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Currently browsing books in Poetry, and African American, for Third, Fourth, and Fifth Graders
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  • A Light in the Attic

    By: Shel Silverstein
    Recommended for grade(s): 4, 5

    A Light in the Attic delights with remarkable characters and hilariously profound poems in a collection readers will return to again and again. Here in the attic you will find Backward Bill, Sour Face Ann, the Meehoo with an Exactlywatt, and the Polar Bear in the Frigidaire. You will talk with Broiled Face, and find out what happens when Somebody steals your knees, you get caught by the Quick-Digesting Gink, a Mountain snores, and They Put a Brassiere on the Camel. Come on up to the attic of Shel Silverstein and let the light bring you home.  –From the Publisher

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  • A Place Where Hurricanes Happen

    By: Renee Watson and Shadra Strickland
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    Natural and man-made disasters are becoming more commonplace in children’s lives, and this touching free-verse picture book provides a straightforward account of Hurricane Katrina. In alternating voices, four friends describe their lives before, during, and after the storm and how, even though the world can change in a heartbeat, people define the character of their community and offer one another comfort and hope even in the darkest hours. Adrienne, Keesha, Michael, and Tommy have been friends for forever. They live on the same street, a street in New Orleans where everyone knows everybody. They play together all day long, every chance they get. It’s always been that way. But then people start talking about a storm headed straight for New Orleans. The kids must part ways, since each family deals with Hurricane Katrina in a different manner. And suddenly everything that felt like home is gone. Renee Watson’s lyrical free verse is perfectly matched in Shadra Strickland’s vivid mixed media art. Together they celebrate the spirit and resiliency of New Orleans, especially its children. –From the website at Penguin Random House

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 3

    Through the eyes of one little girl, All Different Now tells the story of the first Juneteenth, the day freedom finally came to the last of the slaves in the South. Since then, the observance of June 19 as African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond. This stunning picture book includes notes from the author and illustrator, a timeline of important dates, and a glossary of relevant terms. –From the website at Simon & Schuster

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 3

    Each letter of the alphabet is represented by a line from a poem by different African American poets, describing an aspect of the black experience. Coretta Scott King Honor Book 1998. — From Paw Prints

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  • Before She Was Harriet

    By: Lesa Cline-Ransome
    Recommended for grade(s): 4

    A lush and lyrical biography of Harriet Tubman, written in verse and illustrated by an award-winning artist. We know her today as Harriet Tubman, but in her lifetime she was called by many names. As General Tubman she was a Union spy. As Moses she led hundreds to freedom on the Underground Railroad. As Minty she was a slave whose spirit could not be broken. An evocative poem and opulent watercolors come together to honor a woman of humble origins whose courage and compassion make her larger than life. — From Holiday House

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  • Blues Journey

    By: Walter Dean Myers
    Recommended for grade(s): 4, 5

    The opening verse of this latest father/son collaboration probes the very essence of a form–and a feeling; it asks the question that anyone who has sought solace in music can relate to. The pair’s first composition wandered through a Harlem collage, depicting “a call, a song, the mood indigo, a language of darkness.” This new duet is the blues: verbally and visually, it explores the idiom while exemplifying it. A call and response accompanies each painting. As the journey progresses, the lyrics and art look at loss through the lenses of slavery, poverty, lynching, love spurned, fear of dying and of living. An author’s note provides a lucid description of the history, elements, and importance of the blues. –From Holiday House Books

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  • Booked

    By: Kwame Alexander
    Recommended for grade(s): 5, 6, 7

    Soccer, family, love, and friendship, take center stage as twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. —from the website at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 3

    Join acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers in a heartwarming celebration of African-American childhood in words and pictures. Sharing favorites from his collection of long-forgotten turn-of-the-century photographs, and punctuating them with his own moving Poetry, Mr. Myers has created a beautiful album that reminds us that “the child in each of us is our most precious part. —from the HarperCollins website

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  • Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea

    By: Joyce Carol Thomas
    Recommended for grade(s): 4, 5

    An award-winning, beautiful picture book–poetry and art exploring issues of African American identity. A favorite book to share in schools and homes.Coretta Scott King Honor Book for Nonfiction 1994.  Coretta Scott King Award Honor Book for Illustration 1994.  –from Harper Collins

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 4

    Two poets, one white and one black, explore race and childhood in this must-have collection tailored to provoke thought and conversation. How can Irene and Charles work together on their fifth grade poetry project? They don’t know each other . . . and they’re not sure they want to. Irene Latham, who is white, and Charles Waters, who is black, use this fictional setup to delve into different experiences of race in a relatable way, exploring such topics as hair, hobbies, and family dinners. Accompanied by artwork from acclaimed illustrators Sean Qualls and Selina Alko (of The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage), this remarkable collaboration invites readers of all ages to join the dialogue by putting their own words to their experiences. A Charlotte Huck Honor Book, 2019,  — From Carolrhoda Books

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  • Come on, Rain!

