13 Children’s Books of Black American Heroes

img_5187Black History Month

Black History Month was created to celebrate the history of African-Americans in the United States, which was typically not included in history textbooks in America.

It is inspiring for children to learn of the difficult struggles of African Americans who overcame to become American heroes.

Here are some of our favorite children’s books of just a few famous black Americans:

img_5178-21. The Story Of Ruby Bridges: Special Anniversary Edition by Robert Coles

It’s 1960, and the Bridges family moves from their home state of Mississippi to Louisiana in search of a better way of life. But this is tough for 6-year-old Ruby. A judge decides that she will attend an all-white elementary school, and she faces angry white parents who refuse to send their kids to the same school. This is a classic tale of a courageous young girl amidst a movement of social change.

img_5177-12. If A Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks by Faith Ringgold

While en route to school one day, Little Marcie hears about Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights Movement from a talking bus. She learns, as young readers will, about how Parks held her ground and refused to suffer further belittlement during a time of adversity—and that a bit of courage goes a long way.

img_51793. Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson

Clara was born into a life of slavery and longs to be reunited with her momma. An exceptional seamstress, she realizes her skill may help fulfill her dreams of freedom. After overhearing two slaves speak of the Underground Railroad and a route to Canada, she begins to design a quilt—one that doubles as a map to her freedom.

img_51804. A President from Hawaii by Dr. Terry Carolan and Joanna Carolan

Barack Obama, our first black president, is one of the most important political figures in recent history. This book showcases his strong cultural ties to his home state of Hawaii and how the state has helped shape him into the person he is today. Including photos from President Obama’s childhood and quotes from his interviews and speeches, the book offers children new facts about our country’s 44th President.

img_51725. Fly High!: The Story of Bessie Coleman by Louise Borden and Mary Kay Kroeger

Bessie Coleman became the first African-American to earn a pilot’s license. The inspiring story of her difficult early years, her success as a stunt pilot putting on daring air shows in many states, and her dedication to telling young African-Americans wherever she went, “You can be somebody. You can fly high just like me,” is as moving and important today as it was then. Simply told with evocative full-color illustrations, this is a special book for today’s young people.

img_51816. Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream by Deloris Jordan

Michael Jordan is likely the most popular basketball player of al time. But as a child, Michael almost gave up on his hoop dreams, all because he feared he’d never grow tall enough to play the game that would one day make him famous. That’s when his mother and father stepped in and shared the invaluable lesson of what really goes into the making of a champion — patience, determination, and hard work.
Deloris Jordan, mother of the basketball phenomenon, teams up with his sister Roslyn to tell this heartwarming and inspirational story that only the members of the Jordan family could tell. It’s a tale about faith and hope and how any family working together can help a child make his or her dreams come true.

img_51827. Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America by Carol Boston Weatherford

Gordon Park’s white teacher tells an all-black class, “You’ll all wind up porters and waiters.” What did she know? Gordon Parks is most famous for being the first black director in Hollywood. But before he made movies and wrote books, he was a poor African American looking for work. When he bought a camera, his life changed forever. He taught himself how to take pictures and before long, people noticed. His success as a fashion photographer landed him a job working for the government. In Washington DC, Gordon went looking for a subject, but what he found was segregation. He and others were treated differently because of the color of their skin. Gordon wanted to take a stand against the racism he observed. With his camera in hand, he found a way. Told through lyrical verse and atmospheric art, this is the story of how, with a single photograph, a self-taught artist got America to take notice.

img_51748.A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina’s Dream by Kristy Dempsey

Little ballerinas have big dreams. Dreams of pirouettes and grande jetes, dreams of attending the best ballet schools and of dancing starring roles on stage. But in Harlem in the 1950s, dreams don’t always come true—they take a lot of work and a lot of hope. And sometimes hope is hard to come by.

But the first African-American prima ballerina, Janet Collins, did make her dreams come true. And those dreams inspired ballerinas everywhere, showing them that the color of their skin couldn’t stop them from becoming a star.

img_51759. A Weed Is a Flower : The Life of George Washington Carver

This is the story of the life of George Washington Carver, born a slave, who became a scientist and devoted his entire life to helping the South improve its agriculture.


img_517610. Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington by Jabari Asim

Born into slavery, young Booker T. Washington could only dream of learning to read and write. After emancipation, Booker began a 500-mile journey, mostly on foot, to Hampton Institute, taking his first of many steps towards a college degree. When he arrived, he had just fifty cents in his pocket and a dream about to come true. The young slave who once waited outside of the schoolhouse would one day become a legendary educator of freedmen.

img_518311. I am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer

Jackie Robinson always loved sports, especially baseball. But he lived at a time before the Civil Rights Movement, when the rules weren’t fair to African Americans. Even though Jackie was a great athlete, he wasn’t allowed on the best teams just because of the color of his skin. Jackie knew that sports were best when everyone, of every color, played together. He became the first black player in Major League Baseball, and his bravery changed African-American history and led the way to equality in all sports in America.

12. Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

Bass Reeves was first a slave but became the first African-American deputy U.S. marshal. When a lawbreaker heard Bass Reeves had his warrant, he knew it was the end of the trail, because Bass always got his man, dead or alive. He achieved all this in spite of whites who didn’t like the notion of a black lawman.

For three decades, Bass was the most feared and respected lawman in the territories. He made more than 3,000 arrests, and though he was a crach shot and a quick draw, he only killed fourteen men in the line of duty. Bad News for Outlaws reveals the story of a remarkable African American hero of the Old West.

img_518613. Alvin Ailey by Andrea Davis Pinkney

This stunning book chronicles the life, dancing, and choreography of Alvin Ailey, who created his own modern dance company to explore the black experience.

Also be sure to click here to check out our 6 favorite children’s books about Martin Luther King Jr.

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