11 Best Black History Month Books For Preschool Update 05/2022

You can think about what being African-American means this month. Children should be taught about racism, slavery, and segregation in order to make the world a better place for all of its people. The history of important black people and characters, both men and women, must be learned by everyone. To teach kids and young teens about the lives of Black people in America and around the world, these books are great! These stories are about people who were slaves, people who lived during the Civil Rights Movement, and famous black people and inventors today.

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad By: Ellen Levine

Recommended ages: 6 and up

In this story, Henry “Box” Brown was able to escape slavery by hiding in a wooden crate and moving to the north, where he lived in a free country. During the story, we learn that as a child, he didn’t know how old he was because no one kept records of slaves’ birth dates. It’s a big risk for him to mail himself in a box to a world where he can have a “birthday” (his first day of freedom).

This book is based on the true story of Henry “Box” Brown, a slave who was sent to freedom in a box. Nelson’s powerful portraits make the book look even more impressive. Henry is shown on the cover of the book as a solemn boy with an eye-catching look. As he grows up, marries, and sees his beloved wife and children sold to slave owners, he is compelled to flee. This is a story of pride and ingenuity that will leave readers deeply moved, especially those who have been tempted by the entry on Brown in Virginia Hamilton’s Many Thousand Gone: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom. The book is written in a way that is both measured and sonorous (1993).

This Jazz Man By Karen Ehrhardt

Recommended ages: 3 and up

When it’s Black History Month, you can teach your kids about music and dance. They’ll be delighted by this jazz tribute to African-Americans who made a big impact on the world. The song “This Old Man” is a favorite of preschoolers, and the tune is set to the rhythm of the song. Kids can “Deedle-di-bop!” with Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Bill “Bojangles,” and more, thanks to the fun illustrations in this book about jazz. “The Jazz Man is soft and happy.” It’s like a big imaginary jazz band, and it’s a lot of fun to play in. -The New York Times Book Review says that.

Whoever You Are By: Mem Fox

Recommended ages: 4 and up

This book doesn’t directly talk about Black History, but it gives a good preschool introduction to the concepts of diversity and equality. It doesn’t matter where you are, what you look like, or how you live: Mem Fox says there are kids like you all over the world “Joys and love are the same. Pain and blood are the same.” “It is an important book that recognizes in the simplest terms that we are all just like each other.”

Follow the Drinking Gourd By Jeanette Winter

Recommended ages: 5 and up

Folktale: “Peg Leg Joe” is white sailor who tells a group of slaves to “follow the drinking gourd” to get out of slavery. Children can learn about the Underground Railroad through the rhythmic story and the brightly colored pictures. The Underground Railroad was a secret path to freedom for many African-Americans. This is a very special and inspiring way to remember a very special part of African-American history. In the Boston Globe, this is how it looks:

The Other Side By: Jacqueline Woodson

Recommended ages: 5 and up 

Town lines are marked by a fence in front of Clover’s house. Black people live on the other side of the fence. It’s not safe for Clover to cross the fence, but she wants to meet the white girl who lives on the other side. By sitting on top of a fence, the two girls break the rules of segregation and form an unlikely friendship that they didn’t know they had.

In this case, “pictures and words work well together to make an important lesson clear.” Publishers Weekly: —

Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. By: Doreen Rappaport

Recommended ages: 5 and up

The author used famous quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.’s writings and speeches to make this biography for kids an award winner. When King was young, he first saw “Whites Only” signs. The multimedia illustrations show how his life as a leader of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement turned out to be one of the most important in the history of the country. (Take a look at these other Martin Luther King Day resources, too).

“Dr. King’s own “big words” are used in this picture book biography to show how this great leader was both a preacher and a politician.” Rappaport’s short story is a good way to learn about the man, the Civil Rights movement he led, and his policy of non-violence. This is a great book to read aloud a lot. ―Booklist

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom By: Carole Boston Weatherford

Recommended ages: 5 and up

Meet Harriet Tubman, who was a hero for slaves on the Underground Railroad. She became known as “Moses” because she led many slaves to freedom. They show how Tubman’s compassion, courage and religious faith helped her make 19 trips from the south to the north to help other black people. This is a book that won the Coretta Scott King Award.

Here’s what one person said: “This book is so good! I love it! The story of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad was written in a very good way. The way it was written made me cry. It’s great for both young and old people.”

Tar Beach By: Faith Ringgold

Recommended ages: 5 and up

She and her family and friends are having lunch on “tar beach” – the hot, black rooftop of their Harlem apartment. In her dream, Cassie floats above New York City and sees the George Washington Bridge, which her father helped build. She also sees signs of social injustice in the crowded city below. “This story is full of symbols and historical references that are important to African-American culture. A book that is both practical and beautiful.” A starred review of Horn Book.

Teammates By: Peter Golenbock

Recommended ages: 6 and up

Back in 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American player in Major League Baseball. This book takes us back to that time. By the time he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, he was taunted and even terrorized by fans, other players, and even his own teammates on the team. Photos from the past and watercolor illustrations bring us back to the game that changed everything. Pee Wee Reese, the Dodgers shortstop, embraced Robinson on the field as his teammate in front of a booing crowd.

Here’s what one person said: “This was a great story about friendship and friendship. During hard times, always stand up for your friends. I loved it!”

Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African-Americans By: Kadir Nelson

Recommended ages: 8 and up

This beautifully illustrated 108-page book tells the story of how African-Americans have faced huge challenges and made important contributions to society over time. In this book, an old, wise African-American “Everywoman” narrator tells the story from her unique point of view. Her ancestors came to the U.S. on slave ships, and she lives long enough to vote for the country’s first black president.

As in WE ARE THE SHIP, Nelson weaves together the country’s proudest and most shameful moments, taking on the whole history of African-Americans at the same time, just like in that book. He does a good job with this huge subject. Nelson’s portraits are jaw-dropping. They show strength and determination. A huge accomplishment. Magazine: -Publishers Weekly

Who Was Rosa Parks? By: Yona Zeldis McDonough

Recommended ages: 8 and up

Black history will never forget Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. They will always be important to us. There are a lot of interesting facts about the black woman who refused to give up her seat on a bus in Alabama in 1955. This 112-page biography from the “Who Was…” series is for kids.

Here’s what one person said: “Good job: This book did a good job of introducing complex social issues and injustices in a way that my seven year old child would be able to understand. After reading the book, she didn’t want to keep reading because it was too long.”

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