Motherhood

15 Children’s Books by Black Authors

15 children's books by black authors (illustration by Bryan Collier)

Years ago, we wrote a post about books featuring characters of color, but a reader pointed out that some of those authors were white. So! Today, we wanted to feature great children’s books written by Black authors. Here are 15 we like…

Any others to add to the list? We’d love to hear…

P.S. Children’s books with female characters, and five books to teach kids kindness.

(Top illustration by Bryan Collier from the book Trombone Shorty.)

  1. Alexa says...

    Check out The Brown Bookcase (https://www.thebrownbookcase.com/about)! From their About page:

    “The Brown Bookcase is an independent bookstore founded by 9 year old, Rylei, in order to display diversity in children and teen books.

    ‘I was having trouble finding books to read with characters that look like me and that I could relate to. So, I wanted to start a bookstore for kids to be able to find books they are able to identify with.'”

  2. Allison says...

    I love Grandma’s Tiny House by JaNay Brown-Wood, Grandma’s Purse by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, Brown Baby Lullaby by Tameka Fryer Brown, both Saturday and Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora, anything illustrated by Christian Robinson, and Bedtime for Sweet Creatures by Nikki Grimes. Andrea Pinkney wrote a book about Ezra Jack Keats called a Poem for Peter.

    Some folks were looking for baby books and Gabrielle Union wrote Welcome to the Party which looks very sweet. Donald Crews’ board books are essential though.

    Then as for chapter fun chapter books: anyone a fan of the Little Shaq series by Shaquille O’Neal? They’re popular at our library! Christopher Myers is a profilic writer of sports-themed chapter books. The Last, Last Day of Summer by L. R Giles is a fun chapter book.

  3. Claire says...

    I bought ‘Don’t touch my hair’ after it was listed here. Lovely book about consent which my kids have asked for again and again.

  4. K says...

    Tar Beach made a big impression on me when I was a kid, especially in my school of mostly non-black students.

  5. kendyll says...

    donald crews is a favorite in our house (kids are 4 & 2)—freight train, ten black dots, and flying are frequently pulled from the shelves.

  6. Melissa says...

    Grace Byers – I Believe I Can and I am Enough.

  7. Elizabeth Acevedo is a Dominican-American author of YA books – I’ve been enjoying her books recently! I read With the Fire on High and Poet X earlier this year and currently have Clap When You Land on hold at my library :)

  8. Stevie says...

    Thank you for featuring books written by black authors- and thanks for naming how you didn’t do that last time. I’ve been thinking recently about how the concept of “growth mindset” can apply to white people learning how to be anti-racist. We actually can get better at this. No white person has to be stuck where they are now or where they were yesterday. Naming how you didn’t get it quite right last time around shows that growth mindset. And that’s powerful. Thank you.

  9. Ivory Dearing says...

    I would suggest Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea, by Meena Harris. I heard great positive things about it.

  10. Anna Zimmerman says...

    Although the story itself isn’t written by a black author, The Talking Eggs by Robert Souci, is a Creole folktale and illustrated by Caldecott-award winner Black illustrator Jerry Pinkney. It’s a beautiful book!

    • Callie says...

      Yes! This is one of my very favorite books from childhood.

  11. Anything by Nicola Yoon, Angie Thomas, Jewell Parker Rhodes, Nic Stone, Kwame Alexander.

    Also, PET is a newer release by a black non-binary author. I haven’t read it yet but it is high on my list!

    https://www.akwaeke.com/pet

  12. Kristan C says...

    Would love to see more young adult options!!

  13. Ann says...

    Please baby please was one of my boys’ favorites. Any book by or illustrated by Kadir Nelson is a treasure to own.

    • Shauna Orton says...

      We bought a bunch of new books by Black authors and our favorites are ,” Mufaro’s beautiful daughters,” (its won a caldecott award and was by the 1st Black children’s illustrator) and a new one, “A good kind of trouble” for my 13 year old and she loves it!!

  14. Carol Wayne says...

    I would add Belle, the last mule at Gee’s Bend and The Green Book by Calvin Ramsey…I read these to my 3rd and 4th graders every year. Also, I know the author is white, but I just love Jabari Jumps….by Gaia Cornwall.

  15. Jamie says...

    I would love some recommendations for children’s books with Asian and/or Latinx authors and characters. My daughter and I love Eva Chen’s books.

    • Rebecca S says...

      Soup Day by Melissa Iwai was a favorite of my daughter’s :)

    • Nina says...