    By: Karen Hesse and Jon J Muth
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    “Come on, rain!” Tess pleads to the sky as listless vines and parched plants droop in the endless heat. Up and down the block, cats pant while heat wavers off tar patches in the broiling alleyway. More than anything, Tess hopes for rain. And when it comes, she and her friends are ready for a surprising joyous celebration….- –From the website at Scholastic

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 4, 5

    A most unusual collection of whacky, funny, scary creatures with imaginative fantasies in verse.  –From the Publisher

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  • Ellington Was Not a Street

    By: Ntozake Shange and Kadir Nelson
    Recommended for grade(s): 5

    In a reflective tribute to the African-American community of old, noted poet Ntozake Shange recalls her childhood home and the close-knit group of innovators that often gathered there. These men of vision, brought to life in the majestic paintings of artist Kadir Nelson, lived at a time when the color of their skin dictated where they could live, what schools they could attend, and even where they could sit on a bus or in a movie theater. Yet in the face of this tremendous adversity, these dedicated souls and others like them not only demonstrated the importance of Black culture in America, but also helped issue in a movement that “changed the world.” Their lives and their works inspire us to this day, and serve as a guide to how we approach the challenges of tomorrow.  Coretta Scott King Honor Book 2006.  –From the website at Simon & Schuster

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  • Every Thing On It

    By: Shel Silverstein
    Recommended for grade(s): 4, 5

    Have you ever read a book with everything on it? Well, here it is! You will say Hi-ho for the toilet troll, get tongue-tied with Stick-a-Tongue-Out-Sid, play a highly unusual horn, and experience the joys of growing down. What’s that? You have a case of the Lovetobutcants? Impossible! Just come on in and let the magic of Shel Silverstein bend your brain and open your heart. –From the Publisher

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  • Falling Up

    By: Shel Silverstein
    Recommended for grade(s): 4, 5

    A collection of humorous poems and drawings.

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  • Finding Langston

    By: Lesa Cline-Ransome
    Recommended for grade(s): 5

    When eleven-year-old Langston’s father moves them from their home in Alabama to Chicago’s Bronzeville district, it feels like he’s giving up everything he loves. It’s 1946. Langston’s mother has just died, and now they’re leaving the rest of his family and friends. He misses everything– Grandma’s Sunday suppers, the red dirt roads, and the magnolia trees his mother loved. In the city, they live in a small apartment surrounded by noise and chaos. It doesn’t feel like a new start, or a better life. At home he’s lonely, his father always busy at work; at school he’s bullied for being a country boy. But Langston’s new home has one fantastic thing. Unlike the whites-only library in Alabama, the Chicago Public Library welcomes everyone. There, hiding out after school, Langston discovers another Langston–a poet whom he learns inspired his mother enough to name her only son after him. Lesa Cline-Ransome, author of the Coretta Scott King Honor picture book Before She Was Harriet, has crafted a lyrical debut novel about one boy’s experiences during the Great Migration. Includes an author’s note about the historical context and her research. — From Holiday House

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 4, 5, 6

    Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, Ashley Bryan offers a moving and powerful picture book that contrasts the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of life experiences and dreams that a slave owner could never take away. Imagine being looked up and down and being valued as less than chair. Less than an ox. Less than a dress. Maybe about the same as…a lantern. You, an object. An object to sell. In his gentle yet deeply powerful way, Ashley Bryan goes to the heart of how a slave is given a monetary value by the slave owner, tempering this with the one thing that CAN’T be bought or sold—dreams. Inspired by the actual will of a plantation owner that lists the worth of each and every one of his “workers”, Bryan has created collages around that document, and others like it. Through fierce paintings and expansive poetry he imagines and interprets each person’s life on the plantation, as well as the life their owner knew nothing about—their dreams and pride in knowing that they were worth far more than an Overseer or Madam ever would guess. Visually epic, and never before done, this stunning picture book is unlike anything you’ve seen. A Newbery Honor Book.   Coretta Scott King Honor Book 2017.  –From the website at Simon & Schuster

