Picture Books About African Americans

If you'd like to find juvenile non-fiction books about Black History Month, you can use the call number J 973.0496.

The picture books in this collection are some of the most breathtakingly beautiful picture books I have ever seen.

The historical figures in each book cover all parts of the spectrum:  ordinary citizen, iconic civil rights leader, president, and hero.  I have also added a Caldecott Medal winner and the top speech of the 20th Century, according to 137 scholars of American public address.

One of my favorite stories is all about an ordinary citizen who stood up for what is right.

Picture Books About African Americans

I Am Rosa Parks, book cover

I Am Rosa Parks by Brad Meltzer

A historical account about Rosa Parks that is illustrated in a child-friendly way by Chris Eliopoulos.

Rosa Parks is tired and no longer has the patience for racially segregated public buses.  Her life has been defined by the differences she sees between her life and her fellow white citizens.

An ordinary citizen, she finally makes a stand by refusing to give up her seat to a white man, and is promptly removed from the bus.

This title is a part of the Ordinary People Change the World series by Meltzer and is geared for lower elementary school children.

Martin's Big Words, book cover

Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a passionate and moving orator who led the peaceful civil disobedience movement.

Young children in lower elementary school can learn about his life and hear his profound words in this beautifully illustrated picture book.

This biography is written in easy to understand language and engaging portraits.

A wonderful introduction to young children about the meaning behind the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

Barack Obama, Son of Promise, Child of Hope, book cover

Barack Obama, Son of Promise, Child of Hope by Nikki Grimes

Former President Barack Obama is Hawaii's first native-born President.

Nikki Grimes and illustrator Brian Collier describe President Obama's early struggle with self-identity due to his parent's divorce and his bi-racial background.

Raised by his mother, President Obama's youth was spent at a distance from his father.  His mother taught him the importance of the "golden rule" and his father taught him the importance of education.

This title is geared for lower elementary school children.

Moses When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, book cover

Moses When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford

Harriet Tubman used the Underground Railroad to lead many of her people to freedom.

Weatherford's book covers Harriet Tubman's harrowing journey from slavery to freedom, with only the voice of God to guide her.

After finally finding freedom at last, Tubman continues to return to the harrowing path by leading other slaves from the South to the safer regions in the North up through Canada.

This title is for children in lower elementary school.

The Undefeated, book cover

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander

The Undefeated is the winner of the 2020 Caldecott Medal and a 2020 Newbery Honor Book.

Striking illustrations by Kadir Nelson and the lyrical poetry of Kwame Alexander set this picture book apart.  Important figures in African American history seem to rise up from the page, as they proudly fight against injustice.

Children will not forget the awesome majesty of this book, as they see how many people fill each page, all with the same goal: to find equality.

This book is for elementary school children.

I Have a Dream, book cover

I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Kadir Nelson once again provides his lifelike paintings to illustrate the number one American speech of the 20th Century.

I have added this book in addition to Martin's Big Words because King's influence in the American Civil Rights Movement has had an indelible imprint on Black Lives Matter and other movements for people in minorities: Asians, LGBTQ+, Native Americans, Jews, Latinx, Arabs, People with Disabilities, etc.

This book is for people of all ages.