      Hi Jamie,
      Pat Mora is an amazing Chicana writer, and all her books have Latinx characters. She wrote several children’s books but also several poetry collections, and a wonderful memoir called House of Houses, if you’re interested!

    • Veronica says...

      I second Pat Mora! Please check out books by Yuyi Morales, Duncan Tonatiuh, Matt de la Peña, Alma Flor Ada, Isabel Quintero and Juana Martinez-Neal. There are so many more, enjoy!

    • Marisa says...

      Thanks for the links! I just ordered four books for my kids (ages 0-4). I can’t wait to read them together!

  16. Forest says...

    Donald Crews is a wonderful Black illustrator and author. He has been making books for decades. His artwork is distinctive, simple and beautiful. I’d bet many of your readers here have checked his books out from the library and/or would recognize them even if they didn’t realize he was the author. Some of our family’s faves are “Freight Train,” “Shortcut” & “Night at the Fair.”

    • Elizabeth says...

      I submitted “Freight Train” last night but it must not have gone through. We love Donald Crews books too.

  17. Laura Carlson says...

    The great Virginia Hamilton, who died in 2002, wrote 35 books for children and young adults. She won every major children’s literature award and the American Library Assn gives an annual award in her memory. Her books include Zeely, The House of Dies Drear, MC Higgins the Great, The Planet of Junior Brown, and The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales.

  18. Leslie-Anne says...

    Sam and the tigers by Julius Lester (a retelling and reimagining of an old racist book that he turns into a beautiful story about a smart and brave black boy)

  19. Col says...

    For older readers, the “Children of Blood and Bone” books by Tomi Adeyemi stand out.

  20. Ann McCormick says...

    All of Kwame Alexander’s books. He writes in a fantastic rhythm with great stories and messages.
    I teach 5th grade and many a reluctant reader zoomed through all of his books.

  21. margaret forsey says...

    I just finished ‘Brown Girl Dreaming’ last night. It is truly beautiful and thought-provoking. I heartily recommend it. I am so excited to look up the other books in your article and in the comments. Thank you! ❤️

  22. Anything by Vanessa Brantley Newton– She is an amazing illustrator and writer and just a totally inspiring person altogether.

  23. Kristin M says...

    My third grader also loved From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks. We had checked it out from the library but my daughter asked me to buy the book this week because she plans to re-read it “lots, mom.” So much to like about this book as Zoe navigates friendships, pursues a passion for baking, and learns about/works to correct inequality in the criminal justice system.

  24. Mckenzie Clawson says...

    Try Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke. They are short chapter books with lots of pictures about a girl that lives with her extended family in Africa. My daughter loves them.

    • Alina says...

      I love Atinuke’s books! We have Baby Goes to Market and B is for Baby. Both are big hits with my two year old.

    • Kristin M says...

      We love Anna Hibiscus’s adventures, too, and Atinuke’s picture books!

    • Stevie says...

      LOVE LOVE LOVE Anna hibiscus series in our house. I hope Atinuke writes more!!

  25. I LOVE that these are linked to Mahogany Books in DC. That’s where we’ve been trying to purchase from also. A very distinct choice that does not go unnoticed- when others are still linking to their Amazon affiliates. Max and the Tag Along Moon is one of our favorites!

    • nandi says...

      Love this!! Thank you so much for not linking to Amazon and for choosing Mahogany Books.
      Does anyone know about a black or indigenous book similar store in Canada?
      I found about Raven Reads https://ravenreads.org/ an indigenous book subscription.
      Has anyone signed up for it?
      Thank you!!

  26. ella says...

    Ghost by Jason Reynolds is a great book, my 11-year-old son loved to read, who is not a big reader and I also could not stop reading it.

  27. Jillian says...

    For babies and toddlers: So Much! by Trish Cooke is wonderful – and so much fun to read! -one of our all-time family favorites! For kids a little older, When I Get Older: the Story Behind “Wavin’ Flag” by K’naan is a beautiful and timely story about K’naan’s own life as a refugee from Somalia – first to New York, then to Toronto. Love!

  28. My 8 year old son loves The Clubhouse Mystery series.

    • Sara says...

      So happy to read this! I just bought the first 3 books for my 8 year old from Ashay by the Bay bookstore <3

  29. Di says...

    The animated short for Hair Love is wonderful! My 5.5 yo watched it and couldn’t stop hugging me after that.

    https://youtu.be/kNw8V_Fkw28

  30. Mimi says...

    Nathaniel Talking by Eloise Greenfield. Wonderful author, she’s 91 now and Jan Spivey Gilchrist. The two also collaborated on a few more Children’s books; such as,
    For Love of the Game. Michael Jordan and me,
    My Daddy and I,
    Me and Neesie,
    Easter Parade to name a few. Both are African American women. I was introduced to them in the late 1980s via a children’s literature class.

