20 Children’s Books Celebrating Blackness

As a mother of three biracial boys, it has always been of the utmost importance to have a wide selection of books that not only represent themselves and the people they love and know in a positive light, but to also celebrate all of the beautiful and wonderful things about their Black identity.

While it is crucial that my boys grow up surrounded by positive images reflecting who they are, it is just as crucial, if not more so, that other children (specifically white children) are exposed to the same images and stories.

As parents and educators we have a duty and responsibility to introduce and surround ALL children with these stories at a time in their life when ideas of right and wrong are more simple; a time free of all of the grown-up created “gray areas”. The time before their minds and hearts are convoluted with the opinions and beliefs of others who may only share a singular story about a certain group of people. More importantly, before they are exposed to the negatively biased, often violent, and sometimes horrific images of Blackness that we see in the media today.

With books like the ones I am sharing below, my hope is that the children reading them will have enough positive narratives of Blackness in their ally arsenal that they are strong enough to call out the hate and racism they are sure to see as they grow older.

Together let’s take control of the narrative now, before it’s too late.

My People by Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes’s spare yet eloquent tribute to his people has been cherished for generations. Now, acclaimed photographer Charles R. Smith Jr. interprets this beloved poem in vivid sepia photographs that capture the glory, the beauty, and the soul of being a black American today.

My Brown Skin by Dr. Thomishia Booker

Diversity in children’s books matters. Stories are a child’s first steps into their imagination. Hey Carter! Children’s Book Series allows your child to READ IN COLOR. Each book in the Hey Carter! Children’s Book Series references a King. This hidden meaning is a reinforcement that our children deserve respect. We must remind our children that they are powerful and amazing. “My Brown Skin” is a heartwarming story about embracing who you are. A child’s first words of confidence and pride. 

Young Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present by Jamia Wilson

All children deserve to see themselves represented positively in the books they read. Highlighting the talent and contributions of black leaders and changemakers from around the world, readers of all backgrounds will be empowered to discover what they too can achieve. Strong, courageous, talented, and diverse, these extraordinary men and women’s achievements will inspire a new generation to chase their dream…whatever it may be.

Skin Like Mine by Latashia M. Perry

From the Creators of Hair Like Mine, Skin Like Mine is a fun, easy-to- read for beginners as well as advanced readers. An entertaining yet creative way to address and celebrate diversity among young children. Guaranteed to make you smile and a bit hungry.

Soul Looks Back in Wonder by Tom Feelings

In this compelling collection of words and pictures, the voices of thirteen major poets, including Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, and Walter Dean Myers, rise in response to the dazzling vistas and emotionally vivid portraits of award-winning artist Tom Feelings. A unique and moving collaboration that celebrates the sustaining spirit of African creativity. 

Mommy, Am I Brown? by Deandra Abuto

“Mommy, Am I Brown?” begins as a normal day in the park with Eli and his mother. His curiosity is sparked when they grab his favorite treat. As they experience the day, he soon realizes that he is connected to the world in more ways than he realized.

*Sidenote: As you can tell, my own Eli was more than elated to share this book with you all!

Our Children Can Soar by Michelle Cook

This is the seed of a unique and inspirational picture book text, that is part historical, part poetry, and entirely inspirational. It symbolically takes the reader through the cumulative story of the US Civil Rights Movement, showing how select pioneers’ achievements led up to this landmark moment, when we have elected our first black President. Each historical figure is rendered by a different award-winning illustrator, highlighting the singular and vibrant contribution that each figure made.

Black is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy

From the wheels of a bicycle to the robe on Thurgood Marshall’s back, Black surrounds our lives. It is a color to simply describe some of our favorite things, but it also evokes a deeper sentiment about the incredible people who helped change the world and a community that continues to grow and thrive.

Chocolate Me! by Taye Diggs

A timely book about how it feels to be teased and taunted, and how each of us is sweet and lovely and delicious on the inside, no matter how we look.

