Black History Month: Chapter Books for Older Readers

As your older readers move past picture books, even as an in-class tool, you may struggle to keep Black History Month fresh and relevant for your students. Here is a selection of chapter books that can supplement your in-class instruction in an interesting and age-appropriate way. If you’re looking for a list of teaching aids for Black History Month, check this post.

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Black History Month: Book Recommendations

African-American History Month, celebrated every February, is a federally recognized event that explores the unique social, cultural, and economic history of one group of marginalized Americans who have contributed invaluably to American society. According to the Library of Congress site dedicated to the month, the month-long celebration we know today began in 1976, while before it was only one week.

Here is a selection of books and websites that might be useful as you explore Black history with your kids. Take a look at this post for books on celebrating different skin colors and racial diversity in general, and this post for a list of fiction chapter books to share with your older students! (I will be book talking a book each week in library class in February.)

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“Doll Bones” by Holly Black

Title: Doll Bones

Author: Holly Black

Rating: 4/5 stars

Reviewer: Ms. Johnson


This is the first DCF book I’ve picked up, believe it or not. I love a bit of history in my fiction, so this one was a perfect choice for my first foray into YA fiction in a very long time.

I love ghost stories, and this one is absolutely fabulous. Black draws on turn-of-the-century social and cultural history, specifically the pottery industry, to create another world that we only glimpse through the eyes of a doll. The disturbing view we get is certainly compelling, and despite having no lines, the deceased are the most fascinating characters of the story.

That being said, I turn to the less fascinating characters of the story- Alice, Poppy, and Zachary- main characters whose cliched personalities lead to uninteresting dialogue and a predictable “coming-of-age” melodrama. Had the book focused on its spectral characters, this would have been a five-star review- but Black falls short, with not even her tween-appropriate lingo or pop culture references enough to win back that last star from after-school special mediocrity.