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Black History Picture Books

Do you need a way to introduce young children to the importance of knowing Black History?  Or maybe you need something to prompt a discussion with older students?  Either way you need one of these new picture books.

The Bell Rang by James E. Ransome
Every single morning, the overseer of the plantation rings the bell. Daddy gathers wood. Mama cooks. Ben and the other slaves go out to work. Each day is the same. Full of grueling work and sweltering heat. Every day, except one, when the bell rings and Ben is nowhere to be found. Because Ben ran. Yet, despite their fear and sadness, his family remains hopeful that maybe, just maybe, he made it North. That he is free.  An ode to hope and a powerful tribute to the courage of those who ran for freedom, this 2020 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor-winning book is a stunning reminder that our past can never be forgotten.  Watch KidLit TV's Young at Art episode featuring the author/illustrator.

Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town by A. LaFaye & Nicole Tadgell
When Dede sees a notice offering land to black people in Kansas, her family decides to give up their life of sharecropping to become homesteading pioneers in the Midwest. Inspired by the true story of Nicodemus, Kansas, a town founded in the late 1870s by Exodusters―former slaves leaving the Jim Crow South in search of a new beginning―this fictional story follows Dede and her parents as they set out to stake and secure a claim, finally allowing them to have a home to call their own.  That the many all-black settlements on the prairie have been whitewashed out of U.S. history makes this book an important one.  Listen to the Reading with Your Kids podcast featuring the author.

Freedom Bird by Jerdine Nolen & James E. Ransome
Brother and sister Millicent and John are slaves on Simon Plenty’s plantation and have suffered one hurt and heartbreak after another. Their parents had told them old tales of how their ancestors had flown away to freedom just as free and easy as a bird. Millicent and John hold these stories in their hearts long after their parents are gone. “Maybe such a time will come for you,” their parents said. Then one day a mysterious bird appears in their lives. The bird transforms them and gives them the courage to set their plan into motion and escape to freedom.  This inspiring story is told in the tradition of American black folktales.  Read the Here Wee Read review to see how this book connects to Jerdine Nolen's other work.

Freedom Soup by Tami Charles & Jacqueline Alcántara
Every year, Haitians all over the world ring in the new year by eating a special soup, a tradition dating back to the Haitian Revolution. This year, Ti Gran is teaching Belle how to make the soup — Freedom Soup — just like she was taught when she was a little girl. Together, they dance and clap as they prepare the holiday feast, and Ti Gran tells Belle about the history of the soup, the history of Belle’s family, and the history of Haiti, where Belle’s family is from.  Watch the food-filled author's appearance on Good Day Philadelphia.

Target Age: 
Katiem's picture