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: Gideon’s Call

Tad, a small slave boy on a Carolinian island, is destined for a unique and impressive future. As the Civil War approaches the island, the white masters flee, but the slaves stay. The new community of freedmen is swiftly selected to host a government experiment to see if the freed slaves can become contributing members of society. Tad’s smarts and entrepreneurial initiative soon catch the attention of Edward Pierce, leader of the experiment. As the war progresses, both Tad and Pierce are in for many adventures. Can Pierce’s connections and Tad’s firsthand experience of the brutality of slavery win the freedman a chance for a fresh start and a brighter future?

The Civil War is one of my favorite periods of history, and I have researched it extensively. Mr. Leavell wrote about an element of the time period I never heard about before. That was enough to hook me! The story is well written and the characters are sympathetic and compelling. There is a bit of a love story between Tad and a girl from the same plantation, however this sub-plot remained a sub-plot and did not dominate the story. This is a good book about an important period of history.

Author: Peter Leavell
Audience: Adults
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 359
Publisher: Worthy Publishing

What are your favorite stories set during the Civil War?

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Book Review: Bright Freedom’s Song

“The first time Bright had seen a brown face, she had been six years old, so proud of being allowed to gather eggs from the henhouse. She had gone alone into the small, dark log building her father had built to protect the eggs from the fox that sometimes wandered the yard at night.”


Bright still remembers the fright she got from finding human eyes peering at her from inside the henhouse. Those eyes belonged to her father’s friend Marcus, an escaped slave who helps on the Underground Railroad. As Bright gets involved in her parent’s Underground Railroad station, she begins to learn just how important freedom is.

Visit author Gloria Houston’s website.
Read the first two chapter of the book on Amazon.

Book Review: William Henry is a Fine Name

Jake pushed a greasy hank of hair off his forehead and hitched up his pants. “I guess whipping your pa for trespassing last week wasn’t enough, William Henry. We’ll see who thinks he’s funny when I tell my pa that darkies and white trash is stealing our fish.”

I felt William Henry’s muscles tense beside me, but his mouth never twitched.


Robert’s best friend is black, his father works on the Underground Railroad, and his mother still clings to the mindset of the plantation she grew up on. When his mother takes Robert to her childhood home, he meets his grandfather and finds himself trying to rationalize slavery. When he sees two runaway slaves brutally punished he realizes that the “peculiar institution” of the south cannot be rationalized. Will he make the right choice when people’s lives depend on him?

Visit author Cathy Gohlke’s website.
Read the first chapter on amazon.