100 books like The Middle Passage

By Tom Feelings,

Here are 100 books that The Middle Passage fans have personally recommended if you like The Middle Passage. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Undefeated

Charlotte Watson Sherman Author Of Brown Sugar Babe

From my list on life-affirming books for Black children.

Why am I passionate about this?

Several months before the Covid-19 pandemic upended the world as we knew it, my life was turned upside-down by reports of suicide rates and attempted suicides doubling for Black children. In fact, during late Fall 2019, Congress established an Emergency Task Force on Youth Suicide and Mental Health. I’d already been reading accounts of Black children ending their lives on social media, and as a writer, decided to leave a legacy of books that helped armor Black children with love as they navigated spaces that would not always welcome their brilliance and beauty. I wanted to help encourage them to embrace life’s joys and to love themselves, always.

Charlotte's book list on life-affirming books for Black children

Charlotte Watson Sherman Why did Charlotte love this book?

Kwame Alexander is a creative force of nature, an award-winning author of poetry and children’s fiction, such as Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets, Becoming Muhammad Ali, co-authored with James Patterson, and The Crossover, soon to be a Disney+ television series. In The Undefeated, Alexander displays masterful lyrical language skills, and by telling us what we are not, shows us what we are: resilient, strong, and brave. Read this book to Black children and bask in the love.

By Kwame Alexander, Kadir Nelson (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Undefeated as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

Originally performed for ESPN's The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It 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. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present.

Book cover of Let the Children March

Marlene Targ Brill Author Of Allen Jay and the Underground Railroad

From my list on showing children making a difference.

Why am I passionate about this?

I chose this focus because it fulfills one of my main goals of writing—to empower young readers by showing how what they do matters. Even the simplest actions can have huge consequences, no matter what someone’s age is. Whether someone saves another person’s life, like Allen Jay did, or stand up to a bully, doing what’s right makes a difference. Also, I like to right children into history so they understand that they’ve always played a key role in bettering this world.

Marlene's book list on showing children making a difference

Marlene Targ Brill Why did Marlene love this book?

Many have studied how in 1963 African Americans marched to gain equality, especially in southern towns, like Birmingham, Alabama. But I never knew that the first main march involved thousands of children and teens who marched so their parents wouldn’t lose their jobs. These brave youth found the courage to face their fears and the hatred of whites who fought to keep them separate and unequal. Their protest march encouraged adults to join them. Hateful efforts to stop the march were broadcast across the country, ultimately changing the direction of the civil rights movement. Bold pictures show everyday children and civil rights leaders finally gaining rights to playgrounds and diners and eventually better schooling. An important story, simply written—and about children who made a difference.

By Monica Clark-Robinson, Frank Morrison (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Let the Children March as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

This powerful picture book introduces young readers to a key event in the struggle for Civil Rights. Winner, Coretta Scott King Honor Award.

In 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, thousands of African American children volunteered to march for their rights after hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak. They protested the laws that kept black people separate from white people. Facing fear, hate, and danger, these children used their voices to change the world.

Frank Morrison's emotive oil-on-canvas paintings bring this historical event to life, while Monica Clark-Robinson's moving and poetic words document this remarkable time.

I couldn't play on the same…

Book cover of Freedom in Congo Square

Idris Goodwin Author Of Your House Is Not Just a House

From my list on books to read aloud to children.

Why am I passionate about this?

From my work as a playwright and breakbeat poet, Artistic Director of Seattle Children’s Theatre, and full-time co-parent, I've dedicated my career to crafting engaging narratives that resonate across generations. With over sixty original plays to my name, I've honed a unique approach that intertwines hip-hop rhythms with rich storytelling. My debut picture book is a testament to this approach—inviting children and parents to discover the boundless creativity that can be found in everyday spaces. It’s my hope that this book inspires families to explore their homes with fresh eyes and open hearts, turning reading into an adventure of imagination.

Idris' book list on books to read aloud to children

Idris Goodwin Why did Idris love this book?

This is not just a book; it's a portal to a pivotal piece of history.

