Black authors hold up a mirror and show our children their beauty and power through loving words of affirmation and familiar stories that uplift our culture. You and your little ones will absolutely love these children’s books written by Black authors.
Representation matters, especially for Black people and people of color who have been subjected to negative and false representation for so long. These books that are written by Black authors shine a light on Black culture and important subjects to our communities, while lifting and empowering children. Of course, these books aren’t just for Black and Brown kids. Children of all backgrounds can find joy in these books! The representation of Black characters is a great way to spark meaningful conversation and teach children to treat everyone justly. Enjoy these children’s books by Black authors with your little ones!
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20 Inspirational Children’s Books by Black Authors
Disclosure: Tiny Green Earthling uses affiliate links. While I would greatly appreciate any purchase made from the provided links, I also want to encourage you to shop second hand books at local bookstores and on websites like Thrift Books and Half Price Books.
The Day You Begin
by Jacqueline Woodson
There will be times when you walk into a room
and no one there is quite like you.
There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.
Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.
(This book is also available in Spanish, as El Día En Que Descubres Quién Eres!)
Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History
by Vashti Harrison
An important book for readers of all ages, this beautifully illustrated and engagingly written volume brings to life true stories of black men in history. Among these biographies, readers will find aviators and artists, politicians and pop stars, athletes and activists. The exceptional men featured include writer James Baldwin, artist Aaron Douglas, filmmaker Oscar Devereaux Micheaux, lawman Bass Reeves, civil rights leader John Lewis, dancer Alvin Ailey, and musician Prince.
The legends in Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History span centuries and continents, but each one has blazed a trail for generations to come.
The Life of Ideas
by Gahmya Drummond-Bey
Have you ever had a great idea that you were too afraid or nervous to try? One Idea Fairy’s person has lost her confidence after being teased by her older sister. If she doesn’t sing, the idea fairy’s bubble will go dark and she may be locked there forever! Quick! The idea fairies work together to help build the chosen person’s confidence so that she will share her idea with the world and release the Idea Fairy from her bubble. This is a story for anyone who has ever doubted whether or not they were good enough, smart enough, or ready to share an idea. This story will motivate you to dive right into putting your ideas out into the world. Because ideas always choose the perfect people to release them. What ideas are you holding on to now? They are ready for the world!
All Because You Matter
by Tami Charles
A lyrical, heart-lifting love letter to Black and brown children everywhere: reminding them how much they matter, that they have always mattered, and they always will, from powerhouse rising star author Tami Charles and esteemed, award-winning illustrator Bryan Collier. Discover this poignant, timely, and emotionally stirring picture book, an ode to Black and brown children everywhere that is full of hope, assurance, and love.
I Am Every Good Thing
by Derrick Barnes
a nonstop ball of energy.
Powerful and full of light.
I am a go-getter. A difference maker. A leader.
The confident Black narrator of this book is proud of everything that makes him who he is. He’s got big plans, and no doubt he’ll see them through–as he’s creative, adventurous, smart, funny, and a good friend. Sometimes he falls, but he always gets back up. And other times he’s afraid, because he’s so often misunderstood and called what he is not. So slow down and really look and listen, when somebody tells you–and shows you–who they are. There are superheroes in our midst!
by Donna L. Washington
With bold art and thoughtful yet playful text, Antiracist Baby introduces the youngest readers and the grown-ups in their lives to the concept and power of antiracism. Providing the language necessary to begin critical conversations at the earliest age, Antiracist Baby is the perfect gift for readers of all ages dedicated to forming a just society.
I Am Enough
by Grace Byers
This gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another comes from Empire actor and activist Grace Byers and talented newcomer artist Keturah A. Bobo.We are all here for a purpose. We are more than enough. We just need to believe it.
Beautiful, Beautiful Me
by Ashley Sirah Hinton
Beautiful Beautiful Me is the first edition of a series of books written by AshleySirah and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. The series discusses diversity, love, family, and skin tone with playful poems for kids to read.
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut
by Derrick Barnes
A fresh cut makes boys fly.
This rhythmic, read-aloud title is an unbridled celebration of the self-esteem, confidence, and swagger boys feel when they leave the barber’s chair—a tradition that places on their heads a figurative crown, beaming with jewels, that confirms their brilliance and worth and helps them not only love and accept themselves but also take a giant step toward caring how they present themselves to the world. The fresh cuts. That’s where it all begins.
