Posts Tagged ‘365 books’

Last year I started a little challenge with my kids to read 365 books together. Partway through the year my daughter and I got sucked into some chapter book series that took us longer to finish, so our progress slowed down. But in February we checked out a couple dozen books related to African American history and plowed through them during Black History Month.

People frequently ask me what books we read to our kids about Black History, specifically slavery and Civil Rights. I’ve been meaning to compile a list for some time and I’ve finally done it! Here are twenty of them that we’ve loved that you can either find at your own library or order for your own collection online. If you do through our links we get a little kickback at no extra cost to you.

Not all of these are specifically related to Black History, but all are great children’s books that show diversity and many do dive into civil rights or slavery in ways that’s gentle enough for young children. I’ll point out our top favorites with an asterisk!

1. Little Melba and Her big Trombone*: The story of Melba Doretta Liston from daydreaming about music to to learning about her extraordinary gift. We loved this book about a trailblazing musician who followed her passion.

2. An American Girl: Meet Addy: The story of one girl’s family’s dangerous escape from slavery. Based in 1864 this is a great story of love, hope and freedom.

3. Make Way for Dyamonde: Not a story of black history but one hilarious book that’ll teach your kids a thing or two about being the new kid in town and trying to make a friend. Dyamonde has an upbeat and spunky attitude that has you rooting for her from the start.

4. Firebird: Ballerina Misty Copeland Shows a Young Girl How to Dance Like the Firebird: The title says it all. Gorgeous illustrations and a sweet story of a girl learning to believe in herself.

5. This Is the Dream: A touching yet simple story written as a poem in rhyme that takes you through the Civil Rights Era and the people who were fighting for equality.

6. Goin’ Someplace Special*: This was one of our favorite stories. Based in a 1950s segregated south, a little girl is on her way someplace special, where all are welcome no matter the color of their skin. We loved the mystery of wondering where she was going then the grand reveal.

7. Only Passing Through: The Story of Sojourner Truth*: We tend to hear a lot of stories about Harriet Tubman but this is a beautifully-told story of another inspiring abolitionist: Sojourner Truth and how she came by her name.

8. A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin: Last year in our homeschool co-op we did a unit on Horace Pippin. This book tells the story of this self-taught painter who’s love of art and perseverance still inspires us today.

9. The Piano*: The story of a little black girl growing up in the early 1900s who loves music and learns to play piano from her employer. The older woman’s hands are to stiff to play the keys but together they learn to make music.

10. Of Thee I Sing: One of our favorite books that has a fun take on famous, strong individuals throughout history.

11. When God Made You*: I don’t know what I love more about this book. The gorgeous illustrations or the beautiful words. This book helps start a discussion about how God has a plan for their life, and they have a special reason for being here. At the end of the book the author drives the point home to love one another as sisters and brothers. Not a history book but definitely one worth reading to remind our children how they are unique, and how we’re all connected.

12. Grace for President: A fun story about a little girl running for class president. A great way to teach kids about the electoral college.

13. Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.*: This is a book we go back to time and time again. We read it every MLK Day and usually again and again through the year. The inspiring words remind us the importance of making change through light and love.

14. The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage*: Another book we like to read time and time again. A short story sharing the story of the Lovings, an interracial couple who took their case all the way to the Supreme Court, eventually overturning laws against interracial marriage. Crazy to believe this was only a generation ago.

15. Early Sunday Morning: June has a big solo coming up at church. She’s nervous but as the weekend goes on she gets love and encouragement from her family and friends.

16. Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt*: A great children’s book about the underground railroad. A little girl is learning how to sew and she designs a quilt that doubles as a map to freedom.

17. Dancing in the Wings*: A sassy young lady who doesn’t let her physical challenges hold her back, but makes them work for her. From the illustrations to the captivating story we love this book!

18. Follow the Drinking Gourd: My daughter first heard this book in Kindergarten. Pretty pictures and an easy introduction to the Underground Railroad.

19. Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African-Americans: A story over a hundred years of African-American history told from a 100-year-old narrator’s perspective. Take it slow, but the illustrations are absolutely breathtaking.

20. What Color Is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors: A fascinating book about Black inventors you may or may not know about. From who invented the ice cream scoop to open heart surgeons. It may not be as interesting for younger kids but definitely kids in the upper-elementary grades and beyond.

Those are some of our favorites we’ve come across so far. We’ll be sure to update this list as we add more. What have been some of your favorites? Have you read any of these? Share in the comments!

*Denotes our favorites!

“Let’s read 365 books!” We said “It’ll be great!” We said!

Well it hasn’t been a cake walk, but it has been fun.

Earlier this year I mentioned my goal to read 365 books with my kids. One month down and our determination to meet this goal, plus desperately needing a break from the craziness of our world has kept us on track so far.

I was inspired by my friend Sili who blogs over at My Mamihood. She mentioned she and her daughter are reading 200 books this year. I asked my daughter if she wanted to commit to the challenge and she said yes! At first she said 400 but we settled at 365. With homeschool we read A LOT together and we finished 6 chapter books in one week this month.

From classics to Shakespeare, to history, adventure and fantasy, I’m excited to see where this year of books takes us.

A year of books! 365 books to read with kids.

