African American History, Biography & Culture: Books for Elementary School

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Through stories that illustrate African American history, biography and culture, children in grades K-5 can learn about people and events in an exciting way. Titles like these can offer entertaining and clever stories while fostering positive messages. Caregivers and educators can use these books to begin or continue conversations about African American history through the unique craft of storytelling.

Carter Reads the Newspaper

Picture book biography of Carter G. Woodson, who was born to parents who had both been enslaved and who read the newspaper to his illiterate father every day and grew up to study history at Harvard University and become the “Father of Black History.”

Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History

Explores the life of Frederick Douglass, a self-educated slave in the South who grew up to become a leader of the abolitionist movement, a celebrated writer, an esteemed speaker, and a social reformer.

Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968

This historical fiction picture book presents the story of nine-year-old Lorraine Jackson, who in 1968 witnessed the Memphis sanitation strike–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s final stand for justice before his assassination–when her father, a sanitation worker, participated in the protest.

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocked to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art work had ever seen. But before that, he was a little boy who saw art everywhere: in poetry books and museums, in games and in the words that we speak, and in the pulsing energy of New York City. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby or as eAudio on Overdrive/Libby.

Someday Is Now: Clara Luper and the 1958 Oklahoma City Sit-Ins

More than a year before the Greensboro sit-ins, a teacher named Clara Luper led a group of young people to protest the segregated Katz drugstore by sitting at its lunch counter. With simple, elegant art, Someday Is Now tells the inspirational story of this unsung hero of the Civil Rights movement.

We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices

What do we tell our children when the world seems bleak, and prejudice and racism run rampant? With 96 lavishly designed pages of original art, poetry, and prose, fifty diverse creators lend voice and comfort to young activists.