Finding books that feature Black characters can be challenging and finding books that are written by Black authors and illustrators can be even harder. Every child deserves to see themselves in books for kids. And, every child deserves to see people that look like them in every profession including writing and illustrating.
And, all children deserve a diverse library filled with books that are inclusive, and equitable.
Data on books by and about Black, Indigenous and People of Color published for children and teens compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison found that in 2019 out of the 4,029 children’s books that they received, only 219 were by Black/African people. Though this number has doubled since 2015, there is still a lack of #OwnVoices in children’s literature.
Here are some of my favorite book picks to share with early childhood students.
Early Childhood Books by Black Black Authors
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In Grandma’s Purse by Vanessa Brantley-Newton we find out that grandma’s purse can hold pure magic. Brantley-Newton has authored other books including Just Like Me and illustrated numerous other books.
Derrick Barnes…I’ve loved everything he has created with illustrator Gordon C. James. Their newest is I Am Every Good Thing. It’s a story of being proud of who you are during the easy times and hard times. The book has stunning illustrations and poetic text that has wonderful rhythm and cadence to capture the attention of a group during a whole group read-aloud. Also, don’t miss their book, Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut. And, Derrick also authored The King of Kindergarten. We’ve got an amazing Book Dive to go with that title.–>King of Kindergarten Book Dive
One of my favorite books of 2020 was Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins Bigelow. It is the story of a young girl who is frustrated that her teachers and classmates have mispronounced her name all day. The girl’s mom teaches her about the musicality of names using the cities sights and sounds as inspiration. Empowered, the girl is ready to return to school and share her learning with her school.
You can even watch the author pronounce each name in a video on the publisher’s website.
Also check out Mommy’s Khimar.
Saturday by Oge Mora is the story of a young girl and her mother who only get Saturdays to spend the whole day together so they like to plan special things to do with each other. However, on this particular Saturday it seems like their plans are going to be spoiled. But, we discover that as long as they get to be with each other that is all that matters. Don’t miss Thank You, Omu! too.
Pick any book by Donald Crews for a sure hit with young children. He’s got a big list of books to his name. Check out Bigmama’s about taking the trip to see your loved ones. A good companion is Shortcut.
Connie Schofield-Morrison brought us I Got the Rhythm and I Got the Christmas Spirit. Now, we have I Got the School Spirit. It’s a great circle time read-aloud because it’s not too long. It’s got rhythm and rhyme. It engages children and allows them to participate by calling and acting out parts. It addresses the positive attitude of a new school year. And, so much more.
Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel shows us all the things we can put our hands up for from a high five to protesting at a rally.
Christian Robinson is a wonderful illustrator and now author too to follow. He is the author and illustrator of You Matter and Another. He has also illustrated countless books including Last Stop on Market Street, The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade, Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker.
There is nothing more special than the relationship and love between a parent and child. Me & Mama by Cozbi A. Cabrera celebrates that love as a child and mother enjoy being together in the special pleasures of getting ready and taking a walk through the puddles.
I always when love when teachers write books. You can’t go wrong with the books by Tami Charles to share with children and use in the classroom. I’m featuring the newest here, All Because You Matter. We all need to hear that we matter. But, I also loved Freedom Soup (look for this one in the 2021 Family Dinner Book Club Line-Up) and Fearless Mary. And, look for three new picture books by her in 2021.
Beginning readers need to check out Ty’s Travels: All Aboard! (My First I Can Read) by Kelly Starling Lyons. A young boy asks each member in his family to play with him, but they are too busy. So, he finds a box and uses his imagination to start playing. Soon, his family joins him. And, look for more books in the Ty’s Travels series.
A History of Me by Adrea Theodore is the story of past, present, and future. When you are the only brown girl in all-white class, you get the stares and looks and often the taunting. But, what really matters is what the young girl sees when she looks at herself. For she is filled with courage, strength, and beauty that has been passed down for generations.
Printable Book List of Books for Kids by Black Authors
Grab a printable list of these books by clicking the button below.
How culturally responsive and diverse is your library? The publisher Lee & Low has a wonderful survey you can take to help you reflect on your own library.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are some amazing accounts to follow on Instagram for more books featuring Black characters and other amazing reads. Check out HereWeeRead, The Brown Bookshelf and Young Black & Lit.
What other books would you recommend? Leave a comment below.
More Book Resources
Books by Korean Authors organized by author Linda Sue Park