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Black History Month: Books to Read

In honor of February being Black History month, I am sharing two books that we own that I recommend reading – starting with a book that I count as one of the most influential reads of my life.

To Be a Slave by Julius Lester

Author Julius Lester is descended from slaves, and this heritage inspired him to put together the book, To Be a Slave, featuring words of slaves together with historical commentary from the author. The book tells slavery as it truly was in America, and as a result the content is very serious. The recommended age for readers is 10 and up. I first read the book when I was eight years old; I was a serious and thoughtful child and could understand and think about what I read at that age (remember I had already dealt with a cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy by that time). To Be a Slave remains one of the most influential books I have read in my life. It is a book that I think everyone should read. As Julius Lester says, “We repeat history until we are able to make another’s pain in the heart our own.” This is a history we cannot afford to repeat.

Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My True Story by Ruby Bridges

Ruby Bridges was the first black child to attend William Frantz Elementary School following the court-ordered integration of schools in New Orleans in 1960. She was only six years old, and the only black child in an incredibly unwelcoming environment. Her narration of the story in Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My True Story emphasizes the fact that one person can make a difference – even a very small child who is brave and willing to persevere against tremendous odds.

Black History Month 2015 | Multicultural Kid Blogs

This post is part of the Black History Month series on Multicultural Kid Blogs. Be sure to visit the main page for the full schedule and to link up your own posts about sharing Black History Month with kids.

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

11 thoughts on “Black History Month: Books to Read”

  1. Powerful selections, MaryAnne. You said it beautifully: “This is a history we cannot afford to repeat.”

  2. I finally got to see Endeavor here in LA at the Science Center when my work hosted its holiday party there. Such a site! Hands down, the best holiday party ever :)

    You’ve got to read The Warmth of Other Suns if you’re interested in the migration of black Americans from the south and towards the west and the north. Such a good read.

    1. What a great location for a work party! I will definitely look for a copy of The Warmth of Other Suns – thank you for the recommendation!

  3. These sound like excellent suggestions. Some people may not realize that in the areas where slavery was actually practiced, authorities are still struggling to desegregate the schools. I have found that the best way to build relationships that bring healing is to face the ugly realities and be ready discuss them. It is not fun, but it is extremely important. Reading books like you mention here is a wonderful way to learn empathy. Thank you for bringing them to our attention.

    1. Yes, I think you are right that if you haven’t spent time in a part of the country where slavery was happening it is easy to think that this is a problem only in the past.

  4. Natalie PlanetSmartyPants

    Kids had Ruby Goes to School for their Project Cornerstone this week. The teacher sent home an email telling parents that she is proud, because kids couldn’t even comprehend the notion that people could be segregated by color once and kids of different races didn’t go to school together.

  5. I think I would love to read het first two books you mention. Ruby Bridges Goes to School sounds like an inspiring read, and To Be a Slave sounds like one that will open my eyes.

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