Most of us know that Rosa Parks was arrested in 1955 for refusing to move to the back of a public bus in segregated Alabama, starting the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
But what else do we know about her?
There is much to learn about that one action and the subsequent protest that followed. There’s also much to learn about the brave woman who took a stand.
These children’s books about Rosa Parks will introduce young readers to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and to Parks’ life of action. There are books for every age and reading level, because Rosa Parks is someone we all need to know. These books will take you past that one day and into the life of the person behind the protest.
You may also enjoy these Children’s Books About the Civil Rights Movement!
19 Children’s Books About Rosa Parks
I am Strong: A Little Book About Rosa Parks by Brad Meltzer
This series for the littlest book lovers explores the traits that make our heroes great. In I Am Strong, readers are invited to ride the bus with Rosa Parks as she makes a stand for what is right. Little ones are encouraged to “stand strong and do what’s true,” just like Rosa did.
This moving board book is perfect for the babies and toddlers in your life! I highly recommend the whole series.
The Story of Rosa Parks by Patricia A. Pingry
This simple board book is a straightforward telling of the action Rosa Parks took in 1955 that led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Preschoolers will be able to understand the simple narrative, and all little readers will be drawn in by the lovely illustrations.
Another great choice for any little one’s library — I recommend it for all kids under age 4.
Little People Big Dreams: Rosa Parks by Lisbeth Kaiser
This book provides a concise overview of the life of Rosa Parks, with illustrations that almost jump off the page with life and energy. Follow Rosa from her childhood outside of Montgomery, Alabama to her brave life as a civil rights leader.
This book is great for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, but I suspect older kids will be drawn in by its amazing artwork!
A Picture Book of Rosa Parks by David A. Adler
David A. Adler’s Picture Book Biographies series is one of my all-time favorite book collections, and this volume on Rosa Parks is a great example of why. Adler does an excellent job of sharing not only the details of Parks’ life, but also the relevant history of the period. He explains things like Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan in a straightforward way that is easy for kids to understand.
This book is packed full of information, but it’s far from dry or boring — Adler draws readers in as he explores Rosa’s life and activism. The gorgeous illustrations complement the story well. I recommend sharing this book with kids ages 6 and up, and highly recommend the entire series!
If A Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks by Faith Ringgold
One day, a strange bus pulls up to Marcie’s bus stop. When she boards, she finds it full of strange people, and no driver! Instead, the bus itself talks to her about its purpose and destination. As Marcie rides, the bus teachers her about the life of Rosa parks, from her time having to walk to school while the white children rode the school bus, to her act of heroism when she refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery bus. At the end of the story, Marcie finds the bus has taken her to a special birthday party, where she gets to meet Mrs. Parks herself.
Faith Ringgold’s books are always fantastic, and I recommend sharing this one with readers ages 6 and up.
Back of the Bus by Aaron Reynolds
This work of historical fiction follows a young boy and his mother as they ride the bus home on a December day in 1955. As they sit in the back of the bus, the young boy watches his marble roll to the front of the bus, and kind Mrs. Parks who works at the tailor shop rolls it back.
What seems like a normal bus ride soon changes when a commotion breaks out at the front of the bus. Mrs. Parks is being arrested for not giving up her seat to a white man. The young boy soon realizes he is watching history in the making.
This powerful picture book is excellent for sharing with kids ages 5 and up.
Rosa by Nikki Giovanni
The story of an amazing woman, told by another amazing woman! Nikki Gionvanni’s writing is full of detail, and it makes readers feel as though they are right in the middle of the story.
This book follows Rosa Parks through her day on December 1, 1955. It examines what Mrs. Parks might have been thinking and feeling, and what was going on in her personal life at the time. Giovanni takes an event that most of us know about and makes it feel brand new.
I recommend this gorgeous picture book for kids ages 5 and up.
I am Rosa Parks by Brad Meltzer
This book from Brad Meltzer’s fantastic Ordinary People Change the World series focuses on Rosa Parks’ strength in the face of adversity and prejudice. We see Rosa’s life as a young girl, and how she stood her ground when a local boy picked on her. That same strength is highlighted when Mrs. Parks refuses to give up her seat to a white man on a public bus.
The message of this book is not just that Rosa Parks was strong, but also that readers can be strong like her as well, because anyone can be a hero. This book is an inspiring one to share with readers ages 4 and up.
When Rosa Parks Went Fishing by Rachel Ruiz
Most of us know about Rosa Parks and her brave stand on a Montgomery bus, but what was she like as a child?
