Books expand our children’s worldviews — helping them learn about the world they live in and places they’ve never been, explore their own complex feelings, and imagine new possibilities. That’s why it’s so important that children both see themselves represented in the books they read and engage with stories that are new to them.
When children engage with a diverse range of books, featuring a diverse range of characters, they learn to see themselves both in characters that look like them and those that don’t. They also learn to form positive associations with people who are different from them, in books and in their everyday lives.
Especially for children of color, representation in books is incredibly important, empowering them to take pride in who they are, build self-esteem, and form a strong sense of self and identity.
If we want our children to celebrate our diverse world, we need to read them a diverse set of books — so ensure that your bookshelf includes a diverse range of authors, stories, and main characters.
Here are just a few fantastic books that feature Black children as central characters, doing all the incredible things kids do — being silly, making discoveries, dealing with big feelings, being brave, and having a lot of fun. Intended for little ones, they range from board books to picture books. And all of them have been created by Black authors and/or illustrators.
We encourage you to explore these books, enjoy them with your little one, and seek out more books with Black characters and by Black artists. We also encourage you to support Black owned bookstores as you add to your bookshelf. You can explore the African American Literature Book Club’s database of Black owned bookstores in the U.S. to find a store near you.
Written and Illustrated by Oge Mora
A mother and daughter spend precious time together on a Saturday, and while the day doesn’t quite go as planned, they get to spend it together.
The Proudest Blue
Written by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali
Illustrated by Hatem Aly
The first day of school always brings new experiences, and in The Proudest Blue that means the narrator’s big sister gets to wear a beautiful blue hijab for the first time.
Written by Lupita Nyong’o
Illustrated by Vashti Harrison
A little girl with dark skin who is treated differently than her lighter-skinned friends and family learns that she’s beautiful, inside and out.
Last Stop on Market Street
Written by Matt de la Peña
Illustrated by Christian Robinson
A little boy and his grandmother take a crosstown bus ride after church, and she helps him find delight in the world around him.
Written and Illustrated by Sharee Miller
A celebration of the variety of styles and textures of Black hair — and a lot of little girls playing princess.
The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County
Written by Janice N. Harrington
Illustrated by Shelley Jackson
The vibrant girl in this fun story is one pretty incredible chicken chaser.
Max and the Tag-Along Moon
Written and illustrated by Floyd Cooper
After a visit with his grandfather, a little boy finds that the moon follows him all the way home — and helps him feel connected to his grandfather, even when apart.
The Big Bed
Written by Bunmi Laditan
Illustrated by Tom Knight
This silly book features a clever little girl trying really hard to convince her dad why she should sleep in her parents’ bed in his place and get to snuggle with her mom.
Whose Knees Are These?
Written by Jabari Asim
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
A playful, rhyming board book celebrating a special someone’s super cute baby knees.
Rocket Says Look Up!
Written by Nathan Bryon
Illustrated by Dapo Adeola
A lively little girl who’s passionate about the stars and hopes to become an astronaut looks forward to a meteor shower — and tries to get everyone around her just as excited.