5 Classroom Books for Learning About African-American History


African-American history is an essential aspect of American history and should be embraced as a vital part of any educational curriculum. To help teachers and educators incorporate this rich history into their classrooms, we have compiled a list of five insightful books that cover a range of topics related to African-American history. These books are appropriate for different age groups and will offer an engaging learning experience for students as they delve into the lives, stories, and accomplishments of African-Americans in the U.S.

1. “Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson

“Brown Girl Dreaming” is a beautifully written memoir in verse that tells the story of award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson’s childhood in South Carolina and New York during the Civil Rights Movement. This captivating book provides a lens into the experiences of growing up as an African American child during this pivotal time in history. It’s an excellent choice for middle-grade readers who are learning about the Civil Rights Movement and exploring themes such as identity, family, and resilience.

2. “The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963” by Christopher Paul Curtis

This engaging historical fiction novel follows the Watsons, an African American family from Flint, Michigan, as they embark on a road trip to Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. The story effectively portrays the racial climate of America during this era while maintaining a humorous tone through the eyes of 10-year-old Kenny Watson. This book is suitable for upper elementary and middle-grade students studying the Civil Rights Movement or seeking to learn more about the experiences of African Americans in the 1960s.

3. “March Trilogy” by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

This powerful graphic novel trilogy takes readers on a journey through civil rights icon John Lewis’s firsthand account of his tireless fight for justice and equal rights. The three volumes encompass Lewis’s early life, his activism with the Freedom Riders and the March on Washington, and his efforts to secure voting rights in Selma. The “March Trilogy” is an excellent resource for middle school and high school students studying the Civil Rights Movement or those interested in the career of John Lewis.

4. “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly

“Hidden Figures” tells the true story of four African American women who worked as “human computers” at NASA during the Space Race. These trailblazing women overcame racial and gender barriers as they contributed to key breakthroughs in space exploration, while their stories remained largely untold until recently. This inspiring book is a must-read for high school students learning about African-American history and women’s contributions to science.

5. “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

This compelling adaptation of Ibram X. Kendi’s “Stamped from the Beginning” explores the pervasive nature of racism in America throughout history. Author Jason Reynolds tackles this complex subject with clarity and relatability by addressing young readers directly. “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” is an essential resource for high school students seeking to understand the roots of racism, identify current manifestations of prejudice, and engage in antiracist thought.


Incorporating these books into your classroom will provide students with diverse perspectives on African-American history and a greater appreciation for the perseverance, courage, and achievements of African Americans throughout our nation’s past. By engaging with these narratives, students will become more informed citizens better equipped to contribute to a more just society.

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