Books for Young Readers to Celebrate Black History Month

Posted by Marie on February 1, 2019
Black History Month
This post is sponsored by Scout Press.


Dhonielle Clayton is a YA author, a 2018 Goodreads Choice Award nominee, and the chief operating officer of We Need Diverse Books, a nonprofit organization that advocates for more diversity in children's publishing.

To honor Black History Month, Clayton partnered with children's author Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich to share a list of new and upcoming books for children, middle-grade, and young adult readers that "represent the wonderful quilt of the black experience."


Black History Month falls in the month of love—candy hearts, roses, Cupid's arrow, and Valentine's Day—and it always felt unfair to be given the shortest month of the year to celebrate the accomplishments and history of black Americans.

But the month of February is also the perfect month to celebrate the vastness of black culture, for these 28 days center on love: the love of culture, the love of food, the love of music, the love of community, the love of family, the love of laughter and jokes, the love of magic—and that is the heart of what it means to be black.


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These recent reading selections we picked for children and young adults represent the wonderful quilt of the black experience and are a taste of the amazing books to come from black authors this year: a boy who tries to save the girl he loves, even if it means messing with time; two cousins who investigate a haunted church and get more than they bargained for; a little girl who learns to use her voice—and lift her hands—to make a stand about what she loves.

We're excited to see contemporary picture books that celebrate all of the ordinariness and extraordinariness of being a black child; middle-grade mysteries that need solving by plucky protagonists; and young adult books that press readers to think about the world around them, to fall in love over and over again, and even to escape dragons.

While anticipating several new debuts on the horizon, we're also eagerly awaiting 2019 children's and young adult books from juggernaut authors such as Jacqueline Woodson, Rita Williams-Garcia, Jason Reynolds, Kadir Nelson, Nic Stone, Don Tate, Sharon G. Flake, Sharon Draper, Renée Watson, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Nicola Yoon, and Gwendolyn Hooks. Plus, debuts from Rena Barron, India Hill Brown, Brittney Morris, Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite, Ronni Davis, and Ashley Franklin.

Be sure to check out their new releases, along with our recommendations below. We hope to continue to see stories like these that capture the spectacular texture of what it means to be black and that celebrate the joy of the black experience.<


Picture Books

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Release: Oct. 1, 2018
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Release: Oct. 2, 2018
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Release: Dec. 31, 2018

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Release: Jan. 1, 2019
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Release: Jan. 8, 2019
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Release: Jan. 8, 2019

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Release: Jan. 8, 2019
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Release: Jan. 22, 2019
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Release: April 30, 2019


Middle Grade

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Release: Jan. 15, 2019

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Release: Feb. 19, 2019

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Release: March 12, 2019

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Release: April 2, 2019

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Release: April 2, 2019

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Release: May 7, 2019

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Release: July 30, 2019

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Release: Aug. 27, 2019


Young Adult

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Release Jan. 8, 2019

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Release: Jan. 29, 2019

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Release: Feb. 5, 2019

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Release: March 5, 2019

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Release: March 5, 2019

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Release: May 7, 2019

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Release: May 21, 2019

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Release: July 30, 2019

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Release: Aug. 20, 2019

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Release: Sep. 2, 2019



Which books would you recommend to young readers for Black History Month? Let us know in the comments!


Check out more recent articles:
The Best Young Adult Books of February
Holly Black Explains Our Fascination with Faeries
43 New & Upcoming Books to Discover This Black History Month

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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message 1: by Destiny (last edited Feb 01, 2019 04:10PM) (new)

Destiny Henderson From the list, I'm excited to read Opposite of Always by Justin Reynolds. Thanks Vanessa, I bet that's a common mistake

This is an older book, but I really liked "Standing Against the Wind." Despite Patrice living in an "impoverished area/ the hood" and having absentee parents, it's not a struggle story. She meets a guardian angel lovable friend and tries to win a scholarship to an African-American academy. I would say this is for MG readers, but I think any age would enjoy


message 3: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa Destiny wrote: "From the list, I'm excited to read Opposite of Always. I think this will be my first Jason Reynolds book.

This is an older book, but I really liked "[book:Standing Against the Wind..."


Hello, just to let you know Justin A. Reynolds wrote Opposite of Always and is a debut author and Jason Reynolds wrote Ghost, Long Way Down, and All American Boys. Just wanted to clear that up. Happy reading!


message 4: by Angie-Leonie (new)

Angie-Leonie I'll be reading 7 of the books mentioned this year, and really looking forward to reading " With the fire on high" the most. I'm sure to highlight books for February, as much as I highlight October, when Black History month takes place here in the UK.


message 5: by Watch (new)

Watch Books Sarah wrote: "Absolutely anything by Christopher Paul Curtis is a must for middle-grade readers!

The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963
Bud, Not Buddy
[book:Elijah of Buxt..."


I second this! Even though, my favorite books of his ( Bud, Not Buddy and The Watsons Go to Birmingham) go beyond the middle grade - I know people of all ages who enjoy these books!

I would recommend my newly discovered books from last year, Ghost and The Boy in the Back Suit both by Jason Reynolds. Great books that capture the Black American experience, authentic and enjoyable.


Latanya (Crafty Scribbles) Well, there goes my book budget. I look forward to reading these titles. Thanks!


message 7: by Megan (new)

Megan A blade so black wasn't bad, I'll be interested to read A Dream So Dark come September


message 8: by DJL (new)

DJL There are SO SO MANY amazing books on this list, and I'm really excited to read Lamar Giles' Spin, Justin Reynolds' The Opposite of Always, Elizabeth Acevedo's With the Fire on High, and of course, Dhonielle Clayton's conclusion to The Belles with The Everlasting Rose.

Gonna see how many I can read in the month of February (though I know With the Fire on High isn't due to release until May). :D

Stellar list, Miss Dhonielle!


message 9: by Richelle (new)

Richelle Robinson I loved Black Enough! Excited for A Dream So Dark. On the Comeup is on my list. Odd One Out by Nic Stone is a book I would recommend.


message 10: by A Lil' Bit (last edited Feb 21, 2019 08:08AM) (new)

A Lil' Bit I am really excited and interested in reading "A Good Kind of Trouble". Has anyone had the privilege to read the ARC? I work in a middle school library and I am fairly set on purchasing it but I always like to know what I am getting before I get it. I've read "On the Come Up" and loved it but it is definitely for a high school clientele.

I didn't see "The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA" by Brenda Woods for younger readers but it was a great historical fiction book, released early Jan. 2019. I don't feel as though we have enough books that address the topic of black soldiers returning to the USA after having fought in WWII and what they faced. Seriously, great read.


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