Seven books we love about black history and how to learn more about it

At Khan Academy we love to learn. As a learning organization, we often share book recommendations with one another. In honor of Black History Month, we asked our coworkers to share their favorite books by black authors that focus on the history of African Americans. Read on for seven recommended books as well as links to Khan Academy videos and articles where you can learn more about the historical events covered in each book.

Middle-grade fiction

The Watsons Go to Birmingham — 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis 
Ten-year-old Kenny lives with his family in Michigan. His teenage brother Byron gets into too much trouble, so his family heads south to visit their grandmother in Alabama. Grandma is the one person who can get Byron into shape. It’s 1963, and they are in town when Grandma’s church is blown up.
Recommended by Leah (content team)
Learn more on Khan Academy about life in the South in the postwar era and how a resistance to desegregation resulted in anger and violence toward innocent people

Middle-grade nonfiction

Child of the Dream by Sharon Robinson
The daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson shares her coming-of-age story of being a 13 year old in 1963 and becoming increasingly aware of political activism and the civil rights movement.
Recommended by Allison (content team)
Learn more on Khan Academy about the Civil Rights Movement

Martin Rising: Requiem for a King by Andrea Pinkney
A celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent struggle for civil rights. Using metaphor, spirituality, and multilayers of meaning, the author and illustrator convey the final months of MLK’s life and his assasination. The School Library Journal says it is, “beautifully illustrated and begging to be read aloud.“
Recommended by Allison (content team)
Learn more on Khan Academy about Martin Luther King Jr. from the Montgomery Bus Boycott to the March on Washington where he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. 


Adult nonfiction

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
An epic telling of a story that often goes untold in American history—the decades-long migration of millions of black Americans fleeing the South searching for a better life in cities in the North and West.
Recommended by Caroline (content team)
Learn more on Khan Academy about life after slavery for African Americans and the urbanization of the 1920s.

Adult fiction

Kindred by Octavia Butler
What would happen if you woke up and suddenly were on a plantation in the 1800s? Butler’s science fiction novel tells the story of a modern day black woman who lives in California and finds herself time traveling back to the antebellum South.
Recommended by Caroline (content team)
Learn more on Khan Academy about life for enslaved men and women in the United States in the 1800s.

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Based on the true story of a reform school for boys that operated for 111 years, The Nickel Boys dramatizes the story of two boys sentenced to the school during the Jim Crow era in Florida. At the school the students have to deal with physical and sexual abuse, corrupt officials, and the danger of resisting, which can lead to disappearing “out back”. The novel was named one of Time magazine’s best books of the decade.
Recommended by Rosie (content team).
Learn more on Khan Academy about the origins of Jim Crow and segregation.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
From Africa’s Gold Coast to modern day America, this book follows the parallel path of two sisters through eight generations. The publisher says that this “extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed—and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.”
Recommended by Stephanie (marketing team)
Learn more on Khan Academy about all of U.S. History because Gyasi’s book really covers it all. 


College Board & Khan Academy Mark 10 Million Milestone of Free Official SAT® Practice

More than 10 million students have signed up for free SAT practice on Khan Academy in 5 years

In 2015, College Board and Khan Academy partnered to make world-class SAT practice resources free for all students for the first time ever. Together, we created Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy – a personalized online program that helps students practice for the SAT with thousands of sample questions, instant feedback, video lessons, and full-length practice tests. 

As word has spread about our free resource, Official SAT Practice sign-ups have grown each year and now total more than 10 million worldwide. 


Thousands of students have shared their stories about Official SAT Practice and the ways the program helped them improve their SAT scores. Here are just a few of those stories: 


“All I had before was a dictionary and books I could take from the library. When my teachers introduced me to Khan Academy, I was so happy that it was free.”

Matthew B., Class of 2017, Texas
200-point score increase


“I liked the personalized study plan. […] The work is not at all tedious or boring; it’s engaging. I would tell other students, who can’t seem to focus on studying, to try Khan Academy.”

Monica B., Class of 2018, Maryland 
150-point score increase 


“I liked how there was the ability to see if you got a question wrong instantly, as well as receive feedback on why you chose a wrong answer.”

Robert Z., Class of 2020, Ohio 
80-point score increase

    Overall, Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy is the top choice of students preparing for the SAT. In a 2019 survey of more than 65,000 SAT test takers, nearly four times as many students said they practiced with Official SAT Practice than paid for commercial test prep.

    “Official SAT Practice has achieved remarkable reach since its launch five years ago,” said College Board CEO David Coleman. “The fact that 10 million students have accessed high quality SAT practice resources without paying a dollar is exactly why we partnered with Khan Academy. Every student deserves the opportunity to practice for and succeed on the SAT, no matter what their family’s income level.”

