Black History Month: Book Recommendations from the Bedford Free Public Library

February 1, 2023
The Bedford Free Public Library Children’s Room selected books rack and also the monthly Scavenger Hunt have been updated for February. Staff Image.

Black History Month is celebrated each February in the United States as a time to recognize the history, culture, and achievements of Black Americans.   

One way to celebrate Black History Month is through books. And what better way to find a book than to ask librarians? 

Bedford Free Public Library Assistant Director Noreen O’Gara suggests a reliable way to find great books honoring Black History is to use the NAACP Image Award nominee list.  

Both the teen librarian, Pam Aghababian, and the children’s librarian, Nicole Monk, find the Coretta Scott King Book Awards from the American Library Association (ALA) a great and reliable source for recommendations to kids and teens. 

Both Award lists recognize literature across multiple categories. The NAACP Image Awards recognize literature awards across eight possible categories: biography/autobiography, children’s literature, debut author, fiction, instructional, nonfiction, poetry, and youth/teens.  The Coretta Scott King Book awards recognize both established and new authors and illustrators in children and young adult literature. 

With so many genres and categories on these lists, O’Gara says there is “lots to choose from and most of these authors will be easy to find and familiar to many readers.” 

Some favorite titles that the librarians have picked out:

Adult Literature:

  • 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, created by Nikole Hannah-Jones, 2022 NAACP Image Award Nonfiction winner.
  • 72 Hour Hold, by Bebe Moore Campbell. 
  • America Made Me a Black Man: A Memoir, by Boyah J. Farah. The 2023 NAACP Image Award nominee for Debut Author Farah has Bedford roots and the book fondly mentions many bike rides to the library!

Young Adults:

  • Victory. Stand! By Tommie Smith, Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile, a 2023 Coretta Scott King Book award honor for illustration.
  • March, a graphic memoir trilogy by John Lewis and the “One Book, One Bedford” selection from 2017.
  • Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes.
  • For Black Girls Like Me by Mariama J. Lockington. 
  • Any title by Justina Ireland or Jason Reynolds 

Children’s Books (Picture books and middle grade):

  • Little Black Boy: Oh, the Things you will Do! by Kirby Baptiste-Howell.
  • Sweet Justice Georgia Gilmore and the Montgomery Bus Boycott written by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. 
  • Swim Team, written and illustrated by Johnnie Christmas, a 2023 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book.
  • Me and the Boss: A Story About Mending and Love, written by Michelle Edwards and illustrated by April Harrison, a 2023 Coretta Scott King Book Illustrator Honor Book.
  • Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine and Kadir Nelson.

The Book lists mentioned can be found online:

In other Library news, the Children’s Room has updated the monthly Scavenger Hunt for Black History Month and welcomes everyone to participate. Monk would also like to invite everyone to stop by the library for additional book recommendations. 

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