8 books for exploring Black History with your students

October marks Black History month in the UK – a time to celebrate the contribution Black communities and individuals have made over the centuries in shaping the dynamic and diverse country we have today.


This year’s theme is ‘Time for Change: Action not Words’ and seeks to go beyond simply celebrating Black history and culture in theory towards stimulating long-term change and action in practice.

The Black Lives Matter movement caused societal reflection on the persistence of racism today and here at The Mighty Creatives, we’re continuing to work hard to improve our understanding and practice around this important issue.

Earlier this month, we put ourselves ‘on mute’ and taking a vow of silence with our Mighty (Un)Mute campaign, to raise money to support the artistic creation for one of ten Globe Sculptures in The World Reimagined art trail. The World Reimagined is a ground-breaking national art education project, fighting to transform how we understand the Transatlantic Trade in Enslaved Africans and its recurrent impact on all of us.

8 books for various ages to celebrate and explore Black History

We’ve also put together a list below of some of our favourite books for all ages, that celebrate black lives and explore black history both in the UK and around the globe. We’ve included some titles that support conversations about race and racism that are accessible for children and young people.

These books can be used for Black History Month, when many schools and families spend time researching and talking about Britain’s black history but are just as important all year round, too.

Books to start conversations about race and racism

Wish We Knew What to Say: Talking with Children About Race

Written by Dr Pragya Agarwal, published by Dialogue Books

For ages 12+

Wish We Knew What to Say is a timely and urgent book that gives scenarios, questions, thought starters, resources and advice in an accessible manner on how to tackle tricky conversations around race and racism with confidence and awareness. it brings in the science of how children perceive race and form racial identity, combining it with personal stories and experiences to create a handy guide that every parent would refer to again and again.

Written by behavioural and data scientist, Dr Pragya Agarwal, Wish We Knew What to Say will help all parents, carers and educators give children the tools and vocabulary to talk about people’s differences and similarities in an open, non-judgemental, curious way, and help them address any unfairness they might see or encounter.

The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person

Written by Frederick Joseph, published by Walker Books

For ages 12+

Speaking directly to the reader, Frederick Joseph offers powerful reflections on his own experiences with racism. As a former “token Black kid”, he now presents himself as the friend many readers need, touching on topics including cultural appropriation, “reverse racism” and white privilege. Featuring interviews with figures such as writer Angie Thomas, content creator Toni Tone, and April Reign, founder of the #OscarsSoWhite movement, this book serves as conversation starter and tool kit, creating a timely and essential read for committed anti-racists and newcomers to the cause of racial justice alike.


What is Race? Who are Racists? Why Does Skin Colour Matter? And Other Big Questions

Written by Nikesh Shukla and Claire Heuchan, published by Wayland

For ages 9 -11 years

An important and timely book on race and racism, encouraging children to think for themselves about the issues involved.

Talk about race is often discouraged, but this book aims to bring everyone into the conversation. It explores the history of race and society, giving context to how racist attitudes come into being. It looks at belonging and identity, the damaging effects of stereotyping and the benefits of positive representation. The authors talk sensitively about how to identify and challenge racism, and how to protect against and stop racist behaviour.

Books about Black History

Coming to England: An Inspiring True Story Celebrating the Windrush Generation

Written by Baroness Floella Benjamin, illustrated by Diane Ewen, published by Macmillan Children’s Books

For ages 3-6 years

A story about the triumph of hope, love, and determination, Coming to England is the inspiring true story of Baroness Floella Benjamin: from Trinidad, to London as part of the Windrush generation, to the House of Lords.

Filled with optimism and joy, yet deeply personal and relevant, young children will follow Floella’s experiences of moving home and making friends. Alongside vibrant illustrations by Diane Ewen, this powerful story shows little people how courage and determination can always overcome adversity.


Musical Truth Musical Truth: A Musical Journey Through Modern Black Britain

Written by Jeffrey Boakye, illustrated by Ngadi Smart, published by Faber & Faber

For ages 7+

Music can carry the stories of history like a message in a bottle.

Lord Kitchener, Neneh Cherry, Smiley Culture, Stormzy . . . Groundbreaking musicians whose songs have changed the world. But how? This exhilarating playlist tracks some of the key shifts in modern British history, and explores the emotional impact of 28 songs and the artists who performed them.

This book redefines British history, the Empire and postcolonialism, and will invite you to think again about the narratives and key moments in history that you have been taught up to now.

Thrilling, urgent, entertaining and thought-provoking, this beautifully illustrated companion to modern black music is a revelation and a delight.

Timelines from Black History: Leaders, Legends, Legacies

Introduction by Mireille Harper, published by DK Children

For ages 7+ years

Erased. Ignored. Hidden. Lost. Underappreciated. No longer. Delve into the unique, inspiring, and world-changing history of Black people.

From Frederick Douglass to Oprah Winfrey, and the achievements of ancient African kingdoms to those of the US Civil Rights Movement, Timelines From Black History: Leaders, Legends, Legacies takes kids on an exceptional journey from prehistory to modern times.


Black and British: A short, essential history

Written by David Olusoga, published by Macmillan Children’s Books

For ages 12+

A short, essential introduction to Black British history by award-winning historian and broadcaster David Olusoga.

When did Africans first come to Britain?
Who are the well-dressed black children in Georgian paintings?
Why did the American Civil War disrupt the Industrial Revolution?

These and many other questions are answered in this essential introduction to 1800 years of the Black British history: from the Roman Africans who guarded Hadrian’s Wall right up to the present day.


Young, Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present

Written by Jamia Wilson, illustrated Andrea Pippins, published by Wide Eyed Editions

For ages 7-10 years

Meet 52 icons of color from the past and present in this celebration of inspirational achievement—a collection of stories about changemakers to encourage, inspire and empower the next generation of changemakers. Jamia Wilson has carefully curated this range of black icons and the book is stylishly brought together by Andrea Pippins’ colourful and celebratory illustrations.