    • Meredith says...

      Honey, I Love, also by Eloise Greenfield, is one of my favourite books of children’s poetry.

  31. Mary says...

    Saturday by Oge Mora is wonderful! Slightly breaks and re-heals my heart each time as a working parent. Thank you Omu by the same author is lovely as well.

  32. katie says...

    Yes Jason Reynolds! Ghost is fantastic. Also, he is FANTASTIC. Find any video of him being interviewed/speaking and it is inspiring. Stephen Colbert had him on a few months ago. Suitable, and I’d encourage, for tweens/teens to also view.

    • Ann McCormick says...

      He does amazing ‘Brain Yoga’ for kids on his Insta: @jasonreynolds83

  33. ep says...

    Look up illustrator Shane Evans’ books. A lovely delight.

  34. Kate says...

    Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold is absolutely magical.

  35. Abby B says...

    Don’t miss Kelly Starling Lyons… She’s an amazing author. Her Jada Jones series is a great early chapter book series.

  36. Thank you so much for this list. There are some great titles here, including several that I read with my four-year-old on a regular basis.

    While it’s wonderful and necessary to have diverse and affirming representations of BIPOC kids and communities (which we need more of, especially given the diversity problem in children’s literature), it’s also critical that families (and specifically white families) have access to stories that explicitly name and deal with Whiteness and White privilege, that provide parents with tools and resources to start talking with children about these topics from a young age.

    Not My Idea by Anastasia Higginbotham is one such book, and I understand that Race Cars is another, but there are not many books on this topic. I think that’s telling and is, in its own way, a form of injustice and privilege. The absence of these narratives implicitly reinforces the idea that race is something that doesn’t apply to white people and centers white people as “neutral/normal”.

    I would love to see more discussion on CoJ around how White families can discuss Whiteness and White privilege with their children.

    • Maria says...

      A book that deals with the toxicity of racism and white supremacy is Dig by A.S. King — it’s more of a teen book than a younger children’s book, but very good for the points you bring up.

  37. Megan McCormick says...

    The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander is a picture book that celebrates Black excellence and won the 2020 Caldecott Medal as well as a Newbery Honor. Additionally, Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson (she has so many other excellent MG/YA books as well!) received the Newbery Honor and the Coretta Scott King Author Award!

  38. CJ says...

    I really like ‘Baby Goes to the Market’ and ‘B is for Baby’ by Atinuke. Her stories are based in West Africa and awesome. She has one for middle school too.

  39. J. says...

    This one is for older elementary, but I cannot highly enough recommend Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. I read this book over and over and over again as a kid, and have such vivid, visceral memories as a 9-year-old empathizing and trying to contemplate what growing up Black in the Jim Crow South might’ve been like and feeling like the main character Cassie was one of my friends. I buy this for every late elementary kid in my world, and I recommend for adults too!

  40. sadie says...

    here are a few of our ***heart-thumping favorite*** picture books (age 0-7) featuring main characters who are Black:

    the chicken chasing queen of lamar county – janice harrington
    grandma’s purse – vanessa brantley newton
    ron’s big mission – rose blue
    julian is a mermaid – jessica love
    the paperboy – dav pilkey

  41. Isabelle says...

    I have sent this list to my local library!
    Thank you

  42. Tracey says...

    If you’d like some Australian content. Magabala books is a wholly Indigenous publisher with EXCELLENT children’s books as well as books for all ages. Dark Emu is well regarded and available in kids, middle, and adult reader formats.

    And Fremantle Press also has an Indigenous charter. Their book, My Place is an essential read. Beautiful prose about the Stolen Generation.

    • Tracey says...

      Bruce Pascoe is the author of Dark Emu and Sally Morgan is the author of My Place.

  43. Anna B says...

    A source for books representing racially diverse, LGBTQ+, and other currently underrepresented identities in children’s books is Ourshelves.com.
    Many, though not all, of the authors share the identities of the characters. We get quarterly book boxes, one of my daughter’s favorite books from the box is Baby Goes to Market by Atinuke.

  44. Sally Moreland says...

    Christian Robinson is wonderful too! His latest You Matter is an essential read for children and adults alike.

  45. Becca says...

    “The Day You Begin” by Jacqueline Woodson is so beautiful

    • Christina says...

