A Black History Month Book List

February is Black History Month, so I thought it would be a great time to share some of my favorite middle-grade books written by black authors.

Nominated for the 2017 National Book Award, Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia enchants readers with gorgeous musicality. Full of family loyalty, loss, and the blues, it tells the story of Clayton Byrd, an aspiring musician and devoted grandson, and a day he spends “underground” processing the loss of his beloved grandfather.


Jewell Parker-Rhodes never shies away from tough topics. From oil rig explosions to hurricane Katrina, to 9/11, she writes about the impact that these major events have on the physical world and on the minds and hearts of the children who experience them. Towers Falling follows one girl’s journey to make sense of September 11 and its aftermath.


John Lewis is a national treasure and so is his graphic novel series, March. An integral part first of the Civil Rights Movement and now our government, Lewis brings his experiences in the turbulent 60s to life in this amazing series of graphic novels. Gripping and poignant, these books make an important chapter of American history accessible to the younger generation.


Kwame Alexander’s award-winning novel in verse, The Crossover, remains on of  this basketball fan’s all-time favorites. His new one, Booked, introduces us to another sport (soccer) and twelve-year-old Nick, another middle schooler struggling to find his place in the world. This one is particularly well-suited to audiobook format and is read by the author.


It wouldn’t be a booklist from me if it didn’t include a little bit of fantasy. So I’m thrilled to include author Tracey Baptiste’s Rise of the Jumbies. In this follow-up to The Jumbies, we rejoin Corinne de la Mer as she confronts Mama D’Leau, the jumbie who rules the ocean. Read more about the creation of Rise of the Jumbies in our interview with Tracey Baptiste.


Do you have a favorite that isn’t on this list? Do you know of an up-coming title that we should be watching out for? Leave us a comment and let us know. And don’t forget to check out The Brown Bookshelf’s 28 Days Later series to meet even more amazing black authors who write pictures books, middle grade, and young adult books.

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Julie Artz
JULIE ARTZ spent her childhood sneaking into wardrobes hoping to find Narnia. Now that she's older, people think that’s creepy, so she writes middle grade instead. Her stories for children feature the natural world, folklore, mythology, history, and all that is magical about those things. In addition to contributing to The Mixed Up Files, she works as a developmental editor for Author Accelerator, writes about local Washington history for Gatherings, contributes regularly to The Winged Pen, and is co-RA of SCBWI Western Washington. She is represented by Jennie Dunham of Dunham Lit.
1 Comment
  1. Thanks for this list!