February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate the achievements of African Americans and their contributions to our nation. It’s so important for our children to join this celebration and understand the struggles and adversity people of African descent had to conquer in order to achieve these successes. A great way to do this is by reading age-appropriate books with them that teach them about African American history, the trailblazers that paved the way and the important subjects that we should all continue to learn from.
The following books, found in our Caribu library, can be a wonderful resource for teaching our kids about the importance of Black History Month. Books that explore challenges and triumphs of race, inclusion, and diversity. From the story of Harriet Tubman who saved herself and many others from slavery, Elizabeth Jennings who challenged racist streetcar policies in New York City, Guion Bluford realizing his lifelong dream when becoming the first African American astronaut in space, to Dr. King’s nonviolent civil rights movement in the late 1950’s and ‘60s, reading these books together will surely leave you all feeling very inspired.
Schedule Caribu video-calls throughout the month to read them all!
Who Will Be Dr. King
By the end of this beautiful picture book, you’ll have reviewed the key achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King’s life, from his role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, his memorable speech in Washington, DC in 1963 to his desire for a world where all people are treated fairly and equally. Written from the perspective of kids in a classroom setting, this is one that will surely get your children excited to learn more about Black History.
Rising Above Slavery
Fearing that she’d soon be sold into slavery and separated from her family, Harriett Tubman decided to take matters into her own hands and run away. Running through rivers, swamps, and forests, and thanks to the help of kind people along the way, she made it to the free state of Pennsylvania. Having tasted freedom, she knew she wanted the same for her family and many others, and proceeded to risk everything, again and again, to lead 130 people to freedom. Harriett Tubman’s resolve, courage, and bravery eventually helped save more than 700 people from slavery. Read this book with the kids to learn more about why Harriet has been proclaimed a great American hero.
Freedom For All – The Life Story of Sojourner Truth
Born into slavery, Isabella grew up doing hard labor and working long hours for no pay. She was sold to two different families and after being a slave for thirty years, already with a family of her own, she decided to run away with her youngest child. Finally free, Isabella wanted to do something good with her life, and there was nothing she wanted more than to help to end slavery. Changing her name to Sojourner Truth, which means “to travel and tell the truth”, Sojourner traveled throughout the North and Midwest sharing her story to large crowds. Reading about this strong and powerful woman will no doubt leave both you and your child in awe.
Helping Others – The Story of Fanny Jackson Coppin
Though she was born a slave, Fanny had big dreams. Thanks to her aunt, who bought her freedom, Fanny was able to start anew. Learn how Fanny’s drive, curiosity, and desire to help others, who just like her were trying to start a new life after slavery, led her to become the first African American principal of a school. Though the road to get there was challenging, her goal was a clear one, to help her race rise above oppression. Learn about the obstacles she encountered, her many achievements, and most importantly how she gave so many, renewed hope for a better life.
Elizabeth Jennings Takes a Stand
Though Elizabeth was a free citizen in a free state, during that time, she and all other African Americans did not enjoy equal rights. A young school teacher, Elizabeth Jennings decided one afternoon to boldly step aboard a whites-only trolley because she was late for church and refused to get off when ordered to do so. After being violently thrown out of the streetcar, Elizabeth, at barely 24 years old, went on to sue the Third Avenue Railroad Company. With Chester A. Arthur as her lawyer, the future 21st President of the United States, Elizabeth won her case becoming a champion for civil rights. Read together to learn how one young woman’s brave move ended up changing public transportation in New York City forever.
Guion Bluford, Space Explorer
As a boy, Guion collected pictures of airplanes and spent a lot of time wondering how things fly. Later on, when the US launched its space program, NASA, Bluford knew what he wanted to be when he grew up, an aerospace engineer. Read about Guion’s challenging journey to become the first African American astronaut in space and his many contributions towards the US space program that followed. Guion’s life story is one about perseverance and working hard to see your dreams come true.
Phillis Wheatley: Slave Poet
Born in West Africa but sold into slavery at a very young age, Phillis Wheatley was transported to Boston where she was fortunate to end up with a family that treated her kindly and taught her to read and write. Eager to learn, she excelled in all her subjects and by the time she was fourteen had written her first poem. While her first poem was published in newspapers when she was only seventeen, printers refused to print her many other poems because she was a slave. Find out how with the help of Mrs. Wheatley, who also later set her free, Phillis became the first published African American poet.
Separate is Not Equal
While slavery ended in 1865, African Americans in the US were not enjoying the same freedoms and rights as everyone else. Segregation set in, with most states implementing laws that kept African Americans separate from the rest of the population. This short book will walk you and your child through the different court cases that initially justified this unfair way of living, the civil rights movement that was born during this trying time, and The Supreme Court ruling in 1954 that helped to start to steer things in the right direction.
We Will Walk
Learn through the eyes of little Sadie, what it meant to live in a time when African Americans had to sit in the back of the bus, and forced to stand up if white people needed a seat. Read how her feelings of sadness and anger were eventually replaced with hope after Rosa Parks took a stand, refusing to give up her seat on the bus. As many others did following Rosa’s arrest, Sadie and her family protested by refusing to take the bus until the rules changed for African Americans.
Dr. King and the National Civil Rights Museum
Dr. Martin Luther King’s work as a leader in the fight for civil rights changed the course of American history. Twenty years following his death, The Civil Rights Museum was built in Memphis to honor Dr. King and other members of the civil rights movement. Take your kids along on a ‘virtual’ tour of the museum, to learn about the beginning of slavery, the brave people like Harriet Tubman who escaped slavery, the fearless people like Rosa Parks who took a stand against discrimination, the protests that arose, including the famous march in Washington, DC, and Dr. King’s powerful ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.