The boy is teased for looking different than the other kids. His skin is darker, his hair curlier. He tells his mother he wishes he could be more like everyone else. And she helps him to see how beautiful he really, truly is.

Magnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration by Samara Cole Doyon

Told by a succession of exuberant young narrators, Magnificent Homespun Brown is a story — a song, a poem, a celebration — about feeling at home in one’s own beloved skin.With vivid illustrations by Kaylani Juanita, Samara Cole Doyon sings a carol for the plenitude that surrounds us and the self each of us is meant to inhabit.

Black Magic by Dinah Johnson

Black is a look, a taste, a speed, an emotion. It’s the surprising stripes on a zebra, the taste of dark chocolate, the scary, exciting feeling of going inside a tunnel, and a mother’s voice as her daughter falls asleep.

In this celebration of the African American spirit, Dinah Johnson and R. Gregory Christie paint a picture of “black” that is vivid, varied, and proud.

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander

Originally performed for ESPN’s The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present.

M is for Melanin by Tiffany Rose

M is for Melanin
shining in every inch of your skin.
Every shade, every hue.
All beautiful and unique.

Each letter of the alphabet contains affirming, Black-positive messages, from A is for Afro, to F is for Fresh, to W is for Worthy. This book teaches children their ABCs while encouraging them to love the skin that they’re in.

Be bold. Be fearless. BE YOU.

Look What Brown Can Do! by T. Marie Harris

A must have for every Brown child who’s still dreaming about what to be when s/he grows up!”Foster your little one’s imagination and encourage them to dream big with this modern Black History book created to inspire brown children everywhere.

This book is a perfect conversational tool for parents, teachers, caretakers, and anyone looking to help lovely Brown children understand the greatness that can be achieved in every shade of Brown. No matter the child’s interests, be it painting, dancing, science, music, writing, athletics … “Look What Brown Can Do!” captures an array of accomplishments from yesterday’s and today’s Black heroes.

Beautiful Shades of Brown: The Art of Laura Wheeler Waring by Nancy Churnin

Growing up in the late 19th century, Laura Wheeler Waring didn’t see any artists who looked like her. She didn’t see any paintings of people who looked like her, either. As a young woman studying art in Paris, she found inspiration in the works of Matisse and Gaugin to paint the people she knew best. Back in Philadelphia, the Harmon Foundation commissioned her to paint portraits of accomplished African-Americans. Her portraits still hang in Washington DC’s National Portrait Gallery, where children of all races can admire the beautiful shades of brown she captured.

*Check out our Youtube read aloud here!

Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea by Joyce Carol Thomas

National Book Award winner Thomas celebrates the beauty and heritage of African Americans in a lyrical collection of poems. Couched in language that is learned yet emotional, the verses focus on family life, love, freedom and dreams.

Brown Angels: An Album of Pictures and Verse by Walter Dean Myers

Join acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers in a heartwarming celebration of African-American childhood in words and pictures. Sharing favorites from his collection of long-forgotten turn-of-the-century photographs, and punctuating them with his own moving poetry, Mr. Myers has created a beautiful album that reminds us that “the child in each of us is our most precious part.”

Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children by Sandra L. Pinkney

I am Black / I am Unique / I am the creamy white frost in vanilla ice cream / and the milky smooth brown in a chocolate bar…
Using simple poetic language and stunning photographs, Sandra and Myles Pinkney have created a remarkable book of affirmation for African-American children. Photographic portraits and striking descriptions of varied skin tones, hair texture, and eye color convey a strong sense of pride in a unique heritage. A joyous celebration of the rich diversity among African-Americans.

Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o

Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.

Have You Thanked an Inventor Today? by Patrice McLaurin

Have You Thanked an Inventor Today? is a journey into the often forgotten contributions of African-American inventors, that contributed to the American landscape. It chronicles the school day of a little boy, highlighting different inventions that he uses throughout the day, all of which were invented by African-Americans.  The book comes complete with brief biographies about each inventor as well as fun activities to promote and encourage reading comprehension. 

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