10 Books + 10 Movies for Your Family to Celebrate Black History Month

Read and Watch Your Way Through Black History Month this February with Your Kids

By Macaroni KID Conejo Valley - Malibu - Calabasas February 7, 2023

February is Black History Month, it's a time to recognize the many important people and events that have shaped our country's history. There are so many great books and movies you can share with your kids, but where to start? We asked Macaroni KID publishers to share their favorite books and movies that celebrate or ignite conversation about African-American culture and historic figures. You'll find ten inspiring books and 10 great movies for your family to enjoy not only this month but anytime.

Here are their recommendations:


About the movie: What is it that makes you...YOU? Pixar Animation Studios’ all-new feature film SOUL introduces Joe Gardner (voice of Jamie Foxx) – a middle-school band teacher who gets the chance of a lifetime to play at the best jazz club in town. But one small misstep takes him from the streets of New York City to The Great Before – a fantastical place where new souls get their personalities, quirks and interests before they go to Earth. Determined to return to his life, Joe teams up with a precocious soul, 22 (voice of Tina Fey), who has never understood the appeal of the human experience. As Joe desperately tries to show 22 what’s great about living, he may just discover the answers to some of life’s most important questions. Rated PG

Recommended by Brenna:  My boys and I really enjoyed this movie. I wasn't sure what to expect, it was different from most pixar movies - it really makes you think and inspires opportunities for additional conversations with your kids.

Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad

About the book: A stirring, dramatic story of a slave who mails himself to freedom by a Jane Addams Peace Award-winning author, Ellen Levine and a Coretta Scott King Award-winning artist, Kadir Nelson. Henry Brown doesn't know how old he is. Nobody keeps records of slaves' birthdays. All the time he dreams about freedom, but that dream seems farther away than ever when he is torn from his family and put to work in a warehouse. Henry grows up and marries, but he is again devastated when his family is sold at the slave market. Then one day, as he lifts a crate at the warehouse, he knows exactly what he must do: He will mail himself to the North. After an arduous journey in the crate, Henry finally has a birthday - his first day of freedom.

Recommended by Brenna:  I LOVE this book, I've read it to my boys many times. Something about people rebelling against a wrong just makes me smile and the fact that it's based on a true story just makes it that much better.

Akeelah and the Bee

About the movie: An inspiring movie for the whole family to enjoy - it's about a young girl from South Los Angeles whose goal is to make it to the National Spelling Bee. Rated PG

Ida B. Wells, Voice of Truth: Educator, Feminist, and Anti-Lynching Civil Rights Leader

About the book: An inspiring picture book biography of the groundbreaking journalist and civil rights activist as told by her great-granddaughter Michelle Duster and illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award Honoree artist Laura Freeman. Ida B. Wells was an educator, journalist, feminist, businesswoman, newspaper owner, public speaker, suffragist, civil rights activist, and women’s club leader. She was a founder of the NAACP, the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, the Alpha Suffrage Club, and the Negro Fellowship League. She wrote, spoke, and traveled, challenging the racist and sexist norms of her time. Faced with criticism and threats to her life, she never gave up. 

The Princess and the Frog

About the book:  A modern day retelling of the classic story The Frog Prince. The Princess and the Frog finds the lives of arrogant, carefree Prince Naveen and hardworking waitress Tiana crossing paths. Prince Naveen is transformed into a frog by a conniving voodoo magician and Tiana, following suit, upon kissing the amphibian royalty. With the help of a trumpet-playing alligator, a Cajun firefly, and an old blind lady who lives in a boat in a tree, Naveen and Tiana must race to break the spell and fulfill their dreams. —The Massie Twins via IMDb. Rated G

Recommended by Brenna:  We saw this in the theater with my oldest when it first came out and loved it. I also have a well loved DVD to show home much my we still do.

You Matter To Me

About the book: You matter . . . that's the message behind this book inspired by true stories called You Matter To Me. The new picture book was written by Doyin Richards, who has never shied away from having difficult conversations. You Matter To Me is told from the point of view of a recently adopted dog named Biscuit, who describes what it’s like to go on walks with his Black owner. 

Biscuit soon realizes that not everyone shares his feelings of love for his human. His human is Black, and some people in the neighborhood are scared by that. Some people hold their purses closer, or tighten their grip on their children’s hands when Biscuit and his owner walk by. Biscuit wishes people would see his human as he does: With love.


About the movie: The story of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play Major League baseball in the modern era. Robinson wore the number 42 on his jersey. Rated PG-13

Recommended by Harlisha Homer: My boys learned about Jackie Robinson when they were small, but the movie made his life relatable and made Jackie Robinson human.

The Hero Two Doors Down

About the book: Based on the true story of a boy in Brooklyn who became neighbors and friends with his hero, Jackie Robinson. Stephen Satlow is an eight-year-old boy living in Brooklyn, New York, which means he only cares about one thing . . . the Dodgers. Steve and his father spend hours reading the sports pages and listening to games on the radio. Aside from an occasional run-in with his teacher, life is pretty simple for Steve. But then Steve hears a rumor that an African American family is moving to his all-Jewish neighborhood. It's 1948 and some of his neighbors are against it. Steve knows this is wrong. His hero, Jackie Robinson, broke the color barrier in baseball the year before. Then it happens - Steve's new neighbor is none other than Jackie Robinson! Steve is beyond excited about living two doors down from the Robinson family. He can't wait to meet Jackie. This is going to be the best baseball season yet! How many kids ever get to become friends with their hero? Written by Sharon Robinson, Jackie's daughter.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

About the movie: This animated film is unlike any other Spider-Man Film. Teen Miles Morales becomes the Spider-Man of his universe, and must join with five spider-powered individuals from other dimensions to stop a threat for all realities. Rated PG

Recommended by Brenna:  My family saw this in the theater when it came out and we all LOVED it, such an "Amazing" movie - pun intended.

Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa

About the book: Ella Fitzgerald began her life as a singer on the stage of the Apollo Theater at 17. Her incredible voice has won her generations of fans around the world. Author Andrea Davis Pinkney tells Ella's inspiring story in the voice of Scat Cat Monroe — a feline Fitzgerald fan. The picture book's fantastical images are done by two-time Caldecott Honor winner Brian Pinkney.

Recommended by Zulema Gomez: This is a family favorite for us and we end our reading by playing and dancing to a few of her songs. This book is not only a great narrative of Ella's contribution to the great American soundtrack, but it is a fun book to read out loud. The rhythm and rhyme of Ella's story make this a must read!"

Hidden Figures

About the movie: This award-winning film, released in 2016, tells the story of the important role black female mathematicians, who worked at NASA, played during the space race. It is based on the non-fiction book by Margot Lee Shetterly. Rated PG

Recommended by Barbara Evangelista: Loved this movie! All the women in my family went to see it together - my 86-year-old mom, me, my sisters, and my daughter. Such a powerful movie . . . My kids were stunned by the segregation and how women and African-Americans were treated. It was eye-opening for them.

Monster: A Graphic Novel

About the book: Monster, which has won numerous prestigious awards, is a coming-of-age story by Walter Dean Myers about a teenager awaiting trial for a murder and robbery. He envisions how his life would play out on the big screen as he gets used to juvenile detention and goes to trial. Monster was adapted into a graphic novel by Guy Sims and Dawud Anyabwile. Recommended for teens and young adults

Recommended by Jennifer Chasse: Guy Sims and Dawud Anyabwile are the talent behind the award-winning comic strip Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline Comic series, and a number of books. This adaptation of Monster will interest teens and, as a beautiful graphic novel, is a great choice for even reluctant readers.


About the movie: The extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman's escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes. Her courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history. Rated PG-13

Recommended by Brenna:  This is a great move, I've long been a fan of this Civil War rebel and all she's accomplished. This film is only a small piece of her life, but powerful nonetheless and the acting is brilliant. 

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library

About the book: In luminous paintings and arresting poems, two of children’s literature’s top African-American scholars track Arturo Schomburg’s quest to correct history. Where is our historian to give us our side? Arturo asked. Amid the scholars, poets, authors, and artists of the Harlem Renaissance stood an Afro–Puerto Rican named Arturo Schomburg. This law clerk’s life’s passion was to collect books, letters, music, and art from Africa and the African diaspora and bring to light the achievements of people of African descent through the ages. 

When Schomburg’s collection became so big it began to overflow his house (and his wife threatened to mutiny), he turned to the New York Public Library, where he created and curated a collection that was the cornerstone of a new Negro Division. A century later, his groundbreaking collection, known as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, has become a beacon to scholars all over the world.

Black Panther

About the film: Black Panther became the highest-grossing solo superhero film of all time during its theatrical run and was the first superhero movie ever nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award. The movie was called "a defining moment" for black America in The New York Times. Rated PG-13

Recommended by Zulema Gomez: What we are watching? Black Panther, of course! For the millionth time!

Wakanda Forever

About the movie: This Black Panther sequel is a touching tribute to one of our favorite superheroes, Chadwick Boseman. Rated PG-13

This Jazz Man

About the book: This beautiful picture book will have you and your preschooler toe-tapping and finger-snapping in tribute to African-American jazz giants. The book is set to the rhythm of the classic children's song "This Old Man" and introduces musicians Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Bill "Bojangles," and more.

Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington  

About the book: This picture book is about Booker T. Washington's amazing achievement as a child, when he walked hundreds of miles from his West Virginia home to go to school. Author Jabari Asim tells the story in free verse, beginning with Washington as a slave boy whose dream was to learn to read. 

Recommended by Zulema Gomez: This is an amazing story of resilience and a lifelong journey powered by a boy's dream. The art in this book is powerful and the story is simply and beautifully told. 

Poems: By Maya Angelou

About the book: The celebrated Maya Angelou is known for writing from the heart. Her poetry is vibrant, moving, and eye-opening. 

Recommended by Jennifer Chasse: This is a book from college that I still refer to today, but really any of Angelou's books are great choices.  

Our Friend, Martin 

About the film: This Emmy-nominated animated film, released in 1999, is about two middle school friends who travel through time, meeting Martin Luther King Jr. at different points during the Civil Rights leader's remarkable life. Includes historical footage. Rated TV-G

Recommended by Harlisha Homer: This is an animated tale about the life Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but told from the perspective of middle school time travelers. Even though it's decades old now, for whatever reason, if I turn it on, my whole family tend to watch - maybe because it's told like a story, but with historical facts.

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This previously published article was updated February 7, 2023 by Brenna Gutell, publisher of Macaroni KID Conejo Valley - Malibu - Calabasas