Black History Month Nonfiction Book List
It’s a month full of book lists here at Redeemed Reader! We hope you enjoyed our Love and Laughter Book List on Valentine’s Day. Today, we’re offering a Black History Month Nonfiction Book List in honor of Black History Month!
But first: don’t miss this earlier post, “Why Black History?” by Janie!
This Black History Month Nonfiction Book List is by no means exhaustive. Rather, it’s a list of some of the books we think are outstanding contributions to the field. These titles are worth seeking out even if it’s not Black History Month. They are great stories about amazing people. There are plenty of fabulous historical fiction titles, too, but true stories can be even more exciting (not to mention, they are TRUE!).
There is more to “Black History” than slavery and the Civil Rights Movement, although many of these titles relate to those key events as well. But do note the many titles that relate to subjects like baseball, space, music, and more.
As always, books are linked to RR reviews where applicable!
Nonfiction Black History Picture Books
Don’t limit these just to “little kids.” Many of these are complex enough to share with all ages! Do read reviews, where applicable.
- A Splash of Red: the Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet.
- All Together Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson and illustrated by E. B. Lewis
- Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill and illustrated by Bryan Collier.
- Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
- Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine and illustrated by Kadir Nelson.
- Rosa by Nikki Giovanni and illustrated by Bryan Collier. (about Rosa Parks)
- Schomburg: the Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Eric Velasquez
- Steamboat School by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by Ron Husband
- Step Right Up by Donna Janell Bowman and illustrated by Daniel Mintner
- Swing Sisters: The Story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm by Karen Deans and illustrated by Joe Cepeda
- Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton and illustrated by Don Tate
Middle Grades and YA Nonfiction for Black History Month
Please do read reviews for these, where available. Unfortunately, black history in America is tempestuous and involves untold accounts of violence. A realistic, accurate portrayal of that history will include some hard elements. Most of the books below work for upper middle grades and young adults, but some will skew towards the upper end.
- A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson and illustrated by Philippe Lardy (note: this is a hard read; best for teens to read and discuss)
- Answering the Cry for Freedom: Stories of African Americans in the American Revolution by Gretchen Woelfle and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (middle grades and YA)
- Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickels by Tanya Lee Stone (WWII) (upper middle grades and YA)
- Devotion by Adam Makos (Korean War) (YA)
- Facing Frederick: The Life of Frederick Douglass, A Monumental American Man by Tonya Bolden (middle grades and YA)
- Gabrielle Douglas: Grace, Gold, and (God’s) Glory (middle grades)
- Give Me Wings: How a Choir of Slaves Took on the World by Kathy Lowinger (upper middle grades and YA)
- Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson (middle grades and YA)
- Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly (young readers edition) (middle grades and YA)
- March by John Lewis and Andrew Ayden, illustrated by Nate Powell. Series. (YA)
- One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes (poetry) (middle grades and YA)
- Pathfinders: The Journeys of Sixteen Extraordinary Black Souls by Tonya Bolden (middle grades and YA)
- We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson (middle grades and YA)
- We’ve Got a Job: the 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson (middle grades and YA)
- Under Our Skin by Benjamin Watson (YA and Adult)
- Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Ekua Holmes (note: a picture book, but this is best for older kids)
- You Can Fly by Carole Boston Weatherford (based on Tuskegee Airmen/WWII) (middle grades and YA)