African American Children’s Books
A Good Night for Freedom. Olenyik, B. New York: Morrow (2004). Ages: 4-8
Hallie discovers two runaway slaves hiding in Levi Coffin’s home and must decide whether to turn them in or help them escape to freedom.
Almost to Freedom. Nelson, V. M. (2003). MN: Carolrhoda Books, Inc. Ages: 4-8
The story of a young girl’s dramatic escape from slavery via the Underground Railroad, from the perspective of her beloved rag doll.
A Voice of Her Own. Lasky, K. (2003). Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. Ages 9-12
This true story portrays the life of a young slave girl who was taken from her West African home and brought to Boston in 1761.
Babu’s Song. Stuve-Bodeen, S. (2003). New York: Lee and Low. Ages: All
In Tanzania, Bernardi’s mute grandfather makes him a wonderful music box and then helps him realize his dream of owning a soccer ball and going to school.
Black All Around. Hubbell, P. ( 2003). New York: Lee and Low. Ages: 4-6
An African American girl contemplates the many wonderful black things around her, from the inside of a pocket, where surprises hide, to the cozy night where there is no light.
Black, White, Just Right. Davol, M. (1993). New York: Lee and Low. Ages: 2-5
A girl explains how her parents are different colors, have different tastes in art, food, and pets, and how she herself is different, too, but just right.
Elizabeti’s School. Stuve-Bodeen, S. (2002). New York: Lee and Low. Ages: 5-7
Although she enjoys her first day at school, Elizabeti misses her family and wonders if it wouldn’t be better to stay home.
Freedom Summer. Wiles, D., Winter, J. (1992) New York: Athneneum. Ages 4-8
This stirring account of the “Freedom Summer” that followed the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, powerfully and poignantly captures two boys’ experience with racism, and their friendship that defies it.
Going Back Home. Igus, T. (1996). Children’s Book’s Press: San Francisco, California. Ages: 6-12
Narrative text describes the artist’s paintings and their portrayal of the lives of her African American relatives in the rural American South.
Goin’ Someplace Special. McKissack, P. and J. Pinkney (2001). New York: Simon and Schuster. Ages: 3-7
In segregated 1950s Nashville, a young African American girl braves a series of indignities and obstacles to get to one of the few integrated places in town: the public library.
Grandma’s Purple Flowers. Burrowes, A. (2000). New York: Lee and Low. Ages: 4-8
Grandma’s house has always been the narrator’s favorite place. On her way to visit Grandma, she plucks daisies and sunflowers, and best of all, purple flowers–Grandma’s favorites. Whenever Grandma sees the purple flowers, her smile grows wide — like the Mississippi River.
Junebug. Mead, A. (1995). New York: Farrar/Straus/Giroux. Ages: 9-12
An inquisitive young boy who lives with his mother and younger sister in a rough housing project in New Haven, Connecticut, approaches his tenth birthday with a mixture of anticipation and worry.
McKendree. Belton, S. ( 2000). New York: Greenwillow Books. Ages: 10 and up
In 1948, while spending the summer with her aunt in West Virginia to find her family roots, Tilara Haynes finds new beginnings and self-love in an unexpected place: an old folk’s home called McKendree.
Send One Angel Down. Schwartz, V. F. (2000). Holiday House. Ages 12 and up
A young slave tries to shield his younger cousin, a light-skinned slave who is the daughter of the plantation owner, from the horrors of slavery.
Summer Sun Risin’. Nikola-Lisa, W. (2000). New York: Lee and Low. Ages: 3-6
As African American boy enjoys a summer day on his family’s farm, milking the cows, fishing, and having fun.
Teammates. Golenbock, P. (1992). Orlando, Florida: Voyager Books. Ages 8 and up
A moving portrayal of the prejudice experienced by Jackie Robinson when he became the first black player in major league baseball, and the acceptance and support he received from his white teammate, Pee Wee Reese.
The Jacket. Clements, A. (2002). New York: Simon & Schuster. Ages 8-12
When Phil sees another kid wearing his brother’s jacket, he assumes the jacket was stolen. It turns out he was wrong, and Phil has to ask himself the question: Would he have made the same assumption if the boy wearing the jacket hadn’t been African American? That question leads to others that reveal some unsettling truths about Phil’s neighborhood, his family, and even himself.
The Jones Family Express. Steptoe, J. (2003). New York: Lee and Low Books. Ages: 4-8
Steven tries to find just the right present for Aunt Carolyn in time for the annual block party.
The Other Side. Woodson, J. (2001). New York: Putnam. Ages 4 – 8
Jacqueline Woodson gives a moving narrative about a child confused about the fence someone has built in her yard, and the racial tension that divides her world.
The Secret to Freedom. Vaughan, K. (2001). New York: Lee and Low. Ages 4-8
In the days before the Civil War, a young enslaved girl and her older brother help slaves escape to freedom using the Underground Railroad quilt code.
Uncle Jed’s Barbershop. Mitchell, M. K. (1993). New York: Simon and Schuster. Ages: 4-8
Living in the segregated South of the 1920s, where most people were sharecroppers, Uncle Jed had to travel all over the county to cut his customers’ hair. He lived for the day when he could open his very own barbershop. But it was a long time, and many setbacks, from five-year-old Sarah Jean’s emergency operation to the bank failures of the Great Depression, before the joyful day when Uncle Jed opened his shiny new shop — and twirled a now grown-up Sarah Jean around in the barber chair.
Wanted Dead or Alive. McGovern, A. (1991). New York: Scholastic. Ages 4 -8
Born a slave on a plantation, Harriet Tubman dreamed of following the North Star to freedom.