Books You Should Read for Black History Month

As we recognize Black History Month and celebrate countless achievements by black Americans, our team at Hearts & Homes for Youth would like to share our top picks for books to read during Black History Month.

The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson

A beautifully written historical account of the decades-long migration of black citizens from the South to the North and West. This masterpiece is rich with data, official records, and narratives of individual experiences.

The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream, by Sampson Davis

This memoir follows three teenagers from a rough part of Newark, New Jersey, who made a pact to attend medical school together. Also check out: The Bond: Three Young Men Learn to Forgive and Reconnect with Their Fathers, by Sampson Davis.

Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston

A classic Southern love story centered around a strong black female protagonist. Also check out Native Son by Richard Wright

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander

Legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that racial caste in America has not ended, and that Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control.

S Street Rising: Crack, Murder, and Redemption in D.C., by Ruben Castaneda

A memoir of a crack addict and portrait of Washington D.C. during the height of the crack epidemic.

The Other Wes Moore, by Wes Moore

A book that documents the lives of two young men with the same name, born in the same area, but launched into different directions as a result of choices and opportunities.

From the Hood to the Hill: A Story of Overcoming, by Barry C. Black

From the Hood to the Hill is Chaplain Black’s story of overcoming unpromising beginnings in the ghettos of Baltimore.

Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party, by Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin

Black against Empire is a comprehensive overview and analysis of the history and politics of the Black Panther Party.

Untold Glory: African Americans in Pursuit of Freedom, Opportunity, and Achievement, by Alan Govenar

Untold Glory offers a fresh perspective on one of the most fundamental elements of American history—the conquest of new frontiers. In twenty-seven fascinating first-person accounts, African Americans from different eras, backgrounds, and occupations explore and reflect on the meaning of frontier, both literally and metaphorically.

Africana, by Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates

Inspired by the dream of the late African American scholar W.E.B. Du Bois and assisted by an eminent advisory board, Harvard scholars Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Kwame Anthony Appiah have created the first scholarly encyclopedia to take as its scope the entire history of Africa and the African Diaspora.

The Mis-education of the Negro, by Carter G. Woodson

This book by the founder of Black History Month, Carter G. Woodson, is an exploration of what it means to be black in America.

Up from Slavery, by Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington describes events in a remarkable life that began in bondage and culminated in worldwide recognition for his many accomplishments. In simply written yet stirring passages, he tells of his impoverished childhood and youth, the unrelenting struggle for an education, early teaching assignments, his selection in 1881 to head Tuskegee Institute, and more.

The Souls of Black Folks, by W.E.B. DuBois

This landmark book is a founding work in the literature of black protest. W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963) played a key role in developing the strategy and program that dominated early 20th-century black protest in America. In this collection of essays, first published together in 1903, he eloquently affirms that it is beneath the dignity of a human being to beg for those rights that belong inherently to all mankind.

Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Malcolm X

This autobiography traces Malcolm X’s journey from being born as Malcolm Little to becoming one of the black freedom movement’s most recognizable figures. He describes his life experiences, from encountering racism, to being imprisoned, to being reborn through the Nation of Islam.

Black Boy, by Richard Wright

This autobiography traces Wright’s tortured years in the Jim Crow South from 1912 to 1927.

The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison

The main character wants blue eyes, convinced that it is her ticket to escape from life as a bullied black girl.