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African American History Picture Books

The Civil Rights Movement

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice  by Phillip M. HooseClaudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
Hoose, Phillip M.
ISBN: 9780374313227
Call Number: *J 921 COLVIN
Based on extensive interviews with Claudette Colvin and many others, Phillip Hoose presents the first in-depth account of an important yet largely unknown civil rights figure, skillfully weaving her dramatic story into the fabric of the historic Montgomery bus boycott and court case that would change the course of American history.
Sit-in: How Four Friends Stood up by Sitting Down  by Andrea Davis PinkneySit-in: How Four Friends Stood up by Sitting Down
Pinkney, Andrea Davis
ISBN: 9780316070164
Call Number: J 323.1196 PINK
It was February 1, 1960. They didn't need menus. Their order was simple. A doughnut and coffee, with cream on the side. This picture book is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the momentous Woolworth's lunch counter sit-in, when four college students staged a peaceful protest that became a defining moment in the struggle for racial equality and the growing civil rights movement.
Back of the Bus by Aaron ReynoldsBack of the Bus
Reynolds, Aaron
ISBN: 9780399250910
Call Number: JE REYN
With childlike words and powerful illustrations, Reynolds and Coretta Scott King medalist Cooper recount Rosa Parks' act of defiance through the eyes of a child--who will never forget.
Our Children Can Soar: A Celebration of Rosa, Barack, and the Pioneers of Change by Michelle CookOur Children Can Soar: A Celebration of Rosa, Barack, and the Pioneers of Change
Cook, Michelle
ISBN: 9781599904184
Call Number: JE COOK
Part historical, part poetry, and entirely inspirational, this unique picture book takes the reader through the cumulative story of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, expanding the popular slogan beyond Matin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and Barack Obama to include more key players in the struggle for equality.
March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World by Christine King FarrisMarch On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World
Farris, Christine King
ISBN: 9780545035378
Call Number: *J 921 KING
On a hot August day in 1963, hundreds of thousands of people made history when they marched into Washington, D.C., in search of equality. Martin Luther King, Jr., the younger brother of Christine King Farris, was one of them. Martin was scheduled to speak to the crowds of people on that day. But before he could stand up and inspire a nation, he had to get down to business. He first had to figure out what to say and how to say it. So he spent all night working on his "I Have a Dream" speech, one that would underscore a landmark moment in civil rights history--the Great March on Washington. This would be one of the first events televised all over the globe. The world would be listening, as one of the greatest orators of our time shared his vision for a new day. From the sister of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., comes this moving account of what that day was like for her, and for the man who inspired a crowd--and convinced a nation to let freedom ring.
Ron's Big Mission by Rose BlueRon's Big Mission
Blue, Rose
ISBN: 9780525478492
Call Number: JE BLUE
Based on the life of "Challenger" astronaut Ron McNair, this inspiring book tells the story of how a determined African-American boy desegregated his town's public library though peaceful resistance.
A Taste of Colored Water by Matt FaulknerA Taste of Colored Water
Faulkner, Matt
ISBN: 9781416916291
Call Number: JE FAUL
LuLu and Jelly are very excited to see the "colored" water they heard about in the city's water fountain, but are very surprised to learn what "colored" water actually means.
A Sweet Smell of Roses  by Angela JohnsonA Sweet Smell of Roses
Johnson, Angela
ISBN: 0689832524
Call Number: JE J
Two Coretta Scott King Award winners celebrate the participation of children during the civil rights movement with this story of two young girls who sneak out of their house at night to go across town where men and women gather for a march for justice.
Freedom School, Yes!  by Amy LittlesugarFreedom School, Yes!
Littlesugar, Amy
ISBN: 0399230068
Call Number: JE L
When their house is attacked because her mother volunteered to take in the young white woman who has come to teach black children at the Freedom School, Jolie is afraid, but she overcomes her fear after learning the value of education.
Malcolm X: A Fire Burning Brightly by Walter Dean MyersMalcolm X: A Fire Burning Brightly
Myers, Walter Dean
ISBN: 0060277076
Call Number: *J 921 X
"I believe in recognizing every human being as a human being, neither white, black, brown, nor red." This was just one of the messages that Malcolm X brought to people of color. He lived by the idea that black people should demand equality by taking their lives and futures into their own hands. With guidance from the religious leader Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm became one of the most powerful leaders of the civil rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s, and his beliefs live on today. Award-winning author Walter Dean Myers, together with illustrator Leonard Jenkins, delivers a straightforward and compelling portrayal of one of America's most influential figures.
Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation by Andrea Davis PinkneyBoycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation
Pinkney, Andrea Davis
ISBN: 0060821183
Martin's Big Words : The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen RappaportMartin's Big Words : The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Rappaport, Doreen
ISBN: 0786807148
Call Number: J 921 K
This definitive picture book biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is an unforgettable portrait of a man whose dream changed America--and the world--forever.
The School is Not White!: A True Story of the Civil Rights Movement  by Doreen RappaportThe School is Not White!: A True Story of the Civil Rights Movement
Rappaport, Doreen
ISBN: 0786818387
Call Number: J 371.974 RAPP
Gorgeously illustrated and told, this is the true story of what occurred in a small Mississippi town in the 1960s when a family of sharecroppers wanted their eight children to have an equal opportunity for a good education and sent them to the "all-white" schools.
Freedom on the menu : the Greensboro sit-ins by Carole Boston WeatherfordFreedom on the menu : the Greensboro sit-ins
Weatherford, Carole Boston
ISBN: 0803728603
Call Number: JE W
After four courageous black teens sat down at a lunch counter in the segregated South of 1960, the reverberations were felt both far beyond and close to home. This insightful story offers a child's-eye view of this seminal event in the American Civil Rights Movement.

