The 23 Best Children’s Books to Read During Black History Month (and Beyond) — Balanced Family Academy (2024)

Written By Taylor Van Deusen

Psychological studies show that children can begin internalizing racial bias as early as age 4.

This profound insight underscores the importance for parents and educators alike to take proactive steps in shaping the perspectives and attitudes of our youngest generation. The significance of introducing conversations about Black history and Black to our children cannot be overstated, and while it can be a challenging topic to navigate for some, there are many ways that we can lay these foundations in a developmentally appropriate way.

Black History Vs. Representation

Black History Month exists as a time for us all to celebrate and uplift Black stories and voices. During this time, young children can be introduced to Black folks who achieved greatness throughout American History, despite the incredible injustices they faced. While February is an excellent time to explore black history, culture, and achievements, it is important to practice representation year around.

Effective representation involves ensuring that individuals from marginalized or underrepresented cultural groups are authentically and respectfully depicted, avoiding stereotypes, tokenism, or misrepresentation. It involves providing opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds to have their voices heard, their stories shared, and their contributions recognized. Exposure to diverse characters in literature enhances cognitive development by broadening children's perspectives and encouraging critical thinking. Ultimately, it lays the foundation for forming positive relationships in the real world.

Let’s look at some of the best children’s books for Black representation in your home library

Black History Books for Infants + Toddlers (0-3 years of age)

  1. Dream Big, Little One by Vashti Harrison - 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.

  2. Full, Full, Full of Love by Trish Cooke - This book is a celebration of a warm and loving African-American family and features magnificent illustrations.

  3. I Love All Of Me by Lorie Ann Grover - With charming illustrations featuring diverse representation and a sweet, bouncy text that begs to be read aloud, this padded board book is a joyous reminder to little ones to love their whole selves -- just as they are.

  4. All Kinds of People by Shelley Rotner - Skin color is one of our most noticeable physical traits, and this beautiful board book, with its vibrant photographs and very simple text, provides a perfect starting point to talk about race and diversity with very young readers.

  5. Brown Sugar Baby by Kevin Lewis - This lyrical first book in the Brown Sugar Baby series is a celebration of the powerful love and protective, comforting instincts of a mother for her child.

  6. Baby Young, Gifted, and Black by Jamia Wilson - Meet icons of color from past and present in this baby board book celebration of inspirational achievement. A collection of positive, yet simple, affirmations to encourage the next generation. Highlighting the talent of Black leaders and changemakers from around the world, young dreamers will develop confidence, self-assurance, and self-belief.

Black History Books for Preschool (3-5 years of age)

  1. The ABCs of Black History by Rio Cortez - Letter by letter, The ABCs of Black History celebrates a story that spans continents and centuries, triumph and heartbreak, creativity and joy.

  2. Change Sings by Amanda Gorman - In this stirring, much-anticipated picture book by presidential inaugural poet and activist Amanda Gorman, anything is possible when our voices join together. As a young girl leads a cast of characters on a musical journey, they learn that they have the power to make changes—big or small—in the world, in their communities, and in most importantly, in themselves.

  3. Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed - Inspired by the story of Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space, this book gives an enchanting, inspirational account of Mae Jemison’s early life that illustrates the importance of encouraging and supporting children’s dreams.

  4. Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty - Inspired by real-life makers Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie, this beloved #1 bestseller champions STEM, girl power, and women scientists in a rollicking celebration of curiosity, the power perseverance, and the importance of asking “Why?”

  5. I Am Brave: A Little Book about Martin Luther King, Jr. by Brad Meltzer - This friendly, fun biography series focuses on the traits that made our heroes great—the traits that kids can aspire to in order to live heroically themselves. This volume tells the story of Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights leader.

  6. Brown Boy Joy by Dr. Thomishia Booker - In a world where little Black boys grow up to be feared as men this book is needed to shift narratives. Brown Boy Joy was intentionally designed for Black children but helps build empathy and understanding among all children as they are exposed to realities different than their own. The world needs to see happy Black boys living their happy Black lives.

  7. Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry - It's up to Daddy to give his daughter an extra-special hair style in this ode to self-confidence and the love between fathers and daughters, from Academy-Award winning director and former NFL wide receiver Matthew A. Cherry and New York Times bestselling illustrator Vashti Harrison.

  8. Skin Like Mine by Latashia M Perry - From the Creators of Hair Like Mine, Skin Like Mine, the second book in the Kids Like Mine Series, 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. Guaranteed to make you smile and a bit hungry.

  9. I Am Smart, I Am Blessed, I Can Do Anything by Alissa Holder - Based on a viral video comes the story of one boy's positive energy and how a sunny outlook can turn everything around.

  10. I Am Amazing by Alissa Holder - This book reminds readers that there really are superheroes among us. . . the story explores how positive thoughts, a loving support system, and appreciation for others can help make everything better.

Black History books Big Kids (Kindergarten + up)

  1. Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly - In this beautifully illustrated picture book, we explore the story of four female African American mathematicians at NASA, known as "colored computers," and how they overcame gender and racial barriers to succeed in a highly challenging STEM-based career.

  2. Computer Decoder: Dorothy Vaughan, Computer Scientist by Andi Diehn - A full-color picture book biography about Dorothy Vaughan, one of NASA’s first African American managers and one of the groundbreakers on the front line of electronic computing―includes hands-on STEM activities for an introduction to coding.

  3. Human Computer: Mary Jackson, Engineer by Andi Diehn - The story of Mary Jackson, the first African American female engineer at NASA - includes several STEM activities for some real-world learning connections!

  4. Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World by Susan Hood - Fresh, accessible, and inspiring, Shaking Things Up introduces fourteen revolutionary young women—each paired with a noteworthy female artist—to the next generation of activists, trailblazers, and rabble-rousers.

  5. I Am Strong: A Little Book About Rosa Parks by Brad Meltzer - The littlest readers can learn about Rosa Parks in this board book version of the New York Times bestselling Ordinary People Change the World biography.

  6. I am Martin Luther King, Jr. and other books from the Ordinary People Change the World Series by Brad Meltzer - This friendly, fun biography series inspired the PBS Kids TV show Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum. One great role model at a time, these books encourage kids to dream big.

  7. We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song by Debbie Levy - From the song's roots in America's era of slavery through to the civil rights movement of the 1960s and today, "We Shall Overcome" has come to represent the fight for equality and freedom around the world. This important book, lyrically written by Debbie Levy and paired with elegant, collage-style art by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, pays tribute to the heroic spirit of the famous song that encompasses American history.

Here’s How to Shop the Full List

View to our Amazon List: Black History Books for All Ages

Head to our favorite local bookstore, Cover to Cover Children’s Books

Taylor Van Deusen

The 23 Best Children’s Books to Read During Black History Month (and Beyond) — Balanced Family Academy (2024)
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