Shared booklist

BKLYN Picture Books to Celebrate Black History Month

Check-out these picture books celebrating the history, contributions, and personal stories of African-Americans.

31 items

Back of the bus

Aaron Reynolds ; illustrated by Floyd Cooper. |

From the back of the bus, an African American child watches the arrest of Rosa Parks.

Before John was a jazz giant

Carole Boston Weatherford ; illustrated by Sean Qualls. |

This lyrical picture-book biography of John Coltrane focuses on his childhood and how he interpreted sounds before he made his music.

Belle, the last mule at Gee's Bend

Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud ; illustrated by John Holyfield. |

In Gee's Bend, Alabama, Miz Pettway tells young Alex about the historic role her mule played in the struggle for civil rights led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Includes factual information about the community of Gee's Bend and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Boycott blues

by Andrea Davis Pinkney ; illustrated by Brian Pinkney. |

Illustrations and rhythmic text recall the December, 1955, bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama.

Bring me some apples and I'll make you a pie

by Robbin Gourley. |

From the whippoorwill's call on the first day of spring through the first snowfall, Edna and members of her family gather fruits, berries, and vegetables from the fields, garden, and orchard on their Virginia farm and turn them into wonderful meals. Includes facts about the life of Edna Lewis, a descendant of slaves who grew up to be a famous chef, and five recipes.


by Camille Yarbrough ; illustrated by Carole Byard. |

Explains how the hair style of cornrows, a symbol in Africa since ancient times, can today in this country symbolize the courage of outstanding African-Americans.

Duke Ellington's Nutcracker suite

Anna Harwell Celenza ; illustrated by Don Tate. |

Tells the story of how jazz composer and musician Duke Ellington, along with Billy Strayhorn, created his jazz composition based on Tchaikovsky's famous Nutcracker Suite ballet. Includes author's note.

Ellen's broom

Kelly Starling Lyons ; illustrated by Daniel Minter. |

Cherishing the special broom resting above her hearth for its representation of the slave heritage that once forbade legal marriages, Ellen prepares for her parents' triumphant registry at a Reconstruction-era courthouse as lawful husband and wife and proudly carries the broom so that they can repeat a cultural wedding tradition.

Finding Lincoln

Ann Malaspina ; paintings by Colin Bootman. |

In segregated 1950s Alabama, Louis cannot use the public library to research a class assignment, but one of the librarians lets him in after hours and helps him find the book that he needs. Includes an author's note with historical information about library segregation in the South.

Freedom song

by Sally M. Walker ; iIllustrated by Sean Qualls. |

Henry Brown copes with slavery by singing, but after his wife and children are sold away he is left with only his freedom song, which gives him strength when friends put him in a box and mail him to a free state.

Goin' someplace special

Patricia C. McKissack ; [illustrated by] Jerry Pinkney. |

In segregated 1950s Nashville, a young African American girl braves a series of indignities and obstacles to get to one of the few integrated places in town: the public library.

Grandmama's pride

Becky Birtha ; illustrated by Colin Bootman. |

While on a trip in 1956 to visit her grandmother in the South, six-year-old Sarah Marie experiences segregation for the first time, but discovers that things have changed by the time she returns the following year.

In the garden with Dr. Carver

Susan Grigsby ; pictures by Nicole Tadgell. |

A fictionalized account of how plant scientist George Washington Carver came to an Alabama school and taught the children how to grow plants and reap the rewards of nature's bounty. Includes factual note about George Washington Carver.

January's sparrow

Patricia Polacco. |

After a fellow slave is beaten to death, Sadie and her family flee the plantation for freedom through the Underground Railroad.

Jazz age Josephine

by Jonah Winter ; illustrated by Marjorie Priceman. |

A tribute to the life of the iconic jazz entertainer depicts her disadvantaged youth in a segregated America, her unique performance talents and the irrepressible sense of style that helped her overcome racial barriers.

Just as good

Chris Crowe ; illustrations by Mike Benny. |

An African American family in Cleveland, Ohio, listens on their new radio to the first game of the 1948 World Series, in which Larry Doby, the first black player in the American League, won the game for the Cleveland Indians.

Joe Louis, my champion

by William Miller ; illustrated by Rodney S. Pate. |

After listening to the radio broadcast of the heavyweight championship boxing fight of his hero, Joe Louis, a young African American boy realizes that he can emulate the boxer's persistence and strive to become whatever he wants to be.

Let freedom sing

Vanessa Newton. |

Celebrates the historic figures of the civil rights movement whose actions were milestones in the fight for racial equality, including Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, the Little Rock Nine, and Lyndon Johnson.

Molly, by golly!

Dianne Ochiltree ; illustrated by Kathlenn Kemly. |

Introduces the first known female firefighter, Molly Williams, an African American cook for New York City's Fire Company 11, who one winter day in 1818 with many volunteers sick with influenza jumped into action to stop a house fire.

Moon over Star

by Dianna Hutts Aston ; pictures by Jerry Pinkney. |

On her family's farm in the town of Star, eight-year-old Mae eagerly follows the progress of the 1969 Apollo 11 flight and moon landing and dreams that she might one day be an astronaut, too.

My hands sing the blues

by Jeanne Walker Harvey ; illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon. |

In Harlem, New York City, an artist follows the rhythms of blues music as he recalls his North Carolina childhood while painting, cutting, and pasting to make art.

Ron's big mission

Rose Blue and Corinne J. Naden ; illustrated by Don Tate. |

The story of how nine-year-old Ron McNair, later a real-life scientist and Challenger astronaut, desegregated his Lake City, South Carolina, public library in the 1950s through peaceful resistance.

Ruth and The Green Book

Calvin Alexander Ramsey, with Gwen Strauss ; illustrations by Floyd Cooper. |

When Ruth and her parents take a motor trip from Chicago to Alabama to visit her grandma, they rely on a pamphlet called "The Negro Motorist Green Book" to find places that will serve them. Includes facts about "The Green Book."

A sweet smell of roses

by Angela Johnson ; illustrated by Eric Velasquez. |

Two young girls participate in a freedom march and listen to Dr. Martin Luther King speak during the Civil Rights movement.

This is the rope

Jacqueline Woodson ; illustrated by James Ransome. |

A rope passed down through the generations frames an African American family's story as they journey north during the time of the Great Migration.

These hands

written by Margaret H. Mason ; illustrated by Floyd Cooper. |

An African American man tells his grandson about a time when, despite all the wonderful things his hands could do, they could not touch bread at the Wonder Bread factory. Based on stories of bakery union workers; includes historical note.

Uncle Jed's barbershop

by Margaree King Mitchell ; illustrated by James Ransome. |

Despite serious obstacles and setbacks Sarah Jean's Uncle Jed, the only black barber in the county, pursues his dream of saving enough money to open his own barbershop.

We march

Shane W. Evans. |

Illustrations and brief text portray the events of the 1963 march in Washington, D.C., where the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a historic speech.

When Grandmama sings

by Margaree King Mitchell ; illustrated by James Ransome. |

An eight-year-old girl accompanies her grandmother on a singing tour of the segregated South, both of them knowing that Grandmama's songs have the power to bring people together.

White water

Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein ; illustrated by Shadra Strickland. |

After tasting the warm, rusty water from the fountain designated for African Americans, a young boy questions why he cannot drink the cool, refreshing water from the "Whites Only" fountain. Based on a true experience co-author Michael S. Bandy had as a boy.

Wind flyers

by Angela Johnson ; illustrated by Loren Long. |

A boy's love of flight takes him on a journey from the dusty dirt roads of Alabama to the war-torn skies of Europe. Introduces young readers to the contributions of the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II.