Slavery, Abolition and the Civil War

American Slave, American Hero: York of the Lewis and Clark Expedition by Laurence P. PringleAmerican Slave, American Hero: York of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Pringle, Laurence P.
ISBN: 1590782828
Call Number: J 921 YORK
A biography of William Clark's personal slave, who provided invaluable assistance to the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Hold the Flag High by Catherine ClintonHold the Flag High
Clinton, Catherine
ISBN: 0060504293
Call Number: J 973.7 C
Describes the Civil War battle of Morris Island, South Carolina, during which Sargeant William H. Carney became the first African American to earn a Congressional Medal of Honor by preserving the flag.
The Middle Passage: White Ships/Black Cargo by Tom FeelingsThe Middle Passage: White Ships/Black Cargo
Feelings, Tom
ISBN: 0803718047
Call Number: *J 326.97 F
Sixty-four paintings tell the story of the cruel and terrifying journey of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic Ocean to the so-called New World.
Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story  by Janet HalfmannSeven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story
Halfmann, Janet
ISBN: 9781600602320
Call Number: J 921 SMALLS
A biography of Robert Smalls who, during the Civil War, commandeered the Confederate ship Planter to carry his family and twelve other slaves to freedom, and went on to become a United States Congressman working toward African American advancement.
Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen LevineHenry's Freedom Box
Levine, Ellen
ISBN: 043977733X
Call Number: J LEVI
A fictionalized account of how in 1849 a Virginia slave, Henry "Box" Brown, escapes to freedom by shipping himself in a wooden crate from Richmond to Philadelphia.
No More! : Stories and Songs of Slave Resistance by Doreen RappaportNo More! : Stories and Songs of Slave Resistance
Rappaport, Doreen
ISBN: 0763609846
Call Number: J 326.97 RAPP
Traces the courageous struggle waged by enslaved Africans from the first slave ships to America to emancipation with the ratification of the Thirteenth Ammendment.
Only Passing Through: The Story of Sojourner Truth by Anne F. RockwellOnly Passing Through: The Story of Sojourner Truth
Rockwell, Anne F.
ISBN: 0679891862
Call Number: J 921 T
A powerful picture book biography of one of the abolitionist movement's most compelling voices. Sojourner Truth traveled the country in the latter half of the 19th century, speaking out against slavery. She told of a slave girl who was sold three times by age 13, who was beaten for not understanding her master's orders, who watched her parents die of cold and hunger when they could no longer work for their keep. Sojourner's simple yet powerful words helped people to understand the hideous truth about slavery. The story she told was her own. "Only Passing Through" is the inspiring story of how a woman, born a slave with no status or dignity, transformed herself into one of the most powerful voices of the abolitionist movement. Anne Rockwell combines her lifelong love of history with her well-known skill as a storyteller to create this simple, affecting portrait of an American icon.
Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom  by Carole Boston WeatherfordMoses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom
Weatherford, Carole Boston
ISBN: 0786851759
Call Number: J WEAT
Lyrical text describes Harriet Tubman's spiritual journey as she hears the voice of God guiding her North to freedom on that very first trip to escape the brutal practice of slavery. This is a moving portrait of one of the most inspiring figures of the Underground Railroad--a woman who would take 19 subsequent trips back South without being caught.

