While adults have long been able to enjoy Black contributions to literature, the children’s book world was still largely a sea of white boys and animals up until very recently. Thankfully the gatekeepers of kid lit have at last recognized that all young readers benefit from seeing themselves, as well as people different from themselves, in books. There’s still a way to go to achieve equality, but now we can at least see a solid selection of children’s books written by Black authors and illustrated by Black artists on the shelves.
As much as we all love A Snowy Day (written by white Ezra Jack Keats), it’s such a joy to have a broader range of talent available for young readers. These authors introduce kids to the great accomplishments of African Americans in history and culture, and they weave tales of everyday kids doing everyday things.
We picked several of our favorites, though this is by no means an exhaustive best-of list (and be sure to check out some of our other book lists for more suggestions). From the books that bring to life the poetry of Langston Hughes, bell hooks, and Kwame Alexander, to the ones that delight us with adorable new characters, like Princess Cupcake Jones, to the unforgettable imagery of illustrator Jerry Pinkney, we think there’s a lot for your kids to love here.
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