Here are our rules:

1. Picture books are A-ok. Those will be quicker and my go-to especially with my son who doesn’t have as big of an attention span.
2. We are only counting each book once. So even though we may read some of our favorites more than once, we are only counting completed books one time each. Obviously our chapter books (like Harry Potter) will take much longer to complete. I’ll have a list of books in-progress books too.
3. Books I read to her or her brother count. And books daddy reads too (though he usually defaults to our favorites). It’s a family effort. We’re counting books read aloud together. Not books she reads (or I read) on our own.
4. A book counts from cover to cover so multiple stories in one book will count as just one book.
5. Audio books we listen and discuss together count too! They’re perfect for quiet time, car rides, and extending our reading time

At the end of the month I’ll list what we’ve read, what’s in progress and our favorites.

The most beautiful part of this experience so far has been feeling the closeness between us. My daughter has been trying to finish her dinner, brush her teeth and get ready for bet a little earlier so we can read together longer. My son brings me books to read (he rarely did this before). When they randomly ask me to read a book I will almost always drop anything to do it.

I also love the variety of books we are exploring together: Shakespeare, historical fiction, adventure, fantasy, Greek mythology, and non-fiction. It’ll be fun to see what else we explore this year.

This month we are on track and completed 31 books including 9 chapter books together. Another four novels are in progress. If you want to keep up throughout the month you can friend us on Goodreads.

A year of books! 365 books to read with kids.

Here’s what we completed this month:

365 Books – January

1. What Do You Do With an Idea?*

2. Martin’s Big Words

3. Cars

4. Look Out for Mater

5. Goodnight Lightning

6. Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope

7. The Giving Tree

8. Green Eggs and Ham

9. Ghost Island (choose your own adventure-3 endings)

10. Tractor Trouble

11. The Talking Eggs*

12. Emma and Julia Love Ballet

13. The Rose Fairy Princess

14. American Girl: Meet Addy (book 1)*

15. Cars 2 (little golden book)

16. Addy Learns a Lesson: American Girl Story (book 2)*

17. King of the Wind

18. Addy’s Surprise: A Christmas Story (American Girl Story book 3)

19. I Have a Dream (illustrated book of MLK’s infamous speech- Similar not this exact book)

20. Happy Birthday Addy! American Girl Story (book 4)

21. Addy Saves the Day: A Summer Story (book 5)

22. With Grace

23. What do You Do with a Problem*

24. How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas?

25. Changes for Addy: A Winter Story (book 6)

26. James and the Giant Peach

27. On the Train

28. How do Dinosaurs Go to School?

29. Read for Me, Mama

30. Usborne Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare**

31. Stop That Pickle!

A year of books! 365 books to read with kids.

In progress:
Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets
Little House in the Big Woods
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls
Fairy Tales Stories
The Prairie Thief
Anne of Green Gables

For Mom:
Year of Yes
Big Magic
10 Years Later (in progress)

*= Notes our favorites. I’ll highlight a few of them below.

**= Our favorite book of the month.

The Talking Eggs

Lil’ J was enthralled by The Talking Eggs, a story of a little girl who encounters a mysterious woman in the woods after running away from her harsh family. A colorful folktale that captures the unique flavor of the American South. It’s a classic I remember hearing for the first time in my school library as a child. I was so excited when I saw it at a thrift store and brought it home for my kids. It’s a favorite we hadn’t read from our pile in a while but we happy to revive to kick off our year of books.

American Girl Addy Series

We discovered this by chance as I was leaving the library and glanced at the CD section. I grabbed Addy–The story of a girl and her family in slavery and their plan to escape. The story is so exciting, and the narrator is wonderful.  My daughter couldn’t get enough and she asks me to play it often. She says her favorite book was book 2 because it’s about friendship but she also enjoys the later books. The first book was my favorite, but my daughter didn’t like hearing about the harsh realities of slavery. The book doesn’t have many violent descriptions but coupled with her knowledge of slavery after our visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture–She (understandably) doesn’t enjoy those stories.

A year of books! 365 books to read with kids.

Usborne Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare

This was surprisingly our favorite book this month. We’d sit and read it for an hour each night and discuss six of Shakespeare’s comedies and tragedies. The stories were well abridged to include the main parts of the play and make it understandable for children. There were also lines from the actual play within the illustrations. Her favorite is Twelfth Night, though she loved Romeo and Juliet until the end. Her second favorite is a Midsummer Night’s Dream. During Hamlet she gasped at the end and covered her ears worried about everyone dying. It was hilarious and SO fun to enjoy together. I had no idea she’s be a Shakespeare fan.  We have a similar Greek Mythology book by Usborne I’m wanting to read together this month and hoping we enjoy it as much.

Martin’s Big Words

A year of books! 365 books to read with kids.

Another great book and one I’d recommend you read with your kids this Black History Month. It’s been one of our favorites for years and a book we read often. My daughter will often talk to be about “love not hate” and how Martin Luther King Jr. was such an example for us.

This month I plan to add a lot of Black History books to the mix. We will hopefully finish the Melody American Girl series based during the civil rights era and in co-op we are studying the artist Horace Pippin. No doubt I’ll also be at the library digging up a fresh batch of books.

What good books have you and your kids read lately?

Let me know! I’d love to add more to our queue.

A year of books! 365 books to read with kids.

Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget


I'm a part-time journalist, full-time wife and mother striving to make the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day.

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