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Black History Month UK: Top kids books

Since 1987, the UK has celebrated Black History Month every October. And whilst it’s so important for schools and other institutions to have this as a focus every autumn, learning about the subject of Black history and the many ways in which Black people have shaped life in this country should be reflected upon year-round. Check out our Founder’s note on talking about racism with your kids here for more thoughts.

In Banjo’s series of Black History Month blogs, we are starting off our suggestions for great kids’ books to read when talking to your children about Black History Month:

This Jazz Man By Karen Ehrhardt

Music and dance are great themes to explore with little kids during Black History Month. Aimed at ages 3+, they will love this toe-tapping, finger-snapping tribute to African-American jazz icons, set to the rhythm of the classic children’s song “This Old Man.” It’ll even help with their counting! 

Follow the Drinking Gourd By Jeanette Winter

This is a folktale about a white sailor named Peg Leg Joe teaching a group of slaves a song to “follow the drinking gourd” (the Big Dipper, a very well known song) north to escape slavery. The rhythmic story and colorful illustrations help show children the importance of the Underground Railroad — the real life secret path to freedom for thousands of African-Americans! A must read for your little ones.

The Other Side By Jacqueline Woodson

Aimed at 5-8 year olds, this book tells the story about the fence behind Clover’s house that marks the town line that separates Black people from white people. Clover’s mother warns her that it isn’t safe to cross the fence, but Clover is curious to meet Anna, the white girl who lives on the other side. The two girls work around the rules of segregation and form an unlikely friendship by sitting together on top of the fence. A great story about inclusion and friendship.

Who Was Rosa Parks? By Yona Zeldis McDonough

In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama. This seemingly small act triggered civil rights protests across America and earned Rosa Parks the title “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.” Her quiet courage led to big changes and won the world’s admiration! This book will spark a lot of questions with your little one and a great start to discussing Black history. Check out the other Black history role models in the Who Was series too including Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and many more.

Skin Like Mine By LaTashia Perry 

An entertaining yet creative way to address and celebrate diversity among young children. This book is about accepting your own skin color and being proud of it as it is one of a kind. It shows that everyone’s skin is different and beautiful.

Dream Big, Little One By Vashti Harrison

This book showcases women who changed the world and is the perfect goodnight book to inspire big dreams. Featuring 18 trailblazing Black women in American history, Dream Big, Little One is the board book adaptation of Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History. Thoroughly entertaining!

Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison

In the same series, you can also learn all about the exceptional Black men who broke barriers and fought injustice to realise their dreams and make the world a better place.The men featured include writer James Baldwin, artist Aaron Douglas, photographer Gordon Parks, diplomat Kofi Annan, comic book author Dwayne McDuffie, and musician Prince. 

Young, Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present by Jamia Wilson

Meet 52 Black icons from the past and present in this celebration of inspirational achievement—a collection of stories about changemakers to encourage, inspire and empower the next generation of changemakers. 

Also, check out these short films of family conversations about Black History Month over on CBeebies too. Finally, here is a blog that we did in the summer which includes some anti-racism resources. Learning about the experiences and contributions of all people, especially those who are less represented in the history books, is the only way that we can become an inclusive society. 

Stay FANTASTIC!

Lots of love, Banjo HQ x


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