Muhammad Ali: A Champion Is Born by Gene Barretta
Published by Katherine Tegen Books, 2017
After 12-year-old Cassius Clay’s bicycle was stolen, a police officer introduced him to boxing, igniting a passion that led to a career as a world champion boxer, activist, and humanitarian. 40 pages; grades 1-5.
Trombone Shorty by Troy Anderson, illustrated by Bryan Collier
Published by Harry N. Abrams, 2015
New Orleans jazz musician Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews tells the story of how he got his nickname and his start in jazz music. 40 pages; ages 4-8.
Rise! From Caged Bird to Poet of the People by Bethany Hegedus, illustrated by Tonya Engel
Published by Lee and Low Books, 2019
A biography of African American writer, performer, and activist Maya Angelou, who turned a childhood of trauma and emotional pain into one of the most inspiring voices of our lifetime. 48 pages; grades 1-5.
Sprouting Wing by Louisa Jaggar and Shari Becker, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Published by Crown Books, 2021
The story of James Herman Banning, the first African American pilot to fly across the United States. 48 pages; grades 1-5.
Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery by Sandra Neil Wallace, illustrated by Bryan Collier
Published by Simon and Schuster, 2018
The story of NFL star Ernie Barnes who followed his dreams and became one of the most influential artists of his generation. 48 pages; grades 1-5.
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe
Published by Little, Brown and Company, 2016
Jean-Michel Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocketed to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art world had ever seen. But before that, he was a boy who saw art everywhere: in poetry, museums, games, and the pulsing energy of New York City. 40 pages; grades 2-5.
Above the Rim: How Egin Baylor Changed Basketball by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Frank Morrison
Published by Harry N. Abrams, 2020
Hall-of-famer Elgin Baylor was one of the game’s all-time greatest players: an innovative athlete, team player, and quiet force for change. He played in the 1950’s and 1960’s and influenced later players like Michael Jordan and LeBron James. 40 pages; grades 2-6.
Saving American Beach: The Biography of African American Environmentalist MaVynee Betsch by Heidi Tyline King, illustrated by Ekua Holmes
Published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2021
How MaVynee Betsch, an African American opera singer turned environmentalist, worked to preserve American Beach, Florida as a landmark of Black history. 40 pages; grades K-5.
A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks by Alice Faye Duncan, illustrated by Xia Gordon
Published by Sterling Children’s Books, 2019
A collection of poems profiles the Chicago author who gave voice to the urban Black experience in the twentieth century. 48 pages; grades 2-6.
Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Michele Wood
Published by Candlewick, 2020
Henry Brown’s story of how he shipped himself in a box from slavery to freedom, told in stanzas of six lines, each line representing one side of a box, Includes historical records and excerpts from Henry Brown’s own writing. 40 pages; grades 4-8.
The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver by Gene Barretta, illustrated by Frank Morrison
Published by Katherine Tegen Books, 2020
The story of George Washington Carver, from a baby born into slavery to celebrated botanist, scientist, and inventor. His passion and determination were the seeds to this narrative of triumph over hardship–a tale that begins in a secret garden. 40 pages; grades 1-5.
Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins by Michelle Meadows, illustrated by Ebony Glenn
Published by Henry Holt and Co., 2019
Janet Collins overcame widespread discrimination to achieve her dream of being a ballerina, becoming the first Black prima ballerina in the Metropolitan Opera in 1951. 32 pages; ages 4-8.
Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten by Laura Veirs, illustrated by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh
Published by Chronicle Books, 2018
Elizabeth Cotten was only a little girl when she picked up a guitar for the first time. It wasn’t hers (it was her big brother’s), and it wasn’t strung right for her (she was left-handed). But she flipped that guitar upside down and backwards and taught herself how to play it anyway. By age eleven, she’d written “Freight Train,” one of the most famous folk songs of the twentieth century. 48 pages; grades 2-5.
The Faith of Elijah Cummings: The North Star of Equal Justice by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Laura Freeman
Published by Random House Studio, 2022
A biography of Elijah Cummings, outlining major events in his childhood, career, and fight for justice. 40 pages; grades 1-5.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Frank Morrison
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2020
The daughter of a pastor and a gospel singer, Aretha Franklin sang with a soaring voice that spanned more than three octaves. Her incredible talent and string of hit songs earned her the title “the Queen of Soul.” 48 pages; grades K-4.
