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14 Children's Books to Celebrate Black History Month

Written by Ariana Crisafulli

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Posted on February 01 2022

 

It's African American History Month! To support the growth and achievement of African American youth, we wanted to create a list of children's books recommended by teachers to highlight the beauty of black identity. We also made a list of children's books that portray the gift of diversity and promote acceptance of people who are different than us. The more our children learn to love the beauty in the things that make us unique, the more loving and empathetic a society we will all get to live in. 


Best African American children's books:

1. Sulwe - Written by actress Lupita Nyong'o of Black Panther and 12 Years a Slave, this children's book is about a little girl who wishes for her skin to be lighter. But through a magical experience, she begins to see how beautiful she is, no matter what color her skin is.

2. Hair Love - This children's book is also a short film! It's about loving one's own natural hair, and about the special bond between fathers and daughters.

3. Children's Books by Vashti Harrison - Vashti Harrison is a writer, illustrator, and film maker. She has written and illustrated a series of children's books that highlight black men and women throughout history, encouraging young children to dream big.

4. Martin's Big Words: The Life of Martin Luther King Jr. - No list of African American books would be complete without Dr. King. In this children's book, his speeches, his life, and his message are brought to life for the children of today.

5. Stacey's Extraordinary Words - Written by the voting rights advocate, Stacey Abrams, this book is about the extraordinary power of words.

6. Ada Twist, Scientist - This book is about a young African American girl who wants to be a scientist. It's geared mainly toward encouraging young girls to take an interest in STEM subjects. In the past, books like these featured mostly male children with European features. This book is part of a rising tide that highlights females of color and shows that everyone is capable of achieving their dreams. 

7. The ABCs of Black History - This book takes kids through the ABCs of black history, across time and geography, detailing sorrow and joy, and ultimately starting a foundational knowledge of black history from an early age.

8. I Am Every Good Thing - The narrator of this children's book is a confident young African American boy. He knows he is good, smart, funny, ambitious, and creative. Even when he sometimes stumbles, or when he is misunderstood and called something he is not, he still knows he is every good thing.



Best inclusion and diversity-promoting children's books:

1. The Proudest Blue - This children's book is about two Muslim sisters and the day that the older sister wears her hijab to school for the first time. It's a tale of the differences that make us all beautiful, the expression of curiosity in the face of these differences, and the acceptance everyone deserves. 

2. All the Colors We Are / Todos los Colores de Nuestra Piel - This bilingual book explains why people have different skin colors, by exploring ancestry, geography, and the role of melanin in words that young children can understand. It gives them an accurate sense of race at a young age when they are beginning to form their identities. 

3. Intersection Allies - Intersection Allies, as the name implies, is not only about acceptance of race, but acceptance of anyone who might be different than us. It teaches that tolerance extends to all people, exploring gender fluidity, feminism, race, disability, and everything that makes us diverse and beautiful. 

4. 13 Ways of Looking at a Black Boy - The media is filled with imagery of black boys in negative roles. 13 Ways of Looking at a Black Boy seeks to address this by using artwork from 13 different artists portraying black boys doing everyday things. It's a celebration of black boyhood and all the wonderful things it is and can be.

5. Freedom River - Freedom River is a true story of a former enslaved man, John Tucker (1827 - 1900) who lived in the free state of Ohio. He crossed the Ohio River to the slave state of Kentucky to help free other enslaved people. This is a good book to introduce young children to the uncomfortable history of enslavement in the US in a way that promotes empathy. It was written to spark curious questions about how and why this part of our history occurred, and to gently help children see themselves in other people's shoes, even if they look a little different.

6. I Am Enough - This book demonstrates that no matter what you look like, you are enough. It teaches children to look at themselves and at the others around them and to accept themselves and others as they are. 


We'd love it if you shared any other recommendation with us or told us a story about your experience with these or other similar books. Comment in the comment section below!