I was a biracial child in the 1980s. So, growing up, there weren’t a lot of picture books that had people who looked like me. I think my parents realized this early on and tried to make up for it the best they could. Consequently, most of the books I remember having were The Berenstain Bears. Which isn’t to say that Black children’s books couldn’t be found. It just took a lot of work to find them.
Happily, that isn’t the case today. There are infinitely more options for children of color. Book Riot has even showcased articles about this, focusing on older readers, as well as books to read to celebrate Black History Month. This list of Black children’s books by Black authors are ones which you may want to get for the kiddos in your life. This is a mix of current and older titles.
As a call out, some of the books below will feature biracial children. Nowadays, most places will allow you to check more than one when it comes to your race. I can and do proudly proclaim I am biracial or ‘mixed’. However, this was not always the case, though, even for me. In the Southern states, the mindset was one drop meant you were considered Black. As a result, I had to check only that through all my public school years. I am sure that is the case even now in some locations. So, some of the books I mention will include biracial children so that they too can see someone like them in the pictures they look at.
THE BEST BLACK CHILDREN’S BOOKS
LULLABY (FOR A BLACK MOTHER) BY LANGSTON HUGHES, ILLUSTRATED BY SEAN QUALLS
Taken from the poem by Langston Hughes and beautifully illustrated by Qualls, this book is all about the love between an African American mother and her baby. A good first book for mothers to read to their children, since it is artistically illustrates all the types of loving tender maternal moments.
BROWN BOY JOY BY DR. THOMISHIA BOOKER
An adorable little picture book about all the things that brown boys love. This would be perfect for toddlers and beginning readers with the awesome illustrations and a delightful rhyming scheme.
IMANI’S MOON BY JANAY BROWN-WOOD, ILLUSTRATED BY HAZEL MITCHELL
Imani is a young Maasai girl who has big dreams to touch the moon. She will not be deterred from her goal either, no matter how much teasing she has to face from those around her. This sounds like a delightful little book about never giving up on your dreams, no matter what.