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Book Recommendations for Black History Month

Black History Month is celebration of the Black culture, specifically the African diaspora including, African-American history. Black History Month began as a week in 1926 before being celebrated as a full month in 1970. In honor of this month, we’d like to share 25 amazing books that feature Black characters and people, written by Black authors.

Children’s Picture Books

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry; illustrated by Vashti Harrison 

A little girl’s daddy steps in to help her arrange her curly, coiling, wild hair into styles that allow her to be her natural, beautiful self. 

Playtime for Restless Rascals by Nikki Grimes; illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon 

A mother wakes up her child whose job is to play, as there is so much to do in a fun-filled day, from dancing in puddles to jumping in leaves. 

Brown is Warm, Black is Bright by Sarah L. Thomson; illustrated by Keith Mallett 

Illustrations and text celebrate the colors brown and black, demonstrating the many positive associations with these two colors. 

My Rainbow by Trinity and DeShanna Neal; illustrated by Art Twink 

A dedicated mom puts love into action as she creates the perfect rainbow-colored wig for her transgender daughter, based on the real-life experience of mother-daughter advocate duo Trinity and DeShanna Neal.  

The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes; illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton 

Instilled with confidence by his parents, a young boy has a great first day of kindergarten. 


Children’s Middle Grade Books

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks 

Avid baker Zoe Washington receives a letter on her twelfth birthday from her biological father, who is in prison. 

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston; illustrations by Godwin Akpan 

Thirteen-year-old Amari, a poor Black girl from the projects, gets an invitation from her missing brother to join the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs and join in the fight against an evil magician. 

Unfadeable by Maurice Broaddus 

A young graffiti artist learns to fight smart against the gentrification threatening her neighborhood. 

Squad Goals by Erika J. Kendrick 

Twelve-year-old Magic Pointdexter comes from a long line of cheerleaders, but to follow in their footsteps, Magic must survive summer camp Planet Pom Poms, audition for a spot on the HoneyBee cheer squad, and steer clear of swoon-worthy Dallas. 

Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood edited by Kwame Mbalia 

From seventeen acclaimed Black male and non-binary authors comes a vibrant collection of stories, comics, and poems about the power of joy and the wonders of Black boyhood. 

Honorable Mention: 

When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed. 

Omar and his younger brother Hassan live in a refugee camp, and when an opportunity for Omar to get an education comes along, he must decide between going to school every day or caring for his nonverbal brother in this intimate and touching portrayal of family and daily life in a refugee camp 


Young Adult Books

Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant 

When Tessa is accepted into the creative writing program of a prestigious art school, she’s excited to finally let her stories shine. But when she goes to her first workshop, the words are just…gone. Fortunately, her best friend Caroline has a solution: Tessa just needs to find some inspiration in a real-life love story of her own. 

Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen 

Transformed by the goddess Yemoja into a Mami Wati, an African mermaid charged with collecting the souls of those who die at sea, Simi goes against the gods to save a living boy, Kola, from drowning 

Survive the Dome by Kosoko Jackson 

A high school junior teams up with a hacker during a police brutality protest to shut down a device that creates an impenetrable dome around Baltimore that is keeping the residents in and information from going out 

Seton Girls by Charlene Thomas 

A group of girls at an elite private high school uncovers the awful secret behind the success of the school’s beloved football team. 

A Blade so Black by L.L. McKinney 

The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she’s trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew. Life in real-world Atlanta isn’t always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. 

Honorable Mention: 

Ironheart. V. 1, Those with Courage by Eve L. Ewing; illustrated by Luciano Vecchio and Kevin Libranda 

When a group of world leaders is held hostage by one of Spider-Man’s old foes, Riri Williams (Ironheart) must step up her game. But she’s thrown for a loop when an old acquaintance from back in Chicago re-enters her life! Now, Ironheart is caught between her need for independence and her obligations at M.I.T. – and when an old friend is kidnapped, she needs to make some tough decisions! 


Adult Books

No Heaven for Good Boys by Keisha Bush 

Set in Senegal, this modern-day Oliver Twist is a meditation on the power of love and the strength that can emerge when we have no other choice but to survive. Drawn from real incidents and transporting readers between rural and urban Senegal, No Heaven for Good Boys is a tale of hope, resilience, and the affirming power of love. 

