General Elementary Fiction & Nonfiction
2019 and 2020 titles are noted in PURPLE. They are not yet as widely reviewed.
Bunting, Eve. The Cart That Carried Martin. Charlesbridge, 2013. “[A] unique tribute to [Martin Luther King] the ... man known world-wide for his outstanding efforts as a leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement Civil Rights Era HISTORICAL FICTION
Colbert, Brandy. The Only Black Girls in Town. Little Brown, 2020. “Alberta [is] the sole African American girl in her small beach town’s seventh grade until another Black family moves in across the street. Although she and her new neighbor could not be any more superficially different—Alberta is a California surfer and Edie is a goth girl from Brooklyn—they bond over their racial “otherness” in a realistic way.” REALISTIC FICTION
GRAPHIC Craft, Jerry. New Kid. Quill Tree Books, 2019. Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. Newbery Medal, Coretta Scott King Author Award, and Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature. REALISTIC FICTION
Curtis, Christopher Paul. Bud, Not Buddy. Delacorte,1999. “It’s 1936, in Flint, Michigan. Times may be hard, and ten-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy on the run, but Bud’s got a few things going for him.” Newbery Medal, Coretta Scott King Award. 1930s HISTORICAL FICTION
Curtis, Christopher Paul. Elijah of Buxton. Scholastic, 2007. “Eleven-year-old Elijah lives in Buxton, Canada, a settlement of runaway slaves near the American border. Elijah's the first child in town to be born free, and he ought to be famous just for that -- not to mention for being the best at chunking rocks and catching fish.” Newbery Medal, Coretta Scott King Award. HISTORICAL FICTION
Curtis, Christopher Paul. The Watsons go to Birmingham. Random, 1995. “[T]he story of a loving African-American family living in the town of Flint, Michigan, in 1963. When the oldest son (Byron) begins to get into a bit of trouble, the parents decide he should spend the summer and possibly the next school year with Grandma Sands in Birmingham, Alabama. The entire family travels there together by car, and during their visit, tragic events take place. The book was adapted for Hallmark Channel in 2013.” Civil Rights Era HISTORICAL FICTION
Draper, Sharon. Blended. Atheneum, 2018. “Eleven-year-old Isabella’s parents are divorced, so she has to switch lives every week: One week she’s Isabella with her dad, his girlfriend Anastasia, and her son Darren living in a fancy house where they are one of the only black families in the neighborhood. The next week she’s Izzy with her mom and her boyfriend John-Mark in a small, not-so-fancy house that she loves.” REALISTIC FICTION
Duncan, Alice Faye. Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop. Boyds Mills/Calkins Creek, 2018. ”[A] character inspired by an African American family involved in the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike tells her first-person account of the experience in verse and prose. Nine-year-old Lorraine begins, “I remember Memphis and legions of noblemen. / I remember broken glass as the voice of a fallen King. / Fire, smoke, and ashes ravaged midnight cityscapes. / Black men marched for honor, and I must tell the story.” Civil rights Era HISTORICAL FICTION
English, Karen. It All Comes Down to This. Houghton, 2017. “It’s 1965, Los Angeles. All twelve-year-old Sophie wants to do is write her book, star in the community play, and hang out with her friend Jennifer. But she’s the new black kid in a nearly all-white neighborhood…”
Johnson, Angela. A Sweet Smell of Roses. Simon & Schuster, 2005. “There's a sweet, sweet smell in the air as two young girls sneak out of their house, down the street, and across town to where men and women are gathered, ready to march for freedom and justice.” Civil Rights Era HISTORICAL FICTION
Levine, Ellen. Henry's Freedom Box. Scholastic, 2007. “Dramatic story of a slave who mails himself to freedom.” HISTORICAL FICTION
Lockington, Mariama J. For Black Girls like Me. Farrar, 2019. “Eleven-year-old Keda is a Black adoptee to white parents. After her family moves from Baltimore to Albuquerque, she struggles with changing schools and leaving behind her best friend, Lena, who was also adopted into a mixed family.” REALISTIC FICTION
Marks, Janae. From the Desk of Zoe Washington. HarperCollins, 2020. “Zoe Washington, a soon-to-be seventh-grader growing up outside Boston, is celebrating a birthday bereft of friends due to distance and betrayal, when a surprise letter from her incarcerated father arrives and throws her life into emotional disarray.“ REALISTIC FICTION
