Black History Month (and Beyond) Books for Kids Part 1

February 1, 2020

It’s Black History Month! In my house, we celebrate…hard. Of course we are black and celebrate our heritage all year long, but in February, we turn it up a few notches. In February, I make sure that all of the bedtime stories (for my seven year old) and chapter books (for my ten year old) are all black history related or written by black authors. I have been doing this for a while now, and my kids already know what the deal is when February 1 arrives. Many of you have asked what my kids are reading for Black History Month, so I decided to create a four-part blog to share their favorite reads with you. They handpicked these books from their junky bookshelves in their rooms and they are happy that I am sharing their favorites with you. Each week, I will be highlighting a handful of books from the Melanin Mindscape Minis Collection. Week One’s books were chosen by the 7-year old bawse of the house.

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and Illustrated Kadir Nelson
Book Synopsis: Originally performed for ESPN’s The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present. Robust back matter at the end provides valuable historical context and additional detail for those wishing to learn more.

First of all, we love all things illustrated by Kadir Nelson! The Undefeated includes beautifully illustrated pictures of some of our most revered heroes. My little one loves this one, but I do too. It’s emotional and inspiring and every little brown kid needs a copy. We are undefeated and sometimes, we just need a reminder.

Tuskegee Heirs Flames of Destiny by Marcus Williams and Greg Burnham
Book Synopsis: Tuskegee Heirs: Flames of Destiny is a new futuristic sci-fi action-adventure comic book series set 80 years into the future that follows a squadron of young, gifted aviators, who are forced to become Earth’s last line of defense against a menacing race of artificially intelligent villains bent on destroying civilization. Trained at the legendary Moton Field, by Col. Mars (our own fictional descendant of the Tuskegee Airmen), these five teens, and their crew embody strong moral ethics and team strategies used by the Red Tails themselves to overcome their problems. Follow along as our team travels the glove in an effort to save civilization, exposing little known history and geography along the way. Also…There’s giant robots.
Little bawse loves this one because he loves the Tuskegee Airmen and he loves comics. It’s a win win for him and a change of pace that he enjoys.

Young Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present by Jamia Wilson
Book Synopsis: Meet  52 icons of color from the past and present in this celebration of inspirational achievement—a collection of stories about changemakers to encourage, inspire, and empower the next generation of changemakers. Jamia Wilson has carefully curated this range of black icons and the book is stylishly brought together by Andrea Pippins’ colorful and celebratory illustrations.

Written in the spirit of Nina Simone’s song “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black,” this vibrant book is a perfect introduction to both historic and present-day icons and heroes. Meet figureheads, leaders, and pioneers such as Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Rosa Parks, as well as cultural trailblazers and athletes like Stevie Wonder, Oprah Winfrey, and Serena Williams.

All children deserve to see themselves represented positively in the books they read. Highlighting the talent and contributions of black leaders and changemakers from around the world, readers of all backgrounds will be empowered to discover what they too can achieve. Strong, courageous, talented, and diverse, these extraordinary men and women’s achievements will inspire a new generation to chase their dream…whatever it may be.

Little Bawse is a huge fan of books with profiles of our heroes. I think he actually likes these kinds of books better than storybooks. I love this book because one of the first profiles in it is of Ava DuVernay. What’s the little bawse’s favorite profile? Beyonce! I find this quite amusing.

Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History and Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison
Book Synopsis: An important book for all ages, Little Leaders  educates and inspires as it relates true stories of forty trailblazing black women in American history. Illuminating text paired with irresistible illustrations bring to life both iconic and lesser-known female figures of Black history such as abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash. The exceptional men featured include artist Aaron Douglas, civil rights leader John Lewis, dancer Alvin Ailey, lawman Bass Reeves, tennis champion Arthur Ashe, and writer James Baldwin.

We LOVE the Little Legends and Little Leaders!! The little bawse loves to flip through the pages and pick his two (or more) people for us to read about. The information is great, the illustrations are soooooo cute and this truly is a series that we can all learn from.

Next week, it’s the ten-year old’s turn! I cannot wait to share his favs with you.

What are your little Kings and Queens reading for Black History Month?

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