February is Black History Month, a celebration of the achievements of Black Americans. It began as Negro History Week in 1926, when Carter G. Woodson, a Black historian, was instrumental in founding an organization that promoted the achievements of Black Americans. A week of celebrations, performances, and lectures grew into a monthlong opportunity to honor famous Black Americans and their contributions to American society.  

Since 1976, each Black History Month has had a specific theme. The theme for Black History Month 2024 is African Americans and the Arts. This is a great opportunity for teachers and parents to educate themselves and their students about the impact of Black Americans on visual arts, music, and American culture. Many school and public libraries have special exhibits showcasing books about Black Americans; encourage your students to check out these books and share what they learn with the class.  

For more information about Black Americans and their contributions to the arts, check out this website. In your classroom, play some music by artists like Nat King Cole or Louis Armstrong, or share poems by poets like Maya Angelou or Amanda Gorman. If you play Stevie Wonder's music, you can follow up with his story in Read Naturally Live/Encore level 3.5. If you read Gwendolyn Brooks' poetry, her story is told in level 6.0. 

We here at Read Naturally are honored to celebrate Black Americans all year and especially in February. How do you and your students observe Black History Month in your classroom?