    College Board and Khan Academy are committed to supporting teachers across the country to help their students make the most of Official SAT Practice free resources.

    “What’s really exciting is the level of usage we’ve seen in classrooms,” said Khan Academy founder Sal Khan. “Official SAT Practice was designed to be powerful for individual students preparing on their own, but this can be supercharged when it’s leveraged in a classroom setting where students get support from peers and teachers.” 

    Khan noted teachers are the heart of the classroom and know what’s best for their students. “They know how to help students on the path to college,” he said. “We’re grateful for everything teachers do every day to help students achieve their dreams.”

    The College Board is celebrating the 10 million sign-up milestone during SAT Practice Kickoff Week January 27-31, 2020 with a campaign to encourage high school students to join the movement and create their own Official SAT Practice accounts. Students can learn more and sign up at


    20 educational gifts for all ages: Khan Academy team’s favorite toys, books, and games for learning

    It’s the season of giving! We asked the Khan Academy content team to share the gifts they love to give the children in their lives. Find a special and educational book, game, subscription, or toy to add to your shopping list.

    Subscriptions kids will love

    What’s better than one great gift? A gift that you receive monthly! Our content team loves these subscription-based gifts for children.

    Magazine subscriptions

    “I highly recommend Ranger Rick (and Ranger Rick Jr) and National Geographic Kids magazine subscriptions.”
    Anna Berns,
    Program manager, international content / localization community liaison

    Kiwi Crates

    “I like giving Kiwi Crates, which are great for the five- to eight-year-olds in my life, but Kiwi Co. also has crates for different age groups. I like giving these crates because each one includes super fun, hands-on STEAM projects with associated science and math instruction. I like to give a monthly subscription so they are a gift that keeps on giving.”
    Megan Cohn,
    Biology content creator

    three magazine covers and an example of a kiwi crate


    The Khan Academy content team loves to give books as gifts to encourage relationship building and independent learning.

    A board book for babies

    “I always give board books as part of my baby shower gifts because the first thing a child should learn about a book is that it helps to build relationships.”
    Charlotte Auen,
    Content creator, math

    Pre-K through elementary

    The book Lottie and Walter is good for pre-K to third grade—a story about overcoming fear and believing in yourself.
    The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a great book to read aloud to young elementary kids or to give as an independent read for older kids. It’s a beautiful story about how we change for the better if we open our hearts up.”
    Allison Leedie,
    Content creator, English language arts

    “My six-year-old daughter loves Bedtime Math so much she wakes me up in the morning to do more of it. The problems are engaging. Each one has three levels of difficulty, so kids of different ages and math readiness can all engage.”
    Vicki Lang,
    Senior content manager, math

    Middle school recommendations

    “I would gift puzzle mystery books! They’re a fun way to stretch your brain and fuel your curiosity. Plus, there’s nothing more fun than solving a mystery before the main character does. My favorites: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein, and Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett.”
    Kim Elliott,
    Senior content creator, humanities

    Graceling is for middle school and up. It’s just a great epic fantasy novel with amazing characters to root for.”
    Allison Leedie,
    Content creator, English language arts

    HIgh school and beyond

    Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth is a graphic novel about Bertrand Russell’s quest for fortifying the logical foundations of mathematics. This amazing book brings out the humanity in the most abstract science of them all.
    Proofs and Refutations by Imre Lakatos is a harder read and more appropriate for people who have grappled with proving theorems before. Nevertheless, it read like a thriller to me. The book is a Socratic dialogue between a teacher and some students about a proof of a famous theorem and its related definitions, which touches upon the nature of mathematical discovery.”
    Tomer Gal,
    Content creator, math

    the covers of the books recommended

    Games and toys

    A lot of learning can happen when playing the games and toys picked by our content team. Adults will enjoy these picks, too!

    Guess Who? game

    Guess Who? is a great educational game for elementary ages and up for practicing categorizing, questioning, and noticing. You can swap out the characters and create new game sheets with historical figures, quadratic graphs, or elements from the periodic table — really anything that has similarities and unique features that you want children to discover. The game, as is or with modified characters, works in any language.”
    Charlotte Auen,
    Content creator, math

    QWIXX and Rat-a-tat Cat

    “Both QWIXX (dice) are and Rat-a-tat Cat (cards) are quick to play and a lot of fun. Also, they are great strategic games for elementary-age kids but are fun for everyone!”
    Lindsay Spears,
    Senior content creator, math

    U.S. Presidents Playing Cards and Women Cards

    “Most kids can’t name all of the presidents, so the U.S. Presidents Playing Cards are a good way to remember faces and names. They are also organized in order of succession, so kids could memorize the order just by playing with them if they were playing solitaire or something similar. I also really like the Women Cards Tech Deck.”
    Leah Marquez,
    Content creator, social studies

    Perplexus Original

    “I love the Perplexus. It is a 3-D puzzle that my kids have spent countless hours on.”
    Lindsay Spears,
    Senior content creator, math

    the games and toys recommended above


    Highlights from our 2019 Khan Academy Language Advocate Convention

    We recently hosted our fourth annual Khan Academy Language Advocate Convention, where we were joined by 23 language advocates representing 15 languages—and a whopping eight different alphabets! Our language advocates lead the effort to translate Khan Academy into dozens of different languages. Their work is crucial to achieving the anywhere part of our mission to provide a free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere.

