Graphic Novels For Black History Month

Staff Picks

Graphic Novels For Black History Month

Black History Month provides endless opportunities to fine tune your reading, focus on certain aspects of the world or culture, and grow as a reader. Take it a step further by diving into these eight graphic novels that are ideal reading for Black History Month or anyone interested anytime in black history, black stories, or black storytellers. 

March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell
Civil Rights leader and U.S. congressman John Lewis tells his story and the story of the struggle for civil rights in this award-winning graphic novel series. Lewis, standing with the first black president of the United States, reflects on the momentous occasion by looking back at his own childhood facing segregation, his participation in marches, sit-ins, bus boycotts and freedom rides. Even if you don't read graphic novels, this one will draw you in, and you'll want to read all three to follow Lewis' story. Find book two here and book three here

I am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina, Stacey Robinson and John Jennings
This heart-wrenching fictional story draws on too-often true events. Medina tells the story of a young boy, Alfonso Jones, who narrates what his life could have been after he is shot by a police officer while shopping for a suit. Set on a ghost train driven by well-known victims of police shootings, this poignant graphic novel features black and white illustrations and a fair bit of Shakespeare that will draw readers in and keep them glued to the page. I Am Alfonso Jones is the first graphic novel for young adult readers about modern police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Octavia Butler, Damian Duffy and John Jennings
Beloved science fiction author Octavia Butler reaches new audiences with this graphic novel adaptation of one of her most famous works, a tale of the effects slavery has on individuals and society for generations. With haunting, full color illustrations, this adaptation is great way for younger readers to access Butler's work for the first time, or for more experienced readers to revisit her work in a new way. Dana's journey from 1970s California to antebellum Maryland still enraptures readers forty years later. 

Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History by Joel Christian Gill
Acclaimed storyteller Joel Christian Gill brings countless stories to life in this collection, which features stories of people like Theophilus Thompson, Bass Reeves, and Richard Potter. His full-color illustrations grapple with tough issues like the racism against biracial children, the struggle for Noyes Academy and more--but they also celebrate those who for so long were forgotten by history. Nine chapters focus on nine exceptional African Americans, and every reader will learn something new. 

Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography by Andrew Heller and Randy DuBurke
The nearly infamous story of Malcolm X comes to life in this graphic novel that tells the story of a boy born Malcolm Little who would become a controversial figure for many, but a figurehead nonetheless-one who would speak up for black empowerment and an end to racism against blacks. Short, poignant and compelling, his story is told in black and white illustrations that take you into his life, from end to beginning and back again. 

Black History in its Own Words by Ronald Wimberley
A book of quotes, portraits, and thought-provoking ideas, Black History in its Own Words features famous faces and new ones, quotes on race, inspiration, music and more. Some of the featured luminaries include Katherine Johnson, Sojourner Truth, Nina Simone, Spike Lee, James Baldwin and Serena Williams. These quotes, illustrations and short biographies provide a great jumping off point for further research into black history and black creators. 

Monster: A Graphic Novel by Walter Dean Myers, Guy A. Sims, and Dawud Anyabwile
Myers, a prolific author of books for young readers that capture aspects of black life, has now been adapted into graphic novel format in this adaptation of his hit book, Monster, while fictional, draws on many true events to tell the story of Steve Harmon, a teenager facing a murder charge who decides to tell his own story as a movie. The original book was a multi-award winner-wining the first ever Printz Award, a Coretta Scott King honor prize, and it was a National Book Award finalist. Now, it reaches a new audience as a graphic novel. 

Still I Rise: A Graphic History of African Americans by Roland Laird, Taneshia Nash Laird, and Elihu "Adofo" Bey
From slavery to the inauguration of President Barack Obama, this updated version of the graphic history truly encompasses a wide swatch of the black experience in America. Still I Rise is illustrated in black and white with easy-to-read writing and is ideal for new graphic novel readers or experienced ones. From Nat Turner to Madame C.J. Walker to Halle Berry and Denzel Washington, this book is a survey of America through the black point of view and an excellent learning opportunity.