As an artist deeply intertwined with music and performance, I am drawn to how this book celebrates the cultural significance of Congo Square as a place of solace and communal joy for enslaved people. The lyrical storytelling and vibrant illustrations resonate with the power of music and dance, echoing the importance of cultural expression in our lives.

This book is a vital read for its historical significance and its ability to inspire through resilience.

By Carole Boston Weatherford, R. Gregory Christie (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Freedom in Congo Square as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Winner of a Caldecott Honor and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2016
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2016: Nonfiction
Starred reviews from School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and The Horn Book Magazine
A Junior Library Guild Selection

This poetic, nonfiction story about a little-known piece of African American history captures a human's capacity to find hope and joy in difficult circumstances and demonstrates how New Orleans' Congo Square was truly freedom's heart.

Mondays, there were hogs to slop,

mules to train, and logs to chop.

Slavery was no ways fair.…

Book cover of Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre

Rebecca Langston-George Author Of The Booth Brothers: Drama, Fame, and the Death of President Lincoln

From my list on little-known US history for children.

Why am I passionate about this?

I taught for more than 26 years in classes ranging from first grade through college. No matter the age of the students, I used children’s books to introduce topics in history. I never shied away from using a picture book with older students and often found they were more engaged in a picture book than in an article. I also used historical fiction as a hook to lure students into picking up a related non-fiction book. In fact, historical fiction was the gateway that taught this writer of 13 nonfiction children’s books to love non-fiction history. 

Rebecca's book list on little-known US history for children

Rebecca Langston-George Why did Rebecca love this book?

Weatherford depicts a vibrant and thriving Black Wall Street in Tulsa until one elevator ride brings it all crashing down.

Unspeakable has received numerous starred reviews and awards—all richly deserved for shining a light on this horrifying history and reminding us at the book’s conclusion that it is the responsibility of us all to reject hatred and choose hope. It’s a stunning work from a powerhouse author and illustrator team.

Don’t let its picture book format keep you from sharing this important book with teens and adults. The format makes the difficult subject both more accessible and more relatable.  

By Carole Boston Weatherford, Floyd Cooper (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Unspeakable as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards for Author and Illustrator

A Caldecott Honor Book

A Sibert Honor Book

Longlisted for the National Book Award

A Kirkus Prize Finalist

A Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book

"A must-have"―Booklist (starred review)

Celebrated author Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrator Floyd Cooper provide a powerful look at the Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in our nation's history. The book traces the history of African Americans in Tulsa's Greenwood district and chronicles the devastation that occurred in 1921 when a white mob attacked the Black community.

News of…

Book cover of The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vasso, the African

Sarah L. Sanderson Author Of The Place We Make: Breaking the Legacy of Legalized Hate

From my list on memoirs to see the world through someone else’s eyes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I chose to study creative nonfiction during my MFA program so I could learn what makes great memoirs work, but I first fell in love with the genre as a teenager, when I picked up Angela’s Ashes off my mom’s bedside table. I’m grateful for the way memoir gives me a window into the lives of people of other races, religions, abilities, experiences, and even other centuries. While my book The Place We Make isn’t only a memoir—it’s a blend of memoir and historical biography—it was my desire to both understand the view through my research subject’s eyes, and analyze how I was seeing the world myself, that drove me to write it.

Sarah's book list on memoirs to see the world through someone else’s eyes

Sarah L. Sanderson Why did Sarah love this book?

I sometimes think of memoir as a modern genre, but the truth is that people have been writing about their own lives for thousands of years.

This 1789 account begins with Olaudah Equiano’s day-to-day life growing up in the kingdom of Benin, Africa, and then describes his crossing the Atlantic Ocean via the Middle Passage and subsequent enslavement.

When I first read this book in college, it was the beginning of my realization that the people in history were people with whom I share all the same range of emotions and motivations that comes with being human. This book instilled in me a desire to understand the people of the past.

