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This Black History Month we are highlighting resources that you can add to your classroom libraries that include resources to help you highlighting books by Black authors. Teachers know: Students thrive when they can see themselves in their learning materials. Libraries come to life when the shelves are filled with diverse stories, characters and authors.

Black students especially deserve to see themselves in stories beyond those of suffering; stories by and about Black folks filled with joy, love, and magic are essential for every classroom.

Books for Elementary School Students

Stuntboy, in the Meantime,* by Jason Reynolds: For fans of Jason Reynold’s 2017 Long Way Down, check out his 2021 release: Stuntboy – In the Meantime. This entertaining, action-packed graphic novel introduces middle-grade readers to Portico Reeves (aka Stuntboy), a Black fourth grader and superhero. This story follows Portico as he navigates bullying and family troubles, all while addressing big and important feelings of worry, anxiety, and fear in positive ways.

Hair Love,* by Matthew A. Cherry: Hair Love tells the story of a Black father who jumps in to style his daughters hair when her mom is away. This heartwarming depiction of a father-daughter relationship was also turned into a seven-minute animated film.

Skin Like Mine, by Latisha M. Perry: Skin Like Mine celebrates the beauty of diverse skin tones. Already love Skin Like Mine? Check out another Latisha M. Perry teacher favorite from the Kids Like Mine series, Hair Like Mine.

Alvin Ailey, by Andrea Davis Pinkney: Alvin Ailey broke ground when he founded a Black modern dance company in 1958. This illustrated children’s book shows off Ailey’s childhood, choreography, and founding of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. 

Last Stop on Market Street,* by Matt de la Peña: This beautifully-illustrated book tells the story of a young boy and his grandmother’s bus ride, showcasing the beauty and wonder in everyday life. (Newberry and Caldecott Winner)

The Snowy Day,* by Ezra Jack Keats: A classic, this book captures the adventures of a young boy named Peter as he explores his neighborhood after the first snowfall. (Caldecott Winner)

Sulwe,* by Lupita Nyong’o: Written by the Academy Award-winning actress, this story focuses on a young girl who learns to embrace and love her dark skin. (Corretta Scott King Book Winner)

I Am Enough, by Grace Byers: A lyrical ode to self-confidence and kindness, perfect for encouraging young children to love themselves just as they are. (New York Times bestseller)

Let the Children March,* by Monica Clark-Robinson: This book tells the story of the Children’s Crusade in 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, in a way that’s accessible for young readers. (Corretta Scott King Book Winner)

The King of Kindergarten,* by Derrick Barnes: This joyful book follows a young boy’s first day of kindergarten, emphasizing confidence and positivity.

Whistle for Willie, by Ezra Jack Keats: Another classic by Keats, this book depicts a young boy’s desire to learn how to whistle for his dog.

Lola at the Library,* by Anna McQuinn: Lola at the Library features a young girl named Lola who loves Tuesdays because it’s the day she and her mother go to the library.

I Love My Hair! by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley: This book celebrates African American people’s hair and the bond between a daughter and her mother.

Books for Middle School Students & Young Adults

Opposite of Always, by Justin A. Reynolds: This debut author delivers a hilarious and heartfelt novel about the choices we make, the people we choose, and the moments that make a life worth reliving.

The Dividing Sky, by Jill Tew: Serpent & Dove meets Arcane in this dystopian romance debut that follows a cunning memory merchant who deals a little extra happiness on the side and the handsome rookie officer on her tail.

Fake ID,* by Lamar Giles: This book is a mystery/thriller novel where the narrator and main character is Nick Pearson, a 15-year-old who has just moved to Stepton, Virginia, becoming a Black student in a predominantly white setting. 

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky,* by Kwame Mbalia: Chicago seventh grader Tristan Strong travels to Alke, where African American folk characters are gods. (Corretta Scott King Book Winner) 

When I Was the Greatest When I Was the Greatest,* by Jason Reynolds: From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds, a humorous coming-of-age novel about friendship and loyalty across neighborhood lines and the hardship of life for an urban teen.

A la Carte, by Tanita S. Davis: Lainey, the only daughter of a California restaurateur, has only one ambition: She dreams of becoming the African American, vegetarian restauranter.

The Season of Styx Malone,* by Kekla Magoon: Two brothers embark on a journey of friendship, loyalty and even some miracles may happen. (Corretta Scott King Book Winner)

Ransoming The Captive, by Traci Jones: Jazz goes on a journey of self-forgiveness after an unfortunate accident with her best friend.

Creeping With the Enemy, by Kimberly Reid: Chanti is the girl at a new school looking to uncover an investigation from skills she’s learned from her mom.

Shadows of Sherwood,* by Kekla Magoon: Kicking off a new series with an unforgettable heroine, readers will be treated to feats of courage and daring deeds as Robyn and her band find their way in this cruel, new world.

Books for High School Students

Concrete Rose,* by Angie Thomas: Looking for a book like The Hate U Give? Angie Thomas’s new novel Concrete Rose revisits the same neighborhood 17 years prior, exploring Black boyhood and manhood through the story of 17-year-old Maverick Carter. 

Punching the Air,* by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam: Co-written by award-winning novelist Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam of The Exonerated Five, Punching the Air is a young adult novel written in verse about a wrongfully incarcerated boy.

The Weary Blues,* by Langston Hughes: Truly no library is complete without Langston Hughes. Written in 1925, The Weary Blues is a seminal work of the Harlem Renaissance, and Hughes’s first collection of poetry still resonates today.

Between the World and Me,* by Ta-Nehisi Coates: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s 2015 nonfiction bestseller weaves personal narrative and history and is written as a letter to his teenage son. Inspired by the writing of James Baldwin, Coates interrogates the “racist violence that has been woven into American culture.”

“Ta-Nehisi Coates makes these real world struggles personal and engaging. What started as a letter to his son, now has grown into a memoir and meditation for all teenagers and adults to understand what others go through.” —Mr. Steinman, Between the World and the Heights

The Nickel Boys* (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction), by Colson Whitehead: Winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, The Nickel Boys follows the story of two boys unjustly sent to a reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.

“The Nickel Boys promises to be a novel that inspires engaged discussion, thoughtful reflection, and even some soul-searching in the high school classroom. To move forward as a diverse country requires us to examine some of the tragedies of our disparate paths. This book provides the opportunity for readers to do just that.” —Ms. Furlong, A New and Necessary Novel: Colson Whitehead in the Classroom

Do the Work: An Antiracist Activity Book,* by W. Kamau Bell and Kate Schatz: Are you looking for new conversation starters and tools to discuss racial injustice in your classroom? This interactive workbook, co-written by DonorsChoose Board Member W. Kamau Bell, challenges readers to think critically and do the work.

Just Mercy,* by Bryan Stevenson (adapted for young adults): A true story of the fight for justice, by a lawyer and activist, depicts his experience as a young lawyer defending wrongfully incriminated clients in the South.

Parable of the Sower,* by Octavia Butler: Racial justice and environmental science combine in this novel featuring a 15-year-old Black girl who builds a powerful cohort of young leaders to fight for survival and discover a new vision for humanity.

Children of Blood and Bone,* by Tomi Adeyemi: This 2018 fantasy novel and New York Times Bestseller by Nigerian American novelist Tomi Adeyemi has become a fast classic. First in the Legacy of Orisha series, Children of Blood and Bone incorporates Adeyemi’s West African heritage in a story of fighting injustice and discrimination.

See Other Book Lists by IDRA

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