Book List: Black & Brown Boy Joy! Seeing our boys for all of the beautiful things they are!

Even though the rest of the world seems to be finally waking up to the injustices, oppression, and systemic racism that Black people have faced, and continue to face in this country, the idea of celebrating Black and Brown boys…who eventually become Black and Brown men, is something that many of us have been vested in for quite some time now. The public murder of George Floyd by the hands (or knee) of a police officer has catapulted our nation, and even in the world, into the movement for Black Lives. But for those of us who have Black and Brown boys and men in our lives, especially mothers, we have been, and continue to seek positive images and media to surround our young kings with. In this way we hope that they have an abundance of stories that represent all of the good things they are, and the possibilities of who they will become…not buying into the singular narrative that our society so often assigns to them. While it is imperative that my sons see themselves represented in the books they read, there is an even more urgent, if not desperate need for other children (white children specifically), to see my sons, and others like them in this same positive light…because we are reminded quite often, and quite painfully, that many people do not see them this way.

I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes

The confident Black narrator of this book is proud of everything that makes him who he is. He’s got big plans, and no doubt he’ll see them through–as he’s creative, adventurous, smart, funny, and a good friend. Sometimes he falls, but he always gets back up. And other times he’s afraid, because he’s so often misunderstood and called what he is not. So slow down and really look and listen, when somebody tells you–and shows you–who they are. There are superheroes in our midst!

Seeing Into Tomorrow by Richard Wright and Nina Crews

A remarkable celebration of Richard Wright, poetry, and contemporary black boys at play.
From walking a dog to watching a sunset to finding a beetle, Richard Wright’s haiku puts everyday moments into focus. Now, more than fifty years after they were written, these poems continue to reflect our everyday experiences. Paired with the photo-collage artwork of Nina Crews, Seeing into Tomorrow celebrates the lives of contemporary African American boys and offers an accessible introduction to one of the most important African American writers of the twentieth century.

The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes

The morning sun blares through your window like a million brass trumpets.It sits and shines behind your head–like a crown. Mommy says that today, you are going to be the King of Kindergarten!

Starting kindergarten is a big milestone–and the hero of this story is ready to make his mark! He’s dressed himself, eaten a pile of pancakes, and can’t wait to be part of a whole new kingdom of kids. The day will be jam-packed, but he’s up to the challenge, taking new experiences in stride with his infectious enthusiasm! And afterward, he can’t wait to tell his proud parents all about his achievements–and then wake up to start another day.

Be You! by Peter H. Reynolds

Be curious…
Be adventurous…
Be brave…
BE YOU!

Discover a joyful reminder of the ways that every child is unique and special, from the beloved creator of The DotHappy Dreamer, and New York Times bestseller, The Word Collector. Here, Reynolds reminds readers to “be your own work of art.” To be patient, persistent, and true. Because there is one, and only one, YOU.

Just the Two of Us by Will Smith

“Just the two of us, building castles in the sky; just the two of us, you and I.”

Will Smith — musician, actor, and father — brings us a moving celebration of fatherhood. The song’s heartfelt lyrics and Kadir Nelson’s vibrant paintings capture the beauty and intensity of a father’s love as his child grows from a boy into a man. This poignant portrait will resonate with fathers and sons everywhere.

Riley Can Be Anything by Davina Hamilton

The inspiring rhyming story follows Riley as he discovers some of the wonderful things he can do when he grows up. With the help of his big cousin Joe, Riley is taken on a series of imaginative journeys that allow him to realise he can be anything he wants to be.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy by Tony Medina

These short, vibrant tanka poems about young men of color depict thirteen views of everyday life: young boys dressed in their Sunday best, running to catch a bus, and growing up to be teachers, and much more. Each of Tony Medina’s tanka is matched with a different artist―including recent Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Award recipients.

Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison

An important book for readers of all ages, this beautifully illustrated and engagingly written volume brings to life true stories of black men in history. Among these biographies, readers will find aviators and artists, politicians and pop stars, athletes and activists. The exceptional men featured include writer James Baldwin, artist Aaron Douglas, filmmaker Oscar Devereaux Micheaux, lawman Bass Reeves, civil rights leader John Lewis, dancer Alvin Ailey, and musician Prince.
The legends in Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History span centuries and continents, but each one has blazed a trail for generations to come.

