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Recommended Reads: 8 Children’s Books by Black Authors

childrens books
4 min read

This past year, we, as parents, have been challenged to ask ourselves how we can raise the next generation to be better. I know during my upbringing, I was not raised with a diverse bookshelf. The majority of the books I read had white protagonists and I rarely saw people of color as the main characters. I think this had more to do with what was available to us versus what my parents chose to bring into the home. Whenever I came across a book with a non-white character as the protagonist, I found it so intriguing because it was different from all the other books I’d read. Even though this may seem minute to many, stocking your home bookshelf with diverse books is the first step to helping children see the world as it is and appreciate all the differences between people, including their cultures and color of their skin. 

I feel blessed to have had this realization while my children are still young. Yes, we never intentionally bought books with white characters for the sake of the white character, but we also never intentionally bought books with Black characters for the sake of the Black character.  

When it came down to buying my daughter a baby doll, we decided to buy her a dark-skinned doll. So when it came to stocking our bookshelf, we exposed our children to see a diversity of skin colors as the main characters in the books. With February being Black History Month, I wanted to take some time to highlight some amazing picture books by Black authors that you should have on your bookshelf. Allow your children to immerse themselves in other cultures and allow them to grow up in a world where all these cultures and skin colors are the main characters in the story so that they, too, can see themselves as the main characters in their own lives. 

Here are 8 books that should find a home in your bookshelf: 

1. “Hair Love” by Mathew A. Cherry, Illustrated by Vashti Harrison

book cover
“Hair Love” Book Cover

“Hair Love” is an empowering story that highlights the relationship between a Black father and daughter when he has the task of doing her hair. Zuri’s hair knows no boundaries and no form. It never stays put, there are curls everywhere, but Zuri loves it regardless. It’s a beautiful story about loving your natural hair.

Order your copy here

2. “Skin Like Mine”  by LaTashia M. Perry, Illustrated by Bea Jackson

book cover
“Skin Like Mine” Book Cover

“Skin Like Mine” is a wonderful story about kids embracing all types of brown skin colors, and comparing skin tones to different foods we love. A fun and easy read that celebrates diversity!

Order your copy here!

3. “Ambitious Girl” by Meena Harris, Illustrated by Marissa Valdez

book cover
“Ambitious Girl” Book Cover

“Ambitious Girl” is an ode to all young girls and women who are told they are “too much” of anything. This book reminds girls to reimagine and redefine words that are meant to knock them down and to be unapologetically you!  

Order your copy here!

4. “Grandpa Cacao: A Tale of Chocolate, from Farm to Family” by Elizabeth Zunon

book cover
“Grandpa Cacao” Book Cover

This is a delightful story of a daughter baking a cake with her father while he unravels the story of her grandfather and his cacao farms. 

Order your copy here!

5. “What Color Is My World?” By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld, Illustrated by Ben Boos and A. G. Ford

book cover
“What Color is my World?” Book Cover

A tribute to Black inventors! Fast, funny and informational, this book will leave any child inspired to pursue their dreams regardless of the odds. 

Order your copy here!

6. “Brown Boy Joy” by Dr. Thomishia Booker

book cover
“Brown Boy Joy” Book Cover

An encouraging, relatable book for little Brown boys to read over and over again!

Order your copy here!

7. “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” by Kadir Nelson

book cover

“He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” Book CoverInspired by the spiritual African American song from the early 1900s, Nelson shares the world through the eyes of a child. Through images of landscapes and heart-warming moments between the boy and his family, he delivers the message of the song. 

Order your copy here!

8. “Please, Baby, Please” by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee

book cover
“Please, baby, please” Book Cover

A sweet, entertaining board book depicting the ups and downs of toddlerhood in a fun way.   

Order your copy here!

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