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Zindzi Mandela, David Olusoga and Tanya Landman on Bishop's Stortford College librarian Lizzie Hall's reading list for Black History Month

Bishop's Stortford College Prep School librarian Lizzie Hall writes about the magic of storytelling...

Dear Reader. Black History Month is upon us. It is a time to celebrate African and Caribbean cultures and histories and to teach children about the struggles and achievements of black pioneers from the past.

Here are some books about black history to read this week...

Babies and toddlers

Grandad Mandela by Zindzi Mandela

Nelson Mandela's two great-grandchildren ask their grandmother, Mandela's youngest daughter, 15 questions about their Grandad – the global icon of peace and forgiveness who spent 27 years in prison.

Grandad Mandela by Zindzi Mandela (42503286)
Grandad Mandela by Zindzi Mandela (42503286)

They learn that he was a freedom fighter who put down his weapons for the sake of peace, and who then became the president of South Africa and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and realise that they can continue his legacy in the world today.

Ages 5-8

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison

Did you know the treatment for leprosy was developed by a young scientist called Alice Ball? And Josephine Baker - world famous cabaret singer and dancer - was also a spy for the French résistance?

Featuring 40 trailblazing black women in the world's history, this book educates and inspires as it relates true stories of women who broke boundaries and exceeded all expectations.

Debut author/illustrator Vashti Harrison pairs captivating text with stunning illustrations as she tells the stories of both iconic and lesser-known female figures of black history, including nurse Mary Seacole, politician Diane Abbott, mathematician Katherine Johnson and singer Shirley Bassey.

Inspire your own little leader with the stories of these amazing women.

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison (42503284)
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison (42503284)

Ages 9-12

Freedom 1783 by Catherine Johnson

An action-packed and pacey story about a boy's experience of slavery in Britain. Nathaniel doesn't want to move to England with his master's family, leaving behind his mother and sister on the Jamaican plantation.

But then he remembers what his mother told him: once a slave sets foot on English soil, they're free. Perhaps he can earn his fortune and buy his family's freedom too.

Freedom 1783 by Catherine Johnson (42503281)
Freedom 1783 by Catherine Johnson (42503281)


Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

Isabel and her sister Ruth are slaves. Sold from one owner to the next, they arrive in New York as the Americans are fighting for their independence, and the English are struggling to maintain control.

Soon Isabel is struggling too. Struggling to keep herself and her sister safe in a world in which they have no control.

With a rare and compelling voice, this haunting novel tells not only the story of a remarkable girl and her incredible strength, but also of a time and place in which slavery was the order of the day and lives were valued like weights of meat or bundles of vegetables.

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (42503279)
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (42503279)


Buffalo Soldier by Tanya Landman

"What kind of a girl steals the clothes from a dead man's back and runs off to join the army? A desperate one. That's who."

At the end of the American Civil War, Charley – a young African-American slave from the Deep South – is ostensibly freed. But then her adopted mother is raped and lynched at the hands of a mob and Charley is left alone.

In a terrifyingly lawless land, where the colour of a person's skin can bring violent death, Charley disguises herself as a man and joins the army. Soon she's being sent to the prairies to fight a whole new war against the "savage Indians".

Trapped in a world of injustice and inequality, it's only when Charley is posted to Apache territory that she begins to learn what it is to be truly free.

Buffalo Soldier by Tanya Landman (42503277)
Buffalo Soldier by Tanya Landman (42503277)


Black and British by 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 1,800 years of black British history: from the Roman Africans who guarded Hadrian's Wall right up to the present day.

This new edition of the bestseller Black and British by award-winning historian and broadcaster David Olusoga is illustrated with maps, photos and portraits.

Black and British by David Ulusoga (42503275)
Black and British by David Ulusoga (42503275)

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