Children’s Books to Read In Honor of the “1619: The Journey of a People” Stage Musical

Kids , Book List

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut

Title: Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut
By: Barnes, Derrick
Published: 2017

Read these books before/after you see this summer's 2024 (Saturdays and Sundays, June 15 to June 30) production of 1619: The Journey of a People--The Musical. More about the production here:

Suggested ages for the books on this booklist are from the publisher's website and/or catalog record.

For Crown:
Ages 4 to 8

Crown celebrates the magnificent feeling that comes from walking out of a barber shop with newly-cut hair.

Maritcha: A Nineteenth Century American Girl

Title: Maritcha: A Nineteenth Century American Girl
By: Bolden, Tonya
Published: 2004

Ages 8 to 12

A biography of an ordinary, yet remarkable, African American girl in the 19th century. Based on an unpublished memoir written by Maritcha Lyons about her childhood in New York and young adulthood in Providence, Rhode Island where she became the first African American to graduate from Providence High School.

I Am Okay to Feel

Title: I Am Okay to Feel
By: Brown, Karamo
Published: 2022

Ages 4 to 8

While going for a walk a father and son experience and talk about different feelings.

Jam, Too?

Title: Jam, Too?
By: Brown-Wood, JaNay
Published: 2024

Ages 3 to 6

A jam session forms, instrument by instrument, and welcomes a child who loves dancing along.

Freedom Over Me

Title: Freedom Over Me
By: Bryan, Ashley
Published: 2016

Ages 6 to 10

Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, contrasts the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of life experiences and dreams that a slave owner could never take away.

Hair Love

Title: Hair Love
By: Cherry, Matthew
Published: 2019

Ages 2 to 7

A little girl's daddy steps in to help her arrange her curly, coiling, wild hair into styles that allow her to be her natural, beautiful self.

One Big Open Sky

Title: One Big Open Sky
By: Cline-Ransome, Lesa
Published: 2024

Ages 8 to 12

In the 1870s, a Black family undertakes a perilous wagon journey westward for a tenuous shot at freedom in Nebraska.

New Kid

Title: New Kid
By: Craft, Jerry
Published: 2019

Ages 8 to 12

As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds--and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?

Elijah of Buxton

Title: Elijah of Buxton
By: Curtis, Christopher Paul
Published: 2007

Ages 9 to 12

In 1859, eleven-year-old Elijah Freeman, the first free-born child in Buxton, Canada, which is a haven for slaves fleeing the American south, uses his wits and skills to try to bring to justice the lying preacher who has stolen money that was to be used to buy a family's freedom.

The Last Stand

Title: The Last Stand
By: Eady, Antwan
Published: 2024

Ages 4 to 8

A little boy is excited to work alongside his Papa as they collect eggs, plums, peppers and pumpkins to sell at their stand in the farmer's market, but when Papa cannot make it to the stand, his community gathers around him, with dishes made of his own produce.

The Great Migration: Journey to the North

Title: The Great Migration: Journey to the North
By: Greenfield, Eloise
Published: 2020

Ages 4 to 8

Illuminates the experiences of families who left their homes in search of better lives during the move up north.

The Magic in Changing Your Stars

Title: The Magic in Changing Your Stars
By: Henderson, Leah
Published: 2020

Ages 8 to 12

After bungling his audition to play the Scarecrow in The Wiz, fifth-grader Ailey is magically transported to 1930s Harlem where he meets his own grandfather and legendary tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.

A Girl Like Me

Title: A Girl Like Me
By: Johnson, Angela
Published: 2020

Ages 5 and up

Empower young readers to embrace their individuality, reject societal limitations, and follow their dreams. This inspiring picture book brings together a poem by acclaimed author Angela Johnson and Nina Crews's distinctive photocollage illustrations to celebrate girls of color.

Indigo Dreaming

Title: Indigo Dreaming
By: Johnson, Dinah
Published: 2022

Ages 4 to 8

A young girl living on the coast of South Carolina dreams of her distant relatives on the shores of Africa and beyond. Indigo Dreaming is a poetic meditation between two young girls--on different sides of the sea--who wonder about how they are intricately linked by culture, even though they are separated by location. The girls' reflections come together, creating a vision of home, as well as a celebration of the Black diaspora.


Title: Freewater
By: Luqman-Dawson, Amina
Published: 2022

Ages 8 to 12

After fleeing the plantation where they were enslaved, siblings Ada and Homer discover the secret community of Freewater, and work with freeborn Sanzi to protect their new home from the encroaching dangers of the outside world.

