People were mixed race kids back then. So, when I was little, there weren’t many picture books that had people who looked like me. There are a lot of things that my parents did to try to make up for this. Most of the books I remember having were The Berenstain Bears, so that is what I remember the most. The fact that Black children’s books couldn’t be found does not mean that they couldn’t be found. It took a long time to find them.
Today, that isn’t the case. There are so many more choices for children of color. They even have a section on older readers and books to read to honor Black History Month. If you have kids, you might want to check out this list of black children’s books written by black people. This is a mix of new and old books.
There are some biracial kids in some of the books on this list. People today can check more than one box when it comes to their race. I can and do say that I am biracial or “mixed.” It wasn’t always this way for me either. In the South, people thought that if you had one drop of black in your blood, you were black. So, I only had to check that for the rest of my public school years. This is how it worked: I’m sure that’s true in some places. So, some of the books I’m talking about will have biracial kids in them, so that the kids can see someone like them in the pictures they look at, too.
The Best Black Children’s Books
Lullaby (for a Black Mother) by Langston Hughes, Illustrated by Sean Qualls
This book is based on a poem written by Langston Hughes and illustrated by Qualls. It’s all about the love between an African American mother and her child. This is a good book for moms to read to their kids, because it shows all kinds of loving and tender maternal moments in a beautiful way.
Brown Boy Joy by Dr. Thomishia Booker
An adorable picture book about what brown boys love. This would be great for toddlers and people who are just learning to read because it has great illustrations and a fun rhyming scheme.
Imani’s Moon by Janay Brown-Wood, Illustrated by Hazel Mitchell
When Imani is young, she wants to be able to touch the moon. This person will not give up on their goal, no matter how many jokes people make about her. People should never give up on their dreams, no matter what.
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History and Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison and Kwesi Johnson
Two picture books that tell the stories of some of the most important people in Black history. It’s likely that any child will enjoy these books. In addition, they will help children see that they can do anything they set their minds to, no matter what obstacles they may face in life.
Hair Love by Mathew A. Cherry, Illustrated by Vashti Harrison
This book has become very popular recently because of a short film that was made about it. This is a good thing, because this book is very interesting. It shows that not only does a father love his daughter, but also that little girls should love their natural hair. As a bonus, you can see how far the father goes to try to get his daughter’s hair under control, which is so sweet. This is a winner for everyone.
Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by Eric Velasquez
Book: This one is about Arturo Schomburg and how he built up a collection of books and other things. The New York Public Library now has a lot of things from his collection. An important part of the “new Negro Collection” is now the world-renowned Shomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The rich history and all the ways that Black people have made a difference in so many fields are shown in this book. It’s sure to be a hit with both parents and kids!
Miami Jackson Gets It Straight by Patricia and Frederick McKissack, Illustrated by Michael Chesworth
The main character in this young-reader book can’t wait for summer to start. This week at school has been the longest one Miami has ever had to go through. He has to keep a lot of secrets from his friend, his teacher is leaving, and his arch-nemesis is always in his way. If you’re teaching young people how to read, this book should be a good place to start. It has a lot of humor that they can understand.
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe
I’m pretty sure a lot of people who are reading this article just felt a strong sense of nostalgia when they saw the title. They are Mufaro and his two daughters. This story is based on an African folktale about a man and his two daughters. Manyara is beautiful, but she is also selfish. Nyasha is nice. Then the king wants to pick a new queen for his family. He wants to meet with them. But just like in other competitions, there can only be one winner, so which daughter will he pick? This is not only a great story, but the illustrations also go well with it, making it even better. You can still read this book today, even though it was written 20 years ago.
Celeste’s Harlem Renaissance by Eleanora E. Tate
Celeste moves from North Carolina to New York City to stay with her aunt. As a multi-talented person, Celeste sees all sides of the Harlem Resistance. Celeste isn’t happy with this change, so she’s at a crossroads and the choice she makes will change her life for good or bad.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
Watsons are going to Birmingham to drop off Byron, who is 13 years old and has been labeled a delinquent by the courts. He hopes his Grandmother can help him get back on the right track. And they’re there when their grandmother’s church is destroyed by fire, so they can help. If you read this book, you’ll see a different way to look at the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing that shocked the country. It was written at the same time.
Firebird by Misty Copeland, Illustrated by Christopher Myers
This story was written by the first African American lead ballerina in the American Ballet Theater. It’s about a girl who doesn’t think she can be as famous as Misty is, and it was written by her. Misty always tells her to believe in herself so that she can reach her full potential.
Grandpa Cacao: A Tale of Chocolate, from Farm to Family by Elizabeth Zunon
Father and daughter are baking her birthday cake at the same time. He tells her the story of her grandfather, Cacao, and how he used to be a good person. A farmer in West Africa called the Ivory Coast made chocolate there. The father goes on to explain how important his job is. There would be no chocolate for the world to enjoy if farmers like her Grandpa didn’t grow it. It’s time to eat when the cake is done. There is one more birthday gift for her at the front door.
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o, Illustrated by Vashti Harrison
As a child, Sulwe is a dark-skinned girl who wants to be like her sisters, who have lighter skin tone. One night, she goes on a magical journey into the night sky with the help of magic. This helps her to see that she is also beautiful, but in a different way, which makes her feel better. Children should read this book so that they can see how beautiful each of us is.
Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
This is a story that is meant to be a metaphor for the Harlem Renaissance in 1939. It is a beautiful flight that shows symbols and historical references in African American culture. One of the best stories for kids and adults to read. It should be called a “classic.”
Happy to Be Nappy by bell hooks, Illustrated by Chris Raschka
As well as a regular picture book, this can be bought as a board book as well. It’s great for kids, and it’s all about hair love. For young Black girls, this is very important because most have a hair crisis at some point in their lives. People should be proud of their hair no matter what kind it is.
My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete, Illustrated by and Shane Evans
Many people love this book because it talks about autism in an easy-to-understand way. It also teaches them how to be kind and understanding to people in their family who are autistic, which is another thing it does. It shows that anyone, no matter what their color is, can have this. I think it’s especially important that this is read to kids who aren’t white, like Black kids. There is still a lot of stigma around autism, but this can help break down that wall.
Mixed Me by Taye Diggs, Illustrated by Shane W. Evans
This book is about Mike, who was born in a mixed-race marriage. They got him just right, which makes my heart feel good on so many different levels. There is a poem in there that says that his parents did a good job. I think it’s great that books like this are out there now, because they make it easier for kids in any kind of interracial relationship to know that they are perfect the way they are.
Don’t Touch My Hair by Sharee Miller
A dollar for every time someone wanted to touch my hair as a child would be great. Heck, if I had a dollar for every time someone wanted to do it now! I wish I had this book when I was younger. When I went through this, I didn’t speak up like Aria does. This book not only talks about how to love your hair but also how to set boundaries. A library will be happy to have it.
Daddy Calls Me Man by Angela Johnson, Illustrated by Rhonda Mitchell
This book has a simple story about a young boy writing four poems about things that happened in his family. The picture on the cover makes you feel so happy and happy. A father and his child are shown to be in love again in this book. It should make your library feel happy and joyful.
Honorable Mention: The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Keats was the son of Polish Jewish immigrants, but this is still one of the best books for kids. During the story, a young African American man walks around his city on a snow day.