Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Black History Month are right around the corner and we wanted to take a look at all the great content, we here at OverDrive, have in order to fill out your digital collection during this important time of year. What follows are curated lists prepared by the OverDrive librarians along with some featured titles which focus on African American authors and characters, Black History Month, and the Civil Rights Movement. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” These words mean as much today as they did when King was alive.

Favorite African American Authors and Characters

This collection focuses on personal experiences of authors and characters in relation to issues of equality. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson is a beautiful book of poetry describing her childhood growing up in the South in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander tells the story of Josh and Jordan Bell, twin twelve year old boys. Their life of basketball and rap music runs parallel with the realities of growing up in the inner city. This is a great title for younger readers who may be reluctant to pick up a book.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor is set in Mississippi during the Depression. A Newbery Medal award winner, it follows Cassie Logan as she grows up in the South and experiences racism and persecution. This is the sequel to the novella Song of the Trees.

Black History Month: Nonfiction for J/YA

This collection focuses mostly on famous African American figures with the goal of educating juvenile and young adult audiences. Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.? by Bonnie Bader and Who is Muhammad Ali? By James Buckley Jr. are illustrated biographies from the same series. The authors do a wonderful job of tackling complex subject matter with young readers in mind.

Of Thee I Sing by Barack Obama is a letter to his daughters for the future. President Obama focuses on important qualities of various historical and cultural figures and how these qualities should be idealized by our children and generations moving forward.

Black History Month Streaming Videos

This collection focuses on African American characters and individuals depicted on the screen. Nelson Mandela: The Freedom Fighter is a documentary depicting one of the most influential men in the world. Mandela’s struggle from inmate to first black president of South Africa is inspiring.

Hendrix on Hendrix is an unauthorized biography of Jimi Hendrix through the words of his brother, Leon. This story gives the viewer a new way to find insight into the world of one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

History Classroom K-12: Civil Rights Movement

Our classroom collection focuses on material meant for elementary to high school students. The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis is a middle grade novel about Kenny, a nine year old, living in Michigan. He spends the summer with his grandmother.  While he is there, tragic events take place that will change him and his family forever.

The Lions of Little Rock by Kristine Levine follows two young girls in 1958 Little Rock. This novel tackles the complexity of segregation and the capacity for love and change.