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Black Lives Matter: Middle Grade and YA Historical Fiction


Earlier posts on this blog pay careful attention to books containing diverse characters. In support of the Black Lives Matter movement, I want to share this list of middle grade historical fiction. In most cases, the main characters are black Americans, however there are a few titles whose black characters play a secondary role. I included these because of their exceptional equity in telling the characters' stories. 

Historical fiction is often scrutinized for misappropriation, especially when it comes to diverse voices. Because of this, I have tried to select more recent titles, whose authors are working harder than ever to promote the important work of telling accurate stories. Names with a star (*) are considered #ownvoice authors, portraying characters that reflect their own heritage and race.

Since 1619, when the first slaves landed on American soil, the history of African American and Black men, women, and children has been wrought with racism, discrimination, violence, and death. These stories all touch on that. Not to glorify the pain, but so we can read their stories (often based on factual events) and learn from them. Yet despite themes that get paraded each Black History Month (and these months, in the midst of protests against the wrongful murders of Black men and women)--that is not where their stories end. For every instance of bigotry, segregation, and rejection, you will read every-day occasions of joy, expectation, celebration, and growth. 

There is both power and humility in reading about characters who are different from yourself. Embrace it as a challenge and begin the important work of growing seeds of understanding, acceptance, equity, justice, and peace.


Within each section, titles are listed in chronological order.

MIDDLE GRADE

NON-FICTION

The Underground Abductor
Nathan Hale
(Underground Railroad and Abolition, 1800s)


Spy on History: Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring
Enigma Alberti and Tony Cliff
(The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1877)


This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality
*Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debby Levy
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)


Brown Girl Dreaming
*Jacqueline Woodson
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968, Vietnam and Cold War Era,1955-1980s)


Hidden Figures
*Margot Lee Shetterly
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)


Chasing King's Killer: The Hunt for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Assassin
James L. Swanson
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)


FICTION

Jefferson’s Sons
Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
(The American Revolution and the New Nation, 1760-1820s)


Chains (Seeds of America #1)
Laurie Halse Anderson
(The American Revolution and the New Nation, 1760-1820s)


Forge (Seeds of America #2)
Laurie Halse Anderson
(The American Revolution and the New Nation, 1760-1820s)


Ashes (Seeds of America #3)
Laurie Halse Anderson
(The American Revolution and the New Nation, 1760-1820s)


The Detective’s Assistant
Kate Hannigan
(Underground Railroad and Abolition, 1800s)


Sugar
*Jewell Parker Rhodes
(Underground Railroad and Abolition, 1800s)


Stealing Freedom
Elisa Carbone
(Underground Railroad and Abolition, 1800s)


Running Out of Night
Sharon Lovejoy
(Underground Railroad and Abolition, 1800s)


Ann Fights for Freedom: An Underground Railroad Survival Story
(Girls Survive series)
*Nikki Shannon Smith and Alessia Trunfio
(Underground Railroad and Abolition, 1800s)


Unbound: A Novel in Verse
Ann E. Burg
(Underground Railroad and Abolition, 1800s)


Elijah of Buxton
*Christopher Paul Curtis
(Underground Railroad and Abolition,1800s, The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1877)


The Journey of Little Charlie
*Christopher Paul Curtis
(Underground Railroad and Abolition, 1800s, The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1877)


If I Just Had Two Wings
Virginia Frances Schwartz
(The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1877)


Calico Girl
*Jerdine Nolen
(The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1877)


Charlotte Spies for Justice: A Civil War Survival Story (Girls Survive series)
*Nikki Shannon Smith and Alessia Trunfio
(The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1877)


Crow
Barbara Wright
(Immigration, Industrialization, and Urbanization, 1870-1920)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/165856.Lizzie_Bright_and_the_Buckminster_Boy

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy
Gary D. Schmidt
(Immigration, Industrialization, and Urbanization, 1870-1920)


Crossing the Line
Bibi Belford
(Immigration, Industrialization, and Urbanization, 1870-1920)


The Mighty Miss Malone
*Christopher Paul Curtis
(The Jazz Age and the Great Depression, 1920-1940)


Stella by Starlight
*Sharon M. Draper
(The Jazz Age and the Great Depression, 1920-1940)


Bud, Not Buddy
*Christopher Paul Curtis
(The Jazz Age and the Great Depression, 1920-1940)


Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
*Mildred D. Taylor
(The Jazz Age and the Great Depression, 1920-1940)


Bird in a Box
*Andrea Davis Pinkney
(The Jazz Age and the Great Depression, 1920-1940)


Jump into the Sky
Shelley Pearsall
(World War II, Jim Crow, and the Great Migration, 1940s)


Invasion
*Walter Dean Myers
(World War II, 1940s)


Clayton Byrd Goes Underground
*Rita Williams-Garcia
(Jim Crow and the Great Migration, 1940s-50s)


Finding Langston
*Lesa Cline-Ransome
(Jim Crow and the Great Migration, 1940s-50s)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45359230-leaving-lymon

Leaving Lymon
*Lesa Cline-Ransome
(Jim Crow and the Great Migration, 1940s-50s)


The Hero Two Doors Down: Based on the True Story of Friendship Between a Boy and a Baseball Legend
*Sharon Robinson
(Jim Crow and the Great Migration, 1940s-50s)


How High the Moon
*Karyn Parsons
(Jim Crow and the Great Migration, 1940s-50s)


Betty Before X
*Ilyasah Shabazz and *Renée Watson
(Jim Crow and the Great Migration, 1940s-50s)


The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA
*Brenda Woods
(World War II, 1940s, Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)


A Friendship for Today
*Patricia C. McKissack
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)


The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1961
*Christopher Paul Curtis
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)


One Crazy Summer (Gaither Sisters series #1)
*Rita Williams-Garcia
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)


P.S. Be Eleven (Gaither Sisters series #2)
*Rita Williams-Garcia
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)


Gone Crazy in Alabama (Gaither Sisters series #3)
*Rita Williams-Garcia
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20894025-unstoppable-octobia-may

Unstoppable Octobia May
*Sharon G. Flake
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11699349-the-lions-of-little-rock

The Lions of Little Rock
Kristin Levine
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)


Midnight Without a Moon (Rose Lee Carter #1)
*Linda Williams Jackson
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)


A Sky Full of Stars (Rose Lee Carter #2)
*Linda Williams Jackson
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)


Abby Takes a Stand
*Patricia C. McKissack
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)


The Toothpaste Millionaire
Jean Merrill
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)


Ruby Lee and Me
Shannon Hitchcock
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)


Walking with Miss Millie
Tamara Bundy
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)


Glory Be
Augusta Scattergood
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)


The Long Ride
*Marina Budhos
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968, Vietnam Era, 1960s-70s)


HISTORICAL FICTION AND PRESENT-DAY BLENDS

Morning Star
Judith Plaxton
(Underground Railroad and Abolition, 1800s and Present-day)


The Length of a String
Elissa Brent Weissman
(World War II, 1940s and Present-day)


Ghost Boys
*Jewell Parker Rhodes
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968 and Present-day)


The Parker Inheritance
*Varian Johnson
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968 and Present-day)


YOUNG ADULT (YA)

NON-FICTION
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25883048-a-few-red-drops

A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919
*Claire Hartfield
(Immigration, Industrialization, and Urbanization, 1870-1920)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17346698-march

March: Books 1
*John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22487952-march

March: Books 2
*John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29436571-march

March: Books 3
*John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)


FICTION

Copper Sun
*Sharon M. Draper
(Colonization and Settlement, 1585-1759)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/432509.Letters_from_a_Slave_Girl

Letters from a Slave Girl: The Story of Harriet Jacobs
Mary E. Lyons
(Underground Railroad and Abolition, 1800s)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31451001-crossing-ebenezer-creek

Crossing Ebenezer Creek
*Tonya Bolden
(The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1877)


The Land
*Mildred D. Taylor
(Immigration, Industrialization, and Urbanization, 1870-1920)


Flygirl
*Sherri L. Smith
(World War II, 1940s)


Mare's War
*Tanita S. Davis
(World War II, 1940s)


All the Days Past, All the Days to Come
*Mildred D. Taylor
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)


M.C. Higgins the Great
*Virginia Hamilton
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)


The Rock and the River (The Rock and the River #1)
*Kekla Magoon
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)


Fire in the Street (The Rock and the River #2)
*Kekla Magoon
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/83392.Mississippi_Trial_1955

Mississippi Trial, 1955
Chris Crowe
(Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30971723-it-all-comes-down-to-this

It All Comes Down to This
*Karen English
(Vietnam and Cold War Era, 1955-1980s)





 


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