Midnight Teacher: Lilly Ann Granderson and Her Secret School by Janet Halfmann, illustrated by London Ladd
Published by Lee and Low, 2018
Lilly Ann Granderson was an enslaved teacher who strongly believed in the power of education and risked her life to teach others during slavery. 40 pages; grades 2-5.
Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Laura Freeman
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2020
How Kamala Harris grew from her roots in justice to become a senator and vice-president of the United States. 40 pages; grades K-5.
The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, A Young Civil Rights Marcher by Cynthia Levinson, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017
Tells the story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a 9-year-old civil rights activist who participated in the 1963 Birmingham Children’s March. 40 pages, grades 1-5.
Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed, illustrated by Stasia Burrington
Published by HarperCollins, 2018
When young Mae Jemison is asked by her teacher what she wants to be when she grows up, Mae tells her mostly white classmates that she wants to be an astronaut, a dream that her parents wholeheartedly support. 40 pages; ages 4-8.
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly with Winifred Conkling, illustrated by Laura Freeman
Published by HarperCollins, 2018
The stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, four Black women whose work forever changed the face of NASA. 40 pages; grades 1-5.
A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put America on the Moon by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2019
A biography of NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, with an emphasis on her contributions to the Apollo 11 mission. 40 pages; grades 1-5.
Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk
Published by Henry Holt and Co., 2018
Another story of Katherine Johnson’s life and NASA career, this one looking at the contributions she made to rescuing the Apollo 13 astronauts. 40 pages, grades 1-5.
Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton, illustrated by Don Tate
Published by Charlesbridge, 2016
How Lonnie Johnson’s inventive mind led him to NASA and to accidentally inventing the Super Soaker water gun. 32 pages; grades 1-5.
King of Ragtime: The Story of Scott Joplin by Stephen Costanza
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2021
Scott Joplin was told to get a steady job with the railroad, but the pull of music was too great. He went on to create ragtime, “an American music like the country itself–a patchwork of sounds and colors.” 56 pages; grades 1-5.
What Do You Do With a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan by Chris Barton, illustrated by Ekua Holmes
Published by Beach Lane Books, 2018
A biography of lawyer, politician, and civil rights leader Barbara Jordan. 48 pages; grades 2-6.
Runaway: The Daring Escape of Ona Judge by Ray Anthony Shepard, illustrated by Keith Mallet
Published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2021
An elegant, haunting poem tells the story of Ona Judge’s self-emancipation from George Washington’s household. 40 pages; grades 1-5.
Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream and You by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by James E. Ransome
Published by Bloomsbury, 2018
Shows young readers how they can be like Martin Luther King, Jr. by being brave, kind, and empathetic; highlights key moments in King’s life. 40 pages; ages 4-9.
Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free by Alice Faye Duncan, illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo
Published by Tommy Nelson, 2022
The true story of Black activist Opal Lee and her vision of Juneteenth as a holiday for everyone will inspire children to be brave and to work to make a difference. 32 pages; ages 4-8.
Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe by Deborah Blumenthal, illustrated by Laura Freeman
Published by Bonnier Publishing, 2017
Ann Cole Lowe’s passion was fashion, but pursuing it wasn’t easy, especially when she went to design school and had to learn alone, segregated from the rest of the class. Rarely credited, Ann Cole Lowe became “society’s best kept secret,” whose designs included the dresses for Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding. 40 pages; grades 1-4.
Someday Is Now: Clara Luper and the 1958 Oklahoma City Sit-Ins by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, illustrated by Jade Johnson
Published by Seagrass Press, 2018
Teacher Clara Luper grew up hearing that she’d get to go places when they were integrated “someday”. She decided that someday had arrived, and helped her students organize a lunch counter sit-in that resulted in desegregation at stores in four states. 32 pages; grades 2-5.
The Highest Tribute: Thurgood Marshall’s Life, Leadership, and Legacy by Kekla Magoon, illustrated by Laura Freeman
Published by Quill Tree Books, 2021
A portrait of the first Black justice on the Supreme Court, from Thurgood Marshall’s upbringing in segregated Baltimore to his achievements with the NAACP and contributions to landmark equality rulings. 40 pages; grades 2-5.
