1st Edition

Beyond February Teaching Black History Any Day, Every Day, and All Year Long, K–3

By Dawnavyn James Copyright 2023

    Dawnavyn James believes Black history shouldn't be relegated to the month of February. In her groundbreaking book, Beyond February: Teaching Black History Any Day, Every Day, and All Year Long, K-3, she provides a practical guide for elementary educators who seek to teach history in truthful and meaningful ways that help young students understand the past, the present, and the world around them.

    Drawing on her experiences as a classroom teacher and a Black history researcher, James illustrates the big and small ways that we can center Black history in our everyday teaching and learning practices across the curriculum using read-alouds, music, historical documents, art, and so much more.

    Inside this book you'll find:

    • Essential ideas that guide our teaching of Black history
    • Powerful People Sets: groups of Black historical figures organized by theme with resources for both teacher and student learning
    • Book collections and lessons featuring nearly 100 children's books
    • Strategies and tips for adapting and disrupting curriculum in order to center Black history
    • Ideas for celebrating Black History Month in ways that go beyond February
    • FAQ's to help you navigate the ins and outs of teaching Black history in the elementary classroom

    With Beyond February, you'll have the tools to teach Black history all year long!

    Introduction; 1: Beyond the People; 2: Beyond the Books; 3: Beyond the Curriculum; 4: Beyond the Month; 5: The Work Doesn't Stop Here


    Dawnavyn M. James is an early childhood, elementary, and Black history educator and researcher from Kansas City, MO. She has given presentations and led workshops promoting Black history teaching in early childhood and elementary classrooms. Through consulting, Dawnavyn has supported teachers in numerous school districts as they work to teach Black history year-round through the use of picture books. She believes that picture books centering Black history are one of the greatest ways to bring Black histories into the classroom. She has taught students from kindergarten to fifth grade in Columbia, Missouri, but her favorite years of teaching were her three years with kindergartners. She received her teaching degree from Stephens College and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at the University at Buffalo and is a fellow at the Center for K-12 Black History and Racial Literacy Education. Dawnavyn is also the founder of The Black History Club, an organization that empowers and equips teachers and students with information and resources that will benefit themselves, their families, and the community through engaging with Black histories.

    Beyond February is a gift to every educator in this country from the pedagogical Gods! Dawnavyn James, is the conduit, and in my opinion, is a genius educator. She has crafted what will be a staple in every history and social studies classroom in the country for years to come. This guide teaches the glories, the triumphs, and the bitter but honest truth about Black history in America. If you are willing and open, it will set you and your students free.”

    —Derrick Barnes, NY Times Bestselling author, National Book award finalist, Newbery honoree, and the only two-time Kirkus Prize winner

    "This is what teachers have been asking for! A book about teaching Black history to young children. I am overwhelmed by James as she advocates for Black history teaching as a journey and not a simple destination. She provides practicality, yet her approaches are researched based. She provides tips, lessons, children's books, and inspiration for elementary teachers who are yearning to provide a more holistic version of history education in their classrooms. While bad faith actors have attempted to make teaching Black history controversial, Beyond February is refreshing as it humanizes Black folks and allows people to see that you can teach Black history in engaging, joyous, and truthful ways! The book should be recommended reading for all elementary teachers, administrators, school boards, and policy makers around the country."

    — LaGarrett J. King, PhD, Founding Director, Center for K-12 Black History and Racial Literacy, University at Buffalo 

    Dawnavyn James doesn't just talk the talk, she walks the walk--leading the way for educators to teach through Black histories not just during February but all year long and not just in social studies classrooms but all across the curriculum. Beyond February empowers teachers and affirms students with a wealth of resources and approaches that encourage critical thinking, foster inquiry and empathy and build cultural literacy.

    —Carole Boston Weatherford, author of Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre

    “This beautifully written book is aimed at teachers of young children but could serve all educators. Dawnavyn James lays out a framework for planning and implementing lessons about Black history and culture throughout a school year that is easy to use and exciting to consider. I will be coming back to this book again and again!”

    —Jennifer Orr, Elementary teacher and co-author of We're Gonna Keep on Talking: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Elementary Classroom

    "An essential guide for K-3 educators wanting to incorporate Black history into classroom learning throughout the school year." 

    —April Crowder, Starred review in School Library Journal

    Beyond February warmly invites early childhood and elementary educators to a consider a rich array of picture books, activities, and vibrant classroom examples to teach meaningful Black history year-round. This book is a gift to novice and experienced educators alike!”

    —Noreen Naseem Rodríguez, Author of Social Studies for a Better World: An Anti-Oppressive Approach for Elementary Educators

    “In Beyond February, Dawnavyn James does an incredible job of weaving together both her own teaching practices and the scholarship of those who have come before her. She shares exciting, creative, engaging, and meaningful ways to teach Black history throughout the entire year, never failing to provide a thorough list of children’s literature to anchor each topic. Black history is joy, resilience, resistance, and brilliance, and Dawnavyn makes that history accessible, empowering, and engaging to students as young as five years old. This book is long overdue and will become a central resource in my own teaching with both elementary students and pre-service teachers alike.”

    — Erin Green, Teacher educator

    “Both insightful and honest, James does a masterful job of helping educators understand the importance of teaching Black histories beyond February and provides a wealth of ideas and resources to guide them along the way.”

    — Dee Romito, author of Pies from Nowhere