By Olaudah Equiano,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vasso, the African as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A first-person narrative of Olaudah Equiano's journey from his native Africa to the New World, that follows his capture, introduction to Christianity and eventual release. His story is an eye-opening depiction of personal resilience in the face of structural oppression.

Olaudah Equiano's origins are rooted in West Africa's Eboe district, which is modern-day Nigeria. He details the shocking events that led up to his kidnapping and subsequent trade into slavery. His journey starts at 11 years old, forcing him to come of age in a society that abuses him at every turn. During his plight, he attempts to find new…

Book cover of Love Twelve Miles Long

Nancy I. Sanders Author Of D Is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet

From my list on inspirational African American history.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a bestselling and award-winning KidLit author of more than 100 books, I’ve been blessed to specialize in writing for kids about the amazing and inspiring legacy of African Americans. From an alphabet book for even the youngest readers to biographies with hands-on activities for middle graders and up, both nonfiction and fiction as well, these stories are my passion because many of these individuals are my personal heroes as well. I want kids to love and honor these men and women who have made a difference in our world as much as I do!

Nancy's book list on inspirational African American history

Nancy I. Sanders Why did Nancy love this book?

The author and I live near each other and we got to know each other at local writer events. So when I heard that her book won Lee and Low’s New Voices Award, I just had to get Glenda’s book. And I did! She autographed a copy for me which I treasure. This is a tender, powerful, and inspiring picture book. It tells the true story of how Frederick Douglass’s mother would visit him. He was a young child working on a plantation. His mother lived and worked six miles away. At night, she would walk six miles through the dark woods to come to visit Frederick, then head back home before dawn. He knew his mother loved him—it was a love that stretched 12 miles long.

Book cover of The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning in Mid-Life

Sam Carr Author Of All the Lonely People: Conversations on Loneliness

From my list on the psychological challenges of being human.

Why am I passionate about this?

I guess we all have a "calling." Mine has always been to explore the deeper, darker, less palatable aspects of being human. I’m a bit like a space explorer of the human psyche. I’m lucky in the sense that my day job permits me to research, teach, and better understand things like love, death, and loneliness. I’ve been researching and writing about them for many years now. I always treasure books that help me to shed light on these themes. They are like shiny pebbles or jewels that I pick up and keep in my pocket. I hope you enjoy and learn from some of the treasures in my personal collection!  

Sam's book list on the psychological challenges of being human

Sam Carr Why did Sam love this book?

I love the opening quote in this book. I’ve never, ever forgotten it since I turned the first page. It’s a quote from Dante’s Inferno: “Midway through life’s journey, I found myself lost in a dark wood, having lost the way.”

That’s exactly where I found myself when I started reading this book. Like millions of other people, I was lost when I found it. I was looking for someone or something–wiser than meto help me recognize that what I was going through in early midlife is actually a very normal, perhaps essential part of life’s journey.

By James Hollis,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Middle Passage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Author James Hollis' eloquent reading provides the listener with an accessible and yet profound understanding of a universal condition - or what is commonly referred to as the mid-life crisis. The book shows how we may travel this Middle Passage consciously, thereby rendering our lives more meaningful and the second half of life immeasurably richer.

Book cover of Africa's Discovery of Europe, 1450-1850

Onyeka Nubia Author Of Blackamoores: Africans in Tudor England, Their Presence, Status and Origins

From my list on history books about everyone and for everyone.

Why am I passionate about this?

Dr. Onyeka Nubia is a pioneering and internationally recognised historian, writer, and presenter. He is reinventing our perceptions of diversity, the Renaissance, and British history. Onyeka is the leading historian on the status and origins of Africans in pre-colonial England from antiquity to 1603. He has helped academia and the general public to entirely new perspectives on otherness, colonialism, imperialism, and World Wars I and II. He has written over fifty articles on Englishness, Britishness, and historical method and they have appeared in the most popular UK historical magazines and periodicals including History Today and BBC History Magazine. Onyeka has been a consultant and presenter for several television programmes on BBC.

Onyeka's book list on history books about everyone and for everyone

Onyeka Nubia Why did Onyeka love this book?

