Build Your Stack with NCTE Children’s Book Award–Winning Titles for the African American Read-In - National Council of Teachers of English
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Build Your Stack with NCTE Children’s Book Award–Winning Titles for the African American Read-In

This post is part of Build Your Stack,® an initiative focused on helping teachers build their book knowledge and their classroom libraries. 


Each year during the month of February, hundreds of schools, churches, libraries, bookstores, community and professional organizations, and interested citizens come together to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month by hosting African American Read-Ins.

Whether your Read-In is a group of friends getting together for a book club or a public reading in your local town hall, one of the most interesting parts of planning is deciding what books to share during the event. This list of Orbis Pictus and Charlotte Huck Award–winning titles with African American authors or illustrators can be a great jumping off point.




The Probability of Everything

by Sarah Everett (Clarion Books)

The world is coming to an end for Kemi, but why?

2024 Charlotte Huck Award Winner





by Charles Waters and Traci Sorell (Charlesbridge)

Tradition doesn’t make discrimination right.

2024 Charlotte Huck Award Honor




That Flag

by Tameka Fryer Brown, illustrated by Nikkolas Smith (Harper Collins)

Symbols can have different meanings, but can opinions of them be changed?

2024 Charlotte Huck Honor 



Ketanji Brown Jackson: A Justice for Allby Tami Charles, illustrated by Jemma Skidmore (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Historymaker, barrier breaker! This picturebook recounts the journey of Ketanji Onyika Brown Jackson to the U.S Supreme Court. Tami Charles’s poetic words and Jemma Skidmore’s exquisite bold art, draw readers of all ages into Jackson’s journey that began before Washington, DC, with the guidance of her community.

2024 Orbis Pictus Honor



Blue: A History of the Color as Deep as the Sea and as Wide as the Sky

by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, illustrated by Daniel Minter (Alfred A. Knopf Books

for Young Readers)

A beautifully illustrated book that informs our understanding of the complex history and the uniqueness of the color blue.

2023 Orbis Pictus Winner




The Marvellers

by Dhonielle Clayton (Henry Holt and Company)

An immersive and inclusive world where everyone’s magic shines.

2023 Charlotte Huck Honor




My Hands Tell a Story

by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Tonya Engel (Reycraft Books)

A girl’s grandmother shows how our hands hold memories, power, and possibility.

2023 Charlotte Huck Recommended



Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement 

by Angela Joy, illustrated by Janelle Washington (Roaring Brook Press)

A powerful story of Mamie Till-Mobley’s life and activism after the murder of her son, Emmett Till. In this beautifully illustrated book, Janelle Washington uses negative and positive spaces to convey the feelings of bravery, sadness, and hope from Mamie and her family.

2023 Orbis Pictus Honor



Nina: A Story of Nina Simone 

by Traci N. Todd, illustrated by Christian Robinson (G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young readers)

This powerful biography narrates Nina Simone’s life story from playing piano as a child to her life as a performer and includes her encounters with racism throughout her life. The book situates her legacy not just as a singer, but as a civil rights activist.

2022 Orbis Pictus winner




J.D. and the Great Barber Battle

by J.Dillard, illustrated by Akeem S. Roberts (Kokila)

A joyful, refreshing story of reverence for hair culture, friendship, family, and taking matters into one’s own hands.

2022 Charlotte Huck Honor



Call and Response: The Story of Black Lives Matter

by Veronica Chambers (Versify)

Call and Response is a powerful exploration of the history of Black Lives Matter told through photographs, quotes, songs, and informative text.

2022 Orbis Pictus Honor


Monumental: Oscar Dunn and His Radical Fight in Reconstruction Louisiana

by Brian K. Mitchell, Barrington S. Edwards, and Nick Weldon (Historic New Orleans Collection)

This graphic novel tells, for the first time ever, the story of Oscar James Dunn. Born into slavery in New Orleans, he became the United States’ first Black lieutenant governor and later acting governor of Louisiana.

2022 Orbis Pictus Recommended





I Am Every Good Thing

by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James (Nancy Paulsen Books)

In this moment of political crisis and protest for Black life in the face of so much Black death, this stunning picture book speaks volumes.

2021 Charlotte Huck Winner





Ways to Make Sunshine

by Renée Watson (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

With love and family, you can always create sunshine during the storm.

2021 Charlotte Huck Recommended



Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box 

by Evette Dionne (Viking Books for Young Readers)

Extensively researched and replete with primary documents, Lifting as We Climb presents the unheard story of the very active role African American women played in the suffrage movement.

2021 Orbis Pictus Honor



Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon

by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Laura Freeman (Lee & Low Books)

An inspiring biography of Philip Freelon who would eventually be the lead architect in the building of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. 

2021 Orbis Pictus Recommended 





New Kid

by Jerry Craft (HarperCollins)

Middle school is hard enough without being the new kid.

2020 Charlotte Huck Honor




For Black Girls Like Me

by Mariama J. Lockington (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Not my hair, not my skin, I’m the soul that lives within.

2020 Charlotte Huck Recommended






Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

by Kwame Mbalia (Rick Riordan Presents/Disney-Hyperion)

Don’t run from pain-use the stories of the past to become a hero.

2020 Charlotte Huck Recommended



Interested in additional titles? View this post with even more text suggestions!

Thinking about hosting your own African American Read-In? Check out our toolkit here and don’t forget to add your event to the events calendar.