Beautiful New Black History Books for 2021

Thank you to Green Bean Books for these nonfiction picks to read with kids during Black History Month — and all year long. Scroll through the list for recommendations for babies through teens.

Green Bean Books is located at 1600 NE Alberta Street, and they are open for online ordering and store pickup. When weather allows, check out their outdoor heated deck to browse for books as well as their Book Advice Booth where staff can give personalized recommendations.

Dream Big, Little One and Follow Your Dreams, Little One, written and illustrated by Vashti Harrison, $8.99


These two beautiful, complimentary board books offer examples of incredible, influential men and women in Black history that will inspire the very youngest of kids to “reach for the stars!” Every couple of pages there are challenges children to an aspiration such as “be bold,” “be brave,” “raise your voice” and “make a difference” followed by three examples of Black heroes who did exactly those things. If you’d like your child to begin learning about important role models as a tot, these books are a perfect place to start!

The ABCs of Black History, written by Rio Cortez and illustrated by Lauren Semmer, $14.95

Prepare for a poetic journey through the alphabet celebrating and commemorating important figures and moments in Black history and culture. The ABCs of Black History uses letters and verse to tell a diverse collection of  stories,  sometimes full of struggle and pain, other times joyful and triumphant.  There is even a helpful glossary in the back of the book for those wanting to learn more. This powerful, vibrantly illustrated book is a must-have for every child’s bookshelf! Ages 5 and up.

Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks, written by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera, $17.99

Readers both familiar and unfamiliar with the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet’s work will marvel at Gwendolyn Brooks’ life — how she found inspiration everywhere as a young girl to the celebrated woman she became. Lyrical text paired with lush illustrations make this a truly standout picture book biography. Ages 6 and up.

The Highest Tribute: Thurgood Marshall’s Life, Leadership, and Legacy, written by Kekla Magoon and illustrated by Laura Freeman, $17.99

The Highest Tribute is the powerful biographical story following Thurgood Marshall’s life and accomplishments. With striking illustrations and honest language, this book introduces the young reader to America’s timeline of segregation and racial injustice. It shows how one person can change the world for the better by standing up for what they know is right. The end pages include a list with brief summaries of the major court cases that Marshall worked on, as well as sources for further reading. Ages 4 and up.

Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice, written by Nikki Grimes and illustrated by Laura Freeman, $17.99

This inspiring biography of Madam Vice President Kamala Harris will encourage your child to never give up and to always work hard to achieve their dreams and fight for justice. Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice outlines Kamala’s journey from a young girl attending civil rights marches with her parents all the way to her victorious campaign for vice president. This book is not only a wonderful tool to teach your child about Kamala’s fight for fairness, but it is also a great book for introducing your child to many other influential Black and Brown heroes. Ages 4 and up.

Respect: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Frank Morrison, $18.99

This gorgeously illustrated picture book introduces your child to the musical journey and activism of the iconic  Aretha Franklin. Written in melodic verse, Respect begins with Aretha’s childhood, and takes us through her many musical achievements to her role in the civil rights movement. This book will inspire young children who are interested in music and social activism. In the back of the book, readers will find a more in-depth biography of Aretha’s life and career as well as a list of her biggest hits. Ages 4 and up.

Swish!: The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters, written by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Don Tate, $17.99

Swish! is a lively look at how the Harlem Globetrotters not only changed the game of basketball, but came to be “America’s Ambassadors of Goodwill.” It’s a celebration of the incredible Black ballplayers who made up the Globetrotters without shying away from addressing the struggles they faced due to racial injustice. Your child will see how The Globetrotters’ skills and devotion opened the hearts and minds of people around the world. The front and back of the book also include real photographs and a timeline of the Globetrotters’ history from 1922 through 2016. Ages 4 and up.

Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston, written by Alice D. Williams and illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara, $17.99

Jump at the Sun is a true tale of the legendary storyteller Zora Neale Hurston’s life. The whimsical illustrations and vibrant language will inspire young readers to follow in Zora’s footsteps. Like Zora they will soon be chasing stories, using their imaginations, and following their dreams! This is the perfect book for young bookworms and future authors. Ages 4 and up.

Becoming Muhammad Ali, written by James Patterson and Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Dawaud Anyabwile, $16.99

Before Muhammad Ali  was the legendary boxer, he was Cassius Clay — just a typical kid with big dreams. Though he grew up at a time of great racism and prejudice in the South, he would not let life’s injustices knock him out. Told in both prose (from the point of view of one of his friends) and poetry (through his eyes) with a smattering of illustrations, middle grade readers will be delighted in learning about his incredible life. Ages 8 and up.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, written by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, $18.99

Dubbed as a “remix” of Ibram X. Kendi’s award-winning and bestselling Stamped from the Beginning, Jason Reynolds provides a fresh voice to tackle a difficult and necessary topic aimed at younger readers. Reynolds shows how the history of racism in America can be traced from the birth of this nation to current times. Stamped offers a better understanding of the past thereby setting the stage for a better, more just future. Ages 12 and up.

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