Arts and Entertainment

National Black History Month reading recommendations

'God Bless the Child,' by Billie Holiday
— image credit: Contributed

Every February, Black History Month provides children with the opportunity to learn and share in the rich history of African Americans, both at school and at home.

Sylvan Learning is deeply dedicated to helping children reading skills. Sylvan offers a range of free resources — including reading lists and online learning aids — aimed at helping children acquire the reading skills they need.

Black History Month provides parents with an opportunity to use reading to bring this important history alive for their child, while helping to build their student’s reading skills.

Each of the following books in Sylvan Learning’s recommended reading list offers an excellent window into black history at the appropriate level for each grade:

• Kindergarten: “God Bless the Child,” by Billie Holiday; “A Picture Book of Rosa Parks,” by David A. Adler and Robert Castilla

• First grade: “Big Jabe,” by Jerdine Nolan; “I Dream of Trains,” by Angela Johnson

• Second grade: “I’ve Seen The Promised Land: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” by Walter Dean Myers; “If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks,” by Faith Ringgold

• Third grade: “Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa,” by Andrea Davis Pinkney; “Beautiful Blackbird,” by Ashley Bryan

• Fourth grade: “When Grandmama Sings,” by Margaree King Mitchell; “Through My Eyes,” by Ruby Bridges and Margo Lundell

• Fifth grade: “Zora and Me,” by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon; “A Pride of African Tales,” by Donna L. Washington

• Sixth grade: “Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans,” by Kadir Nelson; “Extraordinary People of the Harlem Renaissance,” by Stephen P. Hardy

• Seventh grade: “Caleb’s Wars,” by David L. Dudley; “Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America,” by Sharon Robinson

• Eighth grade: “The Black Americans: A History in Their Own Words,” by Milton Meltzer; “Somehow Tenderness Survives: Stories of Southern Africa,” by Hazel Rockman

• Ninth grade: “The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron,” by Howard Bryant; “The Glory Field,” by Walter Dean Myers

• 10th grade: “The Collected Works of Langston Hughes: The Poems,” by Langston Hughes; “Narrative of Sojourner Truth,” by Sojourner Truth

• 11th grade: “Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln,” by John Stauffer; “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker

• 12th grade: “A Raisin in the Sun,” by Lorraine Hansberry; “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” by Zora Neale Hurston

Parents with children in grades K-8 also can take advantage of Book Adventure (, a free, online Sylvan Learning reading resource that provides a fun way to motivate children to read. Book Adventure lets children search for books, read them offline, come back to quiz on what they’ve read and earn prizes for their reading success.

Book Adventure also features Parent’s Place, where parents can monitor their child’s reading progress, track quiz results, approve their child’s prize selection and help them find their next book to read. The site also includes a number of valuable resources, including ideas, informative articles and online tools parents can use to help motivate their child to read.

For more information, visit


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