If you think back to your favorite books from your childhood, which titles come to mind? What is it in those particular books that resonated so deeply with you? For many young readers, being able to see themselves reflected in the main characters strikes a deep chord. Reading books with accurate representations of students’ own cultures can contribute to self-worth within students, while allowing them to connect with themselves and their culture on a deeper level.
“He loved his brother. His job was to protect him. Protecting him was as built into him as dribbling down the court for a layup.”
- Best friends Simp and Rollie navigate the pressures of basketball, middle school, and the complications of being caught up in the local drug ring.
- A story about the complex friendship of two lives going down different paths.
“There’s always hope, but that doesn’t mean it’s enough to make change.”
- What is Zoe supposed to say to her father who’s been in prison? A crime he says he never committed.
- A book about questioning assumptions and searching for truth, even in the face of opposition – reading guide also available!
“Change is hard. But that doesn’t mean we stop, right?”
- Shay is allergic to trouble, but after going to a Black Lives Matter protest, she learns some rules are worth breaking.
- A big-hearted story about friendship, family, and standing up for what’s right – teaching guide also available!
“You don’t have to like everyone, but you don’t have to be a jerk about it, either.”
- Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his grade—can he learn to navigate his new school without losing himself?
- An honest graphic novel about fitting in and stay true to yourself – teaching guide also available!
“We all have our la-la-la song. The thing we do when the world isn’t singing a nice tune to us. We sing our own nice tune to drown out ugly.”
- It’s the 1960s and three sisters spend their summer at a day camp run by the Black Panthers and with the mother who abandoned them.
- A vibrant classic story about an unexpected, but rewarding, summer of family bonding and learning about your country and yourself.
“A surge of hope lifted her spirits…Eventually things would get better. They had to.”
- When best friends Tai and Mila are reunited after their first summer apart, will secrets tear them apart?
- A forceful story about the pressure of secrets and the importance of speaking up.
“Life is all about timing.”
- All eyes are on Thelonius and his pals when a gun is found in the neighborhood—and now they must prove their innocence.
- A witty novel addressing tough topics with honesty!
“Naomi, meet…” “NAOMI!!”
- A realistic contemporary story of two girls whose divorced parents begin to date.
- A relatable story about two kids joining forces to find new ways to define family!
“It’s one of those moments when there’s so much to say that I don’t say anything. Like how the principal made me take the Gifted test again because she didn’t believe I could have “come by that score honestly.” Or how in fourth grade Michael Tillerson asked me why I had a “normal” name like Naomi instead of a “Black” one.”
- Naomi Marie is excited about making new friends—but she wants to keep old ones too. And when she sees that some in the school community have a hard time with the realities of “diversity in action,” she wonders if the new members of her family can see those realities as well.
- A heartfelt, sweet, social justice-themed ode to blended and unconventional families.
“Most people found it hard to believe that we could be so different, especially since we looked so much alike.”
- From actresses Tia and Tamera Mowry comes the story of tween twins Cassie and Caitlyn and their discovery that they have the ability to see things before they occur!
- A popular series about the magic of sisterhood and the ups and downs of working together.
“I’m only wearing five braids to school today. I usually wear nine because that’s how old I am.”
- Meet Mya, a hilarious and spunky new heroine in the vein of the heroines of such beloved books as Ramona the Pest, Ivy and Bean, and Clementine, from acclaimed author Crystal Allen!
- Teaching guide also available
“His lungs and soul were ready to pour out his own story through the ten square holes of his blues harp.”
- From beloved Newbery Honor winner and three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner Rita Williams-Garcia.
- A powerful and heartfelt novel about loss, family, and love – teaching guide also available!
“I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person now I was free.”
- An award-winning, gripping and accessible portrait of the heroic woman who guided more than 300 slaves to freedom!
- Features a cover by NAACP Image Award winner and Caldecott Honor illustrator Kadir Nelson, plus a foreword by National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds.
“Blacks have participated in all of America’s battles.”
- At a time of widespread bigotry and racism, the African American soldiers of the 369th Infantry Regiment put their lives on the line in the name of democracy.
- Teaching guide also available!
“The day’s events would change her life—and, as it turned out, the path that history has taken.”
- In 1854, a young African American woman named Elizabeth Jennings won a major victory against a New York City streetcar company, a first step in the process of desegregating public transportation in Manhattan.
- Bestselling author and journalist Amy Hill Hearth uncovers the story of a little-known figure in U.S. history in this fascinating biography!
“Walking into an unfamiliar environment wasn’t easy for the women of the new West Area Computing Office, but each of them was eager for the opportunity to help their country and prove that they, too, could be excellent mathematicians.”
- The powerful story of four African-American female mathematicians at NASA who helped achieve some of the greatest moments in our space program.
- An uplifting, amazing true story—and a New York Times bestseller!
“And if I didn’t have that dream to chase, what did I have at all?”
- Meet Leland Melvin, a football star, NASA astronaut, and professional dream chaser!
- An inspirational memoir that also includes do-it-yourself experiments in the back of the book and sixteen pages of striking full-color photographs.
“When you start looking like a little lady, people might start treating you like a woman.”
- For every tween girl wondering about her changing body and changing brain, this funny and highly illustrated guide is the answer
- Packed with advice about everything from periods to bras to body hair—PLUS tips on how to deal with crushes, new emotions, and all the chaos in between!
Strong Voices: Fifteen American Speeches Worth Knowing by Tonya Bolden, illustrated by Eric Velasquez
“A golden celebration of the multicultural voices who demand the U.S.—and the world—do better.” —KIRKUS
- A collection of significant speeches, made both by those who held the reins of power and those who didn’t, at significant times in American history.
- Read the original words—sometimes abridged and sometimes in their entirety—that have shaped our cultural fabric, plus don’t miss the discussion guide!
“From the sixteenth century forward, blood flowed in battles of racial supremacy.” —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Award-winning author Kathleen Krull takes an in-depth historical look at immigration in America—with remarkable stories of some of the immigrants who helped build this country.
- A go-to resource for every child, teacher, and librarian discussing the complex history of immigration.
For even more recommendations and resources, check out these lists:
- Spotlight on Black Authors and Characters: Books for Ages 0-8
- Don’t Judge a Book By Its Color
- 57 Children’s Books Featuring Black Protagonists
- Powerful Picture Books Teaching Children About African American History
- Remember Reading Podcast: Monster by Walter Dean Myers
- For Girls Who Are “Too Much”: The True Story of Althea Gibson
- 20 YA Books You Need to Read—Especially During Black History Month
- 14 Incredible Books to Read When You Need a Dose of Black Girl Magic
- 17 New YA Books by Black Authors to Support—Now and Always