Great Children’s Books for Black History

This article is an extenuation of "Black History in Louisiana: Part I." To read the original article, click here.

Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions  |  By Chris Barton
Enjoy discovering Lonnie Johnson’s accidental invention of the Super Soaker. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, impressive inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy. A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began early in Lonnie Johnson’s life.

Bill Pickett: Rodeo-Ridin Cowboy  |  By Andrea Davis Pinkney
The most celebrated black cowboy was Bill Pickett, a fearless rodeo star with a knack for taming bulls that brought the crowds to their feet. The closing note in this book provides an overview of the history of rodeos and black cowboys.


Trombone Shorty  |  By Troy Andrews
Hailing from the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews got his nickname by wielding a trombone twice as long as he was high. A prodigy, he was leading his own band by age six, and today this Grammy-nominated artist headlines the legendary New Orleans Jazz Fest. Along with beautiful illustrations by Bryan Collier, Andrews tells his powerful story of his love for music and dedication to his dreams.

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer  |  By Carole Boston Weatherford
Celebrate the life of Fannie Lou Hamer, a champion of the Civil Rights and voting rights movements during the 1950s through the 1970s. Born in the Mississippi delta, the youngest of 20 children, Hamer had to drop out of school after sixth grade to work in the cotton fields before she became a powerful voice for her people. The book vividly brings to life Hamer’s legacy with a message of hope, determination, and strength.

Harlem's Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills  |  By Renee Watson
Born to parents who were both former slaves, Florence Mills knew at an early age that she loved to sing, and that her sweet, bird-like voice, resonated with those who heard her. A stunning performer of the 1920s Broadway stage, she inspired many around her. Yet with all her success, she knew firsthand how prejudice shaped her world and the world of those around her. Florence chose to support and promote works by her fellow black performers while heralding a call for their civil rights.

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin  |  By Jen Bryant
During WWI, Horace Pippin filled his notebooks with drawings from the trenches...until he was shot. Upon his return home, Horace couldn't lift his right arm, and couldn't make any art. Slowly, with lots of practice, he regained use of his arm, until once again, he was able to paint–and paint, and paint! Soon, people started noticing Horace's art, and before long, his paintings were displayed in galleries and museums across the country.

Fly High!: The Story of Bessie Coleman  |  By Louise Borden and Mary Kay Kroeger
Bessie Coleman desired to learn and become somebody. Despite all the challenges in her life, she put her head down and worked hard in school. At the end of every day in the fields, she checked the foreman's numbers -- made sure his math was correct. And this was just the beginning of a life of hard work and dedication that really paid off: Bessie became the first African-American to earn a pilot's license. She flew high, pioneering the sky for her people.

Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America  |  By Carole Boston Weatherford
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. In Washington DC, Gordon went looking for a subject, but what he found was segregation. Gordon wanted to take a stand against the racism he observed. With his camera in hand, he found a way.

Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride  |  By Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney
Born into slavery, Belle had to endure the cruelty of several masters before she escaped to freedom. But she knew she wouldn't really be free unless she was helping to end injustice. That's when she changed her name to Sojourner and began traveling across the country, demanding equal rights for black people and for women. Many people weren't ready for her message, but Sojourner was brave, and her truth was powerful.

Alvin Ailey  |  By Andrea Davis Pinkney
Explore the life, dancing, and choreography of Alvin Ailey, who created his own modern dance company to explore the black experience. He began a tradition and a company of strong and powerful black dancers that is still transforming the arts today.


She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story  |  By Audrey Vernick
Effa always loved baseball. As a young woman, she would go to Yankee Stadium just to see Babe Ruth’s mighty swing. But she never dreamed she would someday own a baseball team. Or be the first—and only—woman ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Effa Manley always fought for what was right. And she always swung for the fences.

Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie: A Story About Edna Lewis  |  By Robbin Gourley
Before the natural-food movement gained popularity, Edna Lewis exalted purity of ingredients, regional cuisine, and farm-to-table eating. She was a chef when female chefs—let alone African American female chefs—were few and far between. Robbin Gourley traces the roots of Edna's appreciation for the bounties of nature through the seasons.

Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis  |  By Jabari Asim
John wants to be a preacher when he grows up—a leader whose words stir hearts to change, minds to think, and bodies to take action. But why wait? When John is put in charge of the family farm’s flock of chickens, he discovers that they make a wonderful congregation! So he preaches to his flock, and they listen, content under his watchful care, riveted by the rhythm of his voice. Trace the early years of this Civil Rights hero.

Coming Home: From the Life of Langston Hughes  |  By Floyd Cooper
Young Langston Hughes was a dreamer. He dreamed about heroes like Booker T. Washington, who was black just like him. When he heard the clackety-clack of train wheels, he dreamed about the places it had been. And so, one day, he began turning those dreams into beautiful prose. The beloved Langston Hughes comes to life in a book for poets, dreamers, children and adults.

Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton  |  By Don Tate
In the nineteenth century, North Carolina slave George Moses Horton taught himself to read and earned money to purchase his time though not his freedom. Horton became the first African American to be published in the South, protesting slavery in the form of verse.

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02 Feb 2017

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