Picture Book Recommendations for Black History Month

OthersidepicturebookThe Other Side
Written by Jaqueline Woodson
Illustrated by E.B. Lewis

From the Publisher: Clover’s mom says it isn’t safe to cross the fence that segregates their African-American side of town from the white side where Annie lives. But the two girls strike up a friendship and get around the grown-ups’ rules by sitting on top of the fence together.

Despite being told not to cross the fence, Clover and Annie develop a friendship that transcends both societal and physical boundaries in this simple, yet impactful story. The Other Side confronts racism and prejudice head-on as Clover questions why she isn’t supposed to play with Annie, and neither of the girls understands why there needs to be a fence between them.

“Someday somebody’s going to come along and knock this old fence down.”

Hopeful and uplifting, The Other Side is an excellent book for opening discussions on racism, prejudice, and segregation– and what we can do to remove those fences, symbolic or otherwise.


CartThatCarriedMartin_300The Cart That Carried Martin
Written by Eve Bunting
Illustrated by Don Tate

From the Publisher: The strength and spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. permeates this picture book about the funeral of Dr. King in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1968. Quiet, yet affecting, The Cart that Carried Martin is a unique tribute to the life of a man known worldwide for his outstanding efforts as a leader of the Civil Rights Movement.

“Ordinary mules for an ordinary funeral. That was what he wanted.”

Martin Luther King Jr. was a humble man and it seemed fitting that he be carried to his final resting place in a working man’s mode of transportation. An old cart was found outside an antique store and painted green for “the color of grass when it rains.” The cart was pulled by two mules through the streets of Atlanta to soft singing and moments of silence, first to Ebenezer Baptist Church and then on to Morehouse College.

While The Cart That Carried Martin is a story about Dr. Martin Luther King’s funeral, it is a powerful book to use when discussing his life and his vision. This book also provides opportunities to discuss inferences and symbolism, showing rather than telling the impact Dr. King had on the country and civil rights.


A1gqy7P7OOLChild of the Civil Rights Movement
Written by Paula Young Shelton
Illustrated by Raúl Colón

From the Publisher: In this Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year, Paula Young Shelton, daughter of Civil Rights activist Andrew Young, brings a child’s unique perspective to an important chapter in America’s history. With an activist father and a community of leaders surrounding her, including Uncle Martin (Martin Luther King), Paula watched and listened to the struggles, eventually joining with her family—and thousands of others—in the historic march from Selma to Montgomery.

Paula was born in New York where there are no Jim Crow laws, but when her family sees the Freedom Riders on the news, they decide to return to the south and join the fight for equality.

Both relatable and accessible to young readers, Child of the Civil Rights Movement recounts the experiences of Paula Young Shelton as a child in the heart of the Civil Rights Movement in a collection of short, free-verse poems. Straightforward and clear without omitting details or over-simplifying historical events, this book provides many opportunities to discuss civil rights, protest marches, and the fight for equality.


Check out these stories, along with more books about standing up for freedom on the seasonal cart in the Children’s Department!

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