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  • Full Cicada Moon

    By: Marilyn Hilton
    Recommended for grade(s): 4, 5

    It’s 1969, and the Apollo 11 mission is getting ready to go to the moon. But for half-black, half-Japanese Mimi, moving to a predominantly white Vermont town is enough to make her feel alien. Suddenly, Mimi’s appearance is all anyone notices. She struggles to fit in with her classmates, even as she fights for her right to stand out by entering science competitions and joining Shop Class instead of Home Ec. And even though teachers and neighbors balk at her mixed-race family and her refusals to conform, Mimi’s dreams of becoming an astronaut never fade—no matter how many times she’s told no. —from the website at Penguin Random House

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  • Harlem

    By: Walter Dean Myers
    Recommended for grade(s): 4

    A poem celebrating the people, sights, and sounds of Harlem.  Coretta Scott King Honor Book 1998.—from the Scholastic website

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  • I Am Loved

    By: Nikki Giovanni
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    Newbery Award honoree Ashley Bryan has hand-selected a dozen of National Book Award winner Nikki Giovanni’s poems to illustrate with his inimitable flourish. There is nothing more important to a child than to feel loved, and this gorgeous gathering of poems written by Nikki Giovanni celebrates exactly that. Hand-selected by Newbery honoree Ashley Bryan, he has, with his masterful flourish of color, shape, and movement, added a visual layering that drums the most impartant message of all to young, old, parent, child, grandparent, and friend alike: You are loved. You are loved. You are loved. As a bonus, one page is mirrored, so children reading the book can see exactly who is loved—themselves!  –From Simon and Schuster

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 3, 4

    In this intergenerational collection of Poetry by new and established African American writers, fatherhood is celebrated with honor, Humor, and grace. . In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall testifies to the powerful bond between father and child, recognizing family as our greatest gift, and identifying fathers as being among our most influential heroes.  Coretta Scott King Award Winner 1998.  —from Penguin Random House

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  • Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph

    By: Roxan Orgill and Francis Vallejo
    Recommended for grade(s): 5, 6, 7

    When Esquire magazine planned an issue to salute the American jazz scene in 1958, graphic designer Art Kane pitched a crazy idea: how about gathering a group of beloved jazz musicians and photographing them? He didn’t own a good camera, didn’t know if any musicians would show up, and insisted on setting up the shoot in front of a Harlem brownstone. Could he pull it off? In a captivating collection of poems, Roxane Orgill steps into the frame of Harlem 1958, bringing to life the musicians’ mischief and quirks, their memorable style, and the vivacious atmosphere of a Harlem block full of kids on a hot summer’s day. –From Candlewick

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 3, 4

    In exuberant verse and stirring pictures, Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson create an extraordinary portrait for young people of the passionate performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker, the woman who worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. Meticulously researched by both author and artist, Josephine’s powerful story of struggle and triumph is an inspiration and a spectacle, just like the legend herself.  Coretta Scott King Honor Book 2016.  —From Chronicle Books

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  • Recommended for grade(s): 4

    From Newbery Honor winner Patricia C. McKissack and two-time Caldecott Honor winner Brian Pinkney comes an extraordinary must-have collection of classic playtime favorites. This very special book is sure to become a treasured keepsake for African American families and will inspire joy in all who read it. Parents and grandparents will delight in sharing this exuberant book with the children in their lives. Here is a songbook, a storybook, a poetry collection, and much more, all rolled into one. Find a partner for hand claps such as “Eenie, Meenie, Sassafreeny,” or form a circle for games like “Little Sally Walker.” Gather as a family to sing well-loved songs like “Amazing Grace” and “Oh, Freedom,” or to read aloud the poetry of such African American luminaries as Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, and Paul Laurence Dunbar. And snuggle down to enjoy classic stories retold by the author, including Aesop’s fables and tales featuring Br’er Rabbit and Anansi the Spider. — From Schwartz & Wade

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  • Life Doesn’t Frighten Me

