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12 books to read in honor of Black History Month

Here’s a short list to get you started

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Lupita Nyong’o arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

Lupita Nyong’o arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Nyong’o is the author of the children’s picture book “Sulwe.”

Jordan Strauss, Invision via Associated Press

February is Black History Month. Though there are too many significant works by black authors than can be covered in one article, we’ve compiled a short list of books that are worth reading to get you started.

The books range from heartwarming stories of family relationships to straightforward history to sci-fi and fantasy takes on racial issues.

Here are our 12 books to read for Black History Month.

For younger readers

“Hair Love,” Matthew Cherry (author), Vashti Harrison (illustrator), Kokila, 32 pages

The short film based on this book won best animated short film at the Academy Awards earlier this month. A celebration of father and daughter relationships and, of course, natural hair.

“Sulwe,” Lupita Nyong’o (author), Vashti Harrison (illustrator), Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 48 pages

Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o tells a story that will inspire children to see their own unique beauty.

“The Snowy Day,” Ezra Jack Keats (author, illustrator), Puffin Books, 32 pages

“The Snowy Day” was “the very first full-color picture book to feature a small black hero,” according to Amazon. It made headlines in January when the New York Public Library revealed it was the most-borrowed book in the library’s history.

For teen readers

“The Hate U Give,” Angie Thomas (author), Balzer + Bray, 464 pages

This story of a teen dealing with the aftermath of the police shooting of her unarmed friend was also made into a movie in 2018.

Content advisory: “The Hate U Give” contains references to drugs and sex, and includes some violence and explicit language. Common Sense Media recommends the book for ages 13 and up.

“Hidden Figures Young Readers’ Edition,” Margot Lee Shetterly (author), HarperCollins, 240 pages

The true story of four African American female mathematicians who worked for NASA and helped achieve some of the greatest moments in the U.S. space program.

“Children of Blood and Bone,” Tomi Adeyemi (author), Henry Holt and Co., 544 pages

The first in a series, “Children of Blood and Bone” is a fantasy set in an alternate version of West Africa.

Content advisory: “Children of Blood and Bone” contains violence and some language. Common Sense Media recommends the book for ages 14 and up.

For adult readers

“The Underground Railroad,” Colson Whitehead (author), Anchor, 336 pages

The fictional account of a slave on a Georgia plantation who makes her escape along the Underground Railroad.

Content advisory: “The Underground Railroad” contains violence, language, and brief sexual content. Common Sense Media recommends this book for ages 15 and up.

“The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration,” Isabel Wilkerson (author), Vintage, 640 pages

Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decadeslong migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.

“Kindred,” Octavia Butler (author), Beacon Press, 264 pages

A modern black woman is transported back in time to the Antebellum South.

Content advisory: “Kindred” contains violence, language and discussion of sexual themes.

“Between the World and Me,” Ta-Nehisi Coates (author), Spiegel & Grau, 176 pages

An exploration of America’s racial history, told in the form of a letter to the author’s adolescent son.

“The Color Purple,” Alice Walker (author), Harvest Books, 300 pages

This classic novel tells the story of a black woman who escapes abuse and journeys toward independence.

Content advisory: “The Color Purple” contains violence, including rape and abuse, as well as strong language and sexual content. Common Sense Media recommends the book for ages 15 and up.

“How to Be an Antiracist,” Ibram X. Kendi (author), One World, 320 pages

A work for anyone who wants to go beyond the awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a just and equitable society.