Picture Book Brain

LOG IN TO YOUR ACCOUNT 
Sign up for the MEMBERSHIP 
cropped Header
start here icon
Start here
BLOG IDEAS
BLOG
about me icon
ABOUT
Games icon
Games
BOOKLIST
Book Lists
shop TPT store
SHOP
CONTACT PICTURE BOOK BRAIN
CONTACT
membership button to click to join
JOIN

17 New and Notable Black History Month 1st Grade Books

Check out these engaging Black History Month 1st grade books for your students. Fun fiction and nonfiction children’s books about Black scientists, artists, inventors, activists and more. Award-winning books about famous African Americans from history. Your students will love these Black History Month lessons and activities for 1st graders! Great ideas for your classroom!

If you’re a member of the Picture Book Brain Trust Community, you already have access to EVERY lesson plan and activity for these books! Just click on the Lesson Plans button in the menu!

Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport

Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the most influential and gifted speakers of all time. Doreen Rappaport uses quotes from some of his most beloved speeches to tell the story of his life and his work in a simple, direct way. Bryan Collier’s stunning collage art combines remarkable watercolor paintings with vibrant patterns and textures. A timeline and a lsit of additional books and web sites help make this a standout biography of Dr. King. Definitely one of my favorite read aloud books for 3rd grade to talk about MLK and activism.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Martin’s Big Words HERE

Check out these engaging Black History Month 1st grade books for your students. Fun fiction and nonfiction children's books about Black scientists, artists, inventors, activists and more. Award-winning books about famous African Americans from history. Your students will love these Black History Month lessons and activities for 1st graders! Great ideas for your classroom!
PIN ME!

Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine

Henry Brown doesn’t know how old he is. Nobody keeps records of slaves’ birthdays. All the time he dreams about freedom, but that dream seems farther away than ever when he is torn from his family and put to work in a warehouse. Henry grows up and marries, but he is again devastated when his family is sold at the slave market. Then one day, as he lifts a crate at the warehouse, he knows exactly what he must do: He will mail himself to the North. After an arduous journey in the crate, Henry finally has a birthday — his first day of freedom.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Henry’s Freedom Box HERE

Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe

Jean-Michel Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocketed to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art world had ever seen. But before that, he was a little boy who saw art everywhere: in poetry books and museums, in games and in the words that we speak, and in the pulsing energy of New York City. Now, award-winning illustrator Javaka Steptoe’s vivid text and bold artwork echoing Basquiat’s own introduce young readers to the powerful message that art doesn’t always have to be neat or clean–and definitely not inside the lines–to be beautiful. This is the most memorable narrative nonfiction books for 5th grade, especially if you’re studying art and artists.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Radiant Child HERE

I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes

The confident Black narrator of this book is proud of everything that makes him who he is. He’s got big plans, and no doubt he’ll see them through–as he’s creative, adventurous, smart, funny, and a good friend. Sometimes he falls, but he always gets back up. And other times he’s afraid, because he’s so often misunderstood and called what he is not. So slow down and really look and listen, when somebody tells you–and shows you–who they are. There are superheroes in our midst!

Get the lesson plan and activities for I Am Every Good Thing HERE

RESPECT: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul by Carole Boston Weatherford

Aretha Franklin was born to sing. The daughter of a pastor and a gospel singer, her musical talent was clear from her earliest days in her father’s Detroit church where her soaring voice spanned more than three octaves. Her string of hit songs earned her the title “the Queen of Soul,” multiple Grammy Awards, and a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But Aretha didn’t just raise her voice in song, she also spoke out against injustice and fought for civil rights. This book is told through musical verse with award-winning illustrations by Frank Morrison.

In addition to being one of my favorite books for Women’s History Month, I also really like it for women in sports and entertainment and to talk about different forms of activism.

Get the lesson plan and activities for RESPECT: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul HERE

Going Down Home With Daddy by Kelly Lyons

“On reunion morning, we rise before the sun. Daddy hums as he packs our car with suitcases and a cooler full of snacks. He says there’s nothing like going down home.”

Down home is Granny’s house. It’s where Lil Alan and his parents and sister will gather with great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Down home is where Lil Alan will hear stories of the ancestors and visit the land that has meant so much to all of them. And down home is where all of the children will find their special way to pay tribute to their family history. All the kids have to decide what they’ll share, but what will Lil Alan do?

Get the lesson plan and activities for Going Down Home With Daddy HERE

The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles

The inspirational true story of Ruby Bridges. The year is 1960, and six-year-old Ruby Bridges and her family have recently moved from Mississippi to New Orleans in search of a better life. When a judge orders Ruby to attend first grade at William Frantz Elementary, an all-white school, Ruby must face angry mobs of parents who refuse to send their children to school with her.

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Story of Ruby Bridges HERE

All Because You Matter by Tami Charles

Discover this poignant, timely, and emotionally stirring picture book, an ode to Black and brown children everywhere that is full of hope, assurance, and love.

Get the lesson plan and activities for All Because You Matter HERE

Salt In His Shoes by Deloris Jordan

Michael Jordan. The mere mention of the name conjures up visions of basketball played at its absolute best. But as a child, Michael almost gave up on his hoop dreams, all because he feared he’d never grow tall enough to play the game that would one day make him famous. That’s when his mother and father stepped in and shared the invaluable lesson of what really goes into the making of a champion—patience, determination, and hard work. Another great book for social emotional learning to talk to students about perseverance and grit.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Salt In His Shoes HERE

The Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby by Crystal Hubbard

Born into an African American sharecropping family in 1880s Kentucky, Jimmy Winkfield grew up loving horses. The large, powerful animals inspired little Jimmy to think big. Looking beyond his family s farm, he longed for a life riding on action-packed racetracks around the world. Like his hero, the great Isaac Murphy, Jimmy Wink Winkfield would stop at nothing to make it as a jockey. Though his path to success was wrought with obstacles both on the track and off, Wink faced each challenge with passion and a steadfast spirit.

