This list of books celebrates African Americans who have made significant contributions to history and culture of New Orleans. Use these books during Black History Month and all year long to celebrate these amazing people and accomplishments. These books were written by New Orleans writers or about New Orleanians.
On Mardi Gras Day
by Fatima Shaik is follow two children on Mardi Gras day, from seeing the Mardi Gras Indians, two Zulu and Rex on Canal St, see the day through their eyes and experiences. Sadly this book is out of print but can be purchased used on Amazon.
Spy Boy, Cheyenne, and 96 Crayons: A “Mardi Gras” Indian's Story
by Rob and Edie Owen. This work of fiction takes you on a colorful journey through some of the traditions of a Mardi Gras Indian tribe. Through the story, eight-year old Spy Boy will introduce you to the suits they wear, the colors they use, and other traditions.
D. J. and the Zulu Parade
by Denise McConduit. D.J. is going to be a page for the queen of Zulu. Get caught up in the excitement surrounding the oldest African-American parade in Mardi Gras.
Though My Eyes
by Ruby Bridges. Ruby Bridges was the first African-American child to attend a public school in New Orleans. In her own words, she tells the story.
Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans
by Phil Bildner. Cornelius is a reminder that there is music and love in every nook and cranny in New Orleans. This heroic garbage man and his story are the essence of New Orleans spirit.
by Troy Andrews. This award winning book offers an inspiring lesson on resilience. This beautifully written true story of Trombone Shorty captures so much of New Orleans culture.
A Storm Called Katrina
by Myron Uhlberg. While being a work of fiction, the reality behind this story is overwhelming. It completely captures what so many New Orleanians faced in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song
by Andrea Davis Pinkney. This magical story takes you through the lives of two very influential people. Their stories will inspire kids to find their own voices.
If I Only Had a Horn
by Roxanna Orgill. You can almost hear the music as you read this fantastic story about Louis Armstrong. Louis overcomes many obstacles and works hard to get his first horn.
Jazz ABZ: An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits
by Wynton Marsalis. Celebrate Jazz with this book at 26 stellar jazz performers from Armstrong to Dizzy.
by Alan Schroeder. Follow Louis Armstrong’s journey from buying his first horn to becoming the Ambassador of Jazz.
The Story of Ruby Bridges
by Robert Coles. This book captures the spirit of six-year-old Ruby Bridges standing alone in the face of racism.
The Jazz of Our Street
by Fatima Shaik. This book celebrates New Orleans jazz parades and their traditions.
Mr. Okra Sells Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
by Lashon Daley. Follow Mr. Okra, a beloved local New Orleanian, and his truck as he brings food and song to the city of New Orleans.
How Jelly Roll Morton Invented Jazz
by Jonah Winter. The story of Jelly Roll Morton, one of America’s early jazz musicians, comes to life in this beautifully illustrated picture book.
American Girl: Cecile and Marie Grace Box Set
by Denise Lewis Patrick. This a six book set about two friends growing up in 1850's New Orleans.
Magic Tree House: A Good Night For Ghosts
by Mary Pope Osborne. Jack and Annie go in search of a musician who brings happiness to people. They travel to New Orleans, meet a young Louis Armstrong and discover the world of jazz.
Freedom in Congo Square
by Carole Boston Weatherford. Congo Square was a weekly meeting place for New Orleans slaves. In this space, they could set up a market, dance, sing and play music. This book is an important look at the realities of slavery and the definition of freedom. It also provides invaluable insight into a vibrant part of New Orleans culture.
Allen the Alligator Counts Through New Orleans
by Megan Braden Perry. Allen and Gus the Goat take an adventure through New Orleans where they eat New Orleans cuisine, listen to live music and even tour a police station. To purchase you can also contact Megan on Facebook or buy it at Octavia Books.
Music in My Soul
by Marian Schmitt. Written as a tribute to New Orleans music, this story shows how music is all around us. Louis discovers he has music in his soul.
Passenger on the Pearl: The True Story of Emily Edmonson’s Flight From Slavery
by Winifred Conkling. This true story chronicles the life of Emily Edmonson. She was sent to New Orleans as a slave and eventually became a teacher of African American young women.
The 5 O’Clock Band
by Troy Andrews. Another great story from Trombone Shorty, this story follows Shorty through the streets of New Orleans. Along the way, he meets many New Orleanians each of who add to the culture of New Orleans in their own way.
Do you have a favorite book on our list or a book you love that we don't know about? Tell us in the comments!
Tammy grew up in New Orleans and graduated from the University of New Orleans with her Master’s in Special Education. She taught in elementary schools in the Greater New Orleans area for ten years. She is currently a Reading Instructor at Delgado Community College. She is also the Executive Director of the Reading Success Center, a local nonprofit that provides reading and writing intervention so that every child has equal access to exceptional educational services. In her free time, Tammy loves to explore the city with her three wonderful children.