Post Civil War Pre Civil Rights Experiences

Mr. Williams  by Karen BarbourMr. Williams
Barbour, Karen
ISBN: 0805067736
Call Number: JE B
When Mr. Williams was a boy growing up in Arcadia, Louisiana, Calvin Coolidge was president, Martin Luther King Jr. had just been born, and children worked hard in the fields for most of the year. This picture book evokes a specific time and place in American history.
God Bless the Child by Billie HolidayGod Bless the Child
Holiday, Billie
ISBN: 0060287977
Call Number: JE H
First performed by jazz legend Billie Holiday in 1939, "God Bless the Child" remains one of her enduring masterpieces. In this picture book interpretation, Pinkney depicts a family moving from the South during the Great Migration.
Blues Journey  by Walter Dean MyersBlues Journey
Myers, Walter Dean
ISBN: 0823416135
Call Number: J 811 M
A blues poem that revisits the history of the African American experience.
Harlem: A Poem by Walter Dean MyersHarlem: A Poem
Myers, Walter Dean
ISBN: 0590543407
Call Number: J 811 M
A poem celebrating the people, sights, and sounds of Harlem.
We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir NelsonWe Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball
Nelson, Kadir
ISBN: 9780786808328
Call Number: J 797.1 NELS
Using an "Everyman" player as his narrator, Kadir Nelson tells the story of Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920s through the decline after Jackie Robinson crossed over to the majors in 1947.
Pappy's Handkerchief  by Devin ScillianPappy's Handkerchief
Scillian, Devin
ISBN: 9781585363162
Call Number: J SCIL
In 1889, young Moses and his family sell everything they own and leave their Baltimore, Maryland, home to join many other settlers--black and white--in a race to claim land in the newly-opened territory of Oklahoma.
Ellington Was Not a Street  by Ntozake ShangeEllington Was Not a Street
Shange, Ntozake
ISBN: 0689828845
Call Number: J 811 S
In a reflective tribute to the African-American community of old, noted poet Ntozake Shange recalls her childhood home and the close-knit group of innovators that often gathered there. These men of vision, brought to life in the majestic paintings of artist Kadir Nelson, lived at a time when the color of their skin dictated where they could live, what schools they could attend, and even where they could sit on a bus or in a movie theater. Yet in the face of this tremendous adversity, these dedicated souls and others like them not only demonstrated the importance of Black culture in America, but also helped issue in a movement that "changed the world." Their lives and their works inspire us to this day, and serve as a guide to how we approach the challenges of tomorrow.

