For Black History Month: A timeline of books

For Black History Month: A timeline of books

Gossett, Thelma T

A timeline of books? Well, it’s not your usual sort of timeline, stretching from left to right and showing significant dates and events. But it does go from then to now and you can use it the same way you’d use a regular timeline.

The titles listed below cover the range of grades 2 through 8 in interest and reading ability. Many gaps in the timeline can be filled by using the titles at the end which include several personalities and time spans.


Aardema, Verna. Misoso: Once Upon a Time Tales from Africa. Apple Soup, 1994. A collection of 12 fables and tales from Africa.

Isadora, Rachel. At the Crossroads. Greenwillow, 1991. An account of Black South African family life as children welcome their fathers ho have been away working in the mines.

Musgrove, Margaret. Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions. Dial, 1976. A 1977 Caldecott Award inner, this a-b-c book describes ceremonies and customs of over 20 African tribes.

Onyeulu, Ifeoma. A Is for Africa. Dutton, 1993. An alphabet book in which the author/photographer presents 26 things, “based on my own favorite images of the Africa I know.”


Hamilton, Virginia. Many Thousand Gone: African Americans From Slavery to Freedom. Knopf, 1993. A book for young people, which traces the history of slavery in this country and spotlights the Underground Railroad.

Hamilton, Virginia. The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales. Knopf, 1985. A collection of African American folktales that have been passed on from slavery and other periods.

McKissack, Patricia. Christmas in the Big House. Scholastic, 1994. A collection of stories, poems and songs that give insight into Christmas customs on Southern plantations during the pre-Civil War era.


Jackson, Garnet. Benjamin Banneker: Scientist. Modern Curriculum Press, 1993. This paperback outlines the life and works of one of America’s earliest astronomers.

Sherrow, Victoria. Phillis Wheatly: Poet. Chelsea House, 1992. The life story of a woman who, although a slave, gained renown throughout the colonies as the first important African American poet.

Adler, David. A Picture Book of Sojourner Truth. Holiday House, 1994. A child’s introduction to the life of a woman who became a well-known abolitionist and crusader for the rights of African Americans and women.

Ferris, Jeri. Walking the Road to Freedom: A Story About Sojourner Truth. Carolrhoda, 1988. Five chapters trace the life of an African American orator who spoke out against slavery.

Krass, Peter. Sojourner Truth: Antislavery Activist. Chelsea House, 1988. A selection from the series “Black Americans of Achievement.”


Jackson, Garnet. Frederick Douglass, Freedom Fighter. Modern Curriculum Press, 1993. A biography for young readers about an American writer, orator and abolitionist.

Adler, David. A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman. Holiday House, 1992. A children’s biography of a Black woman who became a conductor on the Underground Railroad.

Ferris, Jeri. Go Free or Die: A Story About Harriet Tubman. Carolrhoda, 1988. An easy-to-read biography of a Black woman whose cruel experiences as a slave in the South led her to seek freedom in the North for herself and others through the Underground Railroad.

Bisson, Terry. Nat Turner: Slave Revolt Leader. Chelsea House, 19. A biography of the slave and preacher who led a major revolt in 1831. A selection from the series “Black Americans of Achievement.”

Hopkinson, Deborah. Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt. Knopf, 1993. A young slave girl stitches a quilt with a map pattern which guides her to freedom in the North.

Lawrence, Jacob. Harriet and the Promised Land. Simon & Schuster, 1993. An African American artist portrays Harriet Tubman’s struggles to reach freedom for herself and others.

Meltzer, Milton. Underground Man. Harcourt Brace, 1990. A biography of Calvin Fairbanks, a young white man who risked his life to rescue slaves in Kentucky.

Ringgold, Faith. Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad. Crown, 1992. Two children retrace the steps of escaping slaves on the Underground Railroad.

Stein, R. Conrad. The Story of the Underground Railroad. Children’s Press, 1981. A nonfictional account that introduces the network of individuals and groups who assisted slaves in their escape from captivity.

Winter, Jeannette. Follow the Drinking Gourd. Knopf, 1988. The directions in the words of a song, taught to them by an old sailor, lead escaping slaves on a journey along the Underground Railroad.

McKissack, Patricia and Frederick. Ida B. Wells-Barnett: A Voice Against Violence. Enslow Publications, 1991. An easy-to-read biography of a Black female journalist who campaigned for civil rights.

Katz, William Loren. Black People Who Made the Old West. Africa World, 1992. A collection of short biographies of African Americans in the Old West.

Jackson, Garnet. Elijah McCoy: Inventor. Modern Curriculum Press, 1993. The biography of the Black engineer who invented the automatic lubricator for railway systems.

Jackson, Garnet. Maggie Walker: Business Leader. Modern Curriculum Press, 1994. A few easy-to-read chapters on the life and legacy of this early African American businesswoman.


