Books by Theme

Celebration and Remembrance: Children’s Books About Black Lives

This collection includes a comic-book re-telling of real Wild West characters, plus picture book biographies of a young boy who shipped himself to freedom during the Civil War, a teenage Civil Right activist, a trailblazing pilot, a brilliant writer — and a sensitive but honest retelling of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. You'll also meet Kenny in a picture book about the pleasures of everyday activities, and Milo, who realizes on a subway ride to visit his Mom that you can't really know anyone just by looking at them.

Black Heroes of the Wild West

By: James Otis Smith
Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Meet colorful characters of the Wild West including a cigar-chewing stagecoach driver named Mary as well as other formerly enslaved people. The comic book format provides a brief but factual introduction to the period, to spark young readers' interest in learning more about lesser known people of the Old West.

Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom

By: Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by: Michele Wood
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Henry Brown’s unique method to escape from slavery is presented in lyrical language and rich, multi-layered mixed media illustration. A box took Henry from slavery to freedom after his entire family had been “sold south.” Further resources are included.

Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston

By: Alicia D. Williams
Illustrated by: Jacqueline Alcantara
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The author first “met” Zora Neale Hurston in college intrigued by a friend’s delight in Hurston’s stories. With equal delight, Hurston's life and “storycatching” comes to life through an informal telling echoed in animated illustrations worth multiple examinations.

Milo Imagines the World

By: Matt de la Peña
Illustrated by: Christian Robinson
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

As Milo and his sister travel by subway, Milo imagines the lives of other passengers. When they arrive at their destination, the prison where their mother is incarcerated, Milo is forced to rethink his assumptions. Tenderly told and lovingly illustrated, this is sure to have broad appeal.

She Persisted: Claudette Colvin

By: Lesa Cline-Ransome
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

She was named after a white actress of the time, but this young Black girl’s life took a very different path. Claudette Colvin became a 15-year-old activist who refused to give up a bus seat to a white woman — before Rosa Parks. This early chapter biography makes a difficult and complex time and life accessible to younger readers. Look for additional titles in this thoroughly researched, well conceived, and thoughtfully presented series.

Sprouting Wings: The True Story of James Herman Banning, the First African American Pilot to Fly Across the United States

By: Louise Jaggar, Shari Becker
Illustrated by: Floyd Cooper
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Extensive research about a previously unknown African American aviator whose story of perseverance and desire to fly resulted in a handsome, well told biography. Banning crossed the country gaining support and respect along the way. Extensive back matter is included.

Time for Kenny

By: Brian Pinkney
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Young readers will recognize Kenny’s everyday routines and his playful family, from trying on Daddy’s shirt to playing soccer with his sister, resisting bedtime to snuggling down with a book and mom. Swirling illustrations depict the activity which is accompanied by straightforward narration.

Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre

By: Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by: Floyd Cooper
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Tulsa, Oklahoma, once housed an area called Black Wall Street. Successful African Americans owned and operated business in Greenwood, a section of the city. Without downplaying the horror, author and illustrator combine talents to present this brutal historical event in words and image. Additional resources are included.

Proceeds from the sale of books purchased at Amazon.com help support the Reading Rockets project. Thank you!

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