    Khan Academy staff and language advocates exchanged best practices on everything from raising funds to raising awareness of Khan Academy through social media. Language advocates also shared translation tips and tools with each other and presented to the entire Khan Academy staff about their efforts to make Khan Academy available around the world. Last but certainly not least, each language advocate brought a tasty treat from their home country so everyone could share in a delicious, international buffet.

    Our language advocates work hard to make sure Khan Academy content isn’t just translated into different languages but made applicable to each country’s local context. For example, an English math problem about Susie buying apples may turn into a problem about Hélène buying grapes in French or Fatima buying mangoes in Hindi. In 2019 we introduced functionality for language advocates to curate Khan Academy content to match their local curricula, and a focus of this year’s convention was sharing best practices for aligning Khan Academy to each country’s curricula and implementing Khan Academy in schools.

    Finally, language advocates met with Sal Khan, our founder and CEO, to discuss the future of Khan Academy as well as the similarity between their efforts to create and launch Khan Academy in new languages today and Sal’s effort to create and launch Khan Academy 10 years ago.

    Here’s to continuing to work together with translators around the world toward making a free, world-class education available to anyone, anywhere!


    Our new offering for school districts empowers teachers by quickly and easily differentiating instruction for every student who takes MAP Growth

    by Sal Khan, founder and CEO of Khan Academy

    Teachers know that meeting the individual needs of each student can accelerate learning. They’re heroic in their efforts to differentiate instruction in classrooms of 25 or more students at various learning levels. But it’s challenging for even the most dedicated teacher to meet the diverse needs of every student. Differentiation is time consuming and intensely manual. 

    That’s why I’m delighted school districts can now choose MAP Accelerator, a new tool that does the hard work of differentiation for teachers. MAP Accelerator uses MAP Growth scores to automatically generate a personalized, mastery-based learning plan for every student, while keeping the teacher as the instructional decision maker.

    We’ve partnered with NWEA, the creator of MAP Growth, to introduce this new resource. Khan Academy and NWEA are excited to empower teachers with a new way to deeply connect interim assessment to actionable classroom learning. Our goal with MAP Accelerator is to reach the children who need our help most. 

    With MAP Accelerator, we import MAP Growth RIT scores into Khan Academy to automatically place students at their learning edge:

    Teachers review the learning plan that MAP Accelerator recommends for each student. Teachers can adjust suggested goals in the learning plan as they see fit or accept all goals with a single click. 

    Students take ownership over their learning as they progress through their personalized plan using Khan Academy’s mastery learning system. We foster student agency because students can move ahead or change directions. 

      Districts get an easy-to-implement solution with classroom, school, and district-level reporting; professional learning for teachers; and priority technical support.

    We recommend 30 or more minutes per week of student learning on MAP Accelerator. As students advance, teachers can use real-time data to make decisions about classroom instruction, form small groups, and provide one-on-one coaching. 

    Research shows that use of Khan Academy is associated with greater than expected growth in mathematics. Completing 60% or more of grade-level math on Khan Academy is associated with 1.8 times expected growth on the mathematics portion of MAP Growth.

    MAP Accelerator includes math content aligned to MAP Growth for grades three through eight in both English and Spanish. Our mastery learning system is aligned to Common Core State Standards and includes practice exercises with worked solutions, quizzes, unit tests, instructional videos, and articles.

    We launched a pilot of MAP Accelerator four months ago with five school districts: Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada, Jefferson County School District in Louisville, Kentucky, and Madera Unified School District, Pajaro Valley Unified School District, and Glendale Unified School District in California. Nearly 180,000 students and thousands of teachers are using MAP Accelerator today. We’re heartened by their progress so far and look forward to great things to come.

    The pilot is just the start of an exciting new era for classrooms that use MAP Growth. With MAP Accelerator, teachers can not only see where students are in their learning journey but also pinpoint where they need help and generate a personalized learning plan quickly and easily with the click of a button. Students take ownership of their learning as they progress through Khan Academy’s mastery learning system. We think MAP Accelerator equips teachers to unlock student potential like never before. 

    To learn more about MAP Accelerator, please visit our partner NWEA’s website.