      Yes! It is a book I wish I could have had for my children when they were little!
      (We had the Kwela Jamela books, and they are great. I know that Niki Daly is white though)

  46. Alexandra says...

    Thank you for the list, and thank you for not linking to Amazon, but to Mahogany. Another black-owned bookstore (in the SF Bay Area) is Ashay by the Bay (www.ashaybythebay.com). Thank you for purchasing from independent booksellers and especially supporting minority-owned businesses.

  47. Vikki H says...

    Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold, a 1991 Caldecott winner

  48. Erika Abbas says...

    Just found this awesome app called “We Read Too” that has a huge list of books featuring BOPOC characters divided into age ranges from picture book to YA. Has everything listed here and a lot more. Hope this helps!

  49. Kenly Lambie says...

    I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this already in the comments, but our family would HIGHLY recommend the Audio Version of the book of New Kid as well. Our entire family (9 year old son, 7 year old daughter, 3 year old son, mom, and dad) loved it so much we wanted to listen to it again. Really well narrated and entertaining.

    • Ann says...

      That is so interesting to hear. I am leading a Summer Reading Book Club on ‘New Kid’ and told students NOT to order the audio book because it’s a graphic novel. Did you read along with the text?

  50. Nollie Haws says...

    The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. Newbery winner!

  51. AN says...

    Please check out the A Kids Book About (insert a whole bunch of compelling topics) series (https://akidsbookabout.com/), founded by Portland author Jelani Memory, who wrote the first one, A Kids Book About Racism for his kids only, and then the whole company sprouted from there. The whole thing is incredible!

  52. Tristen says...

    Just want to add Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon (more for high schoolers), Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston, Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, and Crossover by Kwame Alexander.

  53. Michelle says...

    If you are looking for books for older kids, check out Harriette Robinet. She writes beautiful historical fiction.

  54. Sarah says...

    It may be a lot of work, but I would love a list to books like this similar (or within) your shop page, esp. if it takes into account the wonderful suggestions in the comments. I am taking notes and saving books on a wishlist, but would love to capture these resources and refer to them again and again in the future.

  55. K says...

    I think it’s great that you are taking this post as an opportunity to highlight authors of color! You are obviously working hard to be responsive to current events, and it’s appreciated.

    However, I think that saying “some of those authors were white” about the original post is shirking responsibility on your end. All but one author on your original list was white! Being honest and forthright about our past mistakes is a painful but important part of unlearning racism. This was a missed opportunity for you to model that process.

    • K says...

      I’m sorry, I made a mistake in my post! Looking at original post from 2016, I am incorrect that all but one author on the original list is white. Only one author is Black, and over half of the authors are white. I’m sorry for my mistake.

      I still stand by my sentiment that saying “some of those authors were white” is a missed opportunity. I wish that you’d taken full responsibility for the racial bias in the first list.

  56. Eliza says...

    When I was 12 I read ‘Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry’. I loved it so much I stole a copy from my school library that I still have today. Racial segregation repulsed me but the amazing writing style drew me in.

    Looking back that book opened my view on the world and society and I think it is ESSENTIAL reading for ALL young teenagers and adults.

    The reason I got so much out of this book is because I had an amazing teacher who was happy to discuss all the themes I was reading about. I must say reading the book is half the story ( pun!!!) when you can discuss them confidently then you really begin to learn skills from literature and put in place the courage and bravery the author has taught you.

  57. ERP says...

    Ashley Bryan is SO incredible!!!

  58. Heather says...

    I’ve long loved illustrator and author Jerry Pinkney. His Caldecott winning The Lion & the Mouse is a family favorite, but he has so many other wonderful books , and many, if not most are written by black authors. Check them out here.
    https://www.jerrypinkneystudio.com/frameset.html

  59. M says...

    Matthew Paul Turner’s books are delightful & make me cry each time I read them. 😊

  60. Misha says...

    We love any children’s book illustrated by Kadir Nelson!

  61. A Rose says...

    My Brother Charlie, by Holly Robinson Peete is great. It’s a wonderful book about a Black child with autism. As we actively work to diversify our children’s libraries and literary experiences, please think about adding books about children of color with disabilities as well. As many as half the people killed by police are disabled, and a third are Black and disabled. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/22/police-killings-disabled-black-people-mental-illness

    • Tennisha says...

      Agreed Rose. Here’s another one about learning disabilities, Nelson Beats the Odds by Ronnie Sidney II. The author has several other books as well.

  62. Amber says...

    Thank you for linking to Mahogany Books instead of Amazon so that people can support a black owned small business!

  63. CLARE says...

    Thanks for the great suggestions!

  64. I love Please, Baby, Please. I read that to my son on many nights when he was younger. May I suggest The Soil is Good by Tori Johnson-Jones?

