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Empower and Educate This Black History Month

Posted by Sophie Butler on Jan 31, 2024

Empower and Educate This Black History Month

15 New Books to Celebrate With Your Students

Happy Black History Month! As we step into the month of February, it’s time to celebrate the importance of this month. And what better way than with the power of books and their inspiring authors with these black history month books!

We thoughtfully curated this list of 15 brand new titles releasing early 2024 that span all ages for your kiddos. But this month isn’t just about introducing fresh narratives; it’s about recognizing the profound importance of this month. It's a time to honor the remarkable contributions, resilience, and triumphs of Black individuals who have not only shaped history but our literary world.

In our carefully selected titles, we emphasize not only the joy of reading stories crafted by Black authors but also the significance of embracing narratives that feature powerful, loveable Black characters. So let's dive into a world where representation matters, where stories are windows into diverse experiences, and where the magic of literature becomes a tool for understanding, empathy, and celebration.

Picture Books

1. The Spark in You by Andrea Pippins

In this exuberant picture book, the joyous magic of individuality takes center stage as a little girl, set against the lively backdrop of Carnival, celebrates the spark within. Authored by Andrea Pippins, the story embraces creativity, self-expression, and the vibrant explosion of light, color, and flavor.

2. Elijah’s Easter Suit by Brentom Jackson

In this stylish and significant tale, young Elijah embarks on a quest for the perfect Easter church outfit, drawing inspiration from elders in his community. Elijah learns valuable lessons about tradition, culture, and storytelling through clothing, ultimately creating a patchwork masterpiece that reflects his unique journey and heritage.

3. When I Wrap My Hair by Shauntay Grant

This is a poignant and uplifting picture book that beautifully explores the cultural significance of hair wrapping, seamlessly connecting past and present. Through the poetic words of Shauntay Grant and the vibrant illustrations by Jenin Mohammed, the book serves as a celebration of heritage and identity.

4. Homegrown by DeAnn Wiley

DeAnn Wiley introduces a heartwarming picture book that explores the concept of home through the lens of a young girl getting her hair done. Through lush illustrations and poignant storytelling, the book delves into the idea that home is not just a physical space but a reflection of the cherished people and memories that surround us, emphasizing the importance of lifting up both places and individuals that make us feel at home.

5. My Block Looks Like by Janelle Harper

Janelle Harper shares a vibrant and lyrical ode to city life, particularly in the Bronx, capturing the essence of its hustle, diversity, and cultural richness. The picture book celebrates the beauty of everyday scenes, from bodegas to playgrounds, encouraging young readers to take pride in and uplift their communities.

Middle School

6. The Secret Library by Kekla Magoon

Kekla Magoon takes readers on a captivating fantasy adventure as eleven-year-old Dally discovers a mysterious envelope from her late Grandpa, leading her to an ancient vault filled with books that are portals to different moments in time. This masterful middle-grade fantasy weaves together mystery, adventure, and themes of identity.

7. Shark Teeth by Sherri Winston

In Sherri Winston's middle-grade novel, Sharkita "Kita" Hayes navigates the challenges of keeping her family together despite her fears of separation and her mother's troubled past. As Kita grapples with the pressure to maintain appearances and her worst fears, she questions whether the very thing she fears might be the key to her family's well-being and her own.

8. Mid-Air by Alicia D. Williams

In this poignant middle-grade novel in verse, Isaiah grapples with the loss of his best friend, Darius, and the strain on his friendship with Drew. As he navigates the complexities of grief, guilt, and the pressure to conform to societal expectations, Isaiah strives to keep his friendships intact while questioning the cost of suppressing his true self.

9. Warrior on the Mound by Sandra W. Headen

Narrated by twelve-year-old Cato, "Warrior on the Mound" explores racial unrest in prewar North Carolina, following Cato's desire to play baseball. As tensions rise due to a practice on a whites-only baseball field, the story builds to a dramatic match between white and Black little league teams, offering a poignant reflection on segregation, dreams and injustice.

10. Blue Stars: Mission One: The Vice Principal Problem by Kekla Magoon and Cynthia Leitich Smith

In this exciting middle-grade graphic novel, cousins Riley and Maya become everyday superheroes, aiming to save their school and community in Urbanopolis. As they navigate challenges and discover each other's strengths, the relatable and empowering story explores themes of family, community, and compromise, encouraging readers to embrace the stars within themselves.

Young Adult

11. Ghost Roast by Shawneé Gibbs and Shawnelle Gibbs

In the YA graphic novel, Chelsea Grant struggles to distance herself from her dad's ghost hunting business. As Chelsea discovers her ability to see ghosts and encounters Oliver, a friendly spirit, she embarks on a paranormal adventure that intertwines first crushes, lost histories, and the challenge of fitting in when your dad is a professional ghosthunter.

12. Black Girl You Are Atlas by Renée Watson

Renée Watson shares her experiences growing up at the intersections of race, class, and gender in this poetic celebration of Black girlhood. She pays tribute to the Black women who shaped her and passionately calls on Black girls to embrace their power, fostering a strong sense of sisterhood and celebration for young readers.

13. Poemhood: Our Black Revival: History, Folklore & the Black Experience: A Young Adult Poetry Anthology edited by Amber McBride, Erica Martin and Taylor Byas

This is a breathtaking Black YA poetry anthology that brings together thirty-seven powerful poetic voices to celebrate the complexity and richness of Black experiences and traditions. The anthology explores the diverse facets of Black life, fostering a conversation about race, faith, heritage, and resilience through the powerful medium of poetry.

14. How the Boogeyman Became a Poet by Tony Keith, Jr.

In his powerful YA memoir in verse, Tony Keith Jr. recounts his journey from a closeted gay Black teen battling poverty, racism, and homophobia to an openly gay first-generation college student finding freedom in poetry.

15. So Let Them Burn by Kamilah Cole

In this Jamaican-inspired fantasy, Faron Vincent, a gods-blessed heroine, faces a harrowing choice between saving her sister and protecting her homeland. When gods dictate that the only solution is to kill her sister due to an unprecedented bond, Faron and her sister, Elara, must make difficult choices that will shape their lives and the destiny of their world.

We hope these stories continue to resonate, inspire conversations, and foster a lasting commitment to learning about and uplifting Black voices not only during this designated month but all year round. If you want any of these titles or any other title not on our website you can reach out to request a quote. One of our dedicated BookPal Account Managers would love to connect with you today! May these titles serve as stepping stones toward a more inclusive literary landscape, where every voice is heard and every story is cherished.