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Diverse books, as well as diverse authors, are incredibly important. This is especially true when it comes to children’s books. Every child deserves a chance to see themselves, whether it is as the character or as the writer. Here are 12 black children’s books by black authors for the young ones to enjoy!
These children’s books have tons of pictures and are usually pretty short to help keep the kids’ attention. No chapters yet; these books are usually too short to have them!
Don’t Touch My Hair! by Sharee Miller is a fun, light-hearted picture book about a girl named Aria who has hair that everyone loves. Unfortunately, they love it so much that they want to touch it, which she doesn’t like! This book teaches kids to love their hair, but it’s okay to set boundaries if others are making them uncomfortable.
Jackson’s mom is getting married and Jackson gets to be the ring bearer! He’s really nervous, however, and wants to make sure he and his new stepsister who is the flower girl does a good job. The Ring Bearer by Floyd Cooper is a heartwarming story that talks about how to deal with the big changes that life may throw at them.
Clara likes to collect and decorate rocks with positive messages and leave them for people to read. The woodland creatures see these rocks as well and it really brightens up their day! Kindness Rocks by Sonica Ellis teaches children that a small act of kindness can go a long way.
Cool Cuts and it’s sister book, Happy Hair, both by Mechal Renee Roe, has pages full of inspirational affirmations and diverse hair types. These books are positive children’s books for any child to cherish.
Early Chapter Books
These are children’s books are a little longer, introducing kids to the concept of chapters. There are still plenty of pictures though and are short enough in case the children get too squirmy.
Miami Jackson is eager for school to end. But with his teacher moving to Ghana, his arch-enemy getting on his case, and Miami keeping secrets from his best friend, this last week is turning out to be the longest week ever! As the school season comes to an end and summer starts pouring in, kids will enjoy reading Patricia and Frederick McKissack’s Miami Gets It Straight.
Misty Copeland was the first Black-American who was promoted to principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre. A Girl Named Misty by Kelly Starling Lyons tells about Copeland’s childhood and her journey to becoming a legend.
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Dyamonde Daniel is new in town and she’s ready to make her mark! The other new kid seems grumpy, but Dyamonde thinks the two of them could be great friends. Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes is a touching story about friendship that any kid will enjoy.
Merlin Montgomery (aka Big Monty) is a fifth-grader who loves astronomy and wants to be accepted by A’lo, the school champion of “Yo’ Mama” jokes. One day, he learns that the lunch lady has created a monster out of leftovers to attack the students! Now he and his sister, Josephine, have to find a way to stop her. Big Monty and the Lunatic Lunch Lady by Matt Maxx is a quirky adventure full of science facts for young readers to enjoy and learn!
By the time kids are between the ages of 8 to 13, they usually have the attention span to consume larger novels and don’t have as much of a need for pictures in their children’s books (though a few are still nice).
In The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert, Alberta is a surfer who has been the only black girl in her town for years. Her best friend, Laramie, is great, but there are some things Laramie just can’t understand. When a new family buys the bed and breakfast across the street, Alberta is ecstatic to find out that they’re black and they have a daughter her age.
12-year-old Donte often wishes he was invisible. He doesn’t look like anyone at his school and nobody at his school likes him, often wishing he was more like his light-skinned brother, Trey. One day, Donte is bullied and framed by the fencing team’s captain, Alan, causing Donte to get arrested and suspended from school. Donte joins his local youth center and meets a former Olympic fencer, Arden Jones. With Arden, Donte starts learning how to fence competitively and plans to finally take down Alan. Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes discusses bullying and systematic racism while also showing how a boy can empower himself and fight back.
Taking place in 1921, Celeste’s Harlem Renaissance by Eleanora E. Tate tells the story of Celeste Lassiter Massey who goes to stay with her Aunt Valentina in Harlem. Celeste is not happy to leave her quiet life in North Carolina to stay in a big city with a famous actress. Celeste sees just as much grit as there is glamour in all of the excitement and as a passionate writer, talented violinist, and aspiring doctor, Celeste will eventually have to decide between ambition and loyalty.
What started as a school project became a life-changing adventure for these six students. In Dr. Doresa A. Jennings book, The STEAM Chasers: We Made That, six students named Shar, Terrence, Ebony, Akiya, Marcus, and Chase go on a scavenger hunt throughout their town to find different contributions from Black Americans that are in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. One misguided call, however, sends the police to the STEAM Chasers and now the students have to use what they learned from their ancestors to help not only themselves but also any other kid who ends up in the same situation.
Every child deserves to see themself as a character and a writer. Hopefully, this list helps in making this more common! Do you have more suggestions for children’s books by black authors? Leave a comment down below!