The winter holidays always sneak up on me! Starting in the summer, I think about Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. I browse ideas on Pinterest and Instagram for beautiful bulletin board displays, picture book ideas, and student gifts. Once the school year is in full swing, I swear I blink and it’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day! The list of Black History Month books for kids below are perfect for MLK day, but can be used any time of the school year. In fact, I encourage you to use the read alouds throughout the year! These picture books about black history are a great way to teach this topic. Check out the list of Black History Month books for kids below!
This post highlights the following books:
- Martin’s Big Words
- The Story of Ruby Bridges
- Hidden Figures
- Henry’s Freedom Box
- White Water
- Mae Among the Stars
6 Black History Month Books for Kids
Below are 6 black history month books for kids. Your students will really enjoy listening to these kids books about black history! Not only are they great winter read alouds, but can be used any time of the year!
1. Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport
The first story on this list of black history books for kids is Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport. It is a nonfiction picture book that teaches children about the life and dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Students will learn what life was like for Martin growing up and how he became a leader in the fight for equal rights.
Throughout the book, the author includes actual quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. This book explains how Martin Luther King Jr. encouraged people to use their words to make change and the impact he had on the country. This story follows Martin all the way from childhood through the end of his life. This is one of my favorite Black History Month children’s books! I liked it so much I added it to my Starts With a Story collection!
2. The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
The second read aloud on this list of black history children’s books is The Story of Ruby Bridges. This book details the struggles that six-year old Ruby Bridges endured when she was chosen to attend an all-white, segregated school as a black girl.
All of the other students’ parents pulled their children out of school because of her, and so she was forced to attend class all alone. She was escorted by U.S. Marshalls every morning, as she had to listen to jeers and insults being thrown at her while she was entering the school.
Despite these hardships, Ruby’s courage through non-violent actions did so much for the civil rights movement, and later that year, two white boys started to attend school with her. This inspirational true story teaches children that, no matter what age you are, anyone can be a trailblazer for change. This story will quickly become one of your favorite Black History Month picture books.
3. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
The third text on this list of black history books for elementary students is Hidden Figures. This book tells the story of four black women, Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, who worked as human computers for NASA. By solving complex equations, their work helped NASA beat Russia in the space race. Although their incredible math skills made them very important assets, they were not given any proper recognition and they were separated from the white people who worked for NASA. These four women dealt with both racism and sexism, and they were able to push boundaries and make history.
4. Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
The fourth story on this list of the best children’s books for black history month is Henry’s Freedom Box. Henry grew up as a slave. When he gets older, he is able to marry another slave who is owned by someone else. They have several children, and they get to live together. One day, the owner of Henry’s wife sells her and her kids, and Henry is heartbroken. With the help of both his friend James and Dr. Smith, a white man against slavery, Henry mails himself to Philadelphia in a box in order to escape. After enduring the uncomfortable journey, Henry is able to make his way to Philadelphia and secure his freedom.
5. White Water by Eric Stein and Michael S. Bandy
The fifth read aloud on this list of children’s books for black history month is White Water. It is a very hot day in 1962, and Michael and his grandmother have taken the bus into town. When they arrive, Michael eagerly rushes to the segregated water fountains to take a drink. When he gets there, he finds that the water tastes muddy and gritty. He looks over to the white fountain, where a boy is drinking, and imagines that the water must taste cool and clean. At school, he can’t focus and he keeps imagining himself drinking out of the white fountain.
One day, he takes the bus by himself. When nobody is looking, he takes a drink from the whites-only water fountain. To his surprise, he finds that the water tastes exactly the same: muddy and gritty. He looks down and notices that the water is coming from the same pipe, despite what he had been lead to believe.
6. Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed
The sixth text on this list of the best black history books for kids is Mae Among the Stars. The story is about a girl named Mae who dreams of being an astronaut when she grows up. She reads book and researches how to become an astronaut and has a dream that she is floating in space looking at Earth.
Mae’s parents tell her that if she dreams, believes, and works really hard, anything is possible. When Mae goes to school and shares what she wants to be when she grows up, the other children laugh at her and her teacher suggests she does something else. This disappoints Mae but her mom reminds her that all that matters is that she dreams big and works hard. At the end of the story, we learn that Mae reached her dream of becoming an astronaut.
If you are looking for lessons and activities for Black History Month, check out this Martin’s Big Words book companion and Mae Among the Stars book companion! It includes reading comprehension questions, writing prompts and paper, digital activities, and much more!
Grab the Free Reading Resources!
We hope you found this list of Black History Month books for kids helpful! These are some of the best best picture books for Black History Month. If you want to get more book ideas to read aloud to your elementary students, then grab this reading freebie. It includes read aloud books lists, reading logs, and reading challenges for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classroom teachers. It will have you covered for the entire school year, as well as the summer months! Grab this free elementary reading packet now!