Preparing for Black History Month, 2015
Black History Month is celebrated every February. The books below, some of the best published in 2014 and 2015, will help your students to understand the passions in the fight for rights and freedoms and to learn about the people that fought against discrimination in the United States. Click here to find a list of additional new books that are excellent resources for Black History Month.
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL – PRIMARY
Freedom’s School by Lesa Cline-Ransome (ill. by James E. Ransome). 9781423161035. 2015. Gr 1-4.
After Lizzie’s family are freed from slavery, her parents must work extra hard in the field so Lizzie and her brother can go to school. They have only received scraps of learning before; now Lizzie loves her new teacher and school. But not everyone does…and one day everything comes crashing down. Will she ever get a chance to go to school again?
Gordon Parks : How The Photographer Captured Black and White America by Carole Boston Weatherford (ill. by Jamey Christoph). 9780807530177. February 2015. Gr K-3.
Gordon Parks, inspired by a magazine article on migrant workers, bought a used camera, taught himself how to use it, and became a photographer working for the government in Washington, D.C. Parks, appalled by the conditions under which African Americans lived, shot photos exposing the racism in the nation’s capital, including the iconic “American Gothic.”
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena (ill. by Christian Robinson). 9780399257742. 2015. Gr PK-1.
As CJ and his grandma Nana ride the bus to a soup kitchen in the poorer section of town after church on Sunday, CJ asks his grandma why they don’t own a car, and why he doesn’t have an iPod like other boys. Grandma gives an encouraging answer for each question, showing CJ what’s really important, and the beauty that can be found all around them.
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL – INTERMEDIATE
The Case for Loving : The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko (ill. by Sean Qualls). 9780545478533. 2015. Gr 1-4.
Richard and Mildred traveled to Washington, D.C. to get married, but when they returned to their home in Virginia, they were arrested! Why? Because Richard was white and Mildred was part African-American, part Cherokee. They were thrown in jail until they agreed to move out of Virginia. Years later, they took their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
New Shoes by Susan Lynn Meyer (ill. by Eric Velasquez). 9780823425280. 2015. Gr 1-4.
Ella Mae has always worn her cousin Charlotte’s hand-me-down shoes, but this year they are too small. Ella Mae is thrilled to go to the store to try on new shoes—but African Americans are not allowed to try on new shoes. Instead, the store owner uses a tracing of their foot to find a pair of shoes. Humiliated, Ellie Mae and Charlotte come up with an idea to fight back.
Seeds of Freedom : The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama by Hester Bass (ill. by E.B. Lewis). 9780763669195. 2015. Gr 1-4.
The violence that characterizes the Civil Rights movement has not taken place in Huntsville, Alabama, but that does not mean that blacks are not discriminated against. Read the story of what African American residents did to help integration come to this southern city.
Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper. 9781442494978. 2015. Gr 4-6.
When a burning cross set by the Klan causes panic and fear in 1932 Bumblebee, North Carolina, fifth-grader Stella tries to find the strength to demand change in her segregated town.
Freedom Summer : The 1964 Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi by Susan Goldman Rubin. 9780823429202. 2014. Gr 5-8.
In the summer of 1964, many young volunteers moved to Mississippi and stayed with local black hosts. Their goals: to open Freedom Schools and inform disenfranchised adults and children about the rights that are denied to them under the Jim Crow laws.
The Girl from the Tar Paper School : Barbara Rose Johns and the Advent of the Civil Rights Movement by Teri Kanefield. 9781419707964. 2014. Gr 6-8.
Angered by the huge differences between the schools for white children and her own black school—a tar-paper shack, really—Barbara organized a boycott of her school in 1951 in order to gain a new school building for herself and her fellow African American students.
Sittin’ Up by Shelia P. Moses. 9780399257230. 2014. Gr 5-8.
In the summer of 1940, Mr. Bro. Wiley, the last man around who had been a slave, died. Twelve-year-old Bean is very sad, for he had taken Mr. Bro. Wiley as his adopted grandpa. Bean and his best friend Pole are in for their first “sittin’ up” at the wake for the dead.
Voices from the March on Washington by J. Patrick Lewis. 9781620917855. 2014. Gr 5-8.
Former U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis presents a collection of 70 poems written from the point of view of participants in the 1963 civil rights march on Washington, D.C.
March : Book 2 by John Lewis & Andrew Aydin (ill. by Nate Powell). 9781603094009. 2015. Gr 9-12.
This graphic novel continues the story of Congressman John Lewis, who participated in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, including the march on Washington, D.C.
Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom : My Story of the Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery. 9780803741232. 2015. Gr 9-12.
The author—the youngest marcher in the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama—remembers how she turned 15 during the march. She describes how she also participated in nonviolent demonstrations, was jailed numerous times, and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. for the rights of African Americans.
X by Ilyasah Shabazz. 9780763669676. February 2015. Gr 9-12.
This book, written by Malcolm X’s daughter, is a fictionalized account of his childhood and coming of age.