Picture books featuring african american characters
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As an African American parent, it is important to me to present my son with an array of brown and black characters in learning resources, toys, and books. I want his experience with literature, stories, and representation found in day to day experiences and all around the world to include people of color. I think its important and beneficial for him to be able to identify with these instances. To see himself in persons like the African American man who owns the local trucking company, or the African American woman who owns the local bakery, the African American teacher at a school. The African American doctor he visits for check ups. Michael Jordan, Barack Obama, Misty Copeland, Oprah Winfrey- or even simply the fictional characters found in endearing children’s stories all with whom he can identify.
I do believe all children should be exposed to a range of people, experiences, and cultures.
“Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it everyday.”– Author Unknown
Supporting and promoting greater diversity in children’s books is one of the many ways we can contribute to continued strides made within the realm of diversity. Through this effort we can also encourage the embracing of many cultures, & most importantly, cultivate self love.
Here are 15 books that are total must haves for your little one’s reading nook that feature African American characters.
Go back to bed,
baby, please, baby, please.
Not on your HEAD
baby baby baby, please!
This one is definitely a classic favorite of mine. A story that details the endearing and yet challenging moments of bringing up baby!
The vivid illustrations from celebrated artist Kadir Nelson evoke precious moments from childhood in exquisite detail.
I am Black / I am Unique / I am the creamy white frost in vanilla ice cream / and the milky smooth brown in a chocolate bar…
Using simple poetic language and stunning photographs, Sandra and Myles Pinkney have created a remarkable book of affirmation for African-American children. Photographic portraits and striking descriptions of varied skin tones, hair texture, and eye color convey a strong sense of pride in a unique heritage. A joyous celebration of the rich diversity among African-Americans.
From the Creators of Hair Like Mine, Skin Like Mine is a fun, easy-to- read for beginners as well as advanced readers. An entertaining yet creative way to address and celebrate diversity among young children.
Girls will love seeing strong, happy reflections of themselves in this vibrant, rhythmic picture book celebrating the diversity of beautiful black hair. From a cute crop to pom-pom puffs, adorable illustrations of girls with gorgeous braids, blowouts, and bantus grace each page, side by side with a call-and-response affirmation that will make girls cheer. It’s a great read-aloud to promote self-esteem for girls of all ages, building and growing the foundation of self-love (and hair love!) and letting every girl know “You are made beautiful!”
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!”
Little Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board! Or is he? He passed his swim test and completed his swimming lessons. So jumping off the diving board should be a piece a cake right? He receives encouragement from his father and overcomes his fear! With this courage, he makes his big splash! I love that this story highlights the relationship and love between father and son. Perfect for the summer season or Father’s Day!
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. This book would be an excellent gift for mothers, daughters, baby showers, and gradutation.
I Am Human. A beautiful story that shows all the great (and challenging) parts of being human, I Am Human shows that it’s okay to make mistakes while also emphasizing the power of good choices by offering a kind word or smile or by saying “I’m sorry.” At its heart, this picture book is a celebration of empathy and compassion that lifts up the flawed fullness of humanity and encourages children to see themselves as part of one big imperfect family!
Two Classics from Ezra Keats makes this list. I have cherished Peter as character since I was a little girl. The Snowy Day is the story of a boy who explores his neighborhood after the season’s first snowfall. I read this as a child and it brings me such joy to share the adventures of Peter in the snow with my son.
A Whistle for Willie is another classic from my childhood. Peter wants to learn to whistle for his dog Willie. I love the illustrations of Peter drawing lines with chalk and wearing his father’s hat. Instant nostalgia. It’s not until Peter least expects it that his wish comes true, and he blows a whistle that brings Willie running.
In this imaginative, inspiring story, a girl named Keyana discovers the beauty and magic of her gorgeous head of hair, encouraging black children to be proud of their heritage and enhancing self-confidence. It is a modern classic, celebrating the beauty of african american hair for 20 years!
Featuring 18 trailblazing black women in American history, Dream Big, Little One is the irresistible board book adaptation of Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History.
Among these women, you’ll find heroes, role models, and everyday women who did extraordinary things – bold women whose actions and beliefs contributed to making the world better for generations of girls and women to come. Whether they were putting pen to paper, soaring through the air or speaking up for the rights of others, the women profiled in these pages were all taking a stand against a world that didn’t always accept them.
The leaders in this book may be little, but they all did something big and amazing, inspiring generations to come.
YOU, you… God thinks about you. God was thinking of you long before your debut.
‘Cause when God made YOU, somehow God knew That the world needed someone exactly like you!
What could be better than a story that reminds our precious little ones that they are beautifully and wonderfully made. This is one of my favorite books. I love that this story provides the assurance that our babies are deeply loved and a precious unique creation. From early on, children are looking to discover their place in the world and longing to understand how their personalities, traits, and talents fit in.
With whimsical charming rhyme and , majestic illustrations, When God Made You inspires young readers to learn about their own special gifts and how they fit into God’s divine plan as they grow, explore, and begin to create for themselves.
What If We Were All The Same! This story aims to help children understand there are many great reasons for being friends with those who are different than they are! This sweet story places an emphasis on the concept our differences are what make us unique and if we truly think about it, would you want to be the exact same as someone else? What an awesome seed to plant within a child. That there is beauty in all of our differences. This story is a great conversation starter for parents to discuss prejudices and racism to kids. It would also be a wonderful story to explore topics such as friendship, acceptance, empathy, bullying and so much more.
“I am wonderfully made future bright eyes wide”
“No dream to big no not for me, I am brown and amazing, can’t you see?”
Brown boy joy is FULL of positive affirmations that are quintessential to nurturing self love and self confidence. The illustrations are bright and colorful and will appeal to all of our little ones!
I hope these make wonderful additions to your reading nook in your classrooms or homes!