  65. Rae says...

    One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia as well as her other books are good for middle readers.

    • Susan M. says...

      Second! Rita Williams Garcia is a magician! Great series.
      An easier read — Khalil’s Way by David Miller.

    • Kristin M says...

      This is such a great book!

  66. Mags says...

    Love the idea behind this list! But it seems like everything is picture books or for middle readers (ie, fourth grade or so)? Does anyone have suggestions for books about black children by POC that are early chapter books? Something a 6-7 year old could relate to but not a picture book?

    • Mom of Boys says...

      The Akimbo books by Alexander McCall Smith are wonderful. They are not books about black children or race or ethnicity, they are great stories about a boy growing up on a game preserve in Africa.

    • KA says...

      Sharon M. Draper has two novels that would make good read aloud for a 6-7 year old: Out of My Mind and Blended. The characters are 10-12, but the stories are fine for younger kids. For independent reading, here are two early reader series to check out: Polly Diamond and Mia Mayhem. They both have Black girl protagonist (but they are not written by Black authors).
      Also, a great resource for books written or illustrated by POC is the ALA’s Coretta Scott King Award list. Given out each year to novels and picture books at the same conference that awards the Newbery and Caldecott, the Coretta Scott King Award goes to Black writers and illustrators. Here’s the list—it goes back 50 years!
      http://www.ala.org/rt/emiert/cskbookawards/coretta-scott-king-book-awards-all-recipients-1970-present

    • Sarah says...

      oooh, I was coming to ask the same thing – thank you for the suggestion!

    • Ada Twist, Scientist!!!!

    • Jen says...

      We have been reading the Rebel Girls new chapter book series. Three of the four currently released titles features a woman of color (Madame C.J. Walker, Dr. Wangari Maathai, and Junko Tabei) and they are beautifully written and designed. Great for kids ages 8-12.

    • Jen says...

      Sorry, I should have added that you could probably read the Rebel Girls series to a child around the age of 7-8 (some words will be difficult for them to read on their own). But the stories should be able to be understood and there are beautiful illustrations to highlight the narrative.

    • Kathryn says...

      Librarian here – Mia Mayhem is a great early reader chapter book series by Kara West and Leeza Hernandez. It’s about a black 8 year old girl who finds out she’s not a super klutz, she’s a super hero! Seems to be flying under the radar but is totally charming. Personal fave: Mia Mayhem – Breaks Down Walls.

    • Kristin M says...

      We also loved the Anna Hibiscus series (early chapter books) by Atinuke about a delightful, elementary school aged girl in contemporary Africa (& a bit in Canada).

  67. Ashleigh Wilson says...

    I love this so much. Please keep sharing. I really liked the previous post about black businesses. I would love to see some of the fashion posts you do with a focus on black designers:) Or some of the posts you do about where to buy affordable art with a focus on black artists. That would be so wonderful!

  68. HeySchirms says...

    Whose Toes are Those? sweet board book by Jabari Asim

    • Alissa says...

      We had that book when my now-nine-year-old twins were babies and seeing this comment, I got hit with a wave of nostalgia!

  69. Tracy says...

    For a older kids (I read these out loud to my 5 1/2 year old) the “Dragons in a Bag” series by Zetta Elliot are great.
    They’re sort of magical realism for kids – a magic portal in Prospect Park leads to a magic world :)

  70. KA says...

    Anything by Ashley Bryan—at almost 100 (!) he’s still making picture books and was the 1st Black person to publish a book as an author and an illustrator. He attended Cooper Union (the only Black student at the time) and was accepted only because Cooper Union had a blind admissions process (you basically submitted a tray of your artwork). He makes amazing art—puppets of beach refuse, stained glass windows out of beach glass, cut paper illustrations using his mother’s sewing scissors. His autobiography “Words to My Life’s Song” tells of the racism he encountered throughout this life, his unwavering creativity and how he is always making the world a more beautiful place. He is a very, very special person and his books are so, so beautiful (his fine art, too which is in museums and galleries)—and—consider this—despite publishing amazing books for years and having the heart of a true artist, he’s never won a Caldecott.

    • Agnès says...

      what a character! thank you so much Ka, I did a little research and I love his work and his life is inspiring. :-)

    • Terry says...

      Yes, Ashley Bryan is wonderful! My nephews loved Beautful Blackbird and
      Let it Shine. I also enjoyed his autobiography for children which is inspiring.

  71. Sky says...

    “Catching a Storyfish” by Janice Harrington! It’s a novel in verse for the 8-12 year old range.

  72. Erin says...

    Kevin Lewis writes fun picture books for young kids who like vehicles! Chugga Chugga Choo-Choo was one of my son’s very favorite books when he was around age 3. They are fun to read, too. Parents with kids who love vehicles can appreciate a genuinely entertaining vehicle book… ;)

  73. Stacey says...

    Don Tate is an author and illustrator, and a lovely person in general. He came and did an author visit at my elementary school library in January 2019 and the kiddos LOVED him. He wrote of the 2017-2018 Texas Bluebonnet books, Whoosh!, about Lonnie Johnson, the creator of the Super Soaker (it was my school’s favorite Bluebonnet book that year).

    I looked at his website (https://dontate.com/) and he is also a founding member of a blog called The Brown Bookshelf, which is dedicated to promoting youth literature created by black authors (per his website).

    Blog: https://thebrownbookshelf.com/

  74. Claire says...

    Anything by Christopher Paul Curtis (e.g. The Watson’s Go to Birmingham or Bud Not Buddy)! Great for middle readers (4th-8th grade).

    • Kristin M says...

      We second The Watsons Go To Birmingham! We read it with our second grader and it prompted such good dialogue.

    • Col says...

      My 5th grade daughter’s teacher is currently reading “The Watsons Go to Birmingham” to them every day in their Zoom conference. My daughter eagerly tunes in every day; she doesn’t want to miss a word of it.

  75. sam says...

    I am a librarian and I am constantly recommending Ghost to students. It is such a great book as is the rest of that series – Patina, Lu and Sunny. If you have a 10-12 year old (especially one that loves track!) I highly recommend it. Jason Reynolds is always a fantastic writer but he really excels with that series.

    • Amelia says...

      Yes! Jason Reynolds. Our 12-year-old son just finished Miles Morales Spider-Man, which my husband and I also read. We all loved it. Really well done and an interesting, unexpected plot twist. Next, I’ll be looking for Ghost.

    • Rae says...

      My daughter LOVES Ghost and the other two books on the bottom row of recommendations: Brown Girl Dreaming and New Kid. She chose New Kid as her Christmas gift to her cousins this past year because she wanted to share the love!

  76. joy says...

    I love that some of these books have a clear lesson related to race, and some are simply books. My kids are white, and they definitely need to learn about their own whiteness and about the challenges that people of color face, but I also want them to be able to read books with children of color as the protagonists, given that still the vast majority of children’s books are illustrated with white kids.

  77. Beth says...

    Ghost and the other books in the Track series are so good. My 9 year old son and I read Ghost together and I enjoyed it as much as he did and it lead to so many good conversations. Thank you for all of these suggestions.

  78. Elissa Sussman says...

    Anything by Brandy Colbert is worth a read – her YA and MG books focus on black stories that aren’t centered around pain and violence. Other YA authors: Sherri L Smith, Ibi Zoboi, Steph Keuhn are just a few other authors to check out.

  79. Penny says...

    An oldie but goodie and my absolute favorite Jacqueline Woodson picture book: The Other Side (illustrations by E.B. Lewis). Another oldie but goodie favorite, also illustrated by the wonderful E.B. Lewis, is Little Cliff and the Cold Place. (written by Clifton L. Taulbert).

  80. Heather says...

    Anything by Christian Robinson – Leo, last stop on market street, rain, carmela full of wishes – so many good ones!

    • Erika Abbas says...

      He has an amazing read-along and creative YouTube series right now. We have been doing it together with my son’s kindergarten class!

    • Lindsay says...

      Was just coming here to say illustrator Christina Robinson is AMAZING!!

  81. Dewi says...

    Mae Among The Stars by Roda Ahmed – inspired by the life of the first African American woman to travel in space, Mae Jemison, this is my #1 go-to book gift for little humans!

    • Erin says...

      For middle and large humans, Mae Jemison’s memoir ‘Find Where The Wind Goes’ is a good read. She has done many varied and interesting things in her life, and sprinkles good life lessons and advice throughout. I haven’t field tested it with a teenager, but I feel that it would have been a useful read for me in my college years.

      Katherine Johnson’s autobiography ‘Reaching for the Moon’ is also good. A very different book than Mae Jamison’s. The writing level is appropriate for upper elementary, but our entire family ended up listening to it as a read-aloud book because we were all interested.

      One of my daughters is really into space and NASA ;)

  82. Amy says...

    The Jaden Toussaint series by Marti Dumas is fabulous, particularly for kids who love music. You could order them from Blue Cypress Books or Octavia Books in New Orleans–she’s a local author there and they keep them stocked.

  83. Mary says...

    Love this! Thank you for creating this list. These books may not have been around when I was growing up, but I am going to start giving them as birthday gifts to the little ones in my life.

  84. Adie says...

    We just watched Trombone Shorty on Storyline Online, what a great book! I highly recommend Storyline Online. They feature great books and Trombone Shorty was read by Angela Bassett which was very entertaining.

    • Mary says...

      Yes to Storyline Online! My kids have been watching regularly during quarantine and particularly love hearing Oprah read the Hula Hoopin Queen.

  85. Meg says...

    Nice list. My phone is going to give out any minute so this one I am adding in haste (but possibly is on the list)…
    Jacqueline Woodside has a lot of picture books on topic.

  86. Mel says...

    Love this! Saving this for gift ideas for my niece and nephew!

  87. Sara says...

    Just Us Women by Jeanette Caines is a very sweet book about a girl and her aunt.

  88. Emily says...

    We love ONE DAY IN THE EUCALYPTUS, EUCALYPTUS TREE and GATOR, GATOR, GATOR! by Daniel Bernstrom. They are so fun to read and have beautiful illustrations. Fun fact, he’s from Minneapolis.

  89. Kellyn says...

    Saturday by Oge Mora!

  90. Allison says...

    Are any of these board books? My little guy is 8 months, I want to be sure that the books I’m reading to him, and he’s chewing on (ha), have POC faces. He has some, but there’s still alot more white faces than others.

    • Morgan says...

      my daughter loves please baby please and it’s a board book! Also check out the books adapted from Bob Marley songs by his daughter Cedella! They are board books and so fun to sing together!

    • Stacey says...

      Please, Baby, Please comes in a board book!

    • Erin says...

      Peekaboo Morning and Leo Loves Baby Time are great and come in board book. My 14-month-old is obsessed with the Leo books! Leo Learns to Swim is another

    • Emily says...

      We have The Snowy Day as a board book and that’s a forever favorite.

    • Maria says...

      Feast for 10 is one of my kids favorites and now as a 4 yo, he helps me read the numbers.

    • Robin says...

      More more more said the baby is a sweet simple one my kids loved.

      Also, there’s a board book of What a wonderful world with beautiful illustrations that I read to my kids for years.

      Thank you for this list COJ, there are so many good choices here!

  91. C says...

    One of my favorite books growing up as a child was Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, by John Steptoe.

  92. May R. says...

    Jubari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

    It is such a sweet story of being brave

    • Kellyn says...

      Gaia is white :) But it is a great book.

    • Cate says...

      A great book! The author is white, however.

  93. Jill says...

    Thanks for the list! “Please Baby Please” is a treasured family favorite.

  94. Erin says...

    Julian is a Mermaid, by Jessica Love. One of my all-time favorite kids’ books. :)

    • Elizabeth says...

      Erin, me too!!!!

  95. Mary says...

    Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen! I loved this book as a kid. Inspirational for young women

  96. shannon says...

    Faith Ringgold is an incredible artist and author. I love sharing her books with young children. There are also many great videos of her talking about her work and inspiration.

    • Carla says...

      Came here to say this!

  97. Anna says...

    I wanted to thank cupofjo for their continued inclusion of BPOC on the blog. I am not talking about this post or any from the past week. I have noticed your shift to inclusivity over the past couple of years. You have already started the work and have expanded your content and contributors to cover all people. Thank you for stepping up before it was popular.

    • Kim says...

      Same here! Know that everyone feels it and appreciates it, even folks who are not black themselves! <3

  98. Stephanie says...

    Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea (!) – author Meena Harris, Kamala’s niece, just released it last week. An accessible and inspiring story about the impact dedicated individuals – and even children – can have shaping our communities. Bonus – it gets kids acquainted with our (maybe) future VP. It also comes with a downloadable activity book for kids to begin using their voices by writing to their local officials (phenomenalgirl.com).

  99. Tori says...

    I saw that reader comment on Friday and love how you have quickly remedied the situation come Monday!

  100. m says...

    Probably already known, but Faith Ringgold is always worth remembering. Many people might already own Tar Beach but she wrote & illustrated SO many books.
    Another great Black owned book store is Eye See Me out of St. Louis:
    https://www.eyeseeme.com/

  101. Arielle Cohen says...

    Highly recommend Mariame Kaba’s Missing Daddy. Kaba is a leading organizer and educator for racial justice,
    https://www.missingdaddy.net/

  102. Colleen S says...

    I saw the animated short for “Hair Love.” So beautiful and sad at the same time.

