The Tulsa Race Massacre

  • Interest Level: Grade 3 - Grade 6
  • Reading Level: Grade 4

Winner of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards for Author and Illustrator

A Caldecott Honor Book

A Sibert Honor Book

Longlisted for the National Book Award

A Kirkus Prize Finalist

A Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book

“A must-have”—Booklist (starred review)

Celebrated author Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrator Floyd Cooper provide a powerful look at the Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in our nation’s history. The book traces the history of African Americans in Tulsa’s Greenwood district and chronicles the devastation that occurred in 1921 when a white mob attacked the Black community.

News of what happened was largely suppressed, and no official investigation occurred for seventy-five years. This picture book sensitively introduces young readers to this tragedy and concludes with a call for a better future.

Download the free educator guide here: https://lernerbooks.com/download/unspeakableteachingguide

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Interest Level Grade 3 - Grade 6
Reading Level Grade 4
Genre Picture Books, Social Studies
Category 5 Kinds of Nonfiction, 5KN: Narrative Nonfiction, Diverse Books: #OwnVoices, Diverse Books: Race & Ethnicity, Diverse Books: Social Justice, Diversity, SEL: C Social Awareness, Social Emotional Learning
Copyright 2021
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Carolrhoda Books ®
Language English
Number of Pages 32
Publication Date 2021-02-02
Text Type Narrative Nonfiction
BISACS JNF053140, JNF025180, JNF053210
Dewey 976.6/8600496073
Dimensions 9.25 x 11
Lexile 1100
Guided Reading Level X
ATOS Reading Level 5.8
Accelerated Reader® Points 0.5
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Author/Illustrator note, Awards, Original artwork, Reviewed, Starred Reviews, Teaching Guides, and eSource

Author, Narrator: Carole Boston Weatherford

Carole Boston Weatherford is the author of numerous award-winning books. Her picture book BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom, illustrated by Michele Wood received a Newbery Honor. Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre, illustrated by the late Floyd Cooper, was a National Book Award longlist title, won the Coretta Scott King Award for author and illustrator, and received a Caldecott Honor and a Sibert Honor. When she's not traveling or visiting museums, Carole is mining the past for family stories, fading traditions, and forgotten struggles. She lives in North Carolina.

Illustrator: Floyd Cooper

Floyd Cooper (1956-2021) was a Coretta Scott King Award winner and illustrator of numerous books for children including Ruth and the Green Book, A Spy Called James, and Max and the Tag-Along Moon. Unspeakable, one of his final picture books, was a National Book Award longlist title, a Sibert Honor book, and a Caldecott Honor book. He received a degree in fine arts from the University of Oklahoma and went on to develop a distinctive art technique called oil erasure.

Narrator: January LaVoy

Lerner eSource™ offers free digital teaching and learning resources, including Common Core State Standards (CCSS) teaching guides. These guides, created by classroom teachers, offer short lessons and writing exercises that give students specific instruction and practice using Common Core skills and strategies. Lerner eSource also provides additional resources including online activities, downloadable/printable graphic organizers, and additional educational materials that would also support Common Core instruction. Download, share, pin, print, and save as many of these free resources as you like!


Winner of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards for Author and Illustrator A Caldecott Honor Book A Sibert Honor Book Longlisted for the National Book Award A Kirkus Prize… View available downloads →

Addressing Race and Racism with Readers

This week and throughout the coming month, the United States marks several notable anniversaries: The 2nd anniversary of George Floyd’s death on May 25, the 101st anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre on May 30, and Juneteenth on June 19 commemorating the emancipation of enslaved… View →


  • Utah Beehive Book Award Nominee, Nominated, 2023
  • Land of Enchantment Book Award Nominee, Nominated, 2023
  • Illinois Bluestem Award Nominee, Nominated, 2023
  • William Allen White Children's Book Award Masterlist, Short-listed, 2023
  • Georgia Children's Book Award Finalist, Short-listed, 2023
  • Rhode Island Children's Book Award Nominee, Nominated, 2023
  • Carter G. Woodson Book Award, Winner, 2022
  • Kids' Book Choice Award 3rd to 5th Grade Book of the Year, Winner, 2022
  • Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List 2022-2023, Winner, 2022
  • Randolph Caldecott Medal Honor Book, Commended, 2022
  • Coretta Scott King Author Award, Winner, 2022
  • Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, Winner, 2022
  • Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal Honor Book, Commended, 2022
  • ALA Notable Children's Books, Winner, 2022
  • Jane Addams Children's Book Award Honor Book, Commended, 2022
  • Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) Choices, Winner, 2022
  • Notable Books for a Global Society, Winner, 2022
  • NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, Winner, 2022
  • Maine Student Book Award Longlist, Long-listed, 2022
  • South Carolina Book Award Nominee, Nominated, 2022
  • NCTE Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts, Winner, 2022
  • Great Lakes Great Books Award, Winner, 2022
  • Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, Winner, 2022
  • Booklist Top 10 History for Youth, Winner, 2022
  • Skipping Stones Honor Award, Short-listed, 2022
  • Lectio Book Award Nominee, Nominated, 2022
  • Malka Penn Award for Human Rights in Children's Literature Honor Book, Commended, 2022
  • Dogwood Book List for Nonfiction, Nominated, 2022
  • New York Public Library Best Books for Kids 2021, Winner, 2021
  • Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books, Winner, 2021
  • School Library Journal Best Book of 2021, Winner, 2021
  • NPR Best Books of the Year, Winner, 2021
  • Kirkus Best Children's Books, Winner, 2021
  • New York Times 25 Best Children's Books, Winner, 2021
  • Horn Book Best Books of the Year, Winner, 2021
  • Booklist Editors' Choice, Winner, 2021
  • The Best of the Best Children's Books, Publishers Lunch, Winner, 2021
  • Cybils Finalist, Short-listed, 2021
  • New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Book, Winner, 2021
  • Eureka! Children's Book Award, Winner, 2021
  • National Book Award for Young People's Literature Longlist, Long-listed, 2021
  • Kirkus Prize for Young Readers' Literature Finalist, Short-listed, 2021
  • Center for the Study of Multicultural Children's Literature Best Books of the Year, Winner, 2021
  • BookPage Best Books of the Year, Winner, 2021
  • Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book, Commended, 2021
  • Penn GSE's Best Books for Young Readers, Winner, 2021


The New York Times Book Review

“These sensitively written, beautifully illustrated books restore this often-elided history while explaining the ensuing tragedy in a manner appropriate for children.”—New York Times Book Review

School Library Journal

“This moving account sheds light on shameful events long suppressed or ignored. All collections should consider this title’s value in providing historical context to current conversations about racism and America’s ongoing legacy of white supremacy.”—starred, School Library Journal


Unspeakable deserves to be read by every student of American history.” —starred, BookPage

Publishers Weekly

“[S]ucceeds in teaching the tragedy of the Tulsa Race Massacre and the legacy of Black Wall Street.”—starred, Publishers Weekly

The Horn Book Magazine

“Far from romanticizing history, Weatherford is equally descriptive in explaining how a false accusation of assault brought simmering racial tensions to a violent end . . . Cooper’s illustrations (‘oil and erasure’) are the perfect partner to this history, the sepia-toned images resembling historical photographs. The portraits of Black residents are particularly moving, seeming to break the fourth wall to implore the reader to remember their story.”—starred, The Horn Book Magazine


“Ideal for classroom libraries and a deeper study of American history, this title is a must-have for those seeking the painful and complete truth.”—starred, Booklist

Kirkus Reviews

“A somber, well-executed addition to the history as the incident approaches its 100th anniversary.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews