. It seems like such a simple thing, but having his hair done brings a sense of pride and confidence that translates into other areas of his life like school, and interacting with others. The book also highlights the observations he has about the others getting their hair done, and that each person is different. It is a beautiful story about the power of feeling good about yourself and celebrating others’ differences.

I Am Enough by Grace Byers

This book is everything we want our children to be. Not only do we want them to love who they are inside and out, but to be respectful, kind, and loving toward others. This is a book for everyone, it represents us all. A beautiful, simple story about how we can show compassion and love to ourselves and others through simple acts of kindness. 

Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem by Amanda Gorman

Written by activist and poet Amanda Gorman, this is a beautiful story about the next generation and the hope that they will be the change. A girl leads a group of children on a musical journey and along the way they learn that they have the power to make changes big and small in the world, their communities, and most importantly in themselves. 

Of Thee I Sing A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama

I love this story not only for the illustrations but for the stories of thirteen Americans who shaped our country. From Albert Einstein to Martin Luther King Jr., each person represents a word, and President Obama uses the actions of each historical figure to define that word. It’s a great book touching on historical events in our history.

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander

Of all these picture books, this truly is the one that tells the story of African Americans throughout U.S. history. It is poetically written with reference to lyrics and lines originally shared by some of the most influential African Americans. The art and wording in this book are simple but powerful. They embody the spirit, passion, and determination of some of the country’s greatest African American artists, athletes, and activists. 

Middle and High School Grade Books

Jason Reynolds

Jason Reynolds is one of my favorite authors for middle and high school readers. His writing is raw, real, and powerful. A few of my favorites are Stamped, Ghost, and A Long Way Down. He is a brilliant African American author, and his stories come from a place of experience and understanding. 

  • Stamped – Purchase here
  • Ghost – Purchase here
  • A Long Way Down – Purchase here

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas is another African American writer who writes beautiful books for young adults. Her debut novel, The Hate U Give, is a very real look into what kids of color deal with daily. This book was also made into a major motion picture. It’s a great one to read and watch, then compare the book versus the movie. 

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama has been one of the most influential and visible African American women in the last decade. Her memoir is relatable, real, and a wonderful read for young adults. Becoming was written for adults, and then adapted into a version for young readers. What a wonderful family book to read with your teens, or with a book club.

About the Author

Tiffany Rohe is the children’s coordinator at Storyhouse Book Pub. Tiffany is a former Youth Services Librarian, turn mompreneur. In addition to working for Storyhouse, Tiffany is the owner and creator at Nixon & Norman, a small business known for its felt food playsets, and other children’s items and toys. You can find Tiffany leading storytimes on Saturdays at Storyhouse, and helping with other special events. Follower her journey as a mom, business owner, and children’s literature lover @nixonandnorman on Instagram.

Black History Month, Black History Month books, Storyhouse Bookpub, Des Moines, books, reading, education


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