Books to Read During Black History Month and Beyond

Posted on January 30, 2019

by April S

Black History Month

Black History Month (known officially in the United States as African American History Month) is celebrated annually in February, paying tribute to the generations of African-Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.

Historian Carter G. Woodson created Negro History Week, which was first celebrated in February 1926, during the week that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. In 1976, the celebration was expanded to encompass the entire month of February by President Gerald R. Ford and since then every American president has issued African American History Month proclamations.

Learn More About African-American History

Library of Congress
The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.

National Museum of African American History and Culture
The only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans.

National Archives
A wealth of material documenting the African American experience, paying tribute to the struggles and achievements of the people and events that have shaped our nation.

Resources for teachers, parents and caregivers for children grades 1-8.

Reading Rockets
Authors, books, activities, videos, history guides and additional resources.

Black History Month Read-In & Programs


February is Black History Month, and we’re celebrating in part with a read-in (and many other great programs)! Read, listen or watch ANY title from ANY African-American author and add your name to the banner at your favorite branch.

Feb. 1 – 28 | All branches | All ages

Reading Recommendations

Fiction Books for Adults

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Kindred by Octavia Butler
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin

Nonfiction Books for Adults

Chasing light : Michelle Obama through the lens of a White House photographer / Amanda Lucidon
Voyage of the Sable Venus : and other poems / Robin Coste Lewis
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Ordinary Light: A Memoir by Tracy K. Smith
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks / Rebecca Skloot
Just Mercy : A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Lighting the fires of freedom : African American women in the civil rights movement / Janet Dewart Bell
The Warmth of other suns : the epic story of America's great migration / Isabel Wilkerson

Looking for More Great Books to Read?

42 Amazing Books Written by Black Authors

22 Award-Winning Books by Black Authors

100 Must-Read African-American Books

Books for Teens

Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
American Street by Ibi Zoboi
X : a novel / Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon
For Everyone by Jason Reynolds
The Skin I'm In by Sharon G. Flake
Pride by Ibi Zoboi
Piecing me together / Renee Watson
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Dreamland burning / Jennifer Latham
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

Looking for More Great Books to Read?

21 YA Books to Read for Black History Month

Fantastic YA Books by Black Authors

Books for Children

Picture Books

The Great Migration : journey to the North / by Eloise Greenfield
Harlem's little blackbird / Renée Watson
Emmanuel's dream : the true story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah / by Laurie Ann Thompson
Poet : the remarkable story of George Moses Horton / Don Tate
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe
Voice of Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford
Heart and soul : the story of America and African Americans / words and paintings by Kadir Nelson
Gordon Parks : how the photographer captured black and white America / Carole Boston Weatherford
The youngest marcher : the story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a young civil rights activist / Cynthia Levinson

Juvenile Fiction

A sky full of stars / Linda Williams Jackson
Roll of thunder, hear my cry / Mildred D. Taylor
The Watsons go to Birmingham-- 1963 / by Christopher Paul Curtis
Clayton Byrd goes underground / Rita Williams-Garcia ; illustrations by Frank Morrison
The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Parker inheritance / Varian Johnson
The stars beneath our feet / David Barclay Moore
As brave as you / Jason Reynolds
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Looking for More Great Books to Read?

Favorite Books for Black History Month

17 Must-Read Picture Books to Celebrate Black History Month

100 Best Children’s Books for African American History Month

Related Toledo Library Blog Posts

Plays by African-American Playwrights

Celebrating African American Poetry and Poets

Black History Storytime

10 Influential Songs to Celebrate Black History Month

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