Northup provocatively challenges our perceptions of the early modern world. By offering a relativist view and investigating the primary sources written by Africans themselves the Africans of the early modern period. They reveal much about sixteenth and seventeenth-century Europe, as well as African civilizations.     

By David Northup,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Africa's Discovery of Europe, 1450-1850 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This groundbreaking book examines the full range of African-European encounters from an unfamiliar African perspective rather than from the customary European one. By featuring vivid life stories of individual Africans and drawing upon their many recorded sentiments, David Northrup presents African perspectives that persuasively challenge stereotypes about African-European relations as they unfolded in Africa, Europe, and the Atlantic world between 1450 and 1850. The text features thematically organized chapters that explore first impressions, religion and politics, commerce and culture, imported goods and technology, the Middle Passage, and Africans in Europe. In addition, Northrup offers a thoughtful examination of Africans' relations…

Book cover of 12 Million Black Voices

David G. Nicholls Author Of Conjuring the Folk: Forms of Modernity in African America

From my list on understanding the Great Black Migration.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a lifelong reader and wanted to study literature from an early age. I grew up in Indianapolis, one of the cities reshaped by the Great Black Migration. I went to graduate school at the University of Chicago and found myself once again in the urban Midwest. My research for Conjuring the Folk led me to discover a trove of short stories by George Wylie Henderson, a Black writer from Alabama who migrated to Harlem. I edited the stories and published them as Harlem Calling: The Collected Stories of George Wylie Henderson. I'm a contributor to African American Review, the Journal of Modern Literature, and the Encyclopedia of the Great Black Migration

David's book list on understanding the Great Black Migration

David G. Nicholls Why did David love this book?

Richard Wright is perhaps best known for his acclaimed 1940 novel, Native Son. Following its publication, he was at work on a very different project: a photo-documentary history of the African American folk. Wright wrote the prose narrative, which describes in broad strokes the history of Black Americans from slavery to emancipation to the Jim Crow era and the Great Black Migration. The black and white photographs accompanying the narrative were selected by Edwin Rosskam from the archives of the Farm Security Administration. Taken during the Great Depression by such notable photographers as Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange, the photos provide visual documentation of the harsh conditions Blacks faced both south and north. My interpretation of 12 Million Black Voices is given in chapter six of my book

By Richard Wright,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked 12 Million Black Voices as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

12 Million Black Voices, first published in 1941, combines Wright's prose with startling photographs selected by Edwin Rosskam from the Security Farm Administration files compiled during the Great Depression. The photographs include works by such giants as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Arthur Rothstein. From crowded, rundown farm shacks to Harlem storefront churches, the photos depict the lives of black people in 1930s America--their misery and weariness under rural poverty, their spiritual strength, and their lives in northern ghettos. Wright's accompanying text eloquently narrates the story of these 90 pictures and delivers a powerful commentary on the origins and history…

Book cover of Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice

David Delmar Sentíes Author Of What We Build with Power: The Fight for Economic Justice in Tech

From my list on advocates of economic justice.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an artist, activist, and social entrepreneur. Latino bilingüe and history nerd. I’m the Founder of Resilient Coders, a free and stipended nonprofit coding bootcamp that trains people of color for careers as software engineers. I built that organization for the same reason I write: I care about the economic wellness of Black and Latinx people. I want my neighbors to have the purchasing power to keep my local bodega open. They carry my coffee. Whole Foods doesn’t.

David's book list on advocates of economic justice

David Delmar Sentíes Why did David love this book?

We don’t learn African American history in this country, nor do we learn anything about our economic history. (Imagine how much better we’d understand our country if we did.)

This book presents cooperatives as the act of resistance that they in fact are, and offers a strong rebuke to the argument that cooperatives are a European phenomenon too far removed from our own national experience to take root here. Not only has cooperative thought taken root here, those roots have sprouted whole forests. 

For those of us struggling to find in our history economic models from which we can build a more equitable and inclusive future, this book is a must.  

By Jessica Gordon Nembhard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Collective Courage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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