Honoring the Past: Books for Black History Month

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Although there’s still much work to do, we are finally seeing a better variety of children’s books centered on African-American history. If you’re looking for reads that are unique and revealing, check out these titles. I’ve met many adult patrons who enjoy and learn a lot from children’s nonfiction, so even if you don’t have a student currently studying African-American history, these titles will educate and inspire readers of all ages!


Answering the Cry for Freedom: Stories of African-Americans and the American Revolution by Gretchen Woelfle ; illustrations by R. Gregory Christie book cover
You might remembering learning about Crispus Atticus and Phillis Wheatley in elementary school, but if that’s the extent of your knowledge of African-American involvement in the Revolutionary War, don’t miss Answering the Cry for Freedom: Stories of African Americans and the Revolution. Richard Allen (founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church), Agrippa Hill (served for six years in the Revolutionary War), and many other fascinating lives are explored.

Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went From the Football Field to the Art Gallery has been one of our more popular new biographies. Ernie Barnes was an ardent artist when he was a child, but the football field beckoned. When his football career ended, he went back to his first passion–and influenced many artists along the way. This is on my to-be-read list; sounds like a fascinating read!

I am so excited that there’s a picture book biography of the amazing NASA mathematicians profiled in the Hidden Figures movie (which was based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly, who also authored the young readers’ edition and this picture book biography). Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race will be a great introduction for readers not ready for the young readers’ edition.

When the weather turns warmer, I’m planning a weekend trip to DC to visit several museums that have opened in the last few years; hopefully, the National Museum of African American History and Culture will be one of them. How to Build a Museum: Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History is an enriching and detailed look at the long process of creating the museum, as well as its many treasures.

Finally, Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History burned up the New York Times Bestseller list when it was released, so it’s no wonder that our copies were immediately snatched up when they arrived. An exciting array of personalities such as Harriet Tubman, Mahalia Jackson, Mae Jemison, Oprah Winfrey, and more are profiled.

For program highlights and staff suggestions for children and young adult readers, make Kiddosphere your source for all the latest on what to read and what to do for kids!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

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