Mason, Margaret H. These Hands. Harcourt, 2015. “Joseph’s grandpa could do almost anything with his hands. He could play the piano, throw a curveball, and tie a triple bowline knot in three seconds flat. But in the 1950s and 60s, he could not bake bread at the Wonder Bread factory. Factory bosses said white people would not want to eat bread touched by the hands of the African Americans who worked there.” HISTORICAL FICTION
GRAPHIC Poe, Marshall. Little Rock Nine. Aladdin, 2008. “Two boys in Little Rock get caught up in the struggle over public school integration.” Civil Rights Era HISTORICAL FICTION
Ramee, Lise Moore. A Good Kind of Trouble. Balzer & Bray, 2019. “Shayla is a shy, bright middle-school student who deals with unwanted advances from boys, racial tensions, academic competition, and finding her own voice. … [E]xplores the concept that fear can stop you from doing the right thing.” REALISTIC FICTION
Wiles, Deborah. Freedom Summer. Scholastic, 2005. “A white boy recounts his first experience of racial prejudice--and his friendship with an African American boy that defies it.” Ezra Jack Keats Book Award. Civil Rights Era HISTORICAL FICTION
Wiles, Deborah. Revolution. Scholastic, 2014. Twelve-year-old Sunny evolves a growing sense of justice and empathy after “the invaders” arrive in her Mississippi town to integrate public facilities and register voters during “Freedom Summer.” Civil Rights Era HISTORICAL FICTION
Williams-Garcia, Rita. One Crazy Summer. Amistad, 2010. “[T]he story of three sisters who travel to Oakland, California, in 1968 to meet the mother who abandoned them. …[E]leven-year-old Delphine is like a mother to her two younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern. She's had to be, ever since their mother, Cecile, left them seven years ago for a radical new life in California. But when the sisters arrive from Brooklyn to spend the summer with their mother, Cecile is nothing like they imagined.” HarperCollins, 2010. Newbery Honor; Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction; Coretta Scott King Award; National Book Award Finalist. Civil Rights Era HISTORICAL FICTION
Winter, Jeanette. Follow the Drinking Gourd. Dragonfly Books, 1988. “[B]egins with a peg-leg sailor who aids slaves on their escape on the Underground Railroad. While working for plantation owners, Peg Leg Joe teaches the slaves a song about the drinking gourd (the Big Dipper).” HISTORICAL FICTION
Woodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming. Penguin Books, 2014. “ Woodson tells the story of her childhood through poetry, detailing her experiences as a black girl growing up in 1960s South Carolina and New York.” Coretta Scott King Award, Newbery Medal Honor, National Book Award. Civil Rights Era HISTORICAL FICTION
BIOG Abouraya, Karen Leggett. Malala Yousafazi: Warrior with Words. StarWalk Kids Media, 2014. “The inspiring, true story of Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl who stands up and speaks out for every child’s right to education.” 21st Century
BIOG Brimner, Larry. We Are One, The Story Of Bayard Rustin. Boyds Mills, 2007. “Bayard Rustin dedicated his life to helping others—fighting injustices and discriminations—so that people could live as one. Protesting segregation long before there was a civil rights movement, he often was arrested for his beliefs and actions. As a nonviolent activist, Bayard made his mark working alongside many African American leader.” 20th Century
POETRY Bryan, Ashley. Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life. Atheneum, 2016. Uses primary sources (and poetry) to contrast the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of life, dreams and dignity.
BIOG Bryant, Jen. Feed Your Mind, A Story of August Wilson. Abrams, 2019. “August Wilson (1945-2005) was a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who had a particular talent for capturing the authentic, everyday voice of black Americans. As a child, he read off soup cans and cereal boxes, and when his mother brought him to the library, his whole world opened up. After facing intense prejudice at school from both students and some teachers, August dropped out. However, he continued reading and educating himself independently. He felt that if he could read about it, then he could teach himself anything and accomplish anything. Like many of his plays, Feed Your Mind is told in two acts, revealing how Wilson grew up to be one of the most influential American playwrights.” 20th Century
“Civil Rights Activity Book.” Teaching Tolerance via Civil Rights Memorial Center.
