A list of children’s books centered around the rich history of the Black experience authored by people of color from KIPP Wheatley Modules 3 and 4.
Benny Vasquez, KIPP Chief Equity Officer
In 1926, Carter D. Woodson and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) launched “Negro History Week” to amplify the studying of African American history as a discipline and to showcase the accomplishments of African Americans.
At KIPP, we believe that the histories, stories, and voices of Black people should be centered, honored, and uplifted in school curricula daily. We also acknowledge the importance, relevance and origins of Black History Month.
Today, we are still witnessing the absence of Black history and experience in our textbooks, required readings, STEM, and overall curriculum of our educational system. This February, students across the KIPP network will continue their yearlong KIPP Wheatley curriculum of reading, writing, and learning about historical black figures and their contributions to society.
Ensuring the ongoing integration of Black history and experiences throughout all curricula is imperative as educators continue to uplift every student and reinforce that Black Lives Matter 365 days a year.
Below you will find a list of children’s books centered around the rich history of the Black experience authored by people of color from KIPP Wheatley Modules 3 and 4. This list is by no means definitive, but it is intended to be used beyond the scope of this one-month in your classrooms. I encourage you to read one or more of these great stories with your students at some point this year.
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
By Vashti Harrison, illustrated by Vashti Harrison
An important book for all ages, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of 40 trailblazing Black women in American history.
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race
By Margot Lee Shetterly, illustrated by Laura Freeman
Explores the previously uncelebrated but pivotal contributions of NASA’s Black women mathematicians to America’s space program, describing how Jim Crow laws kept them segregated despite their groundbreaking successes.
Mae Among the Stars
By Roda Ahmed, illustrated by Stasia Burrington
A beautiful picture book for sharing, inspired by the life of the first Black woman to travel in space, Mae Jemison. Little Mae’s curiosity, intelligence, and determination, matched with her parents’ encouraging words, paved the way for her incredible success at NASA as the first Black woman to travel in space.
Sojourner Truth’s Step, Stomp, Stride
By Andrea Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney
The story of one of the most unique and courageous women in American history, Sojourner Truth, who worked relentlessly to end slavery and ensure freedom for all.
Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins
By Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue
Freedom on The Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins offers a view of a pivotal moment in civil rights history in North Carolina through the eyes of eight-year-old Connie.
Dear Benjamin Banneker
By Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney
This is the story of Benjamin Banneker—his science, his politics, his morals, and his extraordinary correspondence with Thomas Jefferson. Illustrated in full-page scratchboard and oil paintings by Caldecott Honor artist Brian Pinkney.
Before She Was Harriet
By Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome
We know her today as Harriet Tubman, but in her lifetime she was called by many names. An evocative poem and stunning watercolors come together to honor a woman of humble origins whose courage and compassion make her a larger than life hero.
By Eloise Greenfield, Illustrated by George Ford
A biography of the black man who became a famous singer, actor, and spokesman for equal rights for his people.
Smell of Roses
By Angela Johnson, illustrated by Eric Velásquez
Inspired by countless children and young adults who took a stand, two Coretta Scott King honorees offer a heart-lifting glimpse of children’s roles in the civil rights movement.
By Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Yvonne Buchanan
This fictional story explains Juneteenth, a Texas tradition celebrating the end of slavery through the eyes of a young girl named Cassandra.