Thurgood by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Bryan Collier
Published by Schwartz and Wade, 2019
Before Rosa Parks, before Martin Luther King Jr., before the civil rights movement there was Thurgood Marshall, fighting for African Americans…and winning. Here is the powerful story of the trailblazer who proved that separate is not equal. 40 pages; grades 1-5.
The United States v. Jackie Robinson by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Published by Balzer + Bray, 2018
Jackie Robinson’s battle against prejudice while serving in the military during World War II, including his court-martial for refusing to move to the back of an integrated bus. 32 pages; grades 3-6.
Sonny Rollins Plays the Bridge by Gary Golio, illustrated by James Ransome
Published by Nancy Paulsen Books, 2021
Jazz icon Sonny Rollins found an inspired spot to practice his saxophone when his neighbors complained. 32 pages; grades 1-5.
Nina: A Story of Nina Simone by Traci N. Todd, illustrated by Christian Robinson
Published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2021
How Nina Simone’s gave voice to the struggle for racial equality during the civil rights movement. 56 pages; grades 1-5.
Published by Peachtree Publishing Company, 2020
After William Still found the brother who had been separated from him during slavery, he began collecting the stories of other freedom seekers. He was able to reunite families and build a remarkable source of information about enslaved people who had fled to freedom. 40 pages; grades 2-5.
So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk to Freedom by Gary D. Schmidt, illustrated by Daniel Minter
Published by Roaring Brook Press, 2018
How Sojourner Truth escaped slavery and became a tireless advocate for abolition and human rights. 48 pages; grades 2-5.
Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James Ransome
Published by Holiday House, 2017
Moses, General Tubman, Minty, Araminta: the woman we know today as Harriet Tubman went by many names. Each represented one of her many roles as a spy, as a liberator, as a suffragist, and more. 32 pages; grades 1-4.
Starstruck: The Cosmic Journey of Neil DeGrasse Tyson by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer, illustrated by Frank Morrison
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers, 2018
The story of science superstar Neil deGrasse Tyson, the groundbreaking American astrophysicist whose work has inspired a generation of young scientists and astronomers to reach for the stars. 48 pages; grades 1-5.
The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, illustrated by Oge Mora
Published by Schwartz and Wade, 2020
The inspiring true story of the nation’s oldest student, Mary Walker, who learned to read at the age of 116. 40 pages; ages 4-10.
Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome
Published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018
The story of the tennis stars, including their special relationship as sisters and best friends, their constant training as children, and their incredible success in professional tennis. 48 pages; grades 1-4.
Sisters and Champions: The True Story of Venus and Serena Williams by Howard Bryant, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Published by Philomel Books, 2018
Another biography of Serena and Venus Williams by sports reporter Howard Bryant. 32 pages; grades 1-4.
Carter Reads the Newspaper by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Don Tate.
Published by Peachtree Publishing Company, 2019
Carter Woodson’s parents had been enslaved, but he grew up to get his PhD in history from Harvard. His father taught him the value of Black history, and Carter went on to found Negro History Week, which eventually became Black History Month. 36 pages; grades K-4.
The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Published by Versify, 2019
A poem honoring the troubles and triumphs of African Americans throughout history. 40 pages; grades 1-5.
I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James
Published by Nancy Paulsen Books, 2020
A tribute to the strength, character, and worth of a Black child. 32 pages; ages 4-8.
Seeking Freedom: The Untold Story of Fortress Monroe and the Ending of Slavery in America by Selene Castrovilla, illustrated by E. B. Lewis
Published by Calkins Creek, 2022
How a brave stand by two men meant eventual freedom to thousands of African Americans and led President Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. 40 pages; grades 2-6.
All Because You Matter by Tami Charles, illustrated by Bryan Collier
Published by Orchard Books, 2020
A reminder to Black and Brown children everywhere about how much they matter, that they have always mattered and they always will. 40 pages; ages 4-8.
When We Say Black Lives Matter by Maxine Beneba Clarke
Published by Candlewick, 2021
In this exploration of the Black Lives Matter motto, the narrator relays to a young Black child the strength and resonance behind the words. 32 pages; grades 1-4.
