Content And Community For Black Moms

This list of Middle Grade and YA titles will help older readers honor Black history all year long.

Black teenaged girl wearing glasses reading comics on floor of bookstore

Black people’s contributions to history are far too significant for us to only acknowledge those achievements in one month. At mater mea, we’re declaring that every month is Black History Month. And with all of the Black History Month books for children lists floating around, we decided to create one of our own.

Each of these books acts as a portal into the dynamic history and culture of Black people, and offers tween and teen readers the opportunity to engage with characters, historical figures and landmark events sure to make them proud of their heritage. 

Looking for books for younger kids? Check out our list of Black history month picture books.

Inspiring Figures in Black History Month Books for Children

These Black History Month books for children are focused on people whose stories continue to shape our culture, and whose achievements don’t receive nearly enough praise for our liking.

Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super Soaking Stream of Inventions 

written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Don Tate

Lonnie Johnson was an engineer who worked for NASA, however he was most known for the super soaker which he invented by accident. The super soaker may initially attract young children but the message in this book will resonate with them forever. (For ages 7-10)

Amazon | Bookshop 

28 Days: Moments in Back History That Changed the World 

written by Charles R. Smith Jrand illustrated by Shane W. Evans

This Black History Month teach your children influential African American figures one day at a time, complete with brightly colored pictures that will draw them in. (For ages 6-10)

Amazon | Bookshop 

Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History

written and illustrated by Vashti Harrison with Kwesi Johnson

Between Vashti Harrison’s gorgeous artwork and the stories of these great men, this will become a book your family will refer back to again and again. (For ages 8-12)

Amazon | Bookshop 

Little Leaders: Bold Women In Black History 

written by Vashti Harrison

This book highlights the amazing stories of bold Black women in history who may not be household names in your home but will remind your child that they, too, can one day make a dIfference. (For ages 8-12)

Amazon | Bookshop

Who Were the Tuskegee Airmen? 

written by Sherri L. Smith and Who HQ, and illustrated by Jake Murray

This story weaves a tale about the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of courageous men who risked their lives while battling racism during World War II. The black-and-white illustrations will have your child’s imagination reeling as they read along to this exciting true story. (For ages 8-12)

Amazon | Bookshop 

Black Pioneers of Science and Invention 

written by Louis Haber 

Written in the vein of a history book, Black Pioneers details the achievements of 14 Black pioneers in science and invention, such as Benjamin Banneker, Garrett A. Morgan, and George Washington Carver. Each chapter focuses on a different individual and also provides a thorough account of their personal lives. Designed for an older reader, this book can be used as an additional supplement for learning about important figures in Black history. (It includes official letters and in-depth bibliographies.) (For ages 10-13)

Amazon 

Voices From the March on Washington 

written by George Ella Lyon and J. Patrick Lewis

Through the use of poetry, approximately 70 poems, the authors imagine what people attending the historic March on Washington in 1963 would say and feel. Although a work of fiction, the spirit of courage and hope resonate through the pages. (For ages 10-14)

Amazon | Bookshop 

The Greatest: Muhammad Ali 

written by Walter Dean Myers

This biography of Muhammad Ali covers his childhood, his career as a boxer, and his politics. Filled with black-and-white pictures of his life, The Greatest will pique the interest of the sports enthusiast in your home. (For ages 12+)

Amazon | Bookshop

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March 

written by Lynda Blackmon Lowery and illustrated by Elspeth Leacock, Susan Buckley, and PJ Loughran

Before she turned 15 years old, Lydia Blackmon Lowery was jailed 11 times while marching for voting rights. Here, this civil rights activist shares her courageous story on how she helped to change history as a young person. (For ages 12-17)

Amazon | Bookshop 

Just Mercy: A True Story of the Fight for Justice 

written by Bryan Stevenson

In this young-adult adaptation from his original bestseller, lawyer and social justice advocate Bryan Stevenson fights for the freedom of the wrongfully imprisoned. (For ages 12-17)

Amazon | Bookshop

Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, A Life In Balance 

written by Simone Biles and Michelle Burford

Simone Biles made history and inspired many little Black girls who watched the talented gymnast at the Olympics. Aspiring gymnasts and Simone fans can learn how family and faith helped her get to the top. (For ages 13+)

Amazon | Bookshop

Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice 

written by Phillip Hoose

Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat on the bus before Rosa Park was celebrated months later for the very same act. Here, children will read and important piece of Black history: the story of a young woman who refused to remain silent and accept the status quo. (For ages 13+)

Amazon | Bookshop

Through My Eyes

written by Ruby Bridges 

“This biography for children is a wonderful selection for young readers to learn more about the courageous journey of 6 year old Ruby Bridges,” writes educator Dr. Siabhan May-Washington. “As part of the court’s desegregation order, Ruby attended an all-white school in Louisiana and faced hateful mobs protesting her attendance. U.S. marshals actually had to escort her to class for protection. Her story is an important testament to the power of  human courage.” (For ages 9-12)

Amazon | Bookshop

Understanding Our Past

The American history taught in schools only don’t paint the full picture. These Black History Month books for children fill in the blanks with both painful and jubilant moments.

