Cleveland Schools Book Fund

Early Literacy Recommendations for Black History Month

Image above credit Reading Rockets

At Cleveland Schools Book Fund, our mission is to ensure that every child who attends Pre-K through 4th grade in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District has access to high-quality books and that teachers have the support and resources they need to fill their student’s curiosity and spark their imaginations.

This February, in celebration of African American History Month, the Cleveland Schools Book Fund website and social media will highlight one book per week that CMSD teachers can use with our read-along video library and recommended lesson plans to connect young students with age-appropriate history lessons and diverse character representation.

One of our favorite early literacy organizations, the Reading Rockets website offers an extensive list of resources, books, and interviews with Black children’s authors and illustrators. They also provide classroom activities, activities for home, online history links, and information about documentaries you can share with students to celebrate the lives and contributions of African Americans. We encourage you to weave these books and resources into your lessons throughout the year.

Henry’s Freedom Box
by Ellen Levine

A powerful, true story from the underground railroad, featuring Henry “Box Brown” who is separated from his family twice through the cruelty of the Southern slave trade. Follow Henry on his dramatic escape North to freedom, where he finally gains a birthday and a middle name.



Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-ins
by Carole Boston Weatherford

“Some rules have to be broken,” Mama said. Having always lived a life where they couldn’t drink from the white fountains or swim at the local pools, a group of four teens decides to fight the system in the segregated South of the 1960s by taking seats at a lunch counter and requesting to be served, just the same and equal as every white person in the establishment.



Uncle Jed’s Barbershop
by Margaree King Mitchell

Living in the segregated South of the 1920s, where most people were sharecroppers, Uncle Jed had to travel all over the county to cut his customers’ hair. He lived for the day when he could open his very own barbershop. But it was a long time, and many setbacks—from five-year-old Sarah Jean’s emergency operation to the bank failures of the Great Depression—before the joyful day when Uncle Jed opened his shiny new shop and twirled a now grown-up Sarah Jean around in the barber chair.

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