Book Selections to Inspire Children

MD Council on Economic Education's list of childrenโ€™s books with engaging stories by Black authors

By Garrett Berberich, Maryland Council on Economic Education February 20, 2024

Black History Month Book Selections Inspire Children with Stories of Economic Empowerment

To help families and schools celebrate Black History Month, the Maryland Council on Economic Education (MCEE) has curated a list of children’s books with engaging and educational stories by Black authors that inspire children to make meaningful connections to their communities and culture while introducing personal finance and economic concepts. The reading list for elementary, middle and high school students includes stories about resilience and courage, entrepreneurship and invention, and combating discrimination and bigotry. The list is available on the MCEE website at (The list is included below.)

MCEE created this list as part of its mission to ensure that Maryland’s children are prepared to make thoughtful and responsible economic and personal finance decisions.

“Black History Month gives teachers and parents the opportunity to increase students’ understanding of the journeys and experiences of Black Americans, and how personal finance plays a role in achieving success,” said Julie Weaver, MCEE Executive Director. “These books are powerful and entertaining stories that will impart helpful lessons in life and finance.” 

Last year, MCEE reached over 200,000 Maryland students through programs made available to more than 2,000 teachers. To learn more about MCEE, click here

Stories for Elementary School Students:

A Chair for My Mother 

by Vera B. Williams 

A little girl and her family save money to buy a chair after their furniture is destroyed in a fire. Students learn that characters in the book are human resources who save part of the income they earn. Grades PK-3

Candy Shop 

by Jan Wahl 

When an act of bigotry scars the sidewalk in front of the candy shop and frightens the owner, Daniel knows that he must do something to fight back. Candy Shop is a tender story of a young boy’s courage in the face of prejudice. Grades PK-3

The Real McCoy: The Life of an African-American Inventor 

by Wendy Towle 

This book introduces children to the life of inventor Elijah McCoy (known for successful design of an automatic oil cup) and the legacy of technological contributions that he left behind. Grades 3-5

Vision of Beauty: The Story of Sarah Breedlove Walker

by Kathryn Lasky

The inspiring story of Sarah Breedlove Walker’s (better known as Madam C.J. Walker) rise from poverty in Delta, Louisiana to her successful career as an entrepreneur and philanthropist. 

Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon 

by Kelly Starling Lyons 

Students will learn about the life of architect Philip Freelon and the impact of his choices on himself, his community, and the nation. Grades 3-5

The Fair Housing Five and the Haunted House 

by Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center 

Samaria and her friends like everything about their clubhouse except the haunted house across the street. But when Samaria and her mother need to find a place to live, they realize they are dealing with a much bigger problem. This illustrated children’s book tells the story of five children who take action in response to a landlord who is discriminating. Grades 3-5

Stories for Middle School Students:

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race

by Margot Lee Shetterly 

During the time of Jim Crow laws, Dorothy Vaughan, Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Christine Darden were able to use their talents to advance science and secure America’s legacy in the Space Race. Grades 6-8

Two Tickets to Freedom 

by Florence B. Freedman 

The true story of fugitive slaves Ellen and William Craft and the dangerous journey that took them to England and eventually back to Georgia. Grades 6-8

Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I a Woman?

by Patricia C. and Frederick McKissack 

Students read the story of Sojourner Truth and discuss events that took place during her lifetime. Among these were the abolition of slavery and the effects of policies pertaining to abolition. Grades 6-8

Scraps of Time, 1960: Abby Takes a Stand

by Patricia C. McKissack 

Students read about incidents of racial discrimination through the eyes of ten-year-old Abby and learn how those incidents were met with methods of protests, and about how freedom is about having choices. Grades 6-8

Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule

by Harriette Gillem Robinet 

Pascal, a 12-year-old orphaned former slave, travels with his brother and others from South Carolina to Georgia in search of the “Forty Acres and Mule” that was promised by General Sherman. Grades 6-8