Authors to Share During Black History Month and All-Year-Round!
Black History Month is an opportunity to share the voices of Black writers, illustrators, and thinkers within your community—whether your group is a school, a library, or even your own family. We have many options, found on our website, for texts that classrooms from K–12 can use that speak to the Black experience. These include: a modern and fun story for young readers about friendship that centers around a Black child; the poetry of Amanda Gorman; a eulogy given at the time of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination; and Eve Ewing’s narrative poem entitled “At work with my father.”
We also wanted to take the time to lift up and share additional stories. Below is a list of some pieces we have loved sharing with our groups, along with a bit about why the work has stood out to us.
My Hair Is a Garden, written and illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera: After enduring an entire day of taunts from her classmates about her unruly hair, Mackenzie turns to her neighbor Miss Tillie for comfort. Miss Tillie uses the metaphor of a garden to help Mackenzie take pride in her hair. This story helps readers find beauty in the things that make them different from others.
Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes: The book follows Maddy, a city girl who visits her family in the bayou for the first time, and blends real-life coming-of-age lessons with southern Black folklore. Maddy falls in love with all things bayou and even believes that there’s a mermaid living in those mystical waters. Readers will love the magic mixed with realistic tragedy and triumph.
For Middle and High School
The Gaither Sisters Trilogy by Rita Williams Garcia: This collection of historical fiction novels focuses on three sisters—Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern—as they spend their summers visiting family members in different parts of the country, against the tumultuous backdrop of 1960s America. Middle-school readers will be drawn to the humor and warmth of the narration, and the lessons learned by these sisters will transfer into readers’ everyday lives.
Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America (anthology edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi): These stories highlight the many aspects of being a Black teenager in America today. We love this anthology, because it has something for every reader who is navigating the pangs of growing up. Because it’s an anthology, the tones of the pieces vary, allowing readers and educators to tailor the selections to the needs of their group. The stories lend themselves well to inquiry-based discussions.
It’s our hope that these books will help inspire you and your readers to begin exploring the variety of writing about the Black experience that is published for all ages. Happy reading!
Senior Professional Learning Consultant
Danielle Martin is an educational consultant for the Great Books Foundation. She has more than 15 years of experience as a teacher, curriculum developer, and instructional coach. She holds an EdM from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an MA in theater history and criticism from Catholic University.
Professional Learning Consultant
As a teacher, Joi Arceneaux built her classroom culture around civil discourse and a love of literacy. After seven years in education as both a classroom teacher and literacy coach, Joi joined the Great Books Foundation as a professional learning consultant. Passionate about literacy and driven by her fervent belief in quality education for all students, Joi is thrilled to support teachers in using the Shared Inquiry approach with their students.