February marks the start of Black History Month, a time to celebrate the contributions African Americans have made to this country and to reflect on the continued struggle for racial justice. Since you are never too young to learn about and celebrate Black history, we have compiled a list of nine must-read picture books for kids and families to celebrate black history, culture, and identity.
28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World by Charles R. Smith
Make every day of Black History Month a special celebration! Each day throughout this book features a different influential figure in African-American history, from Crispus Attucks, the first man shot in the Boston Massacre, sparking the Revolutionary War, to Madame C. J. Walker, who after years of adversity became the wealthiest black woman in the country, as well as one of the wealthiest black Americans, to Barack Obama, the country’s first African-American president.
The ABCs of Black History by Rio Cortez
Letter by letter, The ABCs of Black History celebrates a story that spans continents and centuries, triumph and heartbreak, creativity and joy. It’s a story of big ideas––P is for Power, S is for Science and Soul. Of significant moments––G is for Great Migration. Of iconic figures––H is for Zora Neale Hurston, X is for Malcom X. It’s an ABC book like no other, and a story of hope and love.
Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi
From the National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning and How to Be an Antiracist comes a picture book that empowers parents and children to uproot racism in our society and in ourselves, now with added discussion prompts to help readers recognize and reflect on bias in their daily lives.
Firebird by Misty Copeland
In her debut picture book, Misty Copeland (American ballet dancer) tells the story of a—young girl, an every girl—whose confidence is fragile and who is questioning her own ability to reach the heights that Misty has reached. Misty encourages this young girl’s faith in herself and shows her exactly how, through hard work and dedication, she too can become Firebird.
I am Enough by Grace Byers
This gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another comes from Empire actor and activist Grace Byers and talented newcomer artist Keturah A. Bobo. We are all here for a purpose. We are more than enough. We just need to believe it.
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison
An important book for all ages, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of forty trailblazing black women in American history. Illuminating text paired with irresistible illustrations bring to life both iconic and lesser-known female figures of Black history such as abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash. Readers will find heroes, role models, and everyday women who did extraordinary things.
Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport
This picture book biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. brings his life and the profound nature of his message to young children through his own words. Author Doreen Rappaport uses quotes from some of his most beloved speeches to tell the story of his life and his work in a simple, direct way.
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o
From Academy Award–winning actress Lupita Nyong’o comes a powerful, moving picture book about colorism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within. 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. Throughout this whimsical and heartwarming story, children are inspired to see their own unique beauty.
We March by Shane W. Evans
On August 28, 1963, a remarkable event took place–more than 250,000 people gathered in our nation’s capital to participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The march began at the Washington Monument and ended with a rally at the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech, advocating racial harmony. The thrill of the day is brought to life for even the youngest reader to experience.
Support Black Authors & Black-Owned Businesses
Consider purchasing the above books from one of the many black-owned booksellers across the U.S.