I Love You More Than… by Taye Diggs

Some families look different than others. A father who doesn’t live full-time with his son tells him all the ways he misses and loves him.

I Love You More Than … by Taye Diggs, illustrated by Shane W. Evans, is perfect for families who are separated, whatever the circumstances. Its message of love underscores the bond between parent and child in ways that little ones will understand.

I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown

I Am Perfectly Designed is an exuberant celebration of loving who you are, exactly as you are, from Karamo Brown, the Culture Expert of Netflix’s hit series Queer Eye, and Jason Brown―featuring illustrations by Anoosha Syed.

In this empowering ode to modern families, a boy and his father take a joyful walk through the city, discovering all the ways in which they are perfectly designed for each other.

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes

The barbershop is where the magic happens. Boys go in as lumps of clay and, with princely robes draped around their shoulders, a dab of cool shaving cream on their foreheads, and a slow, steady cut, they become royalty. That crisp yet subtle line makes boys sharper, more visible, more aware of every great thing that could happen to them when they look good: lesser grades turn into As; girls take notice; even a mother’s hug gets a little tighter. Everyone notices. A fresh cut makes boys fly.

This rhythmic, read-aloud title is an unbridled celebration of the self-esteem, confidence, and swagger boys feel when they leave the barber’s chair—a tradition that places on their heads a figurative crown, beaming with jewels, that confirms their brilliance and worth and helps them not only love and accept themselves but also take a giant step toward caring how they present themselves to the world. The fresh cuts. That’s where it all begins.

Baby Boy, What Will You Be? by Terquoia Bourne

On a cold winter day, a new mom  snuggles with her baby boy and warms her heart with the thoughts of all the limitless possibilities that her baby can achieve in his lifetime. “When I gaze upon your face, there’s so much hope I see. As I gaze, I begin to wonder, just what you’ll grow up and be.”

Be A King: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream and You by Carole Boston Weatherford

Featuring a dual narrative of the key moments of Dr. King’s life alongside a modern class as the students learn about him, Carole Weatherford’s poetic text encapsulates the moments that readers today can reenact in their own lives. See a class of young students as they begin a school project inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and learn to follow his example, as he dealt with adversity and never lost hope that a future of equality and justice would soon be a reality. As times change, Dr. King’s example remains, encouraging a new generation of children to take charge and change the world . . . to be a King.

I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes was a courageous voice of his time, and his authentic call for equality still rings true today. Beautiful paintings from Barack Obama illustrator Bryan Collier accompany and reinvent the celebrated lines of the poem “I, Too,” creating a breathtaking reminder to all Americans that we are united despite our differences.

Baby Blessings: A Prayer for the You Are Born by Deloris Jordan

This touching story from bestselling author Doloris Jordan celebrates the blessings new parents wish for their babies all through their lives. With a strong emphasis on the bonds families share, the inspirational text is accompanied by exquisite art from renowned illustrator James E. Ransome. From infancy to adulthood, there is always a place for Baby Blessings.

All Because You Matter by Tami Charles

Discover this poignant, timely, and emotionally stirring picture book, an ode to black and brown children everywhere that is full of hope, assurance, and love.

Tami Charles pens a poetic, lyrical text that is part love letter, part anthem, assuring readers that they always have, and always will, matter. This powerful, rhythmic lullaby reassures readers that their matter and their worth is never diminished, no matter the circumstance: through the joy and wonder of their first steps and first laughter, through the hardship of adolescent struggles and the pain and heartbreak of current events, they always have, and always will, matter

I Am…(Positive Affirmations for Brown Boys) by Ayesha Rodriguez

In this book for boys, author Ayesha Rodriguez uses rhyming verses, followed by a positive affirmation. I am and the words that follow are powerful. Repeated affirmations will build up your child’s self-esteem and transform his sense of self! 

My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood by Tameka Fryer Brown

On a really good day, Jamie feels purple like the first bite of a juicy cold plum. And with a crayon in his hand, Jamie eases into a green feeling–like a dragon dancing through a jungle made of green jello.

But when his brothers push him around and make fun of his drawings, Jamie feels like a dark gray storm brewing. What will it take to put Jamie back in a bright-feeling mood? Through Jamie, young readers will learn to describe how they’re feeling in a unique way.

A Boy Like You by Frank Murphy

There’s more to being a boy than sports, feats of daring, and keeping a stiff upper lip. A Boy Like You encourages every boy to embrace all the things that make him unique, to be brave and ask for help, to tell his own story and listen to the stories of those around him. In an age when boys are expected to fit into a particular mold, this book celebrates all the wonderful ways to be a boy.

Brown Boy Brown Boy What Can You Be? by Ameshia Gabriel Arthur

Join Matthew as he considers all the things he can accomplish and the careers he can do.

The Joys of Being a Little Black Boy by Valerie Reynolds

The Joys of Being a Little Black Boy is a vividly illustrated, history-based children’s book that brings to life Roy, a joyful Black boy. Roy will take your sons, daughters, nephews, nieces, or class on a biopic journey of joy with some of the world s most notable Black men who, lest we forget were all at one time young Black boys.

Brown Boy Joy by Thomishia Booker

I am brown boy joy and I shine like gold. Smiling ear to ear, I am fearless and bold!

Filled with love and light, I speak my mind. Take a look at me, I am smart and kind.

This book is a beautiful celebration of all things that Little Brown Boys LOVE, and all that they can be!

What Will I Be? by Jayla Joseph

A positive and uplifting book for young children. You can be anything that you set your mind on. This lovely book showcases an array of different careers in an easy to understand way. Ideal for young children.

It is also very important for non-black children to read books with BIPOC characters. Differences should be celebrated from a young age.

Cool Cuts by Mechal Renee Roe

When the stars shine, the world is mine! I am born to be awesome! My hair is free, just like me! I am born to be awesome!

Boys will love seeing strong, happy reflections of themselves in this vibrant, rhythmic picture book celebrating a diversity of hip black hairstyles. From a ‘fro-hawk to mini-twists and crisp cornrows, adorable illustrations of boys with cool curls, waves, and afros grace each page, accompanied by a positive call-and-response affirmation that will make kids cheer. It’s a great read-aloud to promote positive self-esteem to boys of all ages, building and growing the foundation of self-love (and hair love!) and letting every boy know that “You are born to be awesome!”

Brown Baby Lullaby by Tameka Fryer Brown

From sunset to bedtime, two brown-skinned parents lovingly care for their beautiful brown baby: first, they play outside, then it is time for dinner and a bath, and finally a warm snuggle before bed.

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwell

Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board. In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fears, newcomer Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for.

Nighttime Symphony by Timbaland feat. Christopher Myers

As a little boy gets ready for bed, the sounds of a wild storm echo around him, lulling him to sleep. From the crash of thunder to the pitter-patter of raindrops to the beat of passing cars, the music of the city creates a cozy bedtime soundtrack.

Dear Black Boy by Martellus Bennett

Dear Black Boy is a letter of encouragement to all of the black boys around the world who feel like sports are all they have. It is a reminder that they are more than athletes, more than a jersey number, more than a great crossover or a forty-yard dash, that the biggest game that they’ll ever play is the game of life, and there are people rooting for them off of the courts and fields, not as athletes, but as future leaders of the world. The same things that make these strong beautiful black boys great on whatever playing surface they choose are the same things that will propel them forward in life: mental toughness, dedication, passion, determination, and effort are all things that carry over into the game of life. With the right preparation, every Black Boy can win.

Bedtime for Sweet Creatures by Nikki Grimes

Mommy needs to wrangle her sweet creature in bed so that the whole family can sleep. From tigers to squirrels to snakes, the little boy dodges around his bedtime, until he is tired enough to finally sleep. His imaginative animal friends weave their way through the illustrations, eventually joining him in curling up for the night.

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