Black History Month, 2013

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”   Frederick Douglass

Choose from these exceptional new titles to add to your Black History collection.

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A Splash of Red : The Life and Art of Horace Pippen.  Jen Bryant.  Knopf, 2013.
Horace loved to draw and was very skilled at a young age.  He even drew sketches in the trenches during WWI.  Unfortunately, he was wounded and came home unable to lift his right arm.  Years went by before he tried creating art again, this time by holding his right hand with his left.  Today his work can be seen in many art museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 1st-5th grade

Harlem’s Little Blackbird : The Story of Florence Mills.  Renee Watson.  Random House, 2012.
Her parents were former slaves.  Florence grew up listening to her mother sing spirituals.  She began singing and dancing at a very young age and grew to find great success in Harlem, on Broadway and in London.  She often took a stand against racism. Sadly, her voice that charmed so many, was never recorded and she was never filmed.  An inspiring story with great folk art  style illustrations by Christian Robinson.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 1st-4th grade

The Price of Freedom : How One Town Stood Up to Slavery.  Judith & Dennis Fradin.
Walker Books, 2013.
On a cold night in 1865, John Price crossed the frozen Ohio river to find freedom in Oberlin.  The folks of Oberlin did not believe in Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.  After living there for 2 years, slave hunters captured him.  The residents of Oberlin formed an armed group and rescued Price.  A fine example of literary non-fiction for Common Core.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 3rd-6th grade

You Never Heard of Willie Mays?!  Jonah Winter.  Schwartz & Wade, 2013.
The narrator uses an excited, conversational voice to tell the story of  Mays from his childhood in Birmingham to his success in the Negro Leagues and finally as his outstanding career as a center fielder for the NY Giants.  Some of his impossible, but spectacular plays are described so well, readers will feel like they are in the stands.
Side bars designed like ticket stubs present astounding stats.  Another great example of literary nonfiction for Common Core.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 2nd-6th grade


Hand in Hand : Ten Black Men Who Changed America.  Andrea Davis Pinkney.  Disney, 2012.
From the birth of Benjamin Banneker in 1731 to the election of Barack Obama in 2009, this handsome book devotes about insightful 20 pages to each man’s childhood, accomplishments and legacies.
Read-aloud 6th grade and up


Henry Aaron’s Dream.  Matt Tavares.  Candlewick, 2012.
This is a great homage to Hank Aaron whose childhood dream, never lost hope.  Persevering against many obstacles , he finally becomes a major league player.  The text is strong and paints a clear picture of segregation and racism in the 1940’s and 50’s.  The “n” word appears a couple of times.  Fabulous watercolors.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 3rd-6th grade


Ellen’s Broom.  Kelly Starling Lyons.  G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2012.
Taking place during the time of reconstruction, Ellen brings the broom her parents had used in their wedding ceremony before the law changed and allowed them to be legally married, to the courthouse.  A warm and heartfelt story explaining the custom of” jumping the broom.”  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 1st-4th grade


Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington.  Jabari Asim.  Little Brown, 2012
This beautifully designed biography illustrated by Bryan Collier focuses on Washington’s strong desire for literacy as a child and his determination to get an education.  After emancipation he walked 500 miles to a boarding school with only 50 cents in his pocket.
He was just 16 years old.  A moving and powerful story told in fluid free verse.  extensive back matter with chronology and additional facts.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 2nd-5th grade


Freedom Song!  The Story of Henry “Box” Brown.  Sally M. Walker.  Harper, 2012.
Several books have been published about Virginia Slave, Henry Brown, whom after suffering the loss of his wife and children who were sold away, had abolitionist friends pack him in a box and mail him to a free state.  This book focuses on Brown’s love of music and how it helped him cope with slavery.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 2nd-6th grade


Heart And Soul: The Story of America and African Americans.  Kadir Nelson.  Balzer & Bray, 2011.
Told from the viewpoint of an elderly African American woman looking back on her life and remembering what her family taught her, this 100 page overview of African American history is told in poignant conversational style.  Over forty stunning paintings enhance the narrative.  This book is on many Notable Book lists.
Read-aloud 5th-8th grade

I Have a Dream.  King, Martin Luther, Jr.  Paintings by Kadir Nelson.  Schwartz & Wade, 2012.
A gloriously illustrated with oil paintings, this large picture book presents excerpts from the 1963 I Have a Dream speech.  The complete text of the speech is included in the back of the book and also a CD of the entire speech.  A great tribute that has as much meaning today as it did 50 years ago.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 2nd grade – adults


I, Too, Am America.  Langston Hughes.  Simon & Schuster, 2012.
Bryan Collier’s stunning, symbolic collage illustrations portray Langston Hughes’ poem
through the eyes of a Pullman porter.  Back matter explains the illustrator’s interpretation of the poem.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 1st-6th grade


It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw.  Lee & Low Books, 2012.
Traylor was a former slave who began drawing at age 83.  All his life, Bill  saved memories and kept them “deep inside.”  When he became homeless in his 80’s, he began drawing from these memories on pieces of cardboard and selling them on the streets of Montgomery.  A moving and inspiring story.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 3rd-6th grade

Unspoken:  A Story from the Underground Railroad.  Henry Cole. Scholastic, 2012.
This dramatic wordless picture book speaks volumes.  The charcoal and pencil drawings in sepia tones tell the story of a young girl on a farm who discovers a runaway and takes him food wrapped in cloth.  The author’s note gives context to the historical setting.  A very powerful book.  Picture Book.
3rd-6th grade

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