Each February, Americans across the United States commemorate Black History Month, a month-long national celebration of the contributions and achievements that Black men and women have made throughout U.S. and world history.

As we look back on the events of 2020, honoring Black History Month remains as important as it has ever been, as it is an inclusive call to action for all Americans to recognize the Black experience while remembering our nation’s past, challenging its present, and inspiring its future.

GIF that says "Honoring Black History Month," while portraits of famous Black Americans from across US history flicker in and out

To help kick off Black History Month, we put together the following book suggestions regarding Black history and the Black experience that we feel families and educators can read aloud or assign to their students in grades 3K–12 throughout February and beyond. It is our hope that you and your students will enjoy and learn from these outstanding titles—some are historical and non-fiction by nature, while others are original works of fiction that feature Black characters and perspectives that are not normally reflected in other popular works.

If you have further book suggestions, please let us know in the comments section below!


Black History Month Booklist for Young Readers

Early Elementary School (Grades 3K–2)

  • The Bat Boy and His Violin by Gavin Curtis; art by E.B. Lewis
  • Granddaddy’s Gift by Margaree King Mitchell; art by Larry Johnson
  • Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine; art by Kadir Nelson
  • Hidden Figures: The True Story for Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly; art by Laura Freeman
  • Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña; art by Christian Robinson
  • Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed; art by Stasia Burrington
  • Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis by Jabari Asim; art by E.B. Lewis
  • Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe
  • Rosa by Nikki Giovanni; art by Bryan Collier
  • This is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration by Jacqueline Woodson; art by James Ransome
  • Yesterday I Had the Blues by Jeron Ashford Frame; art by R. Gregory Christie

Book cover of the title, "Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis"

Elementary School (Grades 3–5)

  • The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson; art by R. Gregory Christie
  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Ellington was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange, art by Kadir Nelson
  • Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson
  • Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender
  • Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper
  • Look What Brown Can Do! by T. Marie Harris, art by Neda Ivanova
  • Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood by James Baldwin
  • Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas by Gwendolyn Hooks, art by Colin Bootman
  • Young Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Heroes from Past and Present by Jamia Wilson; art by Andrea Pippins

Cover of the book, "Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans"

Middle School (6–8)

  • Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Renee Watson
  • Blended by Sharon M. Draper
  • Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams
  • Ghost by Jason Reynolds
  • Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
  • Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad by Ann Petry
  • My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich by Ibi Zoboi
  • New Kid by Jerry Craft
  • The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales by Virginia Hamilton; art by Leo Dillon and Diane Dillon, Ph.D.
  • The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore
  • This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell; art by Aurelia Durand
  • This Is What I Know About Art by Kimberly Drew

Cover of the book, "Genesis Begins Again," by Alicia D. Williams

High School (Grades 9–12)

  • All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina; art by Stacey Robinson and John Jennings
  • The March Trilogy (Books One, Two, and Three) by John Lewis with Andrew Aydin; art by Nate Powell
  • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • Riot by Walter Dean Myers
  • A Song Below Water: A Novel by Bethany C. Morrow
  • The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus
  • We Are Not Equal Yet: Understanding Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson and Tonya Bolden
  • Who Put This Song On? by Morgan Parker

Cover of the book, "The Stars and the Blackness Between Them," by Junauda Petrus


We hope this booklist helps students and families helps commemorate Black identity, experience, and history throughout February and beyond! For more Black History Month coverage, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to The Morning Bell below.

On behalf of the NYC Department of Education, we wish all of our families a wonderful Black History Month.


Banner photo by Woubishet Z. Taffese. Used under Creative Commons license. Original can be found on Unsplash.

The Morning Bell

Official blog for the NYC Department of Education, home of over 1.1 million students across 1,800+ schools

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NYC Department of Education, 2019