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby HERE

Brave Ballerina by Michelle Meadows

Janet Collins wanted to be a ballerina in the 1930s and 40s, a time when racial segregation was widespread in the United States. Janet pursued dance with a passion, despite being rejected from discriminatory dance schools. When she was accepted into the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as a teenager on the condition that she paint her skin white for performances, Janet refused. She continued to go after her dreams, never compromising her values along the way. It tells her story from her early childhood lessons to the height of her success as the first African American prima ballerina in the Metropolitan Opera. An excellent book for Black History Month!

Get the lesson plan and activities for Brave Ballerina HERE

Game Changers by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Venus and Serena Williams. Two peas in a pod. Best friends. Sisters. Six days a week they awoke before the sun came up to practice their serves and returns, to learn to run faster and hit harder. They were unstoppable. At age fourteen, Venus played her first professional match. Three years later, it was Serena’s turn. It wasn’t easy. Some tennis fans cheered for these two fresh faces, while those who were unhappy to see two black girls competing in a nearly all-white sport booed and taunted them. But they didn’t let it stop them.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Game Changers HERE

Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford

As slaves relentlessly toiled in an unjust system in 19th century Louisiana, they all counted down the days until Sunday, when at least for half a day they were briefly able to congregate in Congo Square in New Orleans. Here they were free to set up an open market, sing, dance, and play music. They were free to forget their cares, their struggles, and their oppression. This story chronicles slaves’ duties each day, from chopping logs on Mondays to baking bread on Wednesdays to plucking hens on Saturday, and builds to the freedom of Sundays and the special experience of an afternoon spent in Congo Square. A beautiful book written as a poem.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Freedom in Congo Square HERE

Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed

Inspired by the story of Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space. When Little Mae was a child, she dreamed of dancing in space. She imagined herself surrounded by billions of stars floating gliding and discovering. Follow Mae as she learns that if you can dream it and you work hard for it, anything is possible. An amazing story about a diverse scientist!

Get the lesson plan and activities for Mae Among the Stars HERE

Follow The Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter

Winter’s story begins with a peg-leg sailor who aids slaves on their escape on the Underground Railroad. While working for plantation owners, Peg Leg Joe teaches the slaves a song about the drinking gourd (the Big Dipper). A couple, their son, and two others make their escape by following the song’s directions. Rich paintings interpret the strong story in a clean, primitive style enhanced by bold colors. The rhythmic compositions have an energetic presence that’s compelling

Get the lesson plan and activities for Follow the Drinking Gourd HERE

The Oldest Student by Rita Lorraine Hubbard

In 1848, Mary Walker was born into slavery. At age 15, she was freed, and by age 20, she was married and had her first child. By age 68, she had worked numerous jobs, including cooking, cleaning, babysitting, and selling sandwiches to raise money for her church. At 114, she was the last remaining member of her family. Later, at 116, she learned to read. From Rita Lorraine Hubbard and rising star Oge More comes the inspirational story of Mary Walker, a woman whose long life spanned from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, and who–with perseverance and dedication–proved that you’re never too old to learn. Also a great book to read during Black History Month!

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Oldest Student HERE

The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver by Gene Barretta

When George Washington Carver was just a young child, he had a secret: a garden of his own.

Here, he rolled dirt between his fingers to check if plants needed more rain or sun. He protected roots through harsh winters, so plants could be reborn in the spring. He trimmed flowers, spread soil, studied life cycles. And it was in this very place that George’s love of nature sprouted into something so much more—his future.

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver HERE

Black History Month Lesson Plans Elementary

I have several bundles of lesson plans for Black History Month for 1st grade. All are books from this list of Black History Month 1st grade books.

Black History Month Picturebookbrain

Free Printable Black History Worksheets

You can get a free lesson, printable worksheets and digital resources including Google Slides and Docs by signing up below:

Black History Curriculum For Kids

There are a TON of other amazing books for students to learn Black history.

Check out some of these other topics:

Best Black History Month 1st Grade Books

What are some of your favorite Black History Month 1st grade books? Are there any must read Black History Month 1st grade books that I left out? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add it!

If you’re a member of the Picture Book Brain Trust Community, you already have access to EVERY lesson plan and activity for these books! Just click on the Lesson Plans button in the menu!

Check out these engaging Black History Month 1st grade books for your students. Fun fiction and nonfiction children's books about Black scientists, artists, inventors, activists and more. Award-winning books about famous African Americans from history. Your students will love these Black History Month lessons and activities for 1st graders! Great ideas for your classroom!
PIN ME!

Other Great 1st Grade Read Aloud Stories

Looking for other great 1st grade read alouds? Here are a few more to explore:

32 Best Read Alouds for 1st Graders

Narrative Nonfiction Books for 1st Grade

38 Amazing Read Aloud Books for 1st Grade

Summer Reading List for 1st Grade

Realistic Fiction Books For 1st Graders

First Grade Earth Day Books and Activities

22 New Back to School Books for First Grade

Share with a Colleague:

Other Posts You Might Like:

Picture Book Brain Logo

Hey there! I’m Josh from Picture Book Brain here to share only the best literature for you to use with your students. If you are looking for a specific book, use the search bar below to check my archives. Glad you’re here, and glad to help you!

find what you need

become a member

find books you need

Get free training

Have a question?

membership info