Coretta Scott King Award & Honor Book List

Exceptional picture books, chapter books, and historical fiction that capture the African American experience.

When 12-year-old Homer escapes a childhood of enslavement, he takes his little sister Ada with him. After a danger-filled journey, they find a secret community called Freewater, hidden deep in the swamp. In this free society, made up of escaped slaves and free-born children, Homer and Ada carefully settle into the safety and friendships there. When a threat emerges to destroy their new home, Homer determines to return to the plantation he escaped to free his mother who was left behind. A story of survival, love, and courage that is loosely based on a little-known piece of history. 416 pages, softcover. Ages 10 and up.

Using the classic spiritual as a foundation, this vibrantly illustrated picture book chronicles the milestones, struggles, tragedies, and triumphs of African American history. Stretching more than four hundred years, the reworked lyrics highlight pivotal moments such as the arrival of enslaved people in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619; Nat Turner's rebellion; the integration of the US military; the Selma to Montgomery marches; and peaceful present-day protests. It also celebrates the feats of African American musicians and athletes, such as Duke Ellington and Florence Griffith Joyner. Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner. 32 pages, hardcover. Ages 6 and up.

This poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world's greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present. Robust back matter at the end provides valuable historical context and additional detail for those wishing to learn more., Winner of the 2020 Caldecott Medal, a 2020 Newbery Honor Book, and winner of the 2020 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award. 40 pages, hardcover.

This powerful picture book introduces young readers to a key event in the struggle for Civil Rights. In 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, thousands of African American children volunteered to march for their rights after hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak. They protested the laws that kept black people separate from white people. Facing fear, hate, and danger, these children used their voices to change the world. Emotive oil-on-canvas paintings bring this historical event to life, while moving and poetic words document this remarkable time. Winner of the Coretta Scott King Honor Award. 40 pages, hardcover. Ages 5 to 9.

In this beautifully illustrated picture book edition of Hidden Figures, we explore the story of four female African American mathematicians at NASA, known as "colored computers," and how they overcame gender and racial barriers to succeed in a highly challenging STEM-based career. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math.really good. They participated in some of NASA's greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America's first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they worked hard. They persisted. And they used their genius minds to change the world. Recommended for ages 4 to 8 years.

The fresh cuts. That’s where it all begins. The barbershop is where the magic happens. Boys go in as lumps of clay and, with princely robes draped around their shoulders, a dab of cool shaving cream on their foreheads, and a slow, steady cut, they become royalty. That crisp yet subtle line makes boys sharper, more visible, more aware of every great thing that could happen to them when they look good: lesser grades turn into As; girls take notice; even a mother’s hug gets a little tighter. Everyone notices. This rhythmic, read-aloud title is an unbridled celebration of the self-esteem, confidence, and swagger boys feel when they leave the barber’s chair.  This multi-award winning ode is a high-spirited, engaging salute to the beautiful, raw, assured humanity of black boys and how they see themselves when they approve of their reflections in the mirror. 32 pages, hardcover. Ages 3 and up.

We know her today as Harriet Tubman, but in her lifetime she was called by many names. As General Tubman she was a Union spy. As Moses she led hundreds to freedom on the Underground Railroad. As Minty she was a slave whose spirit could not be broken. As Araminta she was a young girl whose father showed her the stars and the first steps on the path to freedom. This lush, lyrical multiple award-winning biography in verse begins with a glimpse of Harriet Tubman as an old woman, and travels back in time through the many roles she played through her life: spy, liberator, suffragist and more. 32 pages, softcover. Ages 4 and up.

As slaves relentlessly toiled in an unjust system in 19th century Louisiana, they all counted down the days until Sunday, when at least for half a day they were briefly able to congregate in Congo Square in New Orleans. Here they were free to set up an open market, sing, dance, and play music. They were free to forget their cares, their struggles, and their oppression. This story chronicles slaves' duties each day, from chopping logs on Mondays to baking bread on Wednesdays to plucking hens on Saturday, and it builds to the freedom of Sundays and the special experience of an afternoon spent in Congo Square This poetic, nonfiction story about a little-known piece of African American history captures a human's capacity to find hope and joy in difficult circumstances and demonstrates how New Orleans' Congo Square was truly freedom's heart. Winner of multiple awards including Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. 40 pages, hardcover. Ages 4 and up.

Winner of the 2017 Randolph Caldecott Medal and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award

Jean-Michel Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocketed to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art world had ever seen. But before that, he was a little boy who saw art everywhere: in poetry books and museums, in games and in the words that we speak, and in the pulsing energy of New York City. Now, award-winning illustrator Javaka Steptoe's vivid text and bold artwork echoing Basquiat's own introduce young readers to the powerful message that art doesn't always have to be neat or clean--and definitely not inside the lines--to be beautiful. 40 pages, hardcover.

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his nana ride the bus. Usually CJ enjoys the ride but on this wet Sunday he is filled with complaints, "Why do we have to wait in the rain?" "Why don't we have a car?" "Why can't I have that?". But it's CJ's nana who helps him to see beyond and see the real beauty in the world around them. Featuring vivid illustrations and a simple text that is easy for children ages 3 to 5 to understand. A Caldecott Honor Book; A John Newbery Medal winner.

On August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Martin Luther King gave one of the most powerful and memorable speeches in our nation's history. His words, paired with Caldecott Honor winner Kadir Nelson's magnificent paintings, make for a picture book certain to be treasured by children and adults alike. The themes of equality and freedom for all are not only relevant today, 50 years later, but also provide young readers with an important introduction to our nation's past. Included with the book is an audio CD of the speech.  40 pages, hardcover. Ages 5 and up.

A young girl learns a new meaning for freedom during the time of Reconstruction. Ellen always knew the broom resting above the hearth was special. Before it was legal for her mother and father to officially be married, the broom was what made them a family anyway. But now all former slaves who had already been married in their hearts could register as lawful husband and wife. When Ellen and her family make the long trip to the courthouse dressed in their best, she brings the broom her parents had jumped so many years before. Even though freedom has come, Ellen knows the old traditions are important too. After Mama and Papa's names are recorded in the register, Ellen nearly bursts with pride as her parents jump the broom once again. 32 pages, hardcover. Ages 5 and up.

Hand in Hand is the story of ten men, each a link in a chain that spans the history of the United States. Following the various ways in which these men not only contributed to society, but did so while daring to withstand oppression, fight injustice, and overcome barriers, this resource presents an engaging narrative of African-American resistance and triumph.

Stories present the story of each man's life from childhood to adulthood, including the legacy left for the next link in the chain. Chapters move from the colonial period through the present day as students read lively narratives about Benjamin Banneker, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B DuBois, A. Philip Randolph, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Malcom X, Martin Luther King Jr, and Barack Obama. An introductory poem; title page with each man's name and birth/death facts; a full-page, full-color portrait; and a detailed, interesting biography that highlights the positive effect he had upon society are provided for each chapter.

243 indexed pages, hardcover with dust jacket. Ages 9 & up.

Dave was an extraordinary artist, poet, and potter living in South Carolina in the 1800s. He combined his superb artistry with deeply observant poetry, carved onto his pots, transcending the limitations he faced as a slave. In this inspiring and lyrical portrayal, National Book Award nominee Laban Carrick Hill's elegantly simple text and award-winning artist Bryan Collier's resplendent, earth-toned illustrations tell Dave's story, a story rich in history, hope, and long-lasting beauty. 40 pages, hardcover. Ages 5 and up.

In One Crazy Summer, eleven-year-old Delphine is like a mother to her two younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern. She's had to be, ever since their mother, Cecile, left them seven years ago for a radical new life in California. But when the sisters arrive from Brooklyn to spend the summer with their mother, Cecile is nothing like they imagined.

While the girls hope to go to Disneyland and meet Tinker Bell, their mother sends them to a day camp run by the Black Panthers. Unexpectedly, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern learn much about their family, their country, and themselves during one truly crazy summer.

This novel was the first featured title for Marley D’s Reading Party, launched after the success of #1000BlackGirlBooks. Maria Russo, in a New York Times list of "great kids' books with diverse characters,

Cherished for generations, Langston Hughes' eloquent tribute to his people is set to stunning photographs by acclaimed photographer Charles R. Smith Jr. The vivid sepia photos capture the glory, the beauty, and the soul of being a black American today. Recommended for ages 4 to 8.

In July 1969, the world witnessed an awe-inspiring historical achievement when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon. For the young protagonist of this lyrical and hopeful picture book, that landing is something that inspires her to make one giant step toward all the possibilities that life has to offer. Caldecott Honor–winning painter Jerry Pinkney and the poetic Dianna Hutts Aston create a moving tribute to the historic Apollo 11 Mission, just in time to commemorate its upcoming fortieth anniversary. 32 pages, hardcover. Ages 6 and up.

