BCBA Spotlight: Tonya Bolden

Tonya Bolden loves history, but it wasn’t always that way. When Bolden was a child, the history lessons she received were tedious and unstimulating, mostly because Black people were barely visible or totally absent. She did, however, adore books and writing. Her parents, who had limited formal education, firmly believed that education was a pathway to better opportunities for Black people. Bolden was an excellent student and went on to earn degrees from Princeton and Columbia. Eventually, a growing interest in history merged with her love of writing, “I came to see there was power in the past, that history makes us whole.” Now Tonya Bolden is one of the most prolific Black writers of nonfiction history books for children and young adults. So, parents, teachers, librarians, and lovers of history, you have ample time to pore over Bolden’s impressive list of books in preparation for Black History Month—and beyond. Happy Reading!

What I came to understand as an adult is that there is power in the past. Knowing history can be a powerful antidote to shame/self-hatred/identity-confusion.

Tonya Bolden


Capital Days: Michael Shiner’s Journal and the Growth of Our Nation’s Capital (2015) 

Beautiful Moon (2014)

Searching for Sarah Rector (2014)

Twelve Days of New York (2013)

Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln and the Dawn of Liberty (2013) 

Finding Family (2010)

FDR’s Alphabet Soup: New Deal America, 1932 – 1939 (2010)

Up Close: W. E. B. Du Bois (2008)

George Washington Carver (2008) Take-Off: American All-Girl Bands During WWII (2007)

M.L.K.: Journey Of A King (2007)

Cause: Reconstruction America, 1863 – 1877 (2005)

Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl (2005) 

The Champ: The Story of Muhammad Ali (2004) 

Wake Up Our Souls: A Celebration of Black American Artists (2004)

Portraits of African American Heroes (2003) 

33 Things Every Girl Should Know About Women's History: From Suffragettes to Skirt Lengths to the E.R.A. (2002)

Tell All the Children Our Story: Memories and Mementos of Being Young and Black in America (2002)   

Rock of Ages: A Tribute to the Black Church (2001) 

Strong Men Keep Coming: The Book of African American Men (1999)

33 Things Every Girl Should Know: Stories, Songs, Poems, and Smart Talk by 33 Extraordinary Women (1998)

And Not Afraid To Dare: The Stories of Ten African-American Women (1998) 

Through Loona's Door: A Tammy and Owen Adventure with Carter G. Woodson (1997)

The Book of African American Women: 150 Crusaders, Creators, and Uplifters (1996)

Just Family (1996)

Rites of Passage: Stories About Growing Up by Black Writers From Around the World (1994)

Mama, I Want To Sing (1992)


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