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Find more Top 10 Black History Books for Youth
You’ll find several outstanding books about the civil rights movement on this year’s list of the top black-history titles, along with a picture book about an unsung singer of the Harlem Renaissance and a stylish biography of Willie Mays.
Abraham Lincoln & Frederick Douglass: The Story behind an American Friendship. By Russell Freedman. 2012. Clarion, $18.99 (9780547385624). Gr. 5–9.
Freedman’s clear, vivid text—along with period photos, prints, drawings, paintings, and documents—makes for a well-researched, highly readable book on “Lincoln’s brief but telling friendship with Frederick Douglass.”
Fire in the Streets. By Kekla Magoon. 2012. Aladdin, $15.99 (9781442422308). Gr. 6–10.
This powerful sequel to the multiple-award-winner The Rock and the River (2009) is told from the first-person point of view of 14-year-old Maxie, living in Chicago in 1968, who joins her older brother in the militant Black Panther Party.
The Great Migration North, 1910–1970. By Laurie Lanzen Harris. 2011. Omnigraphics, lib. ed., $55 (9780780811867). Gr. 7–12.
A must for students’ research and classroom discussion, this history of the six million African Americans who left the South for the cities of the North during the twentieth century will hook readers with its arresting narrative.
Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills. By Renée Watson. Illus. by Christian Robinson. 2012. Random, $17.99 (9780375869730). Gr. 1–3.
With a text that stylistically sings yet is packed with information, this book introduces a woman who, though part of the Harlem Renaissance, is not well remembered by history: winsome singer Florence Mills.
It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw. By Don Tate. Illus. by R. Gregory Christie. 2012. Lee & Low, $17.95 (9781600602603). Gr. 2–4.
This picture-book introduction to celebrated “outsider artist” Bill Traylor is told with simple elegance and complemented by Christie’s folk-art paintings.
Jump into the Sky. By Shelley Pearsall. 2012. Knopf, $16.99 (9780375836992). Gr. 5–8.
Levi travels from Chicago to Camp Mackall, North Carolina, to visit his father and travels through the Jim Crow South of 1945. With strong characterizations, Pearsall’s novel is a poignant, powerful tale of fathers and sons.
Miles to Go for Freedom: Segregation and Civil Rights in the Jim Crow Years. By Linda Barrett Osborne. 2012. Abrams, $24.95 (9781419700200). Gr. 6–10.
In this gripping companion volume to Traveling the Freedom Road (2009), Osborne offers an overview of African American history focusing on both the South and the North during the late nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth century.
To the Mountaintop: My Journey through the Civil Rights Movement. By Charlayne Hunter-Gault. 2012. Roaring Brook/Flash Point, $22.99 (9781596436053). Gr. 6–12.
A deeply personal memoir that traces Hunter-Gault’s involvement in the civil rights movement, from her senior year of high school in 1959 through the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965.
We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March. By Cynthia Y. Levinson. 2012. Peachtree, $19.95 (9781561456277). Gr. 6–12.
This fascinating photo-essay focuses on four young people who participated in the Birmingham Children’s March, setting their stories against the bigger picture of the fight against segregation.
You Never Heard of Willie Mays?! By Jonah Winter. Illus. by Terry Widener. 2013. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (9780375868443). Gr. 2–4.
Winter follows up You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! (2009) with this irrepressible picture-book biography about the Say Hey Kid, who played for the integrated New York Giants.
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