Best Black History Books

Have you wanted to learn more about Black history? Do you wish you had more context for the ways that history has shaped the modern world?

We've taken a look at some of the best Black history books on the market. These range from books for kids to more in-depth discussions of how historical events have changed modern life for Black people in the US.

Top 6: Best Black History Books

1. Timelines from Black History: Leaders, Legends, and Legacies

Timelines from Black History: Leaders, Legends, and Legacies

This is a children's book that's packed with information about Black leaders and innovators throughout history. Even for adults, the book has facts that you might not expect.

The book focuses on parts of history that are often overlooked or hidden. It teaches you about how the world is different because of the contributions of these individuals, along with how they changed the world they lived in.

Each of the timelines was individually commissioned by DK. They have visual information that makes it much easier to digest the facts. There are the same number of timelines for Black women and men, focusing on both the people you've heard about and people who are often overlooked in European history books.

Rather than focusing exclusively on the US, the book focuses on important historical moments that happened in North America, Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean. It includes important leaders from before Africa was colonized all the way through Jim Crow and the Civil Rights era.

The book also covers leaders in the time period between the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Lives Matter movement of today. It explains some of the context surrounding Black Lives Matter and explains how the movement compares to historical movements.

This item was written, edited, and put together by a diverse team of people from many different backgrounds and communities.

The book focuses on over 100 different Black leaders in history. It also has 30 different timelines that outline pieces of world history. You'll learn about everything from Ethiopia's resistance to colonization to the way Lewis Latimer contributed to the lightbulb.

Overall, this is a super accessible book for people of all ages to learn more about Black history.


  • There are 30 timelines and over 100 Black leaders and innovators that have been written about.
  • The book was put together by a team of multicultural people with a wide range of life experiences.
  • It covers events from prior to African colonization all the way to today.


  • The book isn't as in-depth and academic as some histories that are written for an adult audience.

2. Black History 1619-2019

Black History 1619-2019

This inspiring history book covers 400 years of Black history. It focuses on the history of the African-American community. The goal is to give an in-depth look at the past by using documentation and research. It preserves materials from the time periods, which helps to prevent the history from being erased.

In addition to the rich textual information, the book also contains nearly 400 visuals including photographs, illustrations, and maps. They show the lives of Black people throughout eras like slavery, reconstruction, the Civil War, the Civil Rights movement, and Jim Crow.

Rather than focusing on how the US has changed life for Black people, the book focuses on how Black people have influenced and changed American history.

There are 14 total chapters. The book begins with a chapter on the slave trade in the colonies. It ends with a chapter on the Civil Rights movement, which spans 1967 all the way through 2019.


  • The book covers four centuries of US history with a focus on correcting misinformation.
  • Multiple textual sources and photographs are used to preserve the accounts of what really happened.
  • There are fourteen chapters, each of which details a different point in African-American history.


  • The book focuses on African-American history, so it's not the best resource for learning about global Black history.

3. 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About African American History

1001 Things Everyone Should Know About African American History

This engaging book is a vital tool when studying African-American history. The writing explains significant people, events, ideas, movements, and terms that relate to the history of Black people in the US. It has been critically acclaimed.

The book is authored by Jeffrey Steward, a historian who previously won the National Book Award. It focuses on both the pieces of history that people know and the lesser-known facts. For example, you'll learn about Sojourner Truth's involvement in the women's rights and abolitionist movements, along with Estevanico, who was the first African to explore America.

In addition to talking about Black leaders and explorers, the book discusses the artistic contributions of people like Ira Aldridge and Oscar Micheaux. It talks about how Black people have served in the military in wars from the Civil War to the Vietnam War.

The book covers five hundred years of history and is divided into six different sections. Instead of dividing information by year, the categories include:

  • Medicine and innovation
  • Military contributions
  • Religion and culture
  • Sports
  • Migrating to the US


  • The book covers both well-known and obscure information in an interesting, easily digestible way.
  • Each section focuses on a different aspect of African-American contribution, rather than being divided by time period.
  • The author is a historian who has won the National Book Award.


  • The book was published in 1998, so it doesn't cover the past twenty years of civil rights advocacy.

