20 Must Read Black Children’s Books
We love to introduce our children to new books. Although we have books of all kinds, when some seasons and celebrations come around, we tend to go hard on books surrounding those topics. In honor of Black History Month, I’m listing recommendations for 20 books Black Children should read. We’ve read most of these and continue to add to more to our library! Got a great book to share? Add it to the comments below.
Riley Can Be Anything
The inspiring rhyming story follows Riley as he discovers some of the wonderful things he can do when he grows up. With the help of his big cousin Joe, Riley is taken on a series of imaginative journeys that allow him to realize he can be anything he wants to be. See our full review of Riley Can Be Anything.
Jaime Loves Her Natural Hair Jamie is a school age girl who realizes that her hair is very different from her peers and what she sees in media leaving her to feel like somewhat of an outsider. However, she comes to accept her voluminous curls and appreciate her hair’s beautifully unique qualities, leaving her with an overall better sense of self. See our full review of Jaime Loves Her Natural Hair.
Little Leaders by Vashti Harrison
Bold Women in Black History is the debut children’s picture book from Vashti Harrison. Based on her popular Instagram posts from Black History Month 2017 it features 40 biographies of African American women that helped shape history.
Chocolate Me! by Taye Diggs
The boy is teased for looking different than the other kids. His skin is darker, his hair curlier. He tells his mother he wishes he could be more like everyone else. And she helps him to see how beautiful he really, truly is.
Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate
In the nineteenth century, North Carolina slave George Moses Horton taught himself to read and earned money to purchase his time though not his freedom. Horton became the first African American to be published in the South, protesting slavery in the form of verse.
I Am Mixed by Garcelle Beauvais
Jay and Nia are the children of two worlds, and as they will discover, they can enjoy the best of both. From Mommy’s jazz beats to Daddy’s classical piano, we will dance with the twins through a book that explores what it is to be of mixed ancestry, proving that a child is more than the sum of their parents.
Book of Black Heroes from A to Z: An Introduction to Important Black Achievers for Young Readers by Wade HudsonFrom science to politics, civil rights to entertainment, historic times to present day, men and women across the African diaspora have made important contributions to our world. Book of Black Heroes from A to Z shares with young readers the stories 54 pioneers whose courage, strength and lasting accomplishments have earned them the title “hero”.
What Color Is My World?: The Lost History Of African-American Inventors
by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld Kareem-Abdul-Jabbar and Dr. Percy Julian are just some of the black inventors and innovators scoring big points in this dynamic look at several unsung heroes who shared a desire to improve people’s lives. Offering profiles with fast facts on flaps and framed by a funny contemporary story featuring two feisty twins, here is a nod to the minds behind the gamma electric cell and the ice-cream scoop, improvements to traffic lights, open-heart surgery, and more — inventors whose ingenuity and perseverance against great odds made our world safer, better, and brighter.
Back matter includes an authors’ note and sources.
Don’t Let Auntie Mabel Bless the Table by Vanessa Newton Auntie Mabel and her family and friends have gathered for their big Sunday dinner and can’t wait to dig into a delicious, mouthwatering meal. Before they can begin, Auntie Mabel starts—and doesn’t stop!—blessing everyone and everything she surveys: the yams and Brussels sprouts, the table and chairs—even the president of the United States!
She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story by Audrey Vernick Effa always loved baseball. As a young woman, she would go to Yankee Stadium just to see Babe Ruth’s mighty swing. But she never dreamed she would someday own a baseball team. Or be the first—and only—woman ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Peeny Butter Fudge by Toni Morrison and Slade MorrisonThere is no one like Nana in the whole wide world. She is the best. Nana knows how to take an ordinary afternoon and make it extra special! Nap time, story time, and playtime are transformed by fairies, dragons, dancing, and pretending — and then mixing and fixing yummy, yummy fudge just like Nana and Mommy did not so many years ago
Big Hair, Don’t Care by Crystal Swain-Bates Lola has really really REALLY big hair, much bigger than the other kids at her school. Despite her hair blocking the view of anyone that dares sit behind her and causing her to lose at hide and seek, she sings the praises of her big hair throughout this rhyming picture book. Designed to boost self-esteem and build confidence, this beautifully illustrated book is perfect for any girl or boy who has ever felt a bit self-conscious about their hair and may need a reminder from time to time that it’s okay to look different from the other kids at their school.
