The month of February is a time when many communities pause and celebrate the great contributions made by African Americans in history. At Lee & Low we like to not only highlight African Americans who have made a difference, but also explore the diverse experiences of black culture throughout history, from the struggle for freedom in the South and the fight for civil rights to the lively rhythms of New Orleans jazz and the cultural explosion of the Harlem Renaissance.
We put together a list of titles – along with additional resources – that align with 7 core values and
themes to help you celebrate both Black History Month and African American culture all 365 days of the year.
It’s important to remember that heritage months, like Black History Month, can encourage a practice of pulling diverse books that feature a particular observed culture for only one month out of the year. To encourage a more everyday approach, we developed an 8-step checklist for building an inclusive book collection that reflects the diversity of the human experience. Teaching Tolerance also offers some helpful solutions to connect multicultural education with effective instructional practices and lists insightful “dos and don’ts” for teaching black history that are applicable to any culturally responsive curriculum or discussion.
How do you celebrate during Black History Month? Or, better yet, how do you help children discover the cultural contributions and achievements of black history all year long? Let us know in the comments!
Perseverance, Determination, & Grit
- Etched in Clay: The Life of Dave, Enslaved Potter and Poet
- Frederick Douglass: The Last Day of Slavery
- George Crum and the Saratoga Chip
- In Her Hands: The Story of Sculptor Augusta Savage
- Knockin’ on Wood: Starring Peg Leg Bates
- Little Melba and Her Big Trombone
- Night Golf
- Ray Charles
- Richard Wright and the Library Card
- Game, Set, Match, Champion Arthur Ashe
- Joe Louis, My Champion
- The Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby
- Paul Robeson
- Seven Miles to Freedom
- Seeds of Change
Teamwork & Collaboration
- Rent Party Jazz
- Juneteenth Jamboree
- Sweet Music in Harlem
- The Legend of Freedom Hill
- The Piano
- Up the Learning Tree
- Drumbeat in Our Feet
- The Secret to Freedom
Optimism & Hope
- Catching the Moon: The Story of a Young Girl’s Baseball Dream
- Zora Hurston and the Chinaberry Tree
- As Fast as Words Could Fly
- Howard Thurman’s Great Hope
Compassion & Love
- Children of Long Ago
- DeShawn Days
- I and I Bob Marley
- Love to Langston
- Love Twelve Miles Long
- Mama’s Window
- Sweet Potato Pie
Passion & Pride
- I See the Rhythm
- The Palm of My Heart: Poetry by African American Children
- Black All Around!
- Drummer Boy of John John
- Going Back Home
Discussion questions when reading and learning about core values:
- How does/do the character(s) show (core value)?
- What positive effects are associated with having/showing (core value)?
- How do you show (core value)?
- How can you work towards having/showing (core value)?
- What core values do you think are important to apply in our classroom? Why?
Further reading on teaching core values with students:
Looking for additional resources for teaching Black History? Check out these lesson plans, videos, and tips:
- African American History Month from the Library of Congress
- Anti-Defamation League: Black History Month
- African American History from ArtsEdge, an education program from the Kennedy Center
- ASALH: A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture
- Guide to Black History Month Teaching Resources from EDSITEment, a project of the National Endowment for the Humanities
- Black History Month Lessons & Resources from the National Education Association
- Celebrate Black History Month from The New York Times’ The Learning Network
- Black History Month resources for the classroom from PBS NewsHour
- Black History Month from Reading Rockets
- Black History Teaching Resources from Smithsonian Education
- African American History Month from TeachingHistory.org
- Remembering Cortez Peters from Lee & Low
- Why Remember Bill Traylor? from Lee & Low
- Why Remember Florence “Baby Flo” Mills? from Lee & Low
- Why Remember Arthur Ashe? from Lee & Low
- Why Remember Toni Stone? from Lee & Low
- Why Remember Robert Smalls? from Lee & Low
Veronica has a degree from Mount Saint Mary College and joined LEE & LOW in the fall of 2014. She has a background in education and holds a New York State childhood education (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6) certification. When she’s not wandering around New York City, you can find her hiking with her dog Milo in her hometown in the Hudson Valley, NY.
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