Black History Month 2023

« Back

This Black History Month, we’re celebrating the exceptional achievements of black women throughout history, in honour of the theme ‘Saluting Our Sisters’.

We’ve compiled a list of inspiring books for children and young people to enjoy, featuring stories from brilliant black female authors, fearless female protagonists, and books about pioneering black women who blazed trails and changed the world!

You can also discover more great Black History Month reading recommendations from our past and present World Book Day £1 book authors in this article.

Beginning readers

Baby Young, Gifted, and Black: With a Mirror!
Written by Jamia Wilson, illustrated by Andrea Pippins, published by Quarto Publishing

Meet icons of colour from past and present in this baby board book.

Meet figureheads, leaders and pioneers such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, as well as cultural trailblazers like Zadie Smith and athletes like Serena Williams.

Includes a mirror at the back so young dreamers can see themselves next to their heroes.

Look Up!
Written by Nathan Bryon, illustrated by Dapo Adeola, published by Puffin

Meet hilarious, science-mad chatterbox, Rocket – she’s going to be the greatest astronaut, star-catcher, space-traveller that has ever lived! But… can she convince her big brother to stop looking down at his phone and start LOOKING UP at the stars?


Written by Lupita Nyong’o, illustrated by Vashti Harrison, published by Penguin Random House

From Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o comes a powerful, moving picture book about colourism, self-esteem and learning that true beauty comes from within.

Sulwe’s skin is the colour of midnight. She’s darker than everyone in her family, and everyone at school. All she wants is to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister.

Then a magical journey through the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.

Early readers

Amazing Grace
Written by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Caroline Binch, published by Quarto Publishing 

When Grace’s school decides to put on a performance of Peter Pan, Grace longs to play the part of Peter. But her classmates say that Grace absolutely can’t play that part. Peter was a boy, and besides, he wasn’t black… But Grace’s Ma and Nana tell her she can be anything she wants if she puts her mind to it…

A touching and beautiful picture book about being true to yourself and not letting anyone hold you back.

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
Written by Vashti Harrison, published by Penguin Random House

Meet the little leaders. They’re brave. They’re bold. They changed the world.

Featuring 40 trailblazing black women in the world’s history, this book educates and inspires as it relates true stories of women who broke boundaries and exceeded all expectations.

Mae Jemison
Written by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, illustrated by Janna Morton, published by Quarto Publishing

In this book from the critically acclaimed, multimillion-copy bestselling Little People, BIG DREAMS series, discover the life of Mae Jemison, scientist, astronaut and the first ever black woman in space.


The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist
Written by Cynthia Levinson, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, published by Simon & Schuster

Meet the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963, in this moving picture book that proves you’re never too little to make a difference.

Audrey Faye Hendricks was confident and bold and brave as can be, and hers is the remarkable and inspiring story of one child’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.

Fluent readers

Hidden Figures Young Readers’ Edition
Written by Margot Lee Shetterly, published by HarperCollins

Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.

This book brings to life the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, who lived through the Civil Rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the movement for gender equality.

The Extraordinary Life of Rosa Parks
Written by Dr Sheila Kanani, illustrated by Nan Lawson, published by Puffin

Rosa Parks was:
An activist
A campaigner for equal rights
An inspiration

Rosa Parks, the woman known for refusing to give up her seat on the bus, triggered a great shift in the fight for civil rights. Raised in Alabama, Rosa Parks knew all about the racism of her society from an early age. Discover how she became the brilliant activist we know today, in this beautifully illustrated book with real-life stories, timelines and facts to bring her extraordinary story to life.

The Lizzie and Belle Mysteries: Drama and Danger
Written by J.T. Williams , illustrated by Simone Douglas (Illustrator), published by HarperCollins

The Week Junior ‘Children’s Book of the Year: Breakthrough’ Award Winner

A thrilling mystery series set in eighteenth-century London, inspired by real Black British historical figures.

Twelve-year-olds Lizzie Sancho and Dido Belle are from different worlds – Lizzie lives in Westminster in her dad’s tea shop, while Belle is an heiress being brought up by her aunt and uncle at grand Kenwood House – but they both share a love of solving mysteries.

And when their eyes meet in the audience of the Drury Lane theatre one night, both girls are sure they’ve seen something suspicious on stage.

Lizzie and Belle soon find themselves on the trail of a mystery – and becoming best friends. But can they work out what’s going on in time to prevent a murder?

Voices: Diver’s Daughter: A Tudor Story
Written by Patrice Lawrence, published by Scholastic

A gripping heart-in-your-mouth adventure told by Eve, a Tudor girl who sets out on a dangerous journey to change her life for the better.

Voices: Diver’s Daughter – A Tudor Story brings Eve and her mother, who was stolen from her family in Mozambique as a child, from the Southwark slums of Elizabethan London to England’s southern coast.

When they hear from a Mary Rose survivor that one of the African free-divers who was sent to salvage its treasures is alive and well and living in Southampton, mother and daughter agree to try to find him and attempt to dive the wreck of another ship, rumoured to be rich with treasures.

But will the pair survive when the man arrives to claim his ‘share’?

Will Eve overcome her fear of the water to help rescue her mother?

Independent readers

“I Will Not Be Erased”: Our stories about growing up as people of colour
Written by gal-dem, published Walker Books

gal-dem, the award-winning online and print magazine, is created by women and non-binary people of colour. In this life-affirming, moving and joyous collection of fourteen essays, gal-dem’s talented writers use raw material from their teenage years – diaries, poems and chat histories – to give advice to their younger selves and those growing up today.

gal-dem have been praised by the Guardian for being “the agents of change we need”, and these essays tackle important subjects including race, gender, mental health and activism, making this essential reading.

On the Come Up
Written by Angie Thomas, published by Walker Books

The second novel from Angie Thomas returns to the world of Garden Heights for a powerful story about hip hop, freedom of speech – and fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you.

Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. But when her first song goes viral for all the wrong reasons, Bri finds herself at the centre of controversy and portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. And with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it – she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.