“During Black History Month, communities across the country commemorate the history of people of African descent in America and pay tribute to the many achievements of Black men and women. But perhaps the most important community members to get involved in this annual celebration? Our children,” Christine Michel Carter writes on parents.com.
With beautiful illustrations and inspiring stories, here are eight of our favorite books that celebrate, honor, and center stories of Black children (and adults) who are following their dreams, making important contributions to society, and fighting for social justice.
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 Malcolm X. It’s an ABC book like no other, and a story of hope and love.
Bunheads by Misty Copeland
From prima ballerina and New York Times bestselling author Misty Copeland comes the story of a young Misty, who discovers her love of dance through the ballet Coppélia—a story about a toymaker who devises a villainous plan to bring a doll to life. Featuring the stunning artwork of newcomer Setor Fiadzigbey, Bunheads is an inspiring tale for anyone looking for the courage to try something new.
M is for Melanin by Tiffany Rose
M Is for Melanin is an empowering alphabet book that teaches kids their ABCs and celebrates Black children. 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.
Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford
Amid the scholars, poets, authors, and artists of the Harlem Renaissance stood an Afro–Puerto Rican named Arturo Schomburg. This law clerk’s passion was to collect books, letters, music, and art from Africa and the African diaspora and bring to light the achievements of people of African descent through the ages. A century later, his groundbreaking collection, known as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, has become a beacon to scholars all over the world.
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.
Today’s need for greater racial equity and inclusion requires kids to be exposed to diversity at a young age. African American history is American history, and when kids understand the fuller picture of history, it will also help them understand the fuller picture of today.—Christine Michel Carterr, writer for parents.com
The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali
With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It’s the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it’s her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab—a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong.
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
In 1962, a little boy named Peter put on his snowsuit and stepped out of his house and into the hearts of millions of readers. Universal in its appeal, this story beautifully depicts a child’s wonder at a new world, and the hope of capturing and keeping that wonder forever. The quiet fun and sweetness of Peter’s small adventures in the deep, deep snow is perfect for reading together on a cozy winter day.
Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
Frustrated by a day full of teachers and classmates mispronouncing her beautiful name, a little girl tells her mother she never wants to come back to school. In response, the girl’s mother teaches her about the musicality of African, Asian, Black-American, Latinx, and Middle Eastern names on their lyrical walk home through the city. Empowered by this newfound understanding, the young girl is ready to return the next day to share her knowledge with her class. Your Name is a Song is a celebration to remind all of us about the beauty, history, and magic behind names.
Support Black Authors & Black-Owned Businesses
Consider purchasing the above books from one of the many black-owned booksellers across the U.S.: