When it comes to teaching kids about history, it’s never too soon to start (remember, little ones’ brains are like sponges!). That’s especially the case when it comes to introducing children to the lives and crucial work of the Black people whose achievements shaped the world today. And, what better way to teach kids about these important moments and figures in Black history than through books? Here are nine books that honor the men, women, and milestones of Black history.

Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968, by Alice Faye Duncan and illustrated R. Gregory Christie 

Black history books - Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop

This 2019 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book tells the story of a young girl who witnessed the Memphis sanitation strike in 1968. She watches the events unfold, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. giving his famous speech, "I've Been to the Mountaintop" sermon in Mason Temple Church and his assassination. Through art and poetry, this book tells the unforgettable story of M.L.K.'s final stand for justice.  

The Story of John Lewis: A Biography Book for Young Readers, by Tonya Leslie

Black history books - Story of John Lewis

This book is the perfect way to introduce your kiddos to Congressman John Lewis, who represented Georgia from 1987 until he passed away in 2020. The Story of John Lewis gives kids a biographical timeline of his life and work focusing on his civil rights milestones. Read about how the beloved civil rights leader marched with M.L.K., the origin of his famous words imploring people to "get into good trouble,” and much more. 

Bedtime Inspirational Stories: 50 Amazing Black People Who Changed the World, by L. A. Amber 

Black history books - inspirational bedtime stories 

Each of the 50 bedtime stories centers celebrates a different Black figure in history. These lovely nighttime tales emphasize the lessons kids can learn from each amazing person’s journey, including the importance of believing in oneself no matter what people say about you, determination, and doing what's right to make the world a better place.  

Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History, by Vashti Harrison and Kwesi Johnson

Black history books - Little Legends

The Little Legends series is wonderfully written and brilliantly illustrated to bring to life the incredible stories of courageous Black men who helped shape the world. Kids will learn about famous Black artists, writers, athletes, politicians, and even pop stars, among others. This a perfect book to highlight the accomplishments of Black boys and men. 

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, by Vashti Harrison

Black history books - Little Leaders

Little Leaders is the perfect companion to the Little Legends book. This volume celebrates the enormous contributions that Black girls and women have made to American culture. This book highlights the true stories of the brave girls and women who never gave up on themselves or what they believed in. As a result, we have a more prosperous world to live in thanks to their inspiring contributions from mathematics and politics to civil rights to the fine arts. 

The A.B.C.s of Black History, by Rio Cortez, illustrated by Lauren Semmer  

Black history books - ABCs of Black History

This beautifully illustrated alphabet book takes little kids on a journey through Black history and culture. With rhyming text and bright colors, this is a fun book to read that will leave you wanting to learn more about figures like Zora Neale Hurston, Mae Jemison, and W.E.B. du Bois, and so many more.  

If You Were a Kid During the Civil Rights Movement, by Gwendolyn Hooks 

Black history books - If You Were a Kid During the Civil Rights Movement

What would you do if you were a kid during the civil rights era? That's what this book tries to dissect, and it does brilliantly through the story of two girls, Joyce Jenkins and Connie Underwood, who suddenly find themselves in the middle of a civil rights protest. What will they do? What will they learn? And why does this matter?  

The Story of Barack Obama: A Biography Book for New Readers, by Tonya Leslie Ph.D.

Black history books - The Story of Barack Obama

It would be pretty tough to teach kids about Black history without mentioning the first Black president of the United States of America. This fun book takes kids on a ride through the impressive timeline and history of Obama's life from his childhood all the way through his time as president. 

Change Sings: A Children's Anthem, by Amanda Gorman, illustrated by Loren Long 

Black history books - Change sings

From the much-buzzed-about inaugural National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman comes this beautiful children's book that challenges kids to think about ways to work together to change the world through music and poetry. The book doesn’t come out until September, but it’s available to preorder now!

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