8 Monumental Children’s Books to Help Your Family Celebrate Black History Month

“Fearless Mary: The True Adventures of Mary Fields, American Stagecoach Driver”, by Tami Charles. (Albert Whitman & Company)

Estimated reading time: 6-7 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — With just a few days left in Black History Month, I’m excited to share my picture book finds to help celebrate this important time of year.

According to the United States Census Bureau, only 1.5% of Utahns are black. As a mom from Utah, I feel it’s my duty to teach my kids about black history through amazing children’s books like these, especially because they don’t have maybe not the opportunity here in Beehive State to learn from many black people themselves.

I want my kids to learn the rich history of amazing heroes like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Harriett Tubman and many more.

Although racism is still devastatingly prevalent in our world today, I hope the rising generation will make progress as they become more educated and more compassionate. If you’re a parent with similar goals, check out these eight awesome books.

It is fitting to start our list with this engaging and informative book. book on Carter G. Woodsonknown as the “Father of Black History”.

Woodson was born a decade after the end of the civil war of two former slaves. Although he was not born into slavery, his life was filled with major challenges and he had to work very hard for the opportunities he yearned for, such as education. He couldn’t start high school until he was 20, but his education flourished teaching illiterate men what they aspired to learn by reading the newspaper to them.

Woodson was then challenged by his college professor at Harvard, who claimed black people had no history, to find their history. As you will learn after reading this book, he went above and beyond to accomplish this task and brought us today what we call Black History Month.

"Carter reads the newspaper," by Deborah Hopkinson.
“Carter Reads the Newspaper”, by Deborah Hopkinson. (Photo: Peachtree Publishers)

The story of Wilma Rudolph is inspiring to say the least. Born weighing just over 4 pounds, Wilma was a sickly baby who grew into a sickly child. She was diagnosed with poliomyelitis as a young girl and no one would have ever thought she would walk again. Little did they know her courage and determination would send her to the 1960 Olympics in Rome where she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in a single Olympics. His sport ? Functioning.

This beautifully illustrated book will have you clapping Wilma on every page.

"Wilma Unlimited: how Wilma Rudolph became the fastest woman in the world," by Kathleen Krull.
“Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph became the fastest woman alive”, by Kathleen Krull. (Photo: Clarion Books)

Patricia E. Bath not only had to defend herself as a black person, but also as a woman. At a time when not all high schools near her were admitting black students and most doctors were male, Patricia knew she had as much to offer in the medical world as any white male. practicing medicine. She endeavored to launch an ophthalmologist training program and to invent a new device and new technique for cataract surgery.

The story of Bath is told in rhyme and is fun for young and old readers.

'The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr Patricia Bath,' by Julia Finley Mosca.
‘The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr Patricia Bath,’ by Julia Finley Mosca. (Photo: Innovation Press)

In 1895, a former slave named Mary Fields was trying to figure out how to support herself by living well in the Wild West. Of course, being both black and female, it wasn’t easy. Fields learned of a vacancy—stagecoach driver—that would help him earn a lot of money. But it was dangerous work, and one that a black woman in the 1800s was unlikely to get at all.

However, the self-proclaimed “fearless” Mary proved worthy of the job amid dozens of cowboys competing against her. To this day, she is remembered in her hometown of Montana.

"Fearless Mary: The True Adventures of Mary Fields, American Stagecoach Driver," by Tami Charles.
“Fearless Mary: The True Adventures of Mary Fields, American Stagecoach Driver”, by Tami Charles. (Photo: Albert Whitman & Company)

When a little girl named Marcie is waiting for her school bus one day in February, a different bus arrives in her place. Marcie gets along anyway. This bus, which she soon discovers is a talking bus, begins to educate Marcie about the life of Rosa Parks, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the civil rights movement.

For the reader, some parts of the story will be familiar and others may be new. Either way, it’s an iinspiring and educational story.

"If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks," by Faith Ringgold.
“If a Bus Could Talk: The Rosa Parks Story”, by Faith Ringgold. (Photo: Aladdin)

This fun historical fiction follows a family celebrating the recently established law that all black marriages could be legally recognized.

Ellen and her family go to the courthouse where her parents are going to formalize their marriage. With them they bring the broom over which the couple once jumped to establish their marriage in the only possible way. Although their future is brighter, this story highlights the importance of remembering the past.

“Ellen’s Broom”, by Kelly Starling Lyons, (Photo: GP Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers)

This book is all kinds of well-being.

Mary Walker was born a slave. Even after the Emancipation Proclamation declared his freedom, his life was far from privileged. She worked far too hard for very little money and had almost nothing to show for herself. One day, an evangelical woman gave him a Bible and told him that his civil rights were written in this book. Mary didn’t know what civil rights were or how to read the words in the book given to her, but she swore that one day she would learn to read.

The years have passed. A husband died, then another. Eventually, his three sons also died. At 114, Mary still could not read. But one day, with her head held high, she took a reading class and never looked back. For her, reading was synonymous with freedom.

"The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read," by Rita Lorraine Hubbard.
“The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read”, by Rita Lorraine Hubbard. (Photo: Schwartz & Wade)

“Hungry for food, even hungrier for words, Gwendolyn kept writing”; youhis history follows young poet Gwendolyn Brooks as she falls in love with poetry as a little girl, hones her talent, and becomes the first African-American to win a Pulitzer Prize. The years between Gwendolyn’s introduction to poetry and the Pulitzer were full of prejudice, struggles to pay the bills, and starvation during the Great Depression. But, as the story goes, “Gwendolyn kept writing.”

"Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks," by Suzanne Slade.
“Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks”, by Suzanne Slade. (Photo: Schwartz & Wade)

About the Author: Megan Christensen

Megan Christensen is an avid reader, writer and language snob. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications with a major in journalism from Brigham Young University-Idaho. Megan is passionate about sharing inspiring stories in Utah, where she lives with her husband and two children. To read more of her articles, visit Megan’s author page on KSL.com.

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