All Different Now: Junteenth, The First Day of Freedom

written by Angela Johnson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Told through the eyes of a young girl, this book about Juneteenth with its colorful illustrations will educate your young child on the meaning of this important day in African-American history. (For ages 5-9)

Amazon | Bookshop

The Underground Railroad 

written by Colston Whitehead 

This novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colston Whitehead tells the story of a young enslaved woman who runs away to freedom. But instead of finding the Underground Railroad we know from history books, she finds an actual transportation system.

While this version of the Underground Railroad is reimagined, the realities of enslavement are all too real. Filled with heart-pounding twists and turns, this book will keep your older readers glued to the pages. (For ages 16+)

(Warning: Violence and mature themes.)

Amazon | Bookshop

A Matter of Souls 

written by Denise Lewis Patrick

Categorized under Teen and Young Adult Historical Fiction, A Matter of Souls is a collection of eight stories centered on the Black experience from the Civil War to the Civil Rights era. Told from from the perspectives of different fictional characters, racial disparities in healthcare, voter suppression, and death are tackled in a way to help the reader understand history from a more personal perspective.  (For ages 11-18)

Amazon | Bookshop

Roots 

written by Alex Haley

An American classic, Roots is a part of Black history and culture. It follows the story of a young enslaved man and how his life seamlessly flows into and affects his descendants into the 20th century. (For ages 12 and up)

Amazon | Bookshop

The Warmth of Other Suns

by Isabel Wilkerson

“Wilkerson’s book is a historical account of multiple narratives chronicling the journeys of African Americans who migrated from the South to the North,” explains Dr. Siabhan May-Washington.

“The riveting stories showcase the struggles of families who desired better lives for themselves and loved ones,” she continues. “This book is a must-read for those interested in better understanding America’s Great Migration.”

Amazon | Bookshop

Black history month books for children

Creative Expression: Music, Dance, and Art

Black artists and expression is at the root of American culture. Celebrate that part of our history with these Black History Month books for children.

Trailblazers: Beyoncé: Queen of the Spotlight 

written by Ebony Joy WIlkins

Follow Beyoncé from her days in a group to a chart-stopping solo force in this book. (For ages 8-12)

Amazon | Bookshop

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library 

written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Eric Velasquez

Arturo Schomberg was obsessed with collecting African artifacts to record Black history. This book follows his journey from what started as a humble home collection into what is now known as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City. (For ages 9-12)

Amazon | Bookshop

Savion: My Life in Tap

written by Savion Glover and illustrated by Bruce Weber

Savion Glover’s biography looks back at the history of tap dancing and how he revolutionized the art. Dance lovers will enjoy his story. (For ages 10+)

Amazon 

Black: A Celebration of Culture

written by Deborah Willis 

This book examines the evolution of Black history and culture in every facet of life: music, worship, and sports, just to name a few. Black is a tangible reminder of how beautiful and diverse Blackness is, and is a great book for children who can critically examine the differences and/or similarities in culture today and in the past. (For ages 13+)

Amazon | Bookshop

Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present

written by Deborah Willis

In a labor of love, the author collected more than 200 images of Black artists, entertainers, public figures spanning from the civil rights era to now in order to showcase images not often found in mainstream media. A great book for teenagers who can articulate the mixed messages media sends about Black beauty. (For ages 13+)

Amazon | Bookshop

Glory: Magical Visions of Black Beauty 

written by Kahran and Regis Bethencourt

Your child will want to keep this coffee-table book close. Filled with images of natural hair in all shapes and styles, Glory is a celebration of our hair now and for years to come. (For ages 8-12)

Amazon | Bookshop

Black history month books for children

Biracial Representation

For biracial children looking to feel seen in media, these books provide insight from people who have the same background as they do.

Black, White, And Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self

written by Rebecca Walker

The daughter of a famous Black writer (Alice Walker) and a white lawyer, Rebecca explores her existence as a biracial woman and defines her personal identity outside of society’s opinions. (For ages 8-12)

Amazon | Bookshop

The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother

written by James McBride

James McBride grew up in Brooklyn with his Black father, white mother, and 11 siblings. This memoir serves as a son’s tribute to a woman he never fully understood until he became an adult. (For ages 8-12)

Amazon | Bookshop

It’s Trevor Noah: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

written by Trevor Noah

In his biography adapted for young adults, Trevor Noah shares his story of growing up the child of a Black woman and white man during South Africa’s apartheid. Trevor’s honesty and humor will keep your child riveted. (For ages 10+)

 Amazon | Bookshop

Black history month books for children

Call to Action

We are raising the next generation of involved citizens and change makers. The following Black History Month books for children offer a blueprint, role models, and resources for your young activists.

