Civil Rights Movement

An introduction to one of the defining issues of our time, with a focus on the involvement of young people in the Civil Rights Movement.

Compiled by:
Children's Services Staff
Picture Books and Younger Elementary
Because of You, John Lewis

Andrea Davis Pinkney
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 323.1196 Pin)

10 year old activist, Tybre Faw, is determined to meet John Lewis after learning of his march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in the fight for the right to vote. Soon after, his two grandmothers drive him to Selma, Alabama to meet John Lewis himself, and that begins a beautiful friendship between the two! For ages 4-8.

A Flag for Juneteenth

Kim Taylor
(Juvenile Picture Books – Ej Tay)

Follow along as a close knit community of enslaved African Americans as they process the news of their freedom, and how they celebrate together by creating a community flag.  Recommended for ages 4-8.

Lillian’s Right to Vote

Jonah Winter, Shane Evans
(Juvenile Picture Books – Ej Win)

Lillian recalls that her great-great-grandparents were sold as slaves in front of a courthouse where only rich White men were allowed to vote, then the long fight that led to her right to vote. Recommended for ages 6-9.

The March on Washington

Bonnie Bader
(Juvenile Fiction - J America Realsto Bad)

Learn about the civil right movement through learning about key people and events that led to this historic movement. Additionally, American Girl Melody as she shares her own experiences with the civil rights movement and discrimination.  

Sing a Song: How "Lift Every Voice and Sing" Inspired Generations

Kelly Starling Lyons
(Juvenile Picture Books – Ej Lyo)

In Jacksonville, Florida, two brothers wrote the song "Lift Every Voice and Sing." The song provided inspiration and solace for generations of Black families. Recommended for ages 6–9.

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down

Andrea Davis Pinkney
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 323.1196 Pin)

Read about the momentous Woolworth's lunch counter sit-in, when four college students staged a peaceful protest for racial equality and the growing civil rights movement. Recommended for ages 6–9.

The Story of Civil Rights

Wil Mara
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 323.1196 Mar)

This history of race relations in the U.S. includes coverage of slavery, abolition, and segregation and the famous people around the world who helped promote equal rights. Recommended for ages 6–9.

The Teachers March! How Selma's Teachers Changed History

Sandra Neil Wallace
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 323.1196 Wal)

Could the teacher and principal, Reverend F.D. Reese, convince his teachers to risk their jobs—and perhaps their lives—by organizing a march to demand their right to vote? Recommended for ages 6–9.

The Undefeated

Kwame Alexander
(Juvenile Picture Books– Ej Ale)

Originally performed for ESPN's The Undefeated, this poem highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world's greatest heroes. Recommended for ages 5-10.

We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song

Debbie Levy
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 782.42162 Lev)

This book explores how the song has come to represent civil rights and freedom around the world. Recommended for ages 6-9.

Older Elementary
Black Lives Matter: From Hashtag to the Streets

Dr. Artika R. Tyner
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 323.1196 Tyn)

Black Lives Matter has become one of the most significant protest movements of our time and depicts the continuing struggle of the civil rights movement. Recommended for ages 8-12.

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice

Phillip Hoose
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 921 Colvin Hoo)

Presents the life of the Alabama teenager who played an integral but little-known role in the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955–1956. Recommended for ages 8–12.

Freedom Song: Young Voices and the Struggle for Civil Rights

Mary C. Turck
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 782.421592 Tur)

Demonstrates how different songs in history have served as a unifying voice of the people during the Civil Rights Movement, including "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and "We Shall Overcome." Recommended for ages 8-12.

Lifting As We Climb: Black Women's Battle for the Ballot Box

Evette Dionne
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 323. 34 Dio)

The story of Black women as a force in the suffrage movement--when fellow suffragists did not accept them as equal partners in the struggle. Recommended for ages 8-12+

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

David Aretha
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 975.3041 Are)
Series: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement in Photographs

Discusses the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. Recommended for ages 8-12.

Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children, and Don't You Grow Weary

Elizabeth Partridge
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 323.1196 Par)

This book focuses on the children who faced terrifying violence in order to walk alongside Martin Luther King Jr. in their fight for freedom and the right to vote. Recommended for ages 8-12.

Through My Eyes

Ruby Bridges
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 921 Bridges Bri)

Ruby Bridges recounts the story of her involvement, as a six-year-old, in the integration of her school in 1960. Recommended for ages 8-12.

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom

Lynda Blackmon Lowery
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 323.1196 Low)

This is the story of the youngest person to complete the Selma to Montgomery March. Recommended for ages 8–12+.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963

Christopher Paul Curtis
(Juvenile Fiction – J Curtis)

The everyday routines of the Watsons, an African American family, are drastically changed after they go to visit Grandma in Alabama in the summer of 1963. Recommended for ages 8-12.

We Are Power: How Nonviolent Activism Changes the World

Todd Hasak-Lowy
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 303.61 Has)

In an age when armies are stronger than ever before––when guns seem to be everywhere––how can people confront their adversaries without resorting to violence themselves? Recommended for ages 8–12.