The Center for Children's Books


Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
African American Heritage

Selected and annotated by Bryan Clark


Adler, David A. Joe Louis: America’s Fighter; illus. by Terry Widener. Gulliver/Harcourt, 2005. 7-10 yrs.
Fighting for American within the boxing ring, Joe Louis stood up for his nation by taking on the Hitler and the Nazis in a world boxing match.

Barasch, Lynne. Knockin’ on Wood: Starring Peg Leg Bates; written and illus. by Lynne Barasch. Lee & Low, 2004. Gr. 2-4.
After losing his leg at the age of twelve, Clayton Bates maintained the courage and drive to become a tap dancer for life.

Bausum, Ann. Freedom Riders: John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movement. National Geographic, 2006. Gr. 6-10
When one white and one black activist join together to fight segregation in the 1960s, it leads to one undeniably powerful ride.

Bolden, Tonya. Wake Up Our Souls: A Celebration of Black American Artists. Abrams, 2004. Gr. 7-12.
African-American artists throughout the ages are honored in this book as the author studies the roles of artistic heritage and tradition in the lives of these individuals.

Cline-Ransome, Lesa. Major Taylor: Champion Cyclist; illus. by James E. Ransome. Schwartz/Atheneum, 2004. 6-10 yrs.
Using speed and talent to his advantage, Marshall Taylor brought the world to attention by winning a victory for African-Americans while on a bicycle.

Engle, Margarita. The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano; illus. by Sean Qualls. Holt, 2006. Gr. 7-12.
Through the appropriate use of verse, Engle puts on display the hard life of both poet and slave-- Juan Francisco Manzano.

Fradin, Judith Bloom. 5,000 Miles to Freedom: Ellen and William Craft’s Flight from Slavery; by Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin. National Geographic, 2006. Gr. 5-10.
Embark on this whirlwind quest for freedom as two Georgian slaves risk their lives to find safety while masquerading in the open.

Freedman, Russell. The Voice that Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights. Clarion, 2004. Gr. 5-8.
Marian Anderson sang for freedom in a time of oppression and hostility. Join her crusade as she reaches into the hearts of a nation to end segregation.

Greenberg, Jan. Romare Bearden: Collage of Memories. Abrams, 2003. Gr. 4-7
View the life of Romare Beraden through his artwork and learn how one man’s memories can decorate a troubled life.

Haskins, Jim. Delivering Justice: W. W. Law and the Fight for Civil Rights; illus. by Benny Andrews. Candlewick, 2005. Gr. 2-4.
Celebrate the impact on racial discrimination that W. W. Law had in Savannah as this biography discusses the leadership that one man brought to his community.

Jurmain, Suzanne. The Forbidden Schoolhouse: The True and Dramatic Story of Prudence Crandall and Her Students. Houghton, 2005. Gr. 4-6.
Miss Crandall wanted to educate the African-American girls in her community. The result was a display of violence and racism by the community around her. Read as this book chronicles the devastation that followed one woman’s desire to teach.

Miller, Calvin Craig. No Easy Answers: Bayard Rustin and the Civil Rights Movement. Morgan Reynolds, 2005. Gr. 6-12.
Leading behind the fame of others, Bayard Rustin maintained much of the Civil Rights Movement from his dishonored position.

Miller, Norma. Stompin’ at the Savoy: The Story of Norma Miller; ed. By Alan Govenar; illus. by Martin French. Candlewick, 2006. Gr. 4-8
Norma Miller danced her way to success. Watch her growth in this personal narrative of what it took to reach the top.

Myers, Walter Dean. The Harlem Hellfighters: When Pride Met Courage; by Walter Dean Myers and Bill Miles. HarperCollins, 2006. Gr. 5-8.
The ‘Harlem Hellfighters’ proved that heroism comes in more than one color at a time when racism was at a height. This exploration into their lives shows the true heroism behind these unsung war heroes.

Nelson, Marilyn. A Wreath for Emmett Till; illus. by Philippe Lardy. Houghton, 2005. Gr. 9 up.
This poetic memorial to Emmett Till revisits the events that led to Emmett’s death and challenges present and future generations to stand against such injustices.

Nelson, Vaunda Micheaux. Juneteenth; by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and Drew Nelson; illus. by Mark Schroder. Millbrook, 20006. Gr. 1-3.
Marking the end to slavery, join African-Americans as they celebrate this historic day that changed the way we view heritage and freedom.

Paulsen, Gary. The Legend of Bass Reeves: Being the True and Fictional Account of the Most Valiant Marshal in the West. Lamb, 2006. Gr. 5-8.
After being freed from slavery, Bass Reeves shows true heroics by serving and honoring the government that first took away his freedom. Enjoy this tale of Bass as he kept order in the West and drew the respect of all around him.

Weatherford, Carole Boston. Dear Mr. Rosenwald; illus. by R. Gregory Christie. Scholastic, 2006. Gr. 3-5.
Julius Rosenwald empowered many African-American communities to overcome poverty and provide education where it was needed most. Through free-verse poetry, this collection shows the courage that Mr. Rosenwald inspired within one such community.

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