Books about African-American heroes teach our children all year round that American history belongs to all of us.
Birth of the Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound, by Kathleen Cornell Berman, Illustrated by Keith Henry Brown
Page Street, 2019
As a boy Miles soaked up all the music around him. Then he experimented, shaped and crafted a cool sound, like no other.Here is the story of how Miles listened, found his voice and became a groundbreaking creative genius in the world of jazz. .With evocative illustrations, this glimpse into Miles Davis’ life is sure to captivate music lovers young and old.
Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins, by Michelle Meadows, Illustrated by Ebony Glenn
Henry Holt and Co., 2019
Janet Collins wanted to be a ballerina in the 1930s and 40s, a time when racial segregation was rampant in the United States. From her early childhood lessons to the height of her success as the first African American prima ballerina in the Metropolitan Opera ,this is the story of a remarkable pioneer who persevered against enormous odds. It’s a story told with simplicity and grace.
Feed Your Mind: A Story of August Wilson, by Jen Bryant, Illustrated by Cannaday Chapman
August Wilson is recognized as one of America’s greatest playwrights. Here is how he overcame the intense prejudice he met in the classroom from teachers and fellow students; and how he taught himself how to write the poetry of everyday language. A two time Pulitzer Prize winner, Wilson’s story is inspiring to anyone interested in writing, theater and American history.
Hammering for Freedom, by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, Illustrated by John Holyfield
Lee & Low, 2018
Born into slavery, William Lewis grew up determined to set himself and his family free. Trained as a blacksmith, he accomplished his goal, despite an entire legal and social system stacked against him. The names and accomplishments of most people kept in bondage in America have been lost forever. Preserving and celebrating the stories of triumph we have is vital to our journey toward a more equal society.
Let the Children March, by Monica Clark-Robinson, Illustrated by Frank Morrison
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018
May, 1963, Martin Luther King speaks in Birmingham, Alabama inspiring African Americans to organize to peacefully protest the Jim Crow laws designed to deny them their rights a citizens. But the price of demonstrating would cost them their ability to support their families. Their children volunteered to demonstrate in their place. The courage demonstrated by these young people is electrifying. It’s a must read story.
Serena: The Littlest Sister, by Karlin Gray, Illustrated by Monica Ahanonu
Page Street Kids, 2019
Serena Williams is one of the biggest names in sports, but she grew up the littlest of five girls in her family. Bold, colorful illustrations highlight the tight sisterhood and tennis action of Serena’s childhood and teenage years. This true story about a tennis icon will inspire littlest siblings everywhere to forge their own path and leave their mark.
Sweet Dreams, Sarah: From Slavery to Inventor, by Vivian Kirkfield, Illustrated by Chris Ewald
Publisher: Dreamscape Media, LLC, 2019
Sarah E.Goode was one of the first African-American women to get a U.S. patent. After opening a furniture store with her husband, she recognized a need for a multi-use bed. Through hard work, ingenuity, and determination, she invented and a unique cupboard bed. Born a slave, she built a life where her sweet dreams could come true.