Dancing in The Wings by Debbie Allen Sassy is a long-legged girl who always has something to say. She wants to be a ballerina more than anything, but she worries that her too-large feet, too-long legs, and even her big mouth will keep her from her dream. When a famous director comes to visit her class, Sassy does her best to get his attention with her high jumps and bright leotard. Her first attempts are definitely not appreciated, but with Sassy’s persistence, she just might be able to win him over. Dancing in the Wings is loosely based on actress/choreographer Debbie Allen’s own experiences as a young dancer.
Daddy Calls Me Man by Angela Johnson Inspired by his family experiences and his parents’ paintings, a young boy creates four poems.
I Love My Hair! by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley This book encourages young black children to not only feel good about their special hair but to also feel proud of their heritage.
Plum Fantastic by Whoopi Goldberg Alexandrea Petrakova Johnson does not want to be a beautiful ballerina, and she does not want to leave her friends in Apple Creek. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop her ballet-crazy mother from moving them to Harlem, or from enrolling Al at the Nutcracker School of Ballet. Life is hard when you’re the new ballerina on the block, and it’s even harder when you’re chosen to be the Sugar Plum Fairy in the school recital! Not only is Al a terrible dancer, but she’s also got a rotten case of stage fright! Al’s ballet classmates are going to have to use all the plum power they’ve got to coach this scary fairy!
June Peters, You Will Change The World One Day by Alika Turner June Peters, You Will Change the World One Day aims to encourage young children by teaching them the value of giving back to others. Through this book, children will learn that at any age they can make a difference in the world around them. June, is a natural-born giver always putting the needs of others before her own. This book is thought-provoking and exciting, parents and children will both enjoy reading it.
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math…really good. They participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America’s first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they worked hard. They persisted. And they used their genius minds to change the world. In this beautifully illustrated picture book edition, we explore the story of four female African American mathematicians at NASA, known as “colored computers,” and how they overcame gender and racial barriers to succeed in a highly challenging STEM-based career.
Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed When Little Mae was a child, she dreamed of dancing in space. She imagined herself surrounded by billions of stars, floating, gliding, and discovering. She wanted to be an astronaut. Her mom told her, “If you believe it, and work hard for it, anything is possible.” Little Mae’s curiosity, intelligence, and determination, matched with her parents’ encouraging words, paved the way for her incredible success at NASA as the first African American woman to travel in space.
The Library Book by Tom Chapin and Michael Mark What’s the best way to cure a gloomy day? A trip to the library! Based on the hit song by Tom Chapin and Michael Mark, here is an affectionate, exuberant, uproarious celebration of books, reading, and—SHHH!—libraries! The rain is pouring, Dad is snoring, and the same old stuff is on TV—boring. What is there to do today? Go to the library, of course…
I know, it’s says 20 books but I had to add these last two!! 🙂
Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Ann Cole Lowe by Deborah Blumenthal A beautiful picture book about Ann Cole Lowe, a little-known African-American fashion designer who battled personal and social adversity in order to pursue her passion of making beautiful gowns and went on to become one of society’s top designers. Rarely credited, Ann Cole Lowe became “society’s best kept secret.” This beautiful picture book shines the spotlight on a little-known visionary who persevered in times of hardship, always doing what she was passionate about: making elegant gowns for the women who loved to wear them.
The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights by Cynthia Levinson Meet the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963, in this moving picture book that proves you’re never too little to make a difference. Nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks intended to go places and do things like anybody else. So when she heard grown-ups talk about wiping out Birmingham’s segregation laws, she spoke up. As she listened to the preacher’s words, smooth as glass, she sat up tall. And when she heard the plan—picket those white stores! March to protest those unfair laws! Fill the jails!—she stepped right up and said, I’ll do it! She was going to j-a-a-il! Audrey Faye Hendricks was confident and bold and brave as can be, and hers is the remarkable and inspiring story of one child’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.