Saturday, February 2, 2019

My favorite children's books for Black History Month

February... Black History Month! We've never really done anything about it in the past so I'm excited to make it a part of our homeschool history lessons this month!

American Girl’s Addy series- This was my very favorite girl in the American Girl series growing up. My mom helped me make Addy’s doll, Ida Bean, which won me a ticket to my school library’s American Girl tea party. It was my first true glimpse into the horror that was slavery and the fearful courage that had to go with escaping… not to mention the realization that securing freedom did not suddenly make everything okay. I recently re-read the series because I’m always trying to grow my list of books I know I’m for sure okay with my kids reading. I admit it’s of course heavy subject matter but I still think it’s a wonderful series and I’m very grateful to have all six books for my own girls to read when they’re ready. The series is no longer in print but you can find it used and can usually find it through the library, too.

Heroes in Black History: True Stories in the Lives of Christian Heroes- I read this one on my own and really liked it. It’s been a while since I read it but Ben Carson’s story in particular still resonates with me.

I Have a Dream- This biography, written for I think the fifth-ish-grade crowd, is so well-done! There were quite a few pictures included but the writing was good and the information shared was perfect for the age group. MLK is quite the inspiration, isn’t he?

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom- This book! We have borrowed this one from the library quite a few times and it always sparks some really awesome discussion. I also love how well it translates her faith into the entire story. If you’re going to talk at all about Harriet Tubman, this one just cannot be missed! 

Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry- This one comes with the disclaimer that my beloved The Good and the Beautiful strongly recommends against this book so parents will want to check this one out for themselves first and decide on their own. The subject matter is heavy but the Logan family is filled with rich characters that still stick with me after all these years (I read it with my class in fifth or sixth grade) and I remember nearly the whole classroom crying at one point, so moved by the story.

Stella by Starlight- I read this one last year and really liked it, about a young girl named Stella accidentally discovering a secret KKK meeting, and all that transpires because of it. This one was probably best for fifth or sixth graders but would also make a great read-aloud.

You Should Meet: Katherine Johnson- I admittedly hadn’t heard of Katherine Johnson (a seriously brilliant mind for NASA in the 50s) before this book but this woman was amazing!

You Should Meet: Misty Copeland- I definitely knew about Misty Copeland from my dance days so when ballerina-obsessed B chose this as her prize from a recent library event, we came home and read it together right away.

And, if you’re not necessarily ready to talk about black history but are interested in adding a little color to your regular picture book repertoire, a few of our favorite books that feature black characters: 

God, I Know You’re There*- This is a sweet, simple board book. Its rhymes are well-done and its message is powerful, yet written in a simple way that will resonate with children everywhere. The premise is that we know the wind is there even though we can’t see it, that the stars and the sun are there even though we can’t touch them, and that God is there too. The illustrations (which feature a blonde girl, a red-haired girl, a black-haired girl, a Hispanic boy, and an African-American girl) are very pretty and one of my children has asked to look at it on her own and have it read to her every day since the day we got it.

Lola series- We haven’t read the entire Lola series but we’ve read a few different books from this sweet, simple series. I especially like that her family members are all nice to each other. 

When God Made You/ When God Made Light- Both of these books, by Matthew Paul Turner, have gotten longer reviews on the blog in the past. I really like the messages of both books but my children especially love the illustrations. 

The Snowy Day/Peter’s Chair- I’m sure you’ve read The Snowy Day (I recently heard an interview or something about this book and didn’t realize it was actually a really big deal when it came out that the main character was black) but it’s a definite favorite around here. We always read it after the first big snow of the season and then we read it all winter long… and sometimes in the summer, too. =]    Peter’s Chair, also by Ezra Jack Keats, is newer to us. We just read it for the first time last month!

On my radar this month:

Brave Ballerina- B turns four in a few days and this ballerina book (about Janet Colllins) is one of the books she asked for as a birthday gift.
Brown Girl Dreaming- I’m extremely interested in this book and have been for a while… but it’s written in verse which is always something I shy away from. I’m trying it out this month any ways!
Heart and Soul: the story of America and African Americans- I requested this one from the library but I could see it being a bit too heavy for my little ones so I’ll have to check it out first.

*I received a free copy of God, I Know You’re There from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for my completely honest review.


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