Celebrate Black History Month in Your School Library with These Children’s and Young Adult Books
This month, we’re honoring Black History Month by highlighting both non-fiction and fiction titles from award-winning Black authors. From romance novels and personal memoirs to non-fiction and picture books by award-winning illustrators, these noteworthy book selections range from elementary through high-school reading levels and all make for excellent additions to your school library, offering up a good read any time of year, and a little something for everyone.
Book Selections for Elementary School Librarians
By Tricia Elam Walker, Illustrated by April Harrison
Highly awarded author Tricia Elam Walker tells a precious tale of a granddaughter and her nana on grandparents day in Nana Akua Goes to School, highlighting the importance of family, community, and what makes each of us unique and special. Nana Akua Goes to School is illustrated with full-color mixed-media collages and is a wonderful addition to any school library.
By Mathew Cherry, Illustrated by Vashti Harrison
Originally an animated short film (winner of the 2020 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film) Hair Love is a New York Times Bestseller that promotes the love of natural hair and the bond between fathers and daughters.
Written by award-winning director Mathew Cherry and Illustrated by award-winning illustrator Vashti Harrison, this picture book can be found in our Primary Spanish collection and is a perfect selection for K-3 students whose first language is Spanish, as well as for students who are learning the language.
By Ibi Zoboi, Illustrated by Loveis Wise
The People Remember is a picture book for older readers and 2022 Coretta Scott King Author Book Award - Honor Book that takes readers on the journey of African descendants in America by connecting their history to the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Not only does The People Remember tell a story of survival, but it also highlights the moments of joy, celebration, and innovation of Black people in America.
Book Selections for Middle School Librarians
Edited by Kwame Mbalia
Black Boy Joy is a must-have anthology for school librarians to add to their collection. Edited by the New York Times Best Selling and award-winning author Kwame Mbalia (the Tristan Strong series), this collection of 17 short stories, comics, and poems by best-selling and critically acclaimed authors detail the joys and wonder of Black boyhood.
Librarians can find Black Boy Joy in JLG’s Advanced Readers Plus category and is an especially good choice for high interest/reluctant readers, struggling readers, and students in grades 6-9.
By J.P Miller
Looking for a non-fiction title to add to your collection? If so, consider Amazing Artists which is part of a series of non-fiction books titled Black Stories Matter. Written by author J.P Miller, her stories are perfect for educators and students alike.
In Amazing Artists, Black artists who have broken barriers in literature and the performing and visual arts are celebrated for their achievements, including jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, rapper Common, artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, writer Toni Morrison and more. This title can be found in the JLG category Series Nonfiction History Grades 6-8.
By G. Neri, Illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson
Need a good high interest, age-appropriate novel to appeal to your middle-school readers? Consider Polo Cowboy, a novel by Coretta Scott King honor-winning author G. Neri, who describes his writing as “teen fiction for the real world.”
His novel Polo Cowboy is the anticipated sequel to Ghetto Cowboy and is a sports story inspired by Philadelphia’s real-life urban cowboys and polo players. This title can be found in our High Interest Middle Plus category, suitable for grades 5-8.
Book Selections for High School Librarians
Blackout is a teen romance novel. Written by six bestselling and award-winning authors during the height of the pandemic, the novel intertwines six different love stories that take place during a New York City heatwave.
Blackout was awarded top ten for the 2022 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults and is found in JLG’s Young Adul’s category, suitable for older teen readers looking for more mature content.
By Kwame Onwuachi
Do you have any students who are aspiring chefs? Direct them to this memoir, adapted for young adults. Author Kwame Onwuachi has been recognized by Food & Wine magazine, Esquire magazine, and the James Beard Foundation as "Rising Star Chef of the year" and takes readers on his personal journey to culinary stardom.
From starting his own catering company with spare change to training in the kitchens of the most acclaimed restaurants in the country, Notes from a Young Black Chef is a true story, sure to inspire any reader to follow their passions.
Notes from a Young Black Chef can be found in our Nonfiction High Plus category.
By Tanita S. Davis
Looking for the best of both worlds with historical fiction? You won’t want to pass up Mare’s War, a highly-awarded book by author Tanita S. Davis, who is also the author of titles such as Partly Cloudy. Mare’s War has received awards such as the 2010 Coretta Scott King Honor Book; ALA Best Books for Young Adults 2010; Amelia Bloomer List 2010; NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2010, History/Life & Culture in the Americas.
The story is a tale of two grandchildren (Tali and Octavia) who are forced to go on a road trip to attend a family reunion in Alabama with their grandma Mare. In the end, the girls learn their family history and a lot about themselves.
Mare’s War is the perfect addition to your high school’s realistic fiction collection and can be found in JLG’s History High category.