Perish : a novel by LaToya Watkins 

From a stunning new voice comes a powerful debut novel, Perish, about a Black Texan family, exploring the effects of inherited trauma and intergenerational violence as the family comes together to say goodbye to their matriarch on her deathbed. 

Intercepted by Alexa Martin 

Marlee thought she scored the man of her dreams only to be scorched by a bad breakup. But there’s a new player on the horizon, and he’s in a league of his own… 

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon 

Aster lives in the lowdeck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship’s leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer, Aster learns there may be a way to improve her lot–if she’s willing to sow the seeds of civil war. 

Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi 

Rooted in foundational loss and the hope that can live in anger, Riot Baby is both a global dystopian narrative and an intimate family story with quietly devastating things to say about love, fury, and the black American experience. Ella and Kev are brother and sister, both gifted with extraordinary power. When Kev is incarcerated for the crime of being a young black man in America, Ella–through visits both mundane and supernatural–tries to show him the way to a revolution that could burn it all down 

Honorable Mention: 

Bitter Root. Volume one, Family Business by David F. Walker, Chuck Brown, & Sanford Greene 

In the 1920s, the Harlem Renaissance is in full swing, and only the Sangerye Family, once known as the greatest monster hunters of all time, can save New York — and the world — from the supernatural forces threatening to destroy humanity. But those days are fading and the once-great family that specialized in curing the souls of those infected by racism and hate has been torn apart by tragedies and conflicting moral codes.  


Non-Fiction Books

The Collected Poems by Langston Hughes, edited by Arnold Rampersad 

Here, for the first time, are all the poems that Langston Hughes published during his lifetime, arranged in the general order in which he wrote them. Lyrical and pungent, passionate and polemical, the result is a treasure of a book, the essential collection of a poet whose words have entered our common language. 

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander 

With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control—relegating millions to a permanent second-class status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. 

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay 

Roxane Gay addresses the experience of living in a body that she calls ‘wildly undisciplined.’ She casts an insightful and critical eye over her childhood, teens, and twenties — including the devastating act of violence that was a turning point at age 12 — and brings readers into the present and the realities, pains, and joys of her daily life. With candor, vulnerability, and authority, Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen 

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi 

Some Americans cling desperately to the myth that we are living in a post-racial society, that the election of the first Black president spelled the doom of racism. In fact, racist thought is alive and well in America – more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues in Stamped from the Beginning, if we have any hope of grappling with this stark reality, we must first understand how racist ideas were developed, disseminated, and enshrined in American society.   

Footnotes: The Black Artists who Rewrote the Rules of the Great White Way by Caseen Gaines 

Footnotes is the story of New York in the roaring twenties and the first Broadway show with an all-Black cast and creative team to achieve success-and its impact on our popular culture. Amidst a culture actively whitewashing, controlling, or trying to prevent their stories from being told, these artists changed the course of American entertainment. This groundbreaking group of performers and the creators sowed the seeds of the Harlem jazz scene and paved the way for people of color on stage and screen, ultimately leading to productions such as West Side Story, Black Panther, and of course, Hamilton 

Honorable Mentions: 

March by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin; illustrated by Nate Powell 

March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement 

I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters by Bayard Rustin, edited by Michael G. Long 

(This book is not currently available through our library system, although a copy is on order) 

A master strategist and tireless activist, Bayard Rustin is best remembered as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, one of the largest nonviolent protests ever held in the United States. Despite these achievements, he was silenced, threatened, arrested, beaten, imprisoned and fired from important leadership positions, largely because he was an openly gay man in a fiercely homophobic era. Here we have Rustin in his own words in a collection of over 150 of his eloquent, impassioned letters; his correspondents include the major progressives of his day—including Eleanor Holmes Norton, A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, Ella Baker and, of course, Martin Luther King, Jr.  


Let us know if you read any of these books. If you love these books, you can write a review or place them in the “Awesome Box” at the ground floor checkout desk.   

If you are not comfortable entering the library, you can request items for curbside pickup during our regular hours (Monday-Thursday 9-9; Friday and Saturday 9-5). You can reserve a book by placing a request in the online catalog, filling out a request form, or calling the reference desk at 978-674-4121.