Winner of the Coretta Scott King Author Award and Robert F. Siebert AwardIn this New York Times bestselling classic, Caldecott Medal-winning artist Kadir Nelson tells the incredible story of baseball's unsung heroes -- perfect for celebrating the centennial anniversary of the Negro Leagues! Featuring nearly fifty iconic oil paintings and a dramatic double-page fold-out, an award-winning narrative, a gorgeous design and rich backmatter, We Are the Ship is a sumptuous, oversize volume for all ages that no baseball fan should be without. Using an inviting first-person voice, Kadir Nelson shares the engaging story of Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920s through its evolution, until after Jackie Robinson crossed over to the majors in 1947.
The story of Negro League baseball is the story of gifted athletes and determined owners, of racial discrimination and international sportsmanship, of fortunes won and lost; of triumphs and defeats on and off the field. It is a perfect mirror for the social and political history of black America in the first half of the twentieth century. But most of all, the story of the Negro Leagues is about hundreds of unsung heroes who overcame segregation, hatred, terrible conditions, and low pay to do one thing they loved more than anything else in the world: play ball. 96 pages, hardcover. 

Coretta Scott King Award winner Ashley Bryan celebrates three favorite spirituals in this colorful and joyous picture book. Come, sing, and celebrate the power of the beloved songs "This Little Light of Mine," "Oh, When the Saints Go Marching In," and "He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands" through kaleidoscopic illustrations of color and cut paper. 48 pages, hardcover. Ages 4 to 8.

Fifteen poems, infused with the rhythm and wordplay of jazz music, are paired with bold, stylized illustrations of performers and dancers to convey the history and breadth of this unique musical style. From bebop to New Orleans, from ragtime to boogie, and every style in between, Jazz takes readers on a musical journey from jazz's beginnings to the present day. In addition to its colorful and lyrical celebration, the book includes a brief introductory essay about the history and form of jazz, as well as a timeline and glossary of jazz terms. 48 pages, softcover. Ages 8 and up.

Evocative and rich in both tone and style, this beautifully illustrated book follows Harriet Tubman on her first trip to Freedom as she escapes north on the Underground Railroad. The lyrical text gives meaning not only to her physical journey to freedom, but her spiritual journey as well as she draws upon God for comfort, subsistence and help to guide her along each step of the way. Haunting and soothing simultaneously, the gorgeous illustrations and swirling poetry will surely make this book a favorite. 44 pages, reinforced binding; hardcover with dust jacket. Ages 5-8.

In 1955, people all over the United States knew that Emmett Louis Till was a fourteen-year-old African American boy lynched for supposedly whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. The brutality of his murder, the open-casket funeral, and the acquittal of the men tried for the crime drew wide media attention. Award-winning poet Marilyn Nelson reminds us of the boy whose fate helped spark the civil rights movement. This martyr’s wreath, woven from a little-known but sophisticated form of poetry, challenges us to speak out against modern-day injustices, to "speak what we see." A 2006 Coretta Scott King Honor Book. 48 pages, softcover. Ages 12 and up.

This picture book biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., brings his life and the profound nature of his message to young children through his own words. Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the most influential and gifted speakers of all time. Doreen Rappaport uses quotes from some of his most beloved speeches to tell the story of his life and his work in a simple, direct way. Bryan Collier's stunning collage art combines remarkable watercolor paintings with vibrant patterns and textures. A timeline and a list of additional books and websites help make this a standout biography of Dr. King. 40 pages, hardcover. Ages 6 to 8.

Poets' Prize winner Marilyn Nelson has crafted a book of poetry that tells not only the events, but the feeling and emotion of the devout life of George Washington Carver. Raised by a childless white couple who had owned his mother, Carver would leave home to receive an education and eventually start the agricultural department at Tuskegee Institute; he there found countless new uses for peanuts, cowpeas, and sweet potatoes. Black and white photographs are included. 103 pages, hardcover with dust jacket.

Please note! This book includes graphic language and descriptions of hate crimes. Not for younger readers without proofreading by parents.

There’s a place in ‘Tricia Ann’s southern town where all are welcome, no matter what their skin color.  To her, it’s someplace special and she’s bursting to go by herself. But when ‘Tricia Ann catches the bus heading downtown, unlike the white passengers, she must sit in the back behind the Jim Crow sign and wonder why life’s so unfair. Through moving prose and beautiful watercolors, a Coretta Scott King Award and Caldecott Medal–winning author-illustrator duo collaborate to tell the poignant tale of a spirited young girl who comes face to face with 1950s segregation in her town. 40 pages, softcover. Ages 5 and up.

    • Uptown
      Square Fish / 2010 / Trade Paperback
      Our Price$8.99 Retail Price$9.99 Save 10% ($1.00)
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      Stock No: WW073997

    Coretta Scott King Award-winning illustrator Bryan Collier discovers the vibrant world of Harlem, New York, as seen through the eyes of a little boy.  Uptown is a rich mix of flavors, colors, sounds, and cultures that come together to create a vibrant community like no other in the world. Seen through the eyes of one little boy who lives there, the details of life in Harlem are as joyous as a game of basketball on a summer's afternoon and as personal as a trip to the barbershop where old-timers reminisce. The spare, poetic text and beautiful, intricate illustrations evoke every aspect of Harlem, from the legendary Apollo Theater to chocolate-colored brownstones, weekend shopping on 125th Street, and the music of Duke Ellington. Winner of the 2001 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award. 32 pages, softcover. Ages 4 to 8.

    The market is full of wonderful things---roasted peanuts, rice cakes, toy trucks, kites---but Saruni doesn't buy any of them. He is saving for something special. How happy and proud he will be when he can help his mother carry heavy goods to market on his very own bicycle!

    It’s 1936, in Flint, Michigan. Times may be hard, and ten-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy on the run, but Bud’s got a few things going for him:
    1. He has his own suitcase full of special things.
    2. He’s the author of Bud Caldwell’s Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself.
    3. His momma never told him who his father was, but she left a clue: flyers advertising Herman E. Calloway and his famous band, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression!!!!!!
    Bud’s got an idea that those flyers will lead him to his father. Once he decides to hit the road to find this mystery man, nothing can stop him—not hunger, not fear, not vampires, not even Herman E. Calloway himself. 256 pages. Paperback. Ages 8-12

    Monster by Walter Dean Myers, is a New York Times bestselling novel, that tells the story of Steve Harmon, a teenage boy in juvenile detention and on trial. The story is presented as a screenplay of Steve's own imagination, and peppered with journal entries, the book shows how one single decision can change our whole lives. This intriguing coming-of-age story is a multi-award winner and is now a major motion picture starring Jennifer Hudson, Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Nas, and A$AP Rocky. 281 pages, softcover. Ages 13 and up.

    Swirling, movement-filled scratchboard illustrations complement the rhythmic, jazz-styled text that reads like a song. Learn about the music of Duke Ellington with this fantastic introduction to "The Duke!"

    Duke Ellington's brilliant music was key to swing, jazz, big-band, and other modern styles of music. Kids will love learning about a fun musical style while also learning about one of the most influential African-American musicians of the mid-1900s. 32 pages, softcover. Grades 5 & up.

    They called her "Minty." When she grew up, she became Harriet Tubman, the courageous and heroic woman who helped hundreds of slaves escape to freedom through the Underground Railroad. But she was just a little girl for a while—and this is her story. Minty, short for Araminta, was a feisty and headstrong young slave, whose rebellious spirit often got her into trouble. She told stories to her doll, released animals from traps, and, above all, dreamed of running away. And when her father began to teach her the skills necessary for escape, she listened carefully, and learned. Winner of the Coretta Scott King Award. 40 pages, softcover. Ages 4 to 8.

    The Watson's go to Birmingham follows the world of Kenny and his family, the Watsons of Flint, Michigan. When a visit to grandma is due, Dad comes home with the amazing ultra-glide, and the Watsons head out a trip like no other-they're heading south, to Birmingham, in 1963. Comic, tragic, and touching, this Newbery Honor Book is an American young adult classic. 210 pages, hardcover with dust jacket.

    This spirited collection of beautifully illustrated poems introduces young readers to Danitra Brown and her best friend, Zuri Jackson, as they go to school, play, share secrets, handle bullies, and help their friends.  This story of girl friendship and support resonates today and is perfect for sharing with early grade individuals and groups, including for units on poetry and empathy, kindness, and friendship. This is an ALA Notable Book, Coretta Scott King Award Honor Book, Sequoyah Children's Book Award Masterlist book, Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award Nominee, and on the Pennsylvania Young Readers' Choice Master List. 32 pages, softcover. Ages 7 and up.

    Everyone has a favorite relative. For Sarah Jean, it's her Uncle Jed, who's saved his whole life for his own barber shop. One day, Sarah Jean gets sick; she gets taken to the hospital, where the doctors won't look at her until they're done with the white customers. When they finally do, they won't give her an operation until they're paid $300.00. Sarah Jean's mama keeps her alive through the night, until Uncle Jed's sacrifice gets her the operation she needs to live. Uncle Jed keeps saving; but when the Great Depression hits, he loses all his money again. A wonderful story of perseverence and hard work, young readers will cheer when Uncle Jed finally achieves his dream.

    The bus arrives at the field in the dark of morning, workers gather around the fire, and "everyone speak in smoky whispers." Shelan's family's day in the fields begins. Too small to carry her own sack, Shelan piles cotton in the middle of the row for her mamma to collect; she admires her daddy who picks cotton so fast you can hardly see him do it; and she imagines how much cotton she could pick if she were as old as her sister. "It's a long time to night."

    Sherley Anne Williams draws on her childhood experience in the cotton fields of Fresno for this evocative story of a migrant family's day. Dramatic illustrations by Coretta Scott King Award-winning artist Carole Byard captures the poignant reality of life in the fields. Recommended for ages 4 to 8. A 1993 Caldecott Honor book.

    Cassie Louise Lightfoot has a dream: to be free to go wherever she wants for the rest of her life. One night, up on “tar beach,” the rooftop of her family’s Harlem apartment building, her dream comes true as the stars lift her up, and she flies over the city, claiming the buildings and the city as her own. This multiple award-winning story weaves fiction, autobiography, and African American history into a magical story that resonates with the universal wish for freedom. 32 pages, softcover. Ages 5 to 13.

    This multiple award-winning retelling of Cinderella introduces children to the history, culture, and geography of the African nation of Zimbabwe.  Inspired by a traditional African folktale, this is the story of Mufaro, a father who is proud of his two beautiful daughters. Nyasha is kind and considerate, but everyone except Mufaro knows that Manyara is selfish and bad-tempered. When the Great King decides to take a wife, he invites the most worthy and beautiful daughters in the land to appear before him, Mufaro brings both of his daughters, but only one can be queen. Who will the king choose? Winner of the Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration, as well as numerous other accolades.  32 pages, softcover. Ages 3 and up.

    Generations of children have been captivated by the hair-raising adventures and misadventures of Brer Rabbit. Come along as he sneaks into Mr. Man's garden, persuades Brer Wolf to be burned in a hollow log, and kicks Brer Fox's Tar Baby. Jerry Pinkney's lively and humorous illustrations are a perfect match for Julius Lester's contemporary approach, which expertly introduces a modern sense of humor to these forty-eight tales while paying homage to their roots as traditional American folklore. "A landmark collection. Lester's retellings are sharp and flavorful and grounded in the here and now."

    Over 20 African American folktales in this comprehensive collection are retold by award-winning author Virginia Hamilton in the colloquial manner and oral tradition of the slave storytellers. Engaging animal lore, trickster stories, fairy tales, supernatural legends, and slave narratives are accompanied by black & white illustrations in this multiple award-winning volume. 192 pages, softcover. Ages 8 and up.

    "The drums of Africa still beat in my heart. They will not let me rest." These are the words of Mary McLeod Bethune. She worked her whole life to make the world a better place. As a child, she loved to read. As a woman, she loved to teach. She started a school; she founded a hospital. Everywhere she saw a need, she searched for a solution. Simply told, this biography of an outstanding black educator has excellent illustrations. Ages 5-9.

    More than a work of fiction, this is a story culled from Mildred D. Taylor's own family's life and it stands as an important record of an African-American experience from our country's complicated and not-so-distant past. Though fictionalized, the novel draws great strength from a foundation of real-life events - and yet, remarkably, its honest portrayal of harsh truths have lead some to seek to remove the book from the library shelves and school reading lists. Ms. Taylor eloquently addresses this important issue in her inspiring new forward for the anniversary edition.

    Translated into scores of languages, this monumental novel remains as meaningful and universal as when it was first published in 1976. Recommended for ages 10 and up. The 1977 Newbery Medal winner.

    With the depression bearing down on her family and food in short supply, Cassie Logan isn't sure where her next meal will come from. But there is one thing that she knows will always be there - the whispering trees outside her window. Cassie's trees are a steady source of comfort to her, but they also happen to be worth a lot of money. When Mr. Andersen tries to force Big Ma to sell their valuable trees, Cassie can't just sit by and let it happen. She knows that her family needs the money, but something tells her that they need the trees just as much. The beloved heroine of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry enchants us again in this story of strength and pride. 64 pages, softcover. Recommended for ages 8 to 12.