Five Featured Children’s Books Focused on Black History

Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston

By Alicia D. Williams

Starting with her childhood fascination with oral folk tales and creating stories, this colorful, biographical picture book focuses on author Zora Neale Hurston’s persistence in the face of many obstacles and her willingness to “jump at the sun” repeatedly as she pursued her dreams. The text contains dialect that echoes Hurston’s own work on her and encourages the reader to speak it aloud. This is an excellent introduction to a Black author who changed American literature and committed oral tales to the page to be enjoyed for generations to come. FOR AGES 4-8

Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre

By Carole Boston Weatherford

This important nonfiction picture book tells of the flourishing Greenwood district of Tulsa once known as “Black Wall Street.” Greenwood boasted almost 200 businesses, multiple newspapers, excellent schools and a thriving community. In 1921, a white woman accused a Black man of assault; when a white mob was unable to get to the accused, they unleashed their long-simmering hatred on Greenwood and its residents. Thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed, 300 people were killed and more than 8,000 were left homeless. This horrific incident is covered in a realistic, yet sensitive way, which will educate readers while not being too graphic for most middle elementary students. Author and illustrator notes fill in more details, rooting the massacre in history, as well as drawing personal connections to the material. FOR AGES 7-11

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