Black History Month: Recommended Reads

October is Black History Month in the UK, which celebrates the history, contributions and achievements of the black community. It’s also an opportunity to discuss issues faced by black people throughout history and in the present day.

Here are some of our favourite books that celebrate and explore black history:

What is Race?


An important and timely book on race and racism, that 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.

Written by award-winning authors, Claire Heuchan and Nikesh Shukla, editor of the 2016’s acclaimed bestseller The Good Immigrant, and featuring a range of contributions from writers of colour. For readers aged 10+.

9781526303981. Out 11th October 2018. HB £13.99

Find out more here

Ghost Boys

A heartbreaking and powerful story about a black boy killed by a white police officer, drawing connections with real-life history, from award-winning African-American author Jewell Parker Rhodes. 
As a ghost, watching his family trying to cope with his death, Jerome begins to notice other ghost boys. Each boy has a story and they all have something in common, and bit by bit Jerome begins to understand what really happened – not just to him, but to all of the ghost boys.

Aimed at readers 9+ this is a timely, beautifully written story about how children and families face the complexities of race in today’s world, and contributes to the important conversation about racial relations in today’s society.

Discussion questions and activities based on the book are available here.

Find out more about Ghost Boys 


The 57 Bus

The 57 Bus is the remarkable true story of two teenagers in Oakland, California and a crime that changes both their lives. One, Sasha, was born male but identifies as agender, wears skirts and attends a private school. The other, Richard, is an African American from a poor part of Oakland who attends a rough public school. They have no reason to meet, except for eight minutes every day, they catch the same bus home. And one day, messing about, Richard spies Sasha napping. He flicks the flame of his lighter to Sasha’s skirt, and Sasha wakes up in a ball of flame.

Sensitively and accessibly written, the book follows the aftermath of the incident and Richard’s subsequent trial, and, among other important issues, explores the nature of racial bias against young African-American men within the US judicial system.

For readers aged 13+

Find out more about The 57 Bus

The Good Guys

The Good Guys is a gloriously illustrated celebration of remarkable men who changed the world through kindness and compassion. The book includes well-known figures such as Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela, as well as less well-known people such as former-slave turned philanthropist Pierre Toussaint and blood bank pioneer Charles Drew. A great antidote to the #MeToo era, this book is packed with positive male role models  – brave, intelligent and compassionate men who prove that it’s cool to be kind.

For readers aged 10+, this book is a great starting point for an assembly or project on inspirational lives.

9781526361448 £12.99

Find out more about The Good Guys

Brilliant Women

Brilliant Women is a beautifully illustrated series introducing women who have stretched the boundaries of art, science, society and sport, changing the world along the way. The series features inspiring black women from all walks of life, including poet Maya Angelou, abolitionist Harriet Tubman, gymnast Simone Biles and mathematician Katherine Johnson who helped NASA get US astronauts into space.

The books also include activities based on the actions of these brilliant women, designed to nurture young people’s own varied skills. A great series to use as a starting point for an assembly or class activity. Aimed at readers aged 9+