Black History Month:: What We’re Reading

Carter G. Woodson {AKA the “Father of Black History”} first proposed a sort of Black History Week back in 1926. It was timed for the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. Originally it was intended to be a time for students to showcase and celebrate everything they’d learned about Black history throughout the school year. Sort of like how a curriculum teaches about American Presidents throughout a semester, yet we still have Presidents Day to reinforce some of the highlights. Fast-forward to 1967–the height of the Civil Rights Movement–when President Gerald Ford expanded the week and declared February Black History Month. 

This year has been quite an adventure for me as I am homeschooling my five kiddos for the first time. But I have been pretty excited for February. OK, that was an understatement. I have been giddy with excitement for February! I love Black History! Maybe it’s the fact that we finally get fresh stories from our nation’s history. Maybe it’s because I love and appreciate knowing that not everyone who did something worth knowing was an old white man. Maybe it’s because I was blessed as a child to attend schools with strong Black leadership who made Black History Month special. Maybe it’s because I don’t have to worry about standardized tests and benchmarks and my February isn’t bogged down with all of that state-mandated stuff. Whatever the reasons, I am thrilled to celebrate Black History Month with my kids this year in a more focused, intentional way.

And I want to share our book list with you! If you are looking to up your BHM game this year, I hope this list helps. Whether you are homeschooling or not, these books are phenomenal resources you can continue to use within your home, no matter the month. Learning about historical heroes is not relegated to a specific day, month, or even year. We want to raise lifelong learners, so we teach them to love learning all the time.

Here are the books we are reading together this Black History Month. Typically I do separate reading times with my kids because they are in 6th, 6th, 5th, 2nd, and Pre-K. But for February, we will all be reading together, so whatever your kids’ ages, you can adapt these readings to cater to their levels, too. 

Picture Books::

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson 

Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson

Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus

The Unstoppable Garrett Morgan:: Inventor, Entrepreneur, Hero by Joan DiCicco

Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed

Jump at the Sun::The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston by Alicia D. Williams

That is My Dream! by Langston Hughes & Daniel Miyares {a picture book of Langston Hughes’ “Dream Variation,” illustrated by Daniel Miyares}

William Still and His Freedom Stories:: The Father of the Underground Railroad by Don Tate

Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton

Counting on Katherine by Helaine Becker

Hidden Figures:: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

A Weed is a Flower::The Life of George Washington Carver by Aliki

Longer Picture Books::

Heart and Soul:: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson {**If you want to take this beautiful piece of art to a whole new level, get the audiobook, too. Seriously. It is phenomenal.**}

Little Leaders::Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison

Stand Up, Stand Out! 25 Rebel Heroes Who Stood Up for Their Beliefs–And How They Can Inspire You by Kay Woodward

The Fierce 44:: Black Americans Who Shook Up the World by the Staff of The Undefeated

Chapter Books::

Every Tongue Got to Confess:: Negro Folk-tales from the Gulf States by Zora Neale Hurston

Sorrow’s Kitchen:: The Life and Folklore of Zora Neale Hurston by Mary E. Lyons

Mary McLeod Bethune by Malu Halasa 

Who Was George Washington Carver? by Jim Gigliotti

Who Was Frederick Douglass? by April Jones Prince

Who Was Booker T. Washington? by James Buckley, Jr.

So there you have it! I am nerdily excited to incorporate these books with the activities I have planned. I hope my kids will learn to love Black History Month as much as I do.


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Alissa is a wife to her best friend {since 2003} and a grateful mother to four boys {2009, 2009, 2010, 2012) and one girl {2015}. And if you're going to be friends, you should know she has a deep and abiding love of chocolate. She's survived infertility, IVF, two NICUs, cloth diapers, a food allergy, and so much more! In 2017, she officially began writing and publishing children's books and LOVES it! When she's not writing or picking her kids up from school, she'd like to be reading/singing/laughing/napping/traveling/crafting/learning something new. But in reality, she's probably grocery shopping/cleaning something/telling her boys to stop fighting. She lives in Katy, blogs at AliMcJoy.com, and occasionally visits Instagram {@alimcjoy}, and Facebook {@alimcjoy}. She is a big believer in living life--especially mothering--with intentionality. If she's learned anything it's that accidental success is a myth: decisions determine destiny. She will also be the first to tell you she is not even close to perfect, but she's giving life her best shot one jam-packed day at a time.

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