African-American Biography in Picture Books

By Mary Michell

Here's a list of new African-American biographies that kids and adults will love. Some are folks you know of, others you may be meeting for the first time. All are just wonderful!

  • Muhammad Ali: A Champion Is Born

    2017 by Barretta, Gene

    Just like Muhammad Ali himself, this book is full of action! Thrilling images and exciting words like "POW!" help us to understand the energy and power of the one and only Muhammad Ali.

    Get this item
  • The Legendary Miss Lena Horne

    2017 by Weatherford, Carole Boston

    Born into a family of civil rights activists, Lena Horne found her voice as a singer and actress by refusing to play stereotypical parts. This beautifully illustrated book captures the fierce talent and defiant spirit of this truly legendary performer.

    Get this item
  • Mama Africa!: How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song

    2017 by Erskine, Kathryn

    Here's another singer who used her powerful voice for freedom. Born and raised during apartheid in South Africa, Miriam refused to accept the harsh laws that shackled black Africans. Instead she sang all over the world about the brutality people were forced to endure and watched as apartheid crumbled.

    Get this item
  • Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History

    2016 by Myers, Walter Dean

    Beautiful words and paintings make this an exceptional biography of an exceptional man. Frederick Douglass, born a slave and self-educated, became a fierce abolitionist and a champion of freedom for all Americans. Floyd Cooper's art captures the longing and determination of this "lion who wrote history."

    Get this item
  • Schomburg: The Man Who Built A Library

    2017 by Weatherford, Carole Boston

    Here's a book that's like a window into the history of Harlem. Arturo Schomburg was an Afro-Puerto Rican man who collected the books that most people throw away! He was looking for books about the African American experience, and amassed so many books that his house couldn't hold them all. This collection became the Schomburg Research Center for Research in Black Culture.

    Get this item
  • Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters

    2017 by Mahin, Michael James

    You could swear you can hear Muddy Waters singing the blues while reading this book. Evan Turk's mixed media drawings sing as loud as any guitar solo, and Michael Mahin's words are as edgy, rhythmic, and full of life as Muddy's songs. Enjoy!

    Get this item
  • The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, A Young Civil Rights Activist

    2017 by Levinson, Cynthia

    A great introduction to African American history for the younger set, but grownups will love it too. The Youngest Marcher tells the story Audrey Faye Hendricks, who at the age of nine decided she wanted to protest segregation in the city of Birmingham, Alabama. Illustrations of little Audrey locked up in a jail cell speak volumes about the experience of Civil Rights marchers in the 1963 South.

    Get this item
  • Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe

    2017 by Blumenthal, Deborah

    This book introduced me to a brilliant woman I had never heard of. Anne Cole Lowe was a designer whose high-fashion gowns were worn by some of the most famous women in the world, including Jackie Kennedy in her wedding! Enjoy the beautiful illustrations of stunning gowns, and learn the fascinating story of a woman who would not take no for an answer.

    Get this item
  • Take A Picture of Me, James VanDerZee!

    2017 by Loney, Andrea J.

    Here's another person I had never heard of! James VanDerZee's contributions to the practice of photography raised it from a clever way of recording images to a fine art. As a young man he was told that no one would want their photo taken by a black man. So he opened a studio, perfected his craft, and pretty soon everyone—black, white, famous, unknown—was standing in line to get their picture taken by the one and only VanderZee. Keith Mallet's beautiful illustrations highlight the craftsmanship that made these photos real works of art.

    Get this item