5 Books About Black History that I Read in Junior High

Over the past week, our country has been shaken by the death of George Floyd. The streets have been flooded with protesters and social media has been flooded with black squares.

These current events caused me think back on what shaped my understanding of our country’s racial history. As a tween and young teen, I faithfully kept a journal of books I read, so I pulled that journal out and took note of the books I read about slavery, the underground railroad, reconstruction, integration, inter-racial friendship, etc.

If you’re a young person wondering how to navigate and respond to current events, start with your Bible and prayer. But after that, if you want to understand the historical context, these books might help.

Parents and older siblings can also use stories like these as conversation starters or supplements to homeschool history curriculums.

Here are five titles by black authors that I read as a young teenager.


Breakthrough to the Big Leagues:  The Story of Jackie Robinson

Breakthrough to the Big Leagues, by Jackie Robinson

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Book Review: Stumptown Kid

Stumptown KidCharlie desperately wants to make the baseball team, but he can’t seem to focus when bullies taunt him. His lack of focus costs him his chance at the team. After the tryouts, he’s surprised when a black man offers some baseball advice that helps right away. The man introduces himself as Luther and says he’s looking for work. Charlie claims Luther as a new friend and, with the help of his mom, finds Luther a job. He also quickly decides he likes Luther much more than his mother’s boyfriend, Vern. Vern’s racist attitude doesn’t win him any brownie points with Charlie either. But Charlie doesn’t realize how much trouble can be found by trying to straddle the line between black and white. Sometimes it’s a matter of life and death.

I read this several years ago and enjoyed it again recently when my family and I listed to it on a road trip. The ending is…well, dramatic. Maybe even a tad too dramatic but not enough to complain about and plenty to keep you on the edge of your seat. Charlie’s innocence and loyalty make his friendship with Luther that much better. Luther is also an easy character to like. You’ll feel his pain right along with him. This¬†book¬†focuses more on the historical fiction side than the sports side, but it has plenty of baseball to make it count for this month’s theme.