Books for Black History Month

February is Black History Month, and we encourage you to visit your local bookstore or library to learn more. In the meantime, we’ve compiled our reading recommendations for you.

All Aboard!All Aboard! Elijah McCoy’s Steam Engine
By Monica Kulling
Illustrated by Bill Slavin
ISBN 9781770495142 | Paperback
Ages 5-8 | Tundra Books
There were few opportunities for the son of slaves, but Elijah McCoy’s dreams led him to study mechanical engineering in Scotland. He learned everything there was to know about engines – how to design them and how to build them. But when he returned to the United States to look for work at the Michigan Central Railroad, the only job Elijah could get was shoveling coal into a train’s firebox. Undaunted, he went on to invent a means of oiling the engine while the train was running, changing the face of travel around the world. 

To The Rescue! Garrett Morgan Underground
By Monica Kulling
Illustrated by David Parkins
ISBN 9781101918821 | Paperback
Ages 5-8 | Tundra Books
The son of freed slaves, Garrett Morgan was determined to have a better life than laboring in the Kentucky fields with his parents and ten siblings. He began by sweeping floors in a clothing factory in Cleveland, Ohio, where he decided to invent a stronger belt for sewing machines. When he was promoted to sewing-machine repairman, Garrett was on his way. In 1911, 146 workers died in the shocking Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City, so Garrett decided to invent a safety hood for firefighters. Little did he know that most people wouldn’t be interested in buying his safety hood when they discovered its inventor was black. But an explosion that trapped workers in a tunnel under Lake Erie soon changed all that. Garrett’s hoods were rushed to the scene and used to rescue as many men as possible. Developed further, Garrett’s invention came to save thousands of soldiers from chlorine gas in the trenches of World War I.

9781770493018-450My Name Is Blessing
By Eric Walters
Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
ISBN 9781770493018 | Hardcover
Ages 6-9 | Tundra Books
Based on the life of a real boy, this warm-hearted, beautifully illustrated book tells the story of Baraka, a young Kenyan boy with a physical disability. Baraka and eight cousins live with their grandmother. She gives them boundless love, but there is never enough money or food, and life is hard –love doesn’t feed hungry stomachs or clothe growing bodies, or school keen minds. Baraka is too young, and, with his disability, needs too much, and she is too old. A difficult choice must be made, and grandmother and grandchild set off on a journey to see if there is a place at the orphanage for Baraka. The story begins by looking at Baraka’s physical disability as a misfortune, but ends by looking beyond the disability, to his great heart and spirit, and the blessings he brings.

9781770495302-450Hope Springs
By Eric Walters
Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
ISBN 9781770495302 | Hardcover
Ages 6-9 | Tundra Books
A drought has settled in the area around the orphanage where Boniface lives. There are long line-ups at the tiny spring where all the local people get their water, and suddenly the orphans are pushed to the back of the line, unwelcome. Boniface’s houseparent, Henry, tells him that the people were mean out of fear–they feared there would not be enough water for their families. When the building of the orphanage’s well is completed, Boniface has an idea to help the villagers. A lovely story of kindness and heart, this story shows that, through compassion and understanding, true generosity can spring from unexpected places.

today is the dayToday is the Day
By Eric Walters
Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
ISBN 9781770496484 | Hardcover
Ages 6-9 | Tundra Books
Mutanu is excited. As she goes about her chores, she thinks about the day to come and what surprises it might bring. For today is no ordinary day at the orphanage she lives in. Every year, the orphanage honors its newest arrivals by creating a birthday day especially for them. From that moment forward, the orphans have a day that they know is theirs–a day to celebrate, a day to enjoy, a day to remember. And today is the day! Based on real children in an orphanage in Kenya, this lovely story shows how something as simple as a birthday, something most of us take for granted, can mean so much in another part of the world.

From the Heart of Africa: A Book of Wisdom
Compiled by Eric Walters
ISBN 9781770497191 | Hardcover
Ages 6-9 | Tundra Books
Aphorisms are universal. They give guidance, context and instruction for life’s issues, and they help us understand each other and the world around us. We use them every day, yet never think about where they came from or why they exist. In this beautifully illustrated collection, Eric Walters brings us classic sayings from the places where this shared wisdom began. Ashanti, Sukuma, Akan and Kikuyu: all of these cultures use the portable and easily shared knowledge contained in aphorisms, and from these cultures and more this communal knowledge spread.

Legends Icons and RebelsLegends, Icons & Rebels: Music That Changed the World
By Robbie Robertson, Jim Guerinot, Sebastian Robertson and Jared Levine
ISBN 9781101918685 | Hardcover
Ages 9-12 | Tundra Books
Music industry veterans Robbie Robertson, Jim Guerinot, Jared Levine, and Sebastian Robertson invite young readers to share with them in celebrating twenty-seven musical legends. Short profiles chronicle personal stories and achievements of extraordinarily talented artists whose innovations changed the landscape of music for generations to come. Carefully compiled like any great playlist, the line-up features originators, rebels, and risk-takers across diverse genres.

9780887769146-450Five Thousand Years of Slavery
By Marjorie Gann and Janet Willen
ISBN 9781770491519 | Ebook
Ages 10+ | Tundra Books
Five Thousand Years of Slavery provides the suspense and emotional engagement of a great novel. It is an excellent resource with its comprehensive historical narrative, firsthand accounts, maps, archival photos, paintings and posters, an index, and suggestions for further reading. Much more than a reference work, it is a brilliant exploration of the worst – and the best – in human society.

Speak a Word for Freedom
By Marjorie Gann and Janet Willen
ISBN 9781770496514 | Hardcover
Ages 12+ | Tundra Books
From the early days of the antislavery movement, when political action by women was frowned upon, British and American women were tireless and uncompromising campaigners. Without their efforts, emancipation would have taken much longer. And the commitment of today’s women, who fight against human trafficking and child slavery, descends directly from that of the early female activists. Speak a Word for Freedom: Women against Slavery tells the story of fourteen of these women.

 

 

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