In honor of Black History Month, I thought it would be fun to again recommend some favorite books that deal with civil rights and famous African Americans. Each Wednesday throughout the month of February I shared a selected book on our Build Your Library Facebook page. Here is the recap:
2/7/2018: My first book recommendation for Black History Month is What Color is My World? by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. This book will introduce your children to some little known African American inventors. Told as a story within a story – two siblings are taught about the inventors by the handyman who is helping to fix up their dilapidated house. Filled with full-color illustrations and a list for further reading, videos, and helpful links at the end of the book, this book is sure to have something for everyone. Also of note, the author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is known as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
2/14/2018: Today’s Black History Month book recommendation is Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. This beautifully illustrated picture book tells the story of the four black women who helped NASA with the calculations to launch men into space. What a great way to encourage our children to be persistent and passionate in everything they do!
2/21/2018: Today’s Black History Month book recommendation is Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. This is the author’s memoir, her childhood in the Jim Crow south during the Civil Right’s movement, told in lyrical free verse poetry. Beautiful and moving, this book is perfect for readers ages 10 and up.
2/28/2018: My final recommendation this year is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. My daughter recently read this book and she kindly wrote this review:
The Hate U Give, the debut novel of author Angie Thomas, is a heart-wrenching YA contemporary raising awareness of the importance of the Black Lives Matter campaign and the harmfulness of racism. The novel follows our main character Starr Carter, who recently witnessed the death of her childhood friend Khalil at the hands of a cop – an event that will change her life forever. For most of her life she’s lived in two worlds – Williamson: the fancy prep school she attends, and Garden Heights: the poor black neighborhood where she lives. She’s always been able to keep those two lives separate, until now.
Should she stay safe, stay quiet? Or should she speak up and fight for change?
I think Starr Carter was a very well written protagonist and a great role model for younger teens. Her resilience and strength were inspiring and something we need more of in this world.
Angie Thomas painted a vivid picture of what life is like for so many black people today. It’s unpleasant, but real. The honesty in this book will make you forget you’re reading fiction – Starr feels like a real person, as do all of the characters and the world they live in. Because…they are real. This is a real thing happening right now to so many people. How many Khalils are there in this world, reduced into only “drug dealers” and “thugs” in the media, who will only ever be remembered as such?
But amidst the dark reality of this story, it was still able to have a lot of heart and humor that made it even easier to fall in love with the characters. Angie Thomas is clearly a Harry Potter fan, you can tell by all the references she sprinkled in.
This is one of those books important enough that everyone should read it, even if you’re not that into contemporary YA. If more people understood and emphasized with those who were different then themselves, perhaps the world would be a much better place.
Honorable Mentions: Here are a couple final bonus recommendations:
- Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History – this picture book introduces children to 40 female black heroes in history with very brief stories.
- Mae Among the Stars – this lovely picture book is all about the first African American in space.
- Freedom in Congo Square – this award winning picture book is all about 19th century Louisiana, when for half a day on Sundays, slaves could experience a taste of freedom in Congo Square.
I hope your family enjoys these recommendations and can use some of them into your Black History Month homeschool studies. What are some of your favorites? I’d love for you to share them in the comments below. 🙂