The 2020-2021 school year is my first year teaching first grade. I’ve always taught upper elementary or middle school. The first thing I’ve noticed is how hard it is to find nonfiction picture books for lower elementary students. Especially books that highlight leaders in Black history. If you’re here you’ve probably run into the same problem!
Your learners may not be ready to read these books independently, but they are simple enough that they can learn new information in one sitting. Okay, well there’s one that may take longer, but it is a necessary addition to the list!
Do me one favor, promise me that you will incorporate Black history throughout the school year, not just in February. These stories can be told all year long!
I will update this list as I find more books! Follow me on Instagram to get updates and ideas for other picture books! If there’s a book you think I should add, comment below!
If you like this list of books, you’ll love The Ultimate List of Diverse Picture Books. There are over 250 books to use in the classroom and home libraries.
Just a friendly reminder, I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you decided to use the links below to purchase the books, I do get a commission. The price of the books does not change for you.
American history with the world. Dr. Woodson eventually created Negro History Week, which would ultimately become Black History Month. This book gives us a glimpse of his life and work. The illustrations are done by my favorite illustrator, Don Tate.
This is the only book on this list that may take longer than one sitting to read. But, I felt that it was important to include it.
If you don’t know Lonnie Johnson, I KNOW you’ve played with his invention, the Super Soaker. Lonnie Johnson (1949-) is a former NASA engineer ad has over 120 patents! This book is about how he followed his passions and ended up creating one of the most popular toys to this day!
Mae Jemison (1956-) is an engineer, a physicist, and is the first African-American woman to travel to space. This book tells a story about how her dream of becoming an astronaut began as a little girl. Although her parents are supportive, her teacher and classmates are not. She sure did prove them wrong!
Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews (1986-) is a New Orleans musician, known for playing the trombone and trumpet. As a child, he wanted to be in a band so bad he started one with his neighborhood friends. In this book, we learn how he got his big break!
Mabel Fairbanks (1915-2001) was a figure skater denied the right to compete in many competitions including the Olympics because she was Black. Although she was unable to compete to show the world her talent, Fairbanks took up coaching to help children of all backgrounds.
Do you know the story of the first Black woman to become a mail carrier?
In 1895, Mary Fields (1832-1914) took the job of driving a stagecoach in the Wild West!
Mary would do whatever it took to make sure her cargo was delivered safely. She fought off wolves and thieves. And she had no problem traveling the dangerous mountain trails.
She even had a pet eagle to help protect her and her packages!
Want more diverse books to add to your library? Check out this list below.