Ty's Travels: Lab Magic

Title: Ty's Travels: Lab Magic
By: Lyons, Kelly Starling
Published: 2022

Ages 4 to 8

Ty and Corey love to visit the museum. When they step through the doors, they become scientists. They study bugs and hunt for fossils. They catch the wind. When Ty can't participate in a lab activity because of his age, he uses his big imagination at home. Discovering new things is so much fun!

Black Boy Joy

Title: Black Boy Joy
By: Mbalia, Kwame, editor
Published: 2021

Ages 8 to 11

From seventeen acclaimed Black male and nonbinary authors comes a vibrant collection of stories, comics, and poems about the power of joy and the wonders of Black boyhood.

Stitchin' and Pullin': A Gee Bend's Quilt

Title: Stitchin' and Pullin': A Gee Bend's Quilt
By: McKissack, Patricia
Published: 2008

Ages 4 to 8

Illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera

As a young African American girl pieces her first quilt together, the history of her family, community, and the struggle for justice and freedom in Gee's Bend, Alabama unfolds.

Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans

Title: Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans
By: Nelson, Kadir
Published: 2011

Ages 10 and up

An introduction to African-American history, from Revolutionary-era slavery up to the election of President Obama.

A Good Kind of Trouble

Title: A Good Kind of Trouble
By: Ramée, Lisa Moore
Published: 2019

Ages 8 to 12

Twelve-year-old Shayla is allergic to trouble. All she wants to do is to follow the rules. But in junior high, it's like all the rules have changed. Now she's suddenly questioning who her best friends are and some people at school are saying she's not Black enough. After experiencing a powerful protest, though, Shay decides some rules are worth breaking. She starts wearing an armband to school in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Soon everyone is taking sides. And she is given an ultimatum.

There Was a Party for Langston

Title: There Was a Party for Langston
By: Reynolds, Jason
Published: 2023

Ages 4 to 8

A celebration of Langston Hughes and the African American authors he inspired, told through the lens of the party held at the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in 1991.

Victory, Stand!: Raising My First for Justice

Title: Victory, Stand!: Raising My First for Justice
By: Smith, Tommie
Published: 2022

Ages 13 to 18 (current Rebecca Caudill Award nominee for Grades to 8)

In his first-ever memoir for young readers, Tommie Smith looks back on his childhood growing up in rural Texas through to his stellar athletic career, culminating in his historic victory and Olympic podium protest.

Jump In!

Title: Jump In!
By: Strickland, Shadra
Published: 2023

Ages 4 to 8

Celebrates a community coming together through their love of Double Dutch jump rope.

The Me I Choose to Be

Title: The Me I Choose to Be
By: Tarpley, Natasha Anastasia
Published: 2021

Ages 4 to 7

An uplifting story about self-confidence and a child's limitless potential.

Black Girl You Are Atlas

Title: Black Girl You Are Atlas
By: Watson, Renée
Published: 2024

Ages 10 and up

Please note: this title is currently in our YA section.

Poet Renée Watson looks back at her childhood and urges readers to look forward at their futures with love, understanding, and celebration in this fully illustrated poetry collection.

Kin: Rooted in Hope

Title: Kin: Rooted in Hope
By: Weatherford, Carole Boston
Published: 2023

Ages 10 and up

A multi-generational family history told in the voices of the author's ancestors, spanning enslavement alongside Frederick Douglass at Maryland's Wye House plantation, service in the U.S. Colored Troops, and the founding of all-Black Reconstruction-era communities.


Title: Homegrown
By: Wiley, DeAnn
Published: 2024

Ages 4 to 8

A young Black girl, with the help of her Mama and Granny, learns that home isn't just a place but rather a reflection of people who support and love one another.

Zora, the Story Keeper

Title: Zora, the Story Keeper
By: Wilkins, Ebony
Published: 2023

Ages 4 to 8

A young Black girl and her aunt celebrate the wonder and magic of their family's legacy through storytelling.

This Is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration

Title: This Is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration
By: Woodson, Jacqueline
Published: 2013

Ages 5 to 8

A rope passed down through the generations frames an African American family's story as they journey north during the time of the Great Migration.

A-Train Allen

Title: A-Train Allen
By: Younge, Lesley
Published: 2023

Ages 4 to 8

Allen, known as A-Train because he is the fastest kid around, races through the city towards the one thing that will get him to slow down.

Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.

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