Historical fiction can go a long way in helping a reader connect to the past. Here are a few new chapter books that cover aspects of African American history (much of it 20th century history):
Finding Family by Tonya Bolden
Raised in Charleston, West Virginia, at the turn of the twentieth century by her grandfather and aunt on off-putting tales of family members she has never met, twelve-year-old Delana is shocked when, after Aunt Tilley dies, she learns the truth about her parents and some of her other relatives.
Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson
Separated from his friend Isabel after their daring escape from slavery, fifteen-year-old Curzon serves as a free man in the Continental Army at Valley Forge until he and Isabel are thrown together again, as slaves once more.
Leaving Gee’s Bend by Irene Latham
Ludelphia Bennett, a determined, ten-year-old African American girl in 1932 Gee’s Bend, Alabama, leaves home in an effort to find medical help for her sick mother, and she recounts her ensuing adventures in a quilt she is making.
Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes
In New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, twelve-year-old Lanesha, who can see spirits, and her adopted grandmother have no choice but to stay and weather the storm as Hurricane Katrina bears down upon them. Ninth Ward was a Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book for 2011.
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
In the summer of 1968, after traveling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp. One Crazy Summer was a Newbery Honor Book and the winner of the Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award for 2011.
The Wonder of Charlie Anne by Kimberly Newton Fusco
In a 1930s Massachusetts farm town torn by the Depression, racial tension, and other hardships, Charlie Anne and her black next-door neighbor Phoebe form a friendship that begins to transform their community.
Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon
A fictionalized account of Zora Neale Hurston’s childhood with her best friend Carrie, in Eatonville, Florida, as they learn about life, death, and the differences between truth, lies, and pretending.