    • Abbie says...

      Yes! Second this one!

    • Betsy says...

      Came here to comment the same! My fifth grade students loved Akissi. She’s so mischievous – reminds me of why I loved Pippi Longstocking or Ramona Quimby or Matilda! The graphic novel style drew in my non-readers. And I so appreciate how Marguerite Abouet wrote them to dismantle the “violent, impoverished Africa” trope, and gave a healthy, beautiful, communal, nuanced narrative that has been missing in literature.

  103. Liz says...

    My son’s favorite baby book was Baby Says by John Steptoe. It has only three words in it, yet manages to beautifully capture the love between a baby and his older brother. My son had it memorized very quickly!

  104. Laura says...

    Just laughed out loud at the description of “please baby please.” As a mother of a spirited 19 month old with an affinity for climbing I probably udder those words 100 times per day. I think my daughter is going to love that book. Also ordering “Lullaby” which I will definitely make me cry. Thanks for including books for kids of all ages!

  105. Maryann says...

    Great list! My son is a big fan of Kwame Alexander’s books (Crossover, Rebound, Booked).

  106. Joanne Kang says...

    I also love Islandborn by Junot Diaz and Leo Espinosa!

  107. Caroline Cutshall says...

    This is awesome — thank you so much!!! And I love that they link to an independent bookstore. Another bookstore I will be ordering from is Semicolon, Chicago’s only black woman-owned bookstore.

  108. Hilary says...

    Yes, ditto, thanks for the non-amazon links!

    We love the book “Last stop on Market Street” by a Latinx author and Black illustrator. It’s a beautiful tribute to the diversity and beauty of city life through the great stage that we urban dwellers know so well… the bus! It’s my go-to birthday gift for little people :)

    • Maryann Moore says...

      I second this recommendation. We’ve had that book home from the library a few times.

    • Marisa says...

      Yes! This is my 21 month old’s current favorite. She loves when CJ closes his eyes and feels the music :)

  109. Megan says...

    Thanks for including some for older kids! Many of these lists have all been picture books and girl-centric. While my pre-teens boys have no problem reading picture books or books about girls, it’s nice to have characters they feel closer connections to immediately.

    • EC says...

      I came here to suggest the March graphic novels by Congressman John Lewis. I think it might be good for a wide range of ages, but might be particularly well suited for pre-teen boys!

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_(comics)

    • Heather says...

      I would also check out anything by Jason Reynolds and Kwame Alexander. My 12-year-old just eats them up.

    • Susan says...

      I read the third book in the March series first and loved it. I’d also recommend The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas for middle school and up.

  110. Annie says...

    THANK YOU for linking to Mahogany Books! So amazing.

  111. Ann says...

    Don’t forget books by Ezra Jack Keats. He burst onto the kiddy lit scene back in the 1960s with his fabulous books about little kids doing ordinary stuff. Only the little kids were not white, which was a huge departure back then. “A Snowy Day” and “Whistle for Willie” are the two that stand out in my mind the most, but there are more.

    • Caitlin says...

      His books are great, but this post is about books my Black authors, which Keats is not. I think it’s important to support books whose authors represent the communities portrayed in their books!

    • Katie Stadler says...

      Peter’s Chair is wonderful, too.

    • Katie says...

      I don’t think Ezra Jack Keats is Black (despite featuring Black children in his books). I do love A Snowy Day regardless…

    • Mouse says...

      A Snowy Day is such a beautiful book…..

    • Calla says...

      oh my gosh I completely forgot about A Snowy Day! I remember loving that book when I was a kid, fantastic illustrations

    • EC says...

      Agree it’s a wonderful book and always worth revisiting; just wanted to point out The Snowy Day was already featured on the COJ post from a few years ago that’s linked here! And yes, Ezra Jack Keats was white.

    • EC says...

      On the topic of black children in classic picture books, I loved Corduroy growing up! Believe the author and illustrator is also white.

  112. Kay says...

    Anything that Kadir Nelson had his hands in is guaranteed to be amazing…some of his works are We Are the Ship, The Undefeated, Heart and Soul, Henry’s Freedom Box. For a middle grade reader, I’d recommend From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks.

    • Heather says...

      I got chills reading The Undefeated with my kids!

  113. Natalie S. says...

    Really great list here and I greatly appreciate the way you linked to independent bookstores rather than amazon!

    • Elizabeth says...

      Freight Train by Donald Crews! We have the big board book and it’s one of my sons favorites!

  114. Stephanie Luo says...

    I love that you linked us to a family owned bookstore for these selections. As always, thank you