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The Ovia Bookshelf: Black History Month Edition

Welcome to the Ovia Bookshelf, a curated list of our favorite children’s books. 

​​Reading to and with your child is a delightful way to connect with and help them develop reading skills. Books also introduce your child to new worlds, different ideas and many life lessons. We present this new feature by spotlighting Black and Brown children’s book authors and illustrators who have crafted fantastic stories for your family to explore.

Check out what’s on our shelf!

book cover for the old truck

The Old Truck

by Jarrett Pumphrey and Jerome Pumphrey

Ages up to 4 

The Old Truck is a sweet story of how a truck works hard to help a family farm. Created by two brothers, this award-winning tale is about determination, imagination and family. 

Favorite Line: The old truck dreamed…

book cover for We're Going to Find a Monster!

We’re Going to Find the Monster!

by Malorie Blackman and Dapo Adeola

Ages Baby to 5

This picture book takes you and your “little explorer” on a mission to find “the monster”. Malorie Blackman and the 2022 British Book Awards Illustrator of the Year, Dapo Adeola, weave together a vibrantly visual quest for both parent and child.

Favorite Line: And she sang a soft, sweet song to soothe it, then she gave it a massive hug and sent it on its way.

book cover Please, baby, please

Please, Baby, Please

by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee and illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Spike Lee and his wife, producer Tonya Lewis Lee, partnered with celebrated illustrator Kadir Nelson to give you a peek into the many scenarios you and your baby will encounter as they start becoming independent. You may find yourself saying the title multiple times a day already. First published over 20 years ago, this now classic story is one that your little one will appreciate! 

Favorite line: Go back to bed, baby, please, baby, please. 

book cover for The Year We Learned to Fly

The Year We Learned to Fly

by Jaqueline Woodson and illustrated by Rafael López

Ages 3-8 

In this companion book to their New York Times bestseller, The Day You Begin (see below), Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López bring to life a story of two siblings discovering the power of imagination and perseverance. It is an excellent lesson in working together, finding common ground and overcoming challenges.

book cover for I Am Every Good Thing

I Am Every Good Thing

Written by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon C. James

Ages 3-8 

This beautifully illustrated picture book is an empowering and poetic declaration of a little boy’s self-love and awareness. You won’t resist reading this one out read out loud!

Favorite line: I’m the perfect beat and the perfect rhyme, keeping everything on point and always on time. 

Book cover for the The day you begin

The Day You Begin

by Jaqueline Woodson and illustrated by Rafael López

Ages 5-8

A New York Times bestseller, The Day You Begin, is a love letter to courage and resilience. When a little girl walks into a room where no one else is like her, a visual story unfolds that will have you and your kids grabbing this book again and again.

Favorite line: There will be times when you walk into a room, and no one there is quite like you.

This book is also available in Spanish as El Día En Que Descubres Quién Eres

book covers for Little Leaders Bold Women

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

by Vashti Harrison

Ages 4-9

A New York Times and USA Today bestseller, this book is the first in the educational and inspirational Little Leaders series by Vashti Harrison. It features trailblazing Black women in American history with illustrations and bios that relay the power of each woman’s courage, determination, and impact on future generations. Read about iconic history makers such as Sojourner Truth and Maya Angelou to STEM heroes like mathematician Katherine Johnson and chemist Alice Ball.

A real gem for all families to read! 

Tip: Read a profile daily with your child during Women’s History Month. Ask them which of the women they are most inspired by and why.

Creating Calm in book cover with cartoon children stretching

Creating Calm in 5,4,3,2,1

Written by Dr. Melissa Munro Boyd and illustrated by Vanessa Alexandre

Ages 4-10

Clinical psychologist Dr. Melissa Munro Boyd has developed the Kids Healthy Coping Skills series focused on helping kids cope with their mental wellbeing. This book emphasizes relaxation and grounding techniques kids and parents can use when things get overwhelming.

Favorite line: Sometimes we take mini vacations and travel somewhere relaxing in our minds.

cartoon little girl on the book cover Swim Team

Swim Team: A Graphic Novel

by Johnnie Christmas

Ages 8-11

Graphic novels are excellent storytelling formats to incorporate into your child’s reading list. Award-winning author and cartoonist Johnnie Christmas introduces you to Enith Brigitha Middle School’s Mighty Manatees, a band of underdogs led by the novel’s main character, Bree. Despite her fear of swimming, Bree pushes through with the help of Etta, an elderly occupant in her building who happens to be a former swim captain. Will the Manatees turn their school’s losing record around by besting rivals Holyoke Prep? You’ll have to dive into this visual tale about courage and friendship to find out!

Favorite line: We affect other people in ways we can’t guess. Like a puzzle, I don’t know the solution to yet? Exactly!

Book cover

Just Right Jillian

by Nicole D. Collier

Ages 8-12

Nicole D. Collier introduces us to Jillian, a fifth grader struggling to speak out and express herself. When a bully targets her, she becomes determined to overcome her shyness and find her courage. It is an all too familiar experience for many kids and parents! The great, heartwarming story helps introduce the subjects of bullying, overcoming social challenges and finding self-expression.

Favorite Line: I fell asleep wondering how to unhide. More than anything else, Grammy wanted me to be myself. To stop worrying about what everyone thought. “You’re just right, Jillian. Be more confident in that.”

In Good Turn book cover

The Good Turn

By Sharna Jackson

Ages 9-12

Josie and her friends are the Copseys, a scout troop out to earn their camping badge. In their quest, they stumble upon a mystery that the thrill-seeking sleuths must investigate. British author Sharna Jackson, the author of the bestselling book High-Rise Mystery, brings your tweens an adventure focused on friendship, community and injustice.

Favorite Line: Do you know what I dislike most in the whole world? The wasting of time. Mine specifically.

King and the Dragonflies

by Karen Callender

Ages 8-12

After his brother’s unexpected passing, Kingston “King” James struggles with his grief and creates a world where his brother lives as a dragonfly. When his former best friend goes missing, he embarks on a journey that reignites friendship and helps him face the realities of life. This National Book Award winner explores themes like loss, sexuality, identity, race, and abuse in a way that is relatable to middle-grade readers. Parents would benefit from reading and talking about the book with their children.

Favorite Line: Those trees always seem to be watching. Like they’ve got a secret to tell me, if only I’d stop for a second and wait and listen.

Read more about reading!  

Benefits of reading to your baby

Best books to read to baby

Fun and games: reading half books

All about your child’s reading and writing

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