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is a high-spirited, engaging salute to the beautiful, raw, assured humanity of black boys and how they see themselves when they approve of their reflections in the mirror.
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
by Vashti Harrison
An important book for all ages, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of forty trailblazing black women in American history. Illuminating text paired with irresistible illustrations bring to life both iconic and lesser-known female figures of Black history such as abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash.
The leaders in this book may be little, but they all did something big and amazing, inspiring generations to come.
Mae Among the Stars
by Roda Ahmed
A great classroom and bedtime read-aloud, Mae Among the Stars is the perfect book for young readers who have big dreams and even bigger hearts. 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. This book will inspire other young girls to reach for the stars, to aspire for the impossible, and to persist with childlike imagination.
by Matthew A. Cherry
Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way. Zuri knows it’s beautiful. When Daddy steps in to style it for an extra special occasion, he has a lot to learn. But he LOVES his Zuri, and he’ll do anything to make her — and her hair — happy.
Tender and empowering, Hair Love is an ode to loving your natural hair — and a celebration of daddies and daughters everywhere.
poem by Langston Hughes, photography by Charles R. Smith, Jr.
Langston Hughes’s spare yet eloquent tribue to his people has been cherished for generations. Now, acclaimed photographer Charles R. Smith Jr. interprets this beloved poem in vivid sepia photographs that capture the glory, the beauty, and the soul of being a black American today.
Young, Gifted, and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past to Present
by Jamila Wilson
Meet 52 icons of color from the past and present in this celebration of inspirational achievement—a collection of stories about changemakers to encourage, inspire, and empower the next generation of changemakers. Jamia Wilson has carefully curated this range of black icons and the book is stylishly brought together by Andrea Pippins’ colorful and celebratory illustrations.
Written in the spirit of Nina Simone’s song “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black,” this vibrant book is a perfect introduction to both historic and present-day icons and heroes. Meet figureheads, leaders, and pioneers such as Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Rosa Parks, as well as cultural trailblazers and athletes like Stevie Wonder, Oprah Winfrey, and Serena Williams.
Better than ME!
by Kimberly Albritton
Kaiwuan is a loving little boy who experiences childhood under the watchful eyes of his parents and grandparents. He aspires to be as kind as they are one day. Kaiwuan doesn’t understand why his family insists that he become a better version of who they are when he says he “aspires to be like them.” He doesn’t understand why until he has a mature conversation with his parents who overhear a prayer he makes one night. They gently remind him that they too have made mistakes in their lives or didn’t put enough practice at skills they loved. They hope Kaiwuan will learn from their mistakes and be careful not to make the same ones, so that he can be a better version of who they are. He finally realizes his family just wants him to be the best Kaiwuan he can be!
by Lupita Nyong’o
Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.
In this stunning debut picture book, actress Lupita Nyong’o creates a whimsical and heartwarming story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty.
Who Will You Be?
by Andrea Pippins
My child, my little one,
Who will you be when you are grown?
There’s loving kindness in your eyes, like your daddy’s
and boldness in your heart, like your grandma’s.
Will you be like them?
So begins this loving picture book about a mama who wonders who her child will grow up to be. Will her little one be curious like Grandpa and adventurous like Auntie Amina? Compassionate like Amy and joyful like cousin Curlena? Moving from family members to the wider community, she muses about which attributes her child will possess. Who Will You Be? features gorgeous artwork and gentle words that celebrate childhood and is an ode to the power of our village–and a reminder that every child is uniquely wonderful.
Stella’s Stellar Hair
by Yesenia Moises
It’s the day of the Big Star Little Gala, and Stella’s hair just isn’t acting right! What’s a girl to do? Simple! Just hop on her hoverboard, visit each of her fabulous aunties across the solar system, and find the perfect hairdo along the way.
Stella’s Stellar Hair celebrates the joy of self-empowerment, shows off our solar system, and beautifully illustrates a variety of hairstyles from the African diaspora.
Indigo Blue and the Garden City
by Kwame Alexander
Indigo Blume and the Garden City received a 2013 NAACP Image Award Nomination for Outstanding Children’s Literature. Indigo Blume is a nine-year old girl who lives in the fictional city of Garden City. She decides to enter a “Go Green” contest, even though her friends won’t help her with her big idea: A Rooftop Garden. In the end, she is successful at cleaning up her community and building a garden with climbing beans so tall they almost touch the stars. A “Green” glossary is included, as well as a Read Aloud CD with a special song written and performed by SPEECH of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT.
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