February is National Black History Month. There are some great books for read-alouds that I love to use in February and some fun activities to go with them to help celebrate Black History Month that I would love to share with you today. Here are the best read alouds to celebrate Black History Month.
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HENRY’S FREEDOM BOX: A TRUE STORY FROM THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD
By: Ellen Levin
A stirring, dramatic story of a slave who mailed himself to freedom.
Henry Brown doesn’t know how old he is. Nobody keeps records of slaves’ birthdays. All the time he dreams about freedom, but that dream seems farther away than ever when he is torn from his family and put to work in a warehouse. Henry grows up and marries, but he is again devastated when his family is sold at the slave market. Then one day, as he lifts a crate at the warehouse, he knows exactly what he must do: He will mail himself to the North. After an arduous journey in the crate, Henry finally has a birthday — his first day of freedom.
RUBY BRIDGES GOES TO SCHOOL: MY TRUE STORY
By: Ruby Bridges
In 1960, six-year-old Ruby Bridges walked through an angry crowd and into a school where she changed history. This is the true story of an extraordinary little girl who helped shape our country when she became the first African-American to attend an all-white school in New Orleans. With simple text and historical photographs, this easy reader explores an amazing moment in history and the courage of a young girl who stayed strong in the face of racism.
Grades: Pre-K- 2nd
LET THE CHILDREN MARCH
By: Monica Clark-Robinson
- I couldn’t play on the same playground as the white kids.
- I couldn’t go to their schools.
- I couldn’t drink from their water fountains.
- There were so many things I couldn’t do.
In 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, thousands of African American children volunteered to march for their civil rights after hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak. They protested the laws that kept black people separate from white people. Facing fear, hate, and danger, these children used their voices to change the world. Frank Morrison’s emotive oil-on-canvas paintings bring this historical event to life, while Monica Clark-Robinson’s moving and poetic words document this remarkable time.
Grades: 1st-3rd grades
MARTIN’S BIG WORDS: THE LIFE OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
By: Doreen Rappaport
Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the most influential and gifted speakers of all time. Doreen Rappaport uses quotes from some of his most beloved speeches to tell the story of his life and his work in a simple, direct way. Bryan Collier’s stunning collage art combines remarkable watercolor paintings with vibrant patterns and textures. A timeline and a list of additional books and websites help make this a standout biography of Dr. King.
THE OTHER SIDE
By: Jacqueline Woodson
Clover’s mom says it isn’t safe to cross the fence that segregates their African-American side of town from the white side where Anna lives. But the two girls strike up a friendship, and get around the grown-ups’ rules by sitting on top of the fence together.
By: Margaret Kind Mitchell
When her grandfather registers to vote while living in segregated Mississippi, an African-American girl begins to understand why he insists that she attend school. Eight-year-old Little Joe learns the value of determination and the importance of standing up to prejudice.
By: Nikki Giovanni
An inspiring account of an event that shaped American history.
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 picture-book tribute to Mrs. Parks is a celebration of her courageous action and the events that followed.
Award-winning poet, writer, and activist Nikki Giovanni’s evocative text combines with Bryan Collier’s striking cut-paper images to retell the story of this historic event from a wholly unique and original perspective.
40 ACRES AND MAYBE A MULE
By: Harriet Gillem Robinet
Like other ex-slaves, Paschal and his brother, Gideon, have been promised 40 acres and maybe a mule. But the notorious night riders have plans to take it away, threatening to tear the beautiful freedom that the two boys are enjoying for the first time in their young lives.
By: Margot Lee Shetterly
New York Times bestselling author Margot Lee Shetterly’s book is now available in a new edition perfect for young readers. This is the amazing true story of four African-American female mathematicians at NASA who helped achieve some of the greatest moments in our space program.
Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. This book brings to life the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, four African-American women who lived through the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the movement for gender equality, and whose work forever changed the face of NASA and the country.
IF YOU WERE A KID DURING THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT
By: Gwendolyn Hooks
Joyce Jenkins has recently moved to a new town with her family, and she will soon be attending a segregated school for the first time. Meanwhile, Connie Underwood is trying to figure out what her twin brothers are planning in secret. Readers (Ages 7-9) will follow along with the two girls as they find themselves in the middle of a civil rights demonstration, and find out how the fight for equality changed the country forever.
Check out this resource to use to celebrate Black History Month:
Martin Luther King, Jr. Digital Activities
Black History Month is very important to acknowledge and teach about to students of all ages. In your opinion, what are the best read alouds to celebrate Black History Month?