This picture book explore’s Rosa’s childhood on her grandparents farm in Alabama. Readers learn about her family and about the values that were instilled in her that gave her the courage to stand up for what was right. Even as a young girl, Rosa was aware of the ways that life for white people was different than life was for black folks like her. This awareness and her willingness to question the status quo helped her grow into an activist.
I recommend this book from the Leaders Doing Handstands series for readers ages 6 and up.
Rosa’s Bus: The Ride to Civil Rights by Jo S. Kittinger
Bus #2857 was like every other bus in Montgomery, Alabama: segregated. But Bus #2857 would be where history was made, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man. Rosa’s action started a 382 day bus boycott that would introduce the world to a young pastor named Martin Luther King, Jr.
This picture book explores Rosa’s action and the movement it created, while also giving credit to those who came before her, like Claudette Colvin and Mary Louise Smith. I recommend reading this book with kids ages 6 and up.
The Bus Ride that Changed History by Pamela Duncan Edwards
With a style similar to a graphic novel, this picture book explores the historic bus ride that changed both the life of Rosa Parks and the United States. A group of children lead readers through Rosa’s story, explaining concepts like segregation and the bus-boarding system of the time. It also includes a brief history of Rosa’s life and a timeline of important events.
This book is a great choice for reluctant readers and is perfect for sharing with children ages 4 and up.
Early Reader Books
I am Rosa Parks by Rosa Parks
This level 4 early reader book is perfect for kids who are just starting to read independently. Told in the first person, it gives a concise overview of Rosa Parks’ life and her heroic stand on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. It’s broken into short chapters, so young readers can build confidence that they’re reading a “chapter book.”
I recommend this early reader for children ages 6 and up who are beginning to read on their own.
National Geographic Readers: Rosa Parks by Kitson Jazynka
Full of lots of photos and historic tidbits, this early reader book is great for sharing with kids who are beginning to read on their own. (It’s classified as a Level 2 book but I think it’s more in line with the Level 4 book listed above.) This is a great choice for a child who loves dates, facts, and high-energy styling in their books.
I recommend sharing this early reader with kids ages 5 and up who are reading independently.
Middle Grade Chapter Books
The Year They Walked: Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Beatrice Siegel
This chapter book can be hard to find, but it’s absolutely worth tracking down.
It is less a deep dive into Rosa’s life, and more of an overview of the movement she sparked. Readers will learn about Rosa’s famous action, the Montgomery Bus Boycott that followed, the rise of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a Civil Rights leader, and the formation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. It also delves into the intense racism of the time, and particular racist events that occurred in response to the newly formed Civil Rights Movement.
This work of nonfiction is full of great information and photos, and is appropriate for readers ages 9 and up.
Who Was Rosa Parks? By Yona Zeldis McDonough
Another strong biography from the Who HQ collection, this book gives middle grade readers an excellent overview of the life of Rosa Parks. It covers her childhood and shows that from a young age, Rosa questioned why white people had different schools and drinking fountains that black people. As the story of Rosa’s life is told, the book also gives lots of background information about the time period and the forces that were working to preserve racism in the south.
I recommend this biography for readers ages 8 and up.
This biography goes beyond the just telling the facts of Rosa Parks’ life, and encourages children and parents to talk about what Rosa faced and what life was like for a black woman in the 1950s. It also shows how Rosa’s activism relates to the activism of today, and that while the United States has come a long way as a nation, there is still more work to be done. This book does a really excellent job of providing a context of how Rosa’s actions fit into the larger picture of the Civil Rights Movement, all the way up to the Black Lives Matter movement of today.
This book is great for kids ages 8 and up, and I highly recommend reading it together!
Rosa Parks: My Story by Rosa Parks
What could be better than a book about Rosa Parks, written by Rosa Parks? In this middle grade book, Rosa tells her story in her own words. Full of photos of her family and her birthplace, this book offers a glimpse into her life and experience like no other book truly can.
This is really a book everyone should read, and it’s suitable for readers ages 10 and up.
Dear Mrs. Parks: A Dialogue for Today’s Youth by Rosa Parks
In this unique text, Rosa Parks answers all kinds of questions that children have sent to her over the years. From the simple to the serious, she answers every question with consideration and grace. Young readers will love exploring this book to see if the questions they would want to ask have been answered. There are many lessons to be found in Mrs. Parks’ responses about how the choices we make matter.
This is a lovely book to share with readers ages 8 and up.
Rosa Parks: A Biography by Joyce Ann Hanson
Teens and adults will enjoy this engaging biography of an American hero. It delves deep into Rosa’s childhood, her decision to join the NAACP, her work during the Civil Rights Movement, and her life of activism that continued until her passing in 2005. This volume can be hard to find in bookstores, but if you can track it down, I highly recommend reading it.