February 17, 2015 | ms.amelia
February is National African American History Month, and we've put together a series of suggestions for children's reading materials. These are chapter books featuring African American characters. Several titles are distinguished by being honored with or winning the Coretta Scott King Award, which is given annually to African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. Also on this list are several authors that have been honored or won the Newbery Award, awarded to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children in the previous year.
NOTE: Children read at different levels at different times in their lives. It is up to the child and their parent to determine which of these suggestions are appropriate for them.
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
Winner of the 2015 Newbery Award and recognized as a 2015 Coretta Scott King Author Honor, this novel in verse follows twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health.
The madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis
A companion novel to Elijah of Buxton, Benji and Red aren't friends, don't even live in the same town, but their fates are entwined as both have encountered a strange presence in the forest, watching them, tracking them.
Stella by starlight by Sharon M. Draper
Written by award-winning author Sharon Draper, 11-year-old Stella discovers the dangers of her Depression-era, segregated town when her father struggles to vote and her whole town strives to avoid the arrival of the Klu Klux Klan.
Unstoppable Octobia May by Sharon G. Flake
It's the 1953 and ten-year-old Octobia May is filled with questions, not only about the racism and secrets that the town is trying to keep quiet, but also if one of her aunt's boarders is a vampire.
The perfect place by Teresa E. Harris
When Treasure's dad goes missing and her mother sets off to find them, Treasure and her sister are sent to live with their Great-Aunt Grace, who is a suspect in some recent robberies.
The lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
Twelve-year-old Marlee befriends new girl Liz, but after Liz's secrets force her to stop coming to school, both girls questions whether their friendship is worth the risk to themselves and their families.
Until the day arrives by Ana Maria Machado ; translated by Jane Springer
Set in the 17th century, two Portuguese orphans are sent to Brazil and, with the help of an aboriginal teenager, they attempt to rescue two African slaves and get them to a village of free slaves hidden deep in the forest.
Little man by Elizabeth Mann
One of the shortest students in his Caribbean Island school, Albert overcomes teasing by joining a troupe of stiltwalkers and learning the tradition that was brought by African slaves.
A medal for Leroy by Michael Morpurgo
Inspired by a true story, Michael learns about his grandfather, a black British Army soldier during WWI, who risked his life to save wounded men but never received recognition for it because of his race.
The sittin' up by Shelia P. Moses
When the patriarch of twelve-year-old Bean's sharecropping community dies, Bean gets a lesson in not only what it means to lose someone you love, but also in how his family and friends care for their dead.
The red pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney ; illustrated by Shane W. Evans
After her tribal village is attacked by millitants, Amira, a young Sudanese girl, must flee to safety at a refugee camp, where she finds hope and the chance to pursue an education, in the form of a single red pencil and the friendship and encouragement of a wise elder.
Glory be by Augusta Scattergood
A debate over a segregated public pool isn't the only thing Gloriana struggles to understand as her teenage sister is distancing herself from twelve-year-old Gloriana.
Walking home by Eric Walters
Kenyan siblings are forced to travel hundreds of miles in search for their last family members when their father is killed by political violence.
Revolution by Deborah Wiles
Set in 1964 and the second book in the Sixties Trilogy (the first one is Countdown), Sunny witnesses what happens when activists from the North arrive in her Mississippi town to help register African American to vote.
The blossoming universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods
A biracial girl finally gets the chance to meet the African American side of her family.