    By: Maya Angelou
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    Shadows on the wall. Noises down the hall. Life doesn’t frighten me at all. Maya Angelou’s brave, defiant poem celebrates the courage within each of us, young and old. From the scary thought of panthers in the park to the unsettling scene of a new classroom, fearsome images are summoned and dispelled by the power of faith in ourselves. Angelou’s strong words are matched by the daring vision of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose childlike style reveals the powerful emotions and fanciful imaginings of childhood. Together, Angelou’s words and Basquiat’s paintings create a place where every child, indeed every person, may experience his or her own fearlessness. –From Harry N. Abrams

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  • Locomotion

    By: Jacqueline Woodson
    Recommended for grade(s): 5, 6

    When Lonnie was seven years old, his parents died in a fire. Now he’s eleven, and he still misses them terribly. And he misses his little sister, Lili, who was put into a different foster home because “not a lot of people want boys-not foster boys that ain’t babies.” But Lonnie hasn’t given up. His foster mother, Miss Edna, is growing on him. She’s already raised two sons and she seems to know what makes them tick. And his teacher, Ms. Marcus, is showing him ways to put his jumbled feelings on paper. Told entirely through Lonnie’s poetry, we see his heartbreak over his lost family, his thoughtful perspective on the world around him, and most of all his love for Lili and his determination to one day put at least half of their family back together. Jacqueline Woodson’s poignant story of love, loss, and hope is lyrically written and enormously accessible. Winner of the National Book Award.  Coretta Scott King Honor Book 2004.  –From Penguin

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  • Meet Danitra Brown

    By: Nikki Grimes
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    This spirited collection of poems introduces young readers to Danitra Brown, the most splendiferous girl in town, and her best friend, Zuri Jackson. Coretta Scott King Honor Book 1995. —from the HarperCollins website

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  • Mirandy And Brother Wind

    By: Patricia McKissack
    Recommended for grade(s): 4, 5

    In this Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award winning tale, Mirandy is determined to capture the best partner for the junior cakewalk jubilee. And who is the best partner? The wind, of course! Grandmama Beasley says, “Can’t nobody put shackles on Brother Wind, chile. He be special. He be free.” With neighbors up and down Ridgetop suggesting all manner of strategies, and friend Ezel laughing at each foiled one, Mirandy grows ever more determined: she’ll get hold of that Brother Wind yet! Patricia C. McKissack’s thoroughly engaging tale dances with spirit and rollicking good humor. Complemented by Jerry Pinkney’s rich, eye-catching watercolors of the rural South, here’s one of those rare, rewarding picture books that is sure to be read and enjoyed again and again.  Coretta Scott King Award Winner 1889. —from the website at Penguin Random House

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  • My Seneca Village

    By: Marilyn Nelson
    Recommended for grade(s): 5, 6, 7

    Quiet for more than 135 years, the voices of Seneca Village are rising again. Angela Riddles ponders being free-but-not-free. The orphaned Donnelly brothers get gold fever. A conjurer sees past his era and into ours. Drawing upon history and her exquisite imagination, Marilyn Nelson recreates the long lost community of Seneca Village. A multi-racial, multi-ethnic neighborhood in the center of Manhattan, it thrived in the middle years of the 19th century. Families prayed in its churches, children learned in its school, babies were born, and loved ones were laid to rest. Then work crews arrived to build Central Park, and Seneca Village disappeared.  Los Angeles Times Book Prize Winner. –From Amazon

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  • Nathaniel Talking

    By: Eloise Greenfield
    Recommended for grade(s): 3, 4

    “Nathaniel B. Free is a spunky, spirited nine-year-old poet who raps and rhymes about his world, from what it’s like to be nine, to his education, to his family life.”   Coretta Scott King Honor Book 1990. –from Writers and Readers.

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  • Never Forgotten

    By: Patricia C. McKissack
    Recommended for grade(s): 4, 5

    Set in West Africa, this a lyrical story-in-verse is about a young black boy who is kidnapped and sold into slavery, and his father who is left behind to mourn the loss of his son. Here’s a beautiful, powerful, truly unforgettable story about family, memory, and freedom.  Coretta Scott King Honor Book 2012. –from Schwartz & Wade.

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  • Night on Neighborhood Street

    By: Eloise Greenfield, Jan Spivey Gilchrist
    Recommended for grade(s): 3

    A collection of poems exploring the sounds, sights, and emotions enlivening a black neighborhood during the course of one evening.   Coretta Scott King Award Winner 1992. –from Puffin.

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