Booklist: What Does Freedom Mean to Black Americans?

“This, for the purpose of this celebration, is the 4th of July. It is the birthday of your National Independence, and of your political freedom.”  ~Frederick Douglass

Young Adult

Teens are more aware of what hasn’t been taught in US History classes and are able to take more responsibility for their own learning.

“What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” by Frederick Douglass (July 5, 1852)

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom by Lynda Blackmon Lowery, Elspeth Leacock, Susan Buckley and PJ Loughran (Dial Books, 2015)

Now or Never! Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Infantry’s War to End Slavery by Ray Anthony Shepard (Calkins Creek, 2017)

Narrative of Sojourner Truth by Sojourner Truth (1875)

Fort Mose And the Story of the Man Who Built the First Free Black Settlement in Colonial America by Glennette Tilley Turner (Harry N. Abrams, 2010)

Middle Grade

Tween readers are ready for more factual details as well as fictional stories that  relate the past to the present.

Now is your Time! The African-American Struggle for Freedom by Walter Dean Myers (Scholastic, 1991)

“Slave Petition for Freedom to the Massachusetts Legislature” signed by by Prince Hall, Lancaster Hill, Peter Bess, Brister Slenser, Jack Pierpont, Nero Funelo, Newport Sumner and Job Look (13 Jan 1777)

Day of Tears by Julius Lester (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2007)

A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott (Skyscape, 2010)

Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryan (Atheneum, 2016)


Emerging independent readers begin to learn of individual Black American contributions to the American identity.

I Am Rosa Parks by Rosa Parks, Jim Haskins and Wil Clay (Penguin Young Readers, 1999)

Betty Before X by Iyasah Shabazz and Renée Watson

28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World by Charles R. Smith and Shane Evans (Roaring Brook Press, 2015)

Who Were the Tuskegee Airmen? by Sherri L. Smith (Penguin Workshop, 2018)


In these books, young children begin to learn of the ever presence of Black in U.S. history and the joy of resistance.

Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford and R. Gregory Christie (Little Bee Books, 2016)

Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass by Lesa Cline Ransome and James E. Ransome (Simone and Schuster, 2013)

Someday is Now: Clara Luper and the 1958 Oklahoma City Sit-Ins by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovitch and Jade Johnson (Seagrass, 2018)

I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes and Brian Collier (Simon and Schuster, 2012)

Black Owned Bookstores


Be well and do good!