BIOG Coles, Robert. The Story of Ruby Bridges. Scholastic, 1994. “The year is 1960, and six-year-old Ruby Bridges and her family have recently moved from Mississippi to New Orleans in search of a better life. When a judge orders Ruby to attend first grade at William Frantz Elementary, an all-white school, Ruby must face angry mobs of parents who refuse to send their children to school with her.“ Civil Rights Era
BIOG Collins, Janet. Brave Ballerina. Holt, 2019. “[A] picture book biography of Janet Collins, the first African American principal dancer at the Metropolitan Opera House. ...Janet Collins wanted to be a ballerina in the 1930s and 40s, a time when racial segregation was widespread in the United States. Janet pursued dance with a passion, despite being rejected from discriminatory dance schools.” 20th Century
COLLECTIVE BIOG Davis, Andrea Pinckney. HMH, 2000. Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters. “The lives these women led are part of an incredible story about courage in the face of oppression; about the challenges and triumphs of the battle for civil rights; and about speaking out for what you believe in--even when it feels like no one is listening.” Coretta Scott King Honor.
Davis, Kenneth C. In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives. Square Fish, 2017. “Did you know that many of America’s Founding Fathers―who fought for liberty and justice for all―were slave owners? [Read] the powerful stories of five enslaved people who were “owned” by four of our greatest presidents…”. HISTORY
BIOG Dray, Philip. Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells: The Daring Life of a Crusading Journalist. Peachtree, 2008. “Journalist Ida B. Wells faces the greatest challenge of her life as a tireless crusader for justice and civil rights. In 1863, when Ida B. Wells was not yet two years old, the Emancipation Proclamation freed her from the bond of slavery. Blessed with a strong will, an eager mind, and a deep belief in America’s promise of “freedom and justice for all,” young Ida held her family together, defied society’s conventions, and used her position as a journalist to speak against injustice.“ 1860s
Evans, Shane. We March. Roaring Brook, 2012. “On August 28, 1963, a remarkable event took place--more than 250,000 people gathered in our nation's capital to participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The march began at the Washington Monument and ended with a rally at the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech.” Civil Rights Era HISTORY
Fradin, Dennis Brindell. The Price of Freedom: How One Town Stood Up to Slavery. Walker, 2013. “When John Price took a chance at freedom by crossing the frozen Ohio river from Kentucky into Ohio one January night in 1856, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was fully enforced in every state of the union. But the townspeople of Oberlin, Ohio, believed that all people deserved to be free, so Price started a new life in town-until a crew of slave-catchers arrived and apprehended him.” 1860s
Giovanni, Nikki. Rosa. Holt, 2005. “Fifty years after her refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus, Mrs. Rosa Parks is still one of the most important figures in the American civil rights movement. This tribute to Mrs. Parks is a celebration of her courageous action and the events that followed.” Coretta Scott King Award for Illustrators; Caldecott Honor Book. Civil Rights Era
COLLECTIVE BIOG Harrison, Vashti. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History. Little Brown, 2017. “[T]rue stories of forty trailblazing black women in American history.”
COLLECTIVE BIOG Harrison, Vashti. Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History. Little Brown, 2019. Brings to life true stories of black men in history.
Hoose, Phillip. Claudette Colvin: twice toward justice. Farrar, 2009. “On March 2, 1955, an impassioned teenager, fed up with the daily injustices of Jim Crow segregation, refused to give her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Instead of being celebrated as Rosa Parks would be just nine months later, fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin found herself shunned by her classmates and dismissed by community leaders. Undaunted,...” Civil Rights Era
POETRY Hughes, Langston. My People. Simon & Schuster, 2009. “Langston Hughes's spare yet eloquent tribute to his people has been cherished for generations. Now, acclaimed photographer Charles R. Smith Jr. interprets this beloved poem in vivid sepia photographs that capture the glory, the beauty, and the soul of being a black American today.” Coretta Scott King Award - Illustrator Winner.