When They Call You a Terrorist (Young Adult Edition): A Story of Black Lives Matter and the Power to Change the World

written by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele

“From one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement comes a poetic memoir and reflection on humanity.” (For ages 12-18)

Amazon

Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice

written by Mahogany L. Browne with Elizabeth Acevedo and Olivia Gatwood, and illustrated by Theodore Taylor III

Woke is a collection of poems that inspires young children to become active in their community. The bright artwork and provoking poetry will encourage your children to find their own method of self-expression. (For ages 8-12)

Amazon | Bookshop

Say Her Name (Poems to Empower)

written by Zetta Elliottand illustrated by Loveis Wise

This poem collection pays homage to the lives lost to police brutality, and empowers young women to celebrate their own strengths and unique gifts. (For ages 12+)

Amazon | Bookshop

The Voting Booth

written by Brandy Colbert 

The Voting Booth is a fictional story about two young teens attempting to vote, and the series of events that occur as a result of voter suppression. Along the way they find love and a renewed determination to make a difference. It’s a timely book based on recent events—and very appropriate for the next wave of first-time voters. (For ages 12+)

Amazon | Bookshop

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You

written by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

The authors take the readers on a deep dive on the construct of race, why we are still dealing with it, and what the reader can do about it today. (For ages 12+)

Amazon | Bookshop

Black history month books for children

Celebrating Our Culture and Identity

The richness of our culture and Black identities are explored in the following Black History Month books for children.

Africa Is Not a Country

written by Margy Burns Knight and illustrated by Anne Sibley O’Brien

Africa’s diversity is celebrated in this book through colorful imagery and depictions of children across the continent’s many countries. (For ages 8-12)

Amazon | Bookshop

Brown Girl Dreaming

written by Jacqueline Woodson

Award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson remembers her life as a young girl growing up in a country barely out of the grasp of Jim Crow through poetry, and reflects on how writing transformed her life. (For ages 10-13)

Amazon | Bookshop

Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales

written by Nelson Mandela 

Translated from their original languages, children will learn valuable lessons from these popular folktales. (For ages 9-12)

Amazon | Bookshop

Black Enough

Edited by Ibi Zoboi

An important collection of short stories, Black Enough reflects on what it means to be young and Black in America. (For ages 13-17)

Amazon | Bookshop

(Editor’s Note: Read our profile of mater mea role mama Ibi Zoboi here.)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

written by Maya Angelou

Dr. Maya Angelou’s poetic autobiography follows her journey through adversity and triumph on her own terms despite the racial climate. (For ages 13+)

(Warning: Violence and mature themes.)

Amazon | Bookshop

Badass Black Girl: Questions, Quotes, and Affirmation for Teens

written by M.J. Fievre

Designed to embolden and uplift, this book is like getting a pep talk from a best friend. (Great for all young teens who need encouragement.) (For ages 13+)

Amazon | Bookshop

The Bluest Eye

written by Toni Morrison 

A classic coming of age novel about a young Black girl who is obsessed with attaining what she believes to be true beauty. (For ages 15+)

(Warning: Violence and mature themes.)

Amazon | Bookshop

Black Boy

written by Richard Wright

Once banned, this autobiography by Richard Wright examines what it means to be a young Black boy growing up in the Jim Crow South and how he managed to survive. (For ages 14+)

Amazon | Bookshop

The Wind in the Reeds 

written by Wendell Pierce

Actor Wendell Pierce “writes an endearing story of how Hurricane Katrina devastated his beloved childhood home and city in New Orleans,” writes Dr. Siabhan May-Washington. “His memoir chronicles not only his early memories, but also presents several important textures of New Orleans history and American history.  His story is a testament to the power of the human spirit and resilience.”

Amazon | Bookshop

Black history month books for children

Stories Across the Diaspora

Black History happens 365, and beyond America’s shores. Learn about the expansiveness of Black experiences around the globe through these Black History Month books for children.

Make It Messy: My Perfectly Imperfect Life

written by Marcus Samuelsson with Vanessa Chambers

In this young adult edition of his biography, Marcus Samuelsson shares his story of how he became one of America’s top chefs. (For ages 12-15)

Amazon 

Of Beetles and Angels: A Boy’s Remarkable Journey from Refugee Camp to Harvard

written by Mawi Asgedom with Dave Berger

This book follows the true story of a young man and former refugee from Sudan, who, with a simple piece of advice given to him by his father, rises above all challenges. (For ages 10+)

Amazon | Bookshop

Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina

written by Michaela DePrince

Follow Michaela’s journey from Sierra Leone to appearing in Beyoncé’s Lemonade and dancing as a principal in an American ballet company. (For ages 12-15)

Amazon | Bookshop

Americanah

written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A story of two Nigerians in the U.S. and how they navigate American racism, Black identity away from their homeland, and the difficult choices of adulthood. (For ages 15+)

(Warning: Violence and mature themes.)

Amazon | Bookshop

If you’re looking for books for younger readers, check out our Picture Book and Early Reader list here

Brenda Fadeyibi is an occupational therapist, writer, aspiring novelist, foodie, and mama of one. She can be found in Brooklyn, New York with her 4-year-old son who is learning Kreyol and Yoruba, a nod to both families’ cultures and a way to foster an environment where he can grow up being free in a Black body.

LET'S BE MOM FRIENDS

sharing is caring!

share mater mea with a friend:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email