4. Stamped from the Beginning

Stamped from the Beginning

This book won the National Book Award. It focuses on where racist ideas and structures in America came from, exploring their creation and spread throughout history.

The concept traces modern racism back to its historical sources. This enlightening read teaches you about the racism that still exists in America, along with the racial issues you might not even be aware of.

The narrative uses compelling language and in-depth research to tell a story of anti-black racism. It explains how these ideas have persisted, grown, and affected American history.

To do this, the author focuses on the stories of five different American thinkers. He talks about the minister Cotton Mather, the president Thomas Jefferson, the activist Angela Davis, the abolitionist William Garrison, and W.E.B. Du Bois.

The author explains how racism doesn't arise from hatred and ignorance. Instead, racist ideas were created for the sake of discrimination. Simply put, the book exposes how racism exists to benefit those in power.

Stamped from the Beginning gives you valuable insight that will help you spot modern racism. It also helps you think critically about today's world and hope for a brighter future.


  • The work is critically acclaimed and even won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2016.
  • The book traces the origin of different racist ideas and provides a better understanding of modern racism.
  • The ideas are presented through the lives of five different influential Americans.


  • The book focuses more on tracing the origins of ideas than on a linear history, so it's not the best if you want a linear timeline of historical events.

5. Black Heroes: A Black History Book for Kids

Black Heroes: A Black History Book for Kids

If you're looking for a Black history book to inspire children, this book is a great choice. It chronicles the lives of 51 people throughout history, from today's America to ancient Africa.

Rather than focusing on America alone, the book talks about influential Black people from Britain, the US, Egypt, and other parts of Africa. It talks about the lives they led and what things were like as they grew up. The book focuses on how they overcame obstacles and changed the course of history.

In addition to well-known individuals like Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King, Jr., the book talks about less well-known people like the astronomer Benjamin Banneker.

Another great aspect of the book is that it encourages further research. Each of the biographies has information about how to learn more, like visiting a website, watching a video, or reading another book.

The colorful illustrations help to liven the reading and make the figures realer. Suitable for children from ages 8 to 12, this is a great choice to learn about influential Black people from all over the world.


  • The book has illustrated biographies of 51 people for readers of ages 8 to 12.
  • There is a focus on influential individuals throughout history all over the world.
  • Each biography includes information for how to learn more.


  • The writing is fairly simplistic, so it might not be best for adults looking for an in-depth read.

6. The Color of Law

The Color of Law

The Color of Law is a book that focuses on the ways that the American government imposed and enforced segregation. It looks at the history of segregation in a variety of metropolitan areas throughout the United States, talking about laws that are often overlooked.

The book's thesis is that the government created and enforced segregation on purpose at the local, state, and federal level. It also explores how segregation took different forms in different areas. The goal is to do away with the idea that segregation occurred as an unintentional side effect of economics or private racism.

A good deal of the book is dedicated to the segregation in residential areas. It talks about segregation in public housing, racial zoning, and whites-only suburbs. There were tax exemptions if an institution enforced these rules. The government even supported violence toward Black people who entered white neighborhoods.

This is an essential book for those who want to learn more about urban history throughout the 1900s.


  • The book takes a very specific look at how segregation was created and imposed in a variety of urban areas in the US.
  • There is vital information about how these segregation policies still influence these cities today.
  • The book will change the way you think about African-American history in the 1900s.


  • Since the book focuses on modern segregation, its historical scope is too narrow for people who want a broad view of Black history.

Final Thoughts

Black history is a vital topic that is often overlooked in the historical field. Many historians have written books that shed light on different aspects of Black history. Whether you're a child or an adult, there's something on this list that can help you learn.

For a broad look at Black history for all ages, we recommend Timelines from Black History. This visually-engaging book has 30 different timelines from global movements spanning thousands of years.

For a look at African-American history, we recommend 1000 Things Everyone Should Know. The broad categories allow you to learn about your interests even if you don't have much interest in chronological timelines.

The Color of Law is a compelling look at segregation in American in the twentieth century. To learn more about how the government created and enforced segregation, this is essential reading.