Heroic Biographies

The Champ: The Story of Muhammad Ali by Tonya BoldenThe Champ: The Story of Muhammad Ali
Bolden, Tonya
ISBN: 0375824014
Call Number: J 921 A
Muhammad Ali is one of the world's best-known figures, and this incredible biography delves into precisely why. From his unlikely beginnings as a skinny, young Cassius Clay learning to box at a local gym to becoming the heavyweight champion of the world at the famous " Rumble in the Jungle, " where even the skies let loose with rain right after his victory, Ali has captivated the world.
Muhammad Ali: The People's Champion by Walter Dean MyersMuhammad Ali: The People's Champion
Myers, Walter Dean
ISBN: 9780060291327
Call Number: J 921 ALI
"I am America. I am the part you won't recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me."
Talkin' About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman  by Nikki GrimesTalkin' About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman
Grimes, Nikki
ISBN: 0439352436
Call Number: J 921 C
Elizabeth "Bessie" Coleman was always being told what she could and couldn't do. In an era when Jim Crow laws and segregation were a way of life, it was not easy to survive. Bessie didn't let that stop her. Although she was only 11 when the Wright brothers took their historic flight, she vowed to become the first African -American female pilot. Her sturdy faith and determination helped her overcome obstacles of poverty, racism, and gender discrimination. Innovatively told through a series of monologues.
Onward: A Photobiography of African-American Polar Explorer Matthew Henson  by Dolores JohnsonOnward: A Photobiography of African-American Polar Explorer Matthew Henson
Johnson, Dolores
ISBN: 0792279158
Call Number: *J 921 HEN
The conquest of the North Pole was an elusive, almost impossible goal at the beginning of the last century. But a son of patrician parents, Robert E. Peary, and a son of sharecroppers, Matthew Henson, shared a dream of conquering the unconquered North Pole and were brave enough to risk their lives numerous times before they finally succeeded. Henson's great physical stamina and his ability to speak Inuit and develop warm relationships with the peoples of the Arctic were indispensable to the quest. He mastered the complexities of the dog sled and led the team across the layers of ice that covered the frigid, threatening Arctic Ocean. Henson and Peary's jubilation at finally reaching the Pole was later tempered by the controversy that swirled around their achievement. Once their deed was recognized, African-American Henson still was not. It took history a long time to hail him as a hero of exploration.
In Her Hands: The Story of Sculptor Augusta Savage  by Alan SchroederIn Her Hands: The Story of Sculptor Augusta Savage
Schroeder, Alan
ISBN: 9781600603327
Call Number: J 921 SAVAGE
A biography of African American sculptor Augusta Savage, who overcame many obstacles as a young woman to become a premier female sculptor of the Harlem Renaissance. Includes an afterword about Savage's adult life and works, plus photographs.
Racing Against the Odds: The Story of Wendell Scott, Stock Car Racing's African-American Champion by Carole Boston WeatherfordRacing Against the Odds: The Story of Wendell Scott, Stock Car Racing's African-American Champion
Weatherford, Carole Boston
ISBN: 9780761454656
Call Number: J 921 SCOTT
The story of the only black driver to win a race in a NASCAR Grand National (Sprint Cup) Division.
Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum by Robert Andrew ParkerPiano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum
Parker, Robert Andrew
ISBN: 9780375839658
Call Number: J 921 TATUM
The author uses simple, lyrical storytelling and colorful and energetic ink-and-wash illustrations to show the world as young Art Tatum might have seen it. Tatum came from modest beginnings and was nearly blind, but his passion for the piano and his acute memory for any sound that he heard drove him to become a virtuoso who was revered by both classical and jazz pianists alike. Included in the back matter is a biography and bibliography.
My Dream of Martin Luther King by Faith RinggoldMy Dream of Martin Luther King
Ringgold, Faith
ISBN: 0517599767
Call Number: J 921 K
Faith Ringgold had a dream about Martin Luther King. Simply narrated in her own voice, Ringgold--award-winning creator of Tar Beach and Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky paints a vivid, powerful picture of King's childhood and strong family life, along with glimpses of prejudice, segregation, and protest. Her vision blurs dreamily into King's adult life--from his family, to protests of Rosa Parks's arrest, even to his assassination.
When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson the Voice of a Century by Pam Muñoz RyanWhen Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson the Voice of a Century
Ryan, Pam Muñoz
ISBN: 0439269679
Call Number: J 921 A
An introduction to the life of Marian Anderson, extraordinary singer and civil rights activist, who was the first African American to perform at the Metropolitan Opera, whose life and career encouraged social change.
Nothing but Trouble: The Story of Althea Gibson  by Sue StauffacherNothing but Trouble: The Story of Althea Gibson
Stauffacher, Sue
ISBN: 9780375834080
Call Number: J 921 GIBSON
ALTHEA IS NOTHING BUT TROUBLE! Everyone agrees: her mama, her daddy, her teacher, even the policeman. But when Buddy Walker, the play leader on Althea's street in Harlem, watches her play paddle tennis, he sees something more: pure possibility. Buddy buys Althea her very own stringed tennis racket, and before long, she's on her way to becoming a great athlete - and to proving that she's more than just trouble. Althea Gibson, born in 1927, was the first African American ever to compete in and win the Wimbledon Cup. Sue Stauffacher's lively text, paired with vibrant paintings by artist Greg Couch, captures the exuberance, ambition, and triumph of this remarkable woman.
Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal by Vaunda Micheaux NelsonBad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal
Nelson, Vaunda Micheaux
ISBN: 9780822567646
Call Number: J 921 REEVES
When a lawbreaker heard Bass Reeves had his warrant, he knew it was the end of the trail, because Bass always got his man, dead or alive. He achieved all this in spite of whites who didn't like the notion of a black lawman. As a U.S. Marshal - and former slave who escaped to freedom in the Indian Territories - Bass was cunning and fearless. Bad News for Outlaws reveals the story of a remarkable African American hero of the Old West.  
Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane  by Carole Boston WeatherfordBefore John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane
Weatherford, Carole Boston
ISBN: 0805079947
Call Number: JE WEAT
This lyrical picture-book biography of John Coltrane focuses on his childhood and how he interpreted sounds before he made his music.
Sojourner Truth's Step-Stomp Stride by Andrea Davis PinkneySojourner Truth's Step-Stomp Stride
Pinkney, Andrea Davis
ISBN: 9780786807673
Call Number: J 921 TRUTH
A celebrated author-illustrator team tells 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.