13 Books about the Black experience to share with your child this Black History Month
From new releases to modern classics, these children's books were written to educate, empower and inspire.
Black History Month is a time to celebrate not only influential Black trailblazers, but also the true meaning of Black excellence. It is a month where Black people should feel encouraged to celebrate their authenticity and truly embrace the greatness of Black culture.
In order to truly understand the magnitude of their greatness, young children must learn their history. It is essential for Black children to learn about not only the trials of the Black experience but also the triumphs. With that in mind, here are 13 must-read children’s books that focus on both Black history and self-appreciation.
I Am Enough by Grace Byers (HarperCollins, 2018)
Written by actor and activist Grace Byers, this New York Times bestseller is a beginner’s guide to self-love. Designed for children between the ages 4 and 8, I Am Enough is a picture book that explores self-love, respecting others and treating people with kindness.
The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson (Penguin Random House, 2021)
Written by Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who masterminded The 1619 Project, and Renée Watson, a Newbery award-winning author, this picture book is designed for children between the ages of 7 and 10. Born on the Water follows a young student who has a family tree assignment, but can only trace her history back three generations. With the help of her grandmother, she learns about the consequences of slavery, the history of Black resistance and the life her ancestors led before 1619.
Who are Your People? by Bakari Sellers (HarperCollins, 2022)
In his debut picture book, political commentator Bakari Sellers aims to celebrate the village that it takes to raise a child. Written for children between the ages of 4 and 8, the goal of this book is to recognize the people and places that help define young readers. Who Are Your People? is a tribute to the family and communities that shape young people into who they are.
Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper (Capstone Young Readers, 2015)
With this inspiring book, Floyd Cooper told the story of a young Black girl named Mazie who is ready to celebrate liberty. Juneteenth for Mazie, which is designed for children between the ages of 6 and 9, celebrates Juneteenth, the Emancipation Proclamation and Black history.
Black Inventors: 15 Inventions that Changed the World by Kathy Trusty (Rockridge Press, 2021)
Black inventors have made great advancements in science, technology, engineering and math, but their accomplishments oftentimes are not acknowledged. Designed for children between the ages of 8 and 12, Black Inventors details 15 Black men and women who created inventions, ranging from the first hairbrush to the personal computer, that changed the world.
Black Heroes: A Black History Book for Kids: 51 Inspiring People from Ancient Africa to Modern-Day U.S.A by Arlisha Norwood, (Rockridge Press, 2020)
Written by Arlisha Norwood, Black Heroes introduces children to Black heroes throughout time. Through biographies, colorful portraits and extra ways to learn, this book, which specifically caters to children between the ages of 4 and 6, takes children on a journey through time highlighting Black trailblazers across the world.
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic edited by Lilly Workneh (Rebel Girls, 2021)
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic features the work of over 60 Black female and non-binary authors, illustrators and editors exploring the stories of women like tennis player Naomi Osaka and author Toni Morrison. Edited by award-winning journalist Lilly Workneh with a foreword by #BlackGirlMagic originator CaShawn Thompson, the New York Times bestseller is intended for children 6 and older, and is dedicated to celebrating, acknowledging and amplifying the stories of Black women worldwide.
Why?: A Conversation about Race by Taye Diggs (Macmillan, 2022)
Children naturally are very inquisitive. In Why?: A Conversation about Race, actor Taye Diggs distills the conversations many Black children are having with their parents when it comes to race, injustice and anger. Created for children between the ages of 3 and 6, this book gives young readers context for the things they see with the hopes that it will lead to more conversations, change and peace in the world.
Hey You!: An Empowering Celebration of Growing Up Black by Dapo Adeola (Penguin Random House, 2022)
Award-winning illustrator Dapo Adeola created a picture book that explores what it means to grow up as a Black child in systemic racism. In addition to explaining the impact of systemic racism, Adeola instills hope for the future and empowers the next generation of dreamers. Hey You!, which is intended for children between the ages of 4 and 8, shares an urgent and timeless story while offering a rich reading experience.
Pauli Murray: The Life of a Pioneering Feminist & Civil Rights Activist by Terry Catasús Jennings and Rosita Stevens-Holsey (Simon & Schuster, Feb. 8, 2022)
Catasús Jennings and Rosita Stevens-Holsey are the writers behind Pauli Murray: The Life of a Pioneering Feminist & Civil Rights Activist, a riveting biography about a trailblazer who spent her life fighting for civil, queer and women’s rights. Geared toward children between the ages of 10 and 14, this book tells the story of how Pauli Murray fought for the oppressed, lived by her convictions and challenged the authorities.
Saving the Day: Garrett Morgan’s Life-Changing Invention of the Traffic Signal by Karyn Parsons (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2021)
With this addition to her Sweet Blackberry series, Fresh Prince alum Karyn Parsons tells the story of Garrett Morgan, the Black inventor responsible for creating the traffic signal. Saving the Day, which is intended for children between the ages of 4 and 8, details Morgan’s growth from a little boy with a head full of ideas to the successful inventor who saved countless lives.
Ida B. Wells, Voice of Truth: Educator, Feminist, and Anti-Lynching Civil Rights Leader by Michelle Duster (Macmillan, 2022)
As told by her great-granddaughter Michelle Duster, Ida B. Wells, Voice of Truth: Educator, Feminist, and Anti-Lynching Civil Rights Leader shares the inspiring story of legendary journalist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells. As a founder of the NAACP, the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, the Alpha Suffrage Club and the Negro Fellowship League, Wells never stopped fighting for justice. This picture book, which is geared toward children between the age of 4 and 8, recounts the powerful story of one of the most influential people in Black history.
As Good As Anybody by Richard Michelson (Penguin Random House, 2013)
Written by Richard Michelson, As Good As Anybody explores the remarkable friendship of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. While the dynamic duo came from two very different walks of life, they both fought for equality and justice. The book, which is geared toward children between the ages of 6 and 9, recounts the story of how King and Heschel’s personal experiences translated into a message of love and equality for all.
Kayla Grant is a cross-topic multimedia journalist who is pursuing her Master of Science in Journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. In addition to being featured in theGrio, the Clark Atlanta University alumna’s words are published in Poynter Institute’s HBCU Voter Guide, Oz Magazine, iPondr, Prism, rolling out and the Atlanta Business Journal. Follow her on Twitter: @TheKaylaGrant.
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