Since many schools, universities, libraries and other organizations celebrate Black History Month — also known as African American History Month, we’ve curated a list of resources to support collection development, curriculum delivery and programming.
The theme for 2022 focuses on the importance of Black Health and Wellness. To celebrate, libraries can recognize Black scholars and medical practitioners as well as the activities, rituals and initiatives of Black communities to be well. Be sure to download, print and display our 2022 Black History Month poster!
NoveList® Plus can help librarians find a variety of fiction and nonfiction celebrating African American characters and culture. For upbeat picture books like Soul Food Sunday, search the NoveList theme, Celebrating identity! NoveList Plus also includes Recommended Reads Lists, including African American Historical Fiction (Adult), Black Lives (Adult), and All Kinds of Lives (Teen, Ages 9-12 and Ages 0-8). (LibraryAware customers also have access to great templates for picture book titles.) Library workers and readers interested in creating their own searches can use these NoveList search strategies.
For libraries looking to add new books by and about Black Americans to their shelves, Core Collectionshas great recommendations. Here are just a few:
- Althea Gibson by Megan Reid; illustrated by Laura Freeman
This picture book biography introduces children to Althea Gibson, the first African American tennis player to win a Grand Slam title.
- Nubia: Real One by L.L. McKinney; illustrated by Robyn Smith
Nubia has always stood out because of her Amazonian strength, but even though she uses her ability for good, she is seen as a threat. When her best friend Quisha is threatened by a boy who thinks he owns the town, Nubia risks everything to become the hero society tells her she is not.
- Three Girls from Bronzeville by Dawn Turner
A memoir about three black girls from the storied Bronzeville section of Chicago that offers a penetrating exploration of race, opportunity, friendship, sisterhood and the powerful forces at work that allow some to flourish — and others to falter.
- Beasts of Prey by Ayana Grey
Sixteen-year-old indentured beastkeeper Koffi and 17-year-old warrior candidate Ekon forge an unusual alliance and venture into the Greater Jungle to hunt down a monster that has been menacing their city for a century.
Librarians may also wish to consult these tips for choosing culturally appropriate children’s books and resources about Black Americans.
For libraries looking to expand their e-book collections, the EBSCO eBooks™ African American History Collection contains fiction and nonfiction e-books for all age levels, including biographies of famous African Americans and current bestsellers by award-winning authors. The EBSCO eBooks K-8 African American History Collection contains age-appropriate e-books focusing on important historical events and biographies of notable people, including activists, athletes, performers and politicians.
Meanwhile, libraries can enrich their Flipster® digital magazine collections with the latest issues of Essence, Black Beauty & Hair, Black Enterprise, Black EOE Journal and Black Girls Magazine. Be sure to download our poster of top reading picks for Black History Month.
Libraries looking to provide more support to students, historians and those tracing their genealogy can augment their collections with these primary source materials:
- Jet Magazine Archive covers art, culture, entertainment and news for the black community. It includes 3,100+ issues from its first issue in 1951 through 2014.
- Ebony Magazine Archive covers civil rights, education, entrepreneurship and other social topics with a focus on Black Americans. The archive includes more than 800 issues from its first issue in 1945 through 2014.
- African American Historical Serials Collection is an archive of periodicals that document the history of African American religious life and culture between 1829 and 1922. It includes newspapers and magazines, as well as reports and annuals from African American religious organizations such as churches and social service agencies.
K-12 Resources for Teaching and Learning
Visitors to the African American History Month website will find links to exhibits, selected resources for teachers and audio and video recordings from contributors such as the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, the National Archives and the National Gallery of Art. Librarians might find programming ideas on the We Are Teachers website, which has also curated a list of 34 activities for Black History Month and beyond.
Subscribers of EBSCO’s Biography Reference Center, History Reference Center, Literary Reference Center Plus and/or Science Reference Center can download this three-day interdisciplinary unit that integrates database research: “African American Explorers and Innovators.” In the unit, students will expand their knowledge of lesser-known Black Americans by examining their contributions to science, engineering and technology development.
ABC-CLIO’s The American Mosaic: The African American Experience, available from EBSCO, explores African-American history and its relation to U.S. history through published articles, essays, objects and artifacts, ideas and movements, images, documents, and other historical and culturally valuable sources. The database includes an "Analyze" section which poses key questions to stimulate students’ critical thinking. Subscribers also have access to an educator support center containing resources for classroom and library integration.
In addition to creating a traditional book display of fiction and nonfiction by black authors, here are some other programming ideas libraries might consider:
- Film screenings (Last year, The New York Times curated this essential list.)
- Spoken word performances
- Black author/poet events
- Soul food cooking classes
- Art displays featuring the work of local black artists
- African-American music performances