Lawrence, Jacob. The Great Migration: An American Story. HarperCollins, 1993. A collection of paintings that illustrate how many African Americans made the journey North in search of a better life.

McKissack, Patricia and Frederick. James Weldon Johnson: Lift Every Voice and Sing. Children’s Press, 1990. Traces the life of this writer and civil rights leader as he fights injustice through his songs, poetry and prose.

Jackson, Garnet. Garrett Morgan: Inventor, Modern Curriculum Press, 1993. An easy-to-read, rhyming account of the life and contributions of an African American inventor.


McKissack, Patricia and Frederick. W.E.B. DuBois: An Impact Biography. Franklin Watts, 1990. Traces the life, writings and political involvement of one of the founders of the NAACP.

Rochelle, Belinda. When Joe Louis Won the Title. Houghton Mifflin, 1994. An exciting account of how a great African American boxer won the heavyweight championship.

Greenfield, Eloise. Mary McLeod Bethune. HarperCollins, 1994. A chronicle, for young readers, of the life of an extraordinary educator and leader.

Meltzer, Milton. Mary McLeod Bethune. Puffin Books, 1988. Follows the life and achievements of a woman largely instrumental in the creation of educational and governmental advancement for Blacks.

Adler, David. A Picture Book of Jesse Owens. Holiday House, 1992. An easy-to-read biography of the African American track star who competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Greene, Carol. Thurgood Marshall: First African American Supreme Court Justice. Children’s Press, 1991. The life story of the noted African American jurist.

Adler, David. A Picture Book of Jackie Robinson. Holiday House, 1994. Traces the life of the first Black in major league baseball.


Adler, David. A Picture Book of Rosa Parks. Holiday House, 1993. A biography of the African American whose refusal to give up a seat on a bus helped establish the civil rights movement.

Stein, Richard C. The Montgomery Bus Boycott. Children’s Press, 1993. An in-depth presentation of the boycott and the people who made it successful.

Adler, David. A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday House, 1989. An illustrated biography of the civil rights leader.


Duncan, Alice Faye. The National Civil Rights Museum Celebrates Everyday People. BridgeWater Books, 1995. A writer and a photographer take readers on a memorable civil rights journey.

McKissack, Patricia and Frederick. The Civil Rights Movement in America From 1865 to the Present. Children’s Press, 1991. Traces the movement for young readers.

Rummel, Jack. Malcolm X. Chelsea House, 1989. The life of a Black Muslim who became a leader of a movement to unite people.


Roberts, Naurice, Barbara Jordan: Great Lady from Texas. Children’s Press, 1990. The life story of the lawyer and teacher from Texas who served three terms in Congress.

Jackson, Garnet. Shirley Chisolm. Modern Curriculum Press, 1994. The life of the first African American woman to serve in Congress.


Haskins, Jim and Kathleen Benson. Space Challenger: The Story of Guion Bluford. Carolrhoda Books, 1984. A biography of Guy Bluford, the first African American in space.

Haskins, James. I Am Somebody] A Biography of Jesse Jackson. Enslow, 1992. Traces the life of Jesse Jackson–civil rights activist, minister and presidential candidate.

Wilkinson, Brenda. Jesse Jackson: Still Fighting for the Dream. Silver Burdett, 1990. A biography of the civil rights activist.


Beaton, Margaret. Oprah Winfrey: TB Talk Show Host. Children’s Press, 1990. A biography of the talk show host that traces her beginnings in Mississippi to her achievements in broadcasting.

Everston, Jonathan. Colin Powell. Bantam, 1990. The story of the man who held the highest ranking military office in U.S. history.

Jackson, Garnet. Mae Jemison. Modern Curriculum Press, 1994. Traces the life of an astronaut and physician who became the first African American woman to travel in space.

Moutoussamy-Ashe, Jeanne. Daddy and Me. Knopf, 1993. A photo story of the famed tennis star and his daughter, showing how his family deals with the reality of AIDS.


Haskins, Jim. One More River to Cross: Stories of Twelve Black Americans. Scholastic, Inc., 1992. Short, read-aloud biographies of people such as Crispus Attucks, Fannie Lou Hamer and Ronald McNair.

Levine, Ellen. Freedom’s Children. Putnam, 1993. Children of the civil rights movement share their experiences through narratives and photographs.

Ringgold, Faith. Dinner at Aunt Connie’s House. Hyperion, 1993. Paintings in Aunt Connie’s attic provide a museum-like history of famous African American women.

Turner, Glennette T. Take a Walk in Their Shoes. Puffin Books, 1989. A presentation of 14 biographical sketches, some with skits of notable African Americans.

Copyright Early Years, Inc. Feb 1996

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