Looking for more in Book Lists?

Great reads for Black History Month

Genre: History, Identity
Age group: 6-8, 9-11, 12-14, Adults

October is Black History Month(this will open in a new window), and the perfect time for readers of all ages to delve into these great reads about Black history in Britain.

Looking for more information? Take a look at Black History Month UK(this will open in a new window), The Black Curriculum(this will open in a new window) campaign and the Guardian article, ten Black history events that should be taught to every pupil(this will open in a new window).

Jeffrey Boakye Ngadi Smart Musical Truth: A Musical History of Modern Black Britain in 28 Songs

In this immersive musical read, Jeffrey Boakye describes the arrival of the Windrush generation as marking the start of modern black Britain. Each chapter introduces a new song from the global music community, using the sounds of the past to trace Britain's black history. From calypso to reggae to grime – Jeffrey discusses the power of music as a form of celebration, resistance, means to talk about oppression and more.

Akala Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire

Covering everything from the police, education and identity to politics, sexual objectification and the far right, Natives speaks directly to British denial and squeamishness when it comes to confronting issues of race and class. From the first time he was stopped and searched as a child, to the day he realised his mum was white - race and class have shaped Akala's life and outlook. In this unique book he takes his own experiences and widens them out to look at the social, historical and political factors that have left us where we are today.

Jackie Kay The Lamplighter

Award-winning poet and Scottish Makar Jackie Kay takes us on a journey into the dark heart of Britain’s legacy in the slave trade. Four women and one man tell the story of their lives through slavery. Constance has witnessed the sale of her own child; Mary has been beaten to an inch of her life; Black Harriot has been forced to sell her body; and our lead, the Lamplighter, was sold twice into slavery from the ports in Bristol. Their different voices sing together in a rousing chorus that speaks to the experiences of all those brutalised by slavery, and lifts in the end to a soaring and powerful conclusion.

Andrea Levy Small Island

It is 1948, and England is recovering from a war. But at 21 Nevern Street, London, the conflict has only just begun. Queenie Bligh's neighbours do not approve when she agrees to take in Jamaican lodgers, but Queenie doesn't know when her husband will return, or if he will come back at all. What else can she do? Gilbert Joseph was one of the several thousand Jamaican men who joined the RAF to fight against Hitler. Returning to England as a civilian he finds himself treated very differently. It's desperation that makes him remember a wartime friendship with Queenie and knock at her door.

Miranda Kaufmann Black Tudors: The Untold Story

A black porter publicly whips a white Englishman in the hall of a Gloucestershire manor house. A Moroccan woman is baptised in a London church. Henry VIII dispatches a Mauritanian diver to salvage lost treasures from the Mary Rose. From long-forgotten records emerge the remarkable stories of Africans who lived free in Tudor England… The untold stories of the Black Tudors, dazzlingly brought to life by Kaufmann, will transform how we see this most intriguing period of history.

Bernadine Evaristo Girl, Woman, Other

From Newcastle to Cornwall, from the birth of the twentieth century to the teens of the twenty-first, Girl, Woman, Other follows a cast of twelve characters on their personal journeys through this country and the last hundred years. They're each looking for something - a shared past, an unexpected future, a place to call home, somewhere to fit in, a lover, a missed mother, a lost father, even just a touch of hope...

Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff Mother Country: Real Stories of the Windrush Children

For the pioneers of the Windrush generation, Britain was 'the Mother Country'. They made the long journey across the sea, expecting to find a place where they would be be welcomed with open arms; a land in which you were free to build a new life, eight thousand miles away from home. This remarkable book explores the reality of their experiences, and those of their children and grandchildren, through 22 unique real-life stories spanning more than 70 years.

Vashti Harrison Little Leaders: Exceptional Men in Black History

Did you know that the father of African cinema was originally a bricklayer? Or that Vogue's editor-at-large read his first Vogue magazine in his local library? Learn all about the exceptional black men who broke barriers and fought injustice to realise their dreams and make the world a better place.

Vashti Harrison Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

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

Mireille Harper Timelines from Black History: Leaders, Legends, Legacies

From Frederick Douglass to Oprah Winfrey, and the achievements of ancient African kingdoms to those of the US Civil Rights Movement, Timelines From Black History: Leaders, Legends, Legacies takes readers on an exceptional journey from prehistory to modern times.

Shazleen Kha Warren Pleece Freedom Bound

Freedom Bound explores Scotland's uncomfortable connections with the history of slavery. The graphic novel follows the interconnected stories of three enslaved people seeking freedom in Scotland in the decades before the law on slavery was changed in Scotland. Freedom Bound aims to make this difficult subject matter accessible for young readers.

David Olusoga Black and British: A Short Essential History

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 1800 years of the Black British history: from the Roman Africans who guarded Hadrian’s Wall right up to the present day.