The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson
Published by Kokila, 2021
When a young girl is unable to complete a family tree assignment for school, she asks Grandma for help and learns about her ancestors, the consequences of slavery, and the history of Black resistance in the United States. 48 pages; grades 1-5.
Black Is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy, illustrated by Ekua Holmes
Published by Roaring Brook Press, 2020
A child reflects on the meaning of being Black in this anthem about a people, a culture, a history, and a legacy that lives on. 40 pages; ages 4-8.
Hands Up by Breanna J. McDaniel, illustrated by Shane W. Evan
Published by Dial Books, 2019
A young girl lifts her hands up in a series of everyday moments before finally raising her hands in resistance at a protest march. 32 pages, ages 4-8.
America, My Love, America, My Heart by Daria Peoples-Riley
Published by Greenwillow Books, 2021
America, do you love me? A single question from a single child multiplies across the country, inviting in more and more children of color, along with their questions. 40 pages; ages 4 and up.
Who Are Your People? by Bakari Sellers, illustrated by Reggie Brown
Illustrated by Quill Tree Books, 2022
When you meet someone for the first time, they might ask, “Who are your people?” and “Where are you from?” Celebrate the individuals and experiences that help shape young children into the most remarkable and unique beings that they can be. 32 pages; ages 4-8.
Swish! The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Don Tate
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2020
Learn about the Harlem Globetrotters, who played the most groundbreaking, breathtaking ball the world had ever seen, and celebrate the greatness, goodness, and grit of this remarkable team.
A History of Me by Adrea Theodore, illustrated by Erin K. Robinson
Published by Neal Porter Books, 2022
One mother’s account of her experience as the only Black child in school serves as an empowering message to her own daughter and children of color everywhere. 32 pages; ages 4-8.
Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Published by little bee books, 2016
Readers learn about enslaved people’s duties, from chopping logs on Mondays to baking bread on Wednesdays to plucking hens on Saturday. But Sunday meant time off and the special experience of an afternoon spent in Congo Square. 40 pages; grades 1-3.
Unspeakable: The Boston Race Massacre by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Published by Carolrhoda Books, 2021
A powerful look at the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in the history of the United States. 32 pages; grades 3-6.
A Place to Land: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation by Barry Wittenstein, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
Published by Neal Porter Books, 2019
The story behind the writing of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. 48 pages; grades 2-6.
The People Remember by Ibi Zoboi, illustrated by Loveis Wise
Published by Balzer + Bray, 2021
Tells the journey of African descendants in America by connecting their history to the seven principles of Kwanzaa. 64 pages; ages 7 and up.
Let the Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson, illustrated by Frank Morrison
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018
Under the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, children and teenagers march against segregation in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. 40 pages; grades 1-4.
A Day for Rememberin’: Inspired by the True Events of the First Memorial Day by Leah Henderson, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Published by Harry N. Abrams, 2021
In Charleston, South Carolina, in 1865, ten-year-old Eli and others newly freed from slavery gather to honor the memory of fallen Union soldiers, an event considered to be one of the first celebrations of what is now Memorial Day. 48 pages; grades 2-6.
A Ride to Remember: A Civil Rights Story by Sharon Langley and Amy Nathan, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Published by Harry N. Abrams, 2020
In the summer of 1963, the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in Maryland became desegregated and open to all for the first time. Sharon Langley and her parents were the first African American family to walk into the park. This happened on the same day of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington. 40 pages; grades 1-4.
The Bell Rang by James Ransome
Published by Aladdin, 2019
An enslaved family is distressed when they discover their son Ben has run away and shows readers the difficulties of those left behind. 40 pages, grades 1-6.
We Wait for the Sun by Dovey Johnson Roundtree and Kate McCabe, illustrated by Raissa Figueroa
Published by Roaring Brook Press, 2021
The late civil rights attorney and activist shares a poignant moment from her childhood beside her wise grandmother, who taught Roundtree the values of self-worth, strength and justice that inspired her career. 40 pages; grades K-6.
Waiting for Pumpsie by Barry Wittenstein, illustrated by London Ladd
Published by Charlesbridge, 2017
In 1959 Bernard is a young Red Sox fan, troubled by the lack of Black players in Major League Baseball, especially as there are none at all on his favorite team. But change is coming in the form of a rookie named Pumpsie Green. 32 pages; grades K-4.