First recognized in 1976, African American History Month or Black History Month celebrates the vital role African Americans have played in American history. Since 1976, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. The theme for 2018, “African Americans in Times of War,” marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and honors the roles that black Americans have played in warfare, from the American Revolution to the present day.

One of the books that we are including in this post ties in nicely with this theme, so, we’ve decided to feature it here:


The United States v. Jackie Robinson by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illus. by R. Gregory Chrisite

Most people know that Jackie Robinson broke barriers in the world of baseball but few may know his story as a soldier during World War II. He experienced prejudice and segregation every day. When ordered to move to the back of a military bus, he refused and was later court-martialed. However, he challenged the segregation laws and won. All of this took place long before anyone had ever heard of Rosa Parks. This biography includes dramatic illustrations by Christie, a Caldecott Honor winning illustrator. A timeline and author’s note are included as well.

Our blog post this month also includes many other books that explore historical issues of importance to people of African descent as well as race relations in America.





Be a King: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You by Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by James E. Ransome

This book introduces and reinforces many of the principles taught by MLK. The illustrations alternate between important moments in Dr. King’s life and a modern classroom that includes children of all races and ethnicities. This book should invite discussion as it helps children make connections between the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. and the continuing fight for change.






Before She was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illus. by James E. Ransome

Through lyrical, poetic text and rich, watercolor illustrations by this husband and wife team, the accomplishments of Harriet Tubman are recounted in reverse chronology. This is a very unique approach that works on so many levels.






Charlie Takes His Shot by Nancy Churnin, illus. by John Joven

This picture book biography tells the story of groundbreaking sports figure, Charlie Sifford, the first black man to compete in the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA) in 1960.  This inspiring book also includes an author’s note and time line.







A Child’s Introduction to African American History by Jabari Asim, illus. by Lynn Gaines

This is a comprehensive chronological introduction to African American history which also features short bios of famous leaders, artists, and athletes. The volume is illustrated which helps to bring the people, places and events to life.






Dream Big Dreams: Photographs from Barack Obama’s Inspiring and Historic Presidency by Pete Souza

Over 75 color photographs, including many candid photos and behind-the-scenes anecdotes, are included in this nicely done volume.






Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison

This collection highlights 40 notable African American women who helped shape U.S. history. Each woman is given one page of text and an accompanying full-page illustration. Some of the women will be familiar to children while many are less well-known.







Martin Luther King Jr.: A Peaceful Leader by Sarah Albee, illus. by Chin Ko

This is a beginning reader that chronicles the milestones in King’s life. A timeline and photographs are included in the back matter.









Martin Rising: Requiem for a King by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illus. by Brian Pinkney

This is a poetic celebration of the final months of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life. The illustrations are loosely drawn, impressionistic interpretations of King and the events that shaped history.








Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters by Michael Mahin, illus. by Evan Turk

This picture book biography looks at the life of McKinley Morganfield, also known as Muddy Waters, the Mississippi-born blues legend whose music and style became a prequel for rock and roll.






Pathfinders: The Journeys of 16 Extraordinary Black Souls by Tonya Bolden

This collective biography includes sixteen lesser known pioneering Americans of African descent. Their backgrounds are diverse yet they are a group that excelled in their own individual ways and made their mark on American history.







The Quilts of Gee’s Bend by Susan Goldman Rubin

African American women in a small rural community in Alabama have been making quilts out of scraps since the days of slavery. These works of art have traveled to many museums throughout the country and some hang today in the Modern Museum of Art in NYC. This book provides the narrative and photos of these women and the passing on of a tradition.





Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by Eric Velasquez

As a child of African descent growing up in Puerto Rico, Arturo Schomburg questioned the omission of written materials about his black heritage. This turned into a passion to learn more. Throughout his adult life he researched and collected written materials. His collection was donated to the New York Public Library and eventually became the foundation for Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Velasquez’s oil paintings are vibrant and stunning. A timeline, source notes and bibliography are included in the back matter.





That is My Dream! by Langston Hughes, illus. by Daniel Miyares

Langston Hughes’ poem “Dream Variation” is brought to life in this beautifully illustrated book. The watercolor illustrations depict an African American boy who struggles with segregation and racial prejudice.




A Time to Act: John F. Kennedy’s Big Speech by Shana Corey, illus. by R. Gregory Christie

On June 11, 1963, JFK, our 35th president, delivered his civil rights address which laid the groundwork for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This biography separates itself from others on Kennedy as it focuses on his role in the civil rights movement. Award-winning illustrator, R. Gregory Christie has depicted people and places in time in dramatic fashion.







Written by Cecilia Horn and Terri Diebel

Cecilia Horn is currently the Juvenile Collection Development Librarian for the Kenton County Public Library. Terri Diebel is a Children’s Librarian at the Covington Branch. Both hold Masters of Library Science degrees and have worked in the field of Children’s Literature for many years. In recent years, they have collaborated on presentations at local, state, and national library and literature conferences.

“Children’s literature is our passion. Through this blog, we hope to share that enthusiasm and love of children’s books. As children’s literature enthusiasts, our blog name pays homage to the classic children’s poem from 1889, “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod,” by Eugene Field.”


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