Kamma, Anne. If You Lived When There Was Slavery in America. Scholastic, 2004. “Where did the slaves come from? Where did they live when they were brought to this country? What kind of work did they do? With compassion and respect for the enslaved, this book answers questions children might have about this dismal era in American history.”
COLLECTIVE BIOG Kendall, Mikki. Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women’s Fight for Their Rights, by Ten Speed Press, 2019.
Krull, Kathleen. Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez. HMH, 2003. “Cesar Chavez is known as one of America's greatest civil rights leaders. When he led a 340-mile peaceful protest march through California, he ignited a cause and improved the lives of thousands of migrant farmworkers. But Cesar wasn't always a leader. As a boy, he was shy and teased at school. His family slaved in the fields for barely enough money to survive.” Pura Belpre Honor Book - Illustrator. Civil Rights Era
Langley, Sharon. A Ride to Remember. Abrams, 2020. “This book reveals how in the summer of 1963, due to demonstrations and public protests, the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in Maryland became desegregated and opened to all for the first time. Co-author Sharon Langley was the first African-American child to ride the carousel.” Civil Rights Era
MEMOIR Lowery, Lynda Blackmon. Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March. Dial, 2015. The youngest person to complete the Selma to Montgomery March shares her involvement in historic Civil Rights events. Civil Rights Era
Lyon, George Ella. Which Side Are You On The Story of a Song. Cinco Puntos, 2011. “[T]ells the story of the classic union song that was written in 1931 by Florence Reece in a rain of bullets. It has been sung by people fighting for their rights all over the world.” 20th Century
Partridge, Elizabeth. Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children and Don’t You Grow Weary. Viking, 2009. A photo essay focusing on the critical role that children and teens played in the success of the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery. Civil Rights Era
Pinkney, Andrea Davis. Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down. Little Brown, 2010. “[A] celebration 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. Jane Addams Honor Book. Civil Rights Era
BIOGRAPHY Shabazz, Ilyasah. Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X. Atheneum, 2014. “Malcolm X grew to be one of America’s most influential figures. But first, he was a boy named Malcolm Little. Written by his daughter.” Civil Rights Era
MEMOIR Shelton, Paula Young. Child of the Civil Rights Movement. Dragonfly, 2013. “Paula Young Shelton, daughter of Civil Rights activist Andrew Young, brings a child’s unique perspective to an important chapter in America’s history. Paula grew up in the deep south, in a world where whites had and blacks did not. With an activist father and a community of leaders surrounding her, including Uncle Martin (Martin Luther King), Paula watched and listened to the struggles, eventually joining with her family—and thousands of others—in the historic march from Selma to Montgomery.” Teaching suggestions. Civil Rights Era
Warren, Sarah E. Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers. Marshall Cavendish, 2012. “Dolores is a teacher, a mother, and a friend. She wants to know why her students are too hungry to listen, why they don't have shoes to wear to school. Dolores is a warrior, an organizer, and a peacemaker. When she finds out that the farm workers in her community are poorly paid and working under dangerous conditions, she stands up for their rights.” Jane Addam's Children's Book Award Honor Civil Rights Era
BIOGRAPHY Weatherford, Carole Boston. Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom. Hyperion, 2006. “This poetic book is a resounding tribute to Tubman's strength, humility, and devotion.” Caldecott Honor. 1860s
BIOGRAPHY Weatherford, Carole Boston. Schomberg, The Man Who Built a Library. Candlewick, 2017. “Amid the scholars, poets, authors, and artists of the Harlem Renaissance stood an Afro–Puerto Rican named Arturo Schomburg. This law clerk’s life’s passion was to collect books, letters, music, and art from Africa and the African diaspora and bring to light the achievements of people of African descent through the ages.” Early 20th Century
BIOGRAPHY Weatherford, Carole Boston and Ekua Holmes. Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement. Candlewick, 2015. Caldecott Honor Book, Robert F. Sibert Honor Book, John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award Winner. 20th Century