Black creatives set trends and shift culture everywhere they go, and the bookshelf is no exception.
Black authors have set their sights on affirming and educating Black children by creating modern stories that present Black people as beautiful, talented and intelligent.
We’ve rounded up 13 soon-to-be classics that cover everything from the importance of family reunions to the power of learning about STEM.
A Song For Gwendolyn Brooks by Alice Faye Duncan
This moving introduction to the work of the legendary poet, Gwendolyn Brooks, manages to be impactful without crossing into mature territory. It features rich ruby and peach toned-drawings that accentuate why Brooks’ words, made her the first Black author to win the Pulitzer Prize.
A Computer Called Katherine by Suzanne Slade
Introduce your little one to one of America’s most important hidden figures with this recounting of how Katherine Johnson’s arithmetic skills sent a man to the moon. Use some of their allotted screen time to watch clips from the award-winning film, Hidden Figures, afterwards.
Hair Love by Matthew Cherry
Whether you are a single dad seeking representation for your family or a married mother determined to use story time to fight patriarchy, you are going to want to pick up this must-read. Stephen, his daughter, Zuri and her mass of curls take a journey that is too often left behind in the media when he is forced to take on the task of grooming his daughter’s hair.
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o and Vashti Harrison
Illustrated by one of the top names in the genre Nyong'o’s first effort fights colorism by emphasizing the importance of self-love. Initially feeling that her dark skin makes her less beautiful than her lighter family members, heroine Sulwe discovers that her melanin is a blessing.
I Am Unique by Jennifer Vassel
Vassel’s thoughtful work highlights the importance in embracing the things that make you different and not allowing perceived “flaws” to hold you back. Use I Am Unique to explain the beauty in your baby’s hyperpigmentation or get your toddler to understand why they have a different birthmark than their best friend.
Woke Baby Book by Mahogany L. Browne
Work to make sure your child grows up to have an open mind and a strong sense of self with this inclusive guide to miniature activism. Your child will recognize their own power in the wide eyes, shrill tones, and raised fists thanks to Woke Baby.
Bippity Bop Barbershop by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
Fill your son with excitement instead of fear before his first big boy haircut with this fun exploration of the mythical space that is the Black barbershop. From the chess playing Grandpa to the friendly apprentice, he is sure to find someone to love in these pages.
Brown Boy Joy by Dr. Thomishia Booker
This latest installment in the beloved Hey Carter! series explores all the little things that bring delight to beautiful brown boys. Reinforce your child’s right to joy by walking through them together.
Going Down Home With Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons
Centering on a family reunion, this book is a tribute to the culture and tradition that emerged from the great migration. Follow little Alan and his dad as they head south to see their family on his great-grandmother’s land.
Jada Jones Sleepover Scientist #3 by Kelly Starling Lyons
The third book in the Jada Jones series leaves the traditional toe nail-painting and prank calling behind as the heroine plans her very first sleepover. Jones looks forward to combining science and friendship by making slime and other kitchen chemistry concoctions for her guests, but when they get tired of learning, she has to figure a way to make sure everyone has fun.
The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop by Carole Boston Weatherford
Babies born in the 200s could be susceptible to revisionist history, but your kids will learn the truth behind hip-hop’s origins with this breakdown of its birth. Connect the dots from the story to some of your child’s current favorite artists to make the lesson stick.
The Day You Begin by Jacquline Woodson
Help your children get a jump start on tackling imposter syndrome with this thoughtful read. Centering on what happens when you find the courage to overcome fear, The Day You Begin offers valuable lessons in moving forward.
Amarita's Way by Amara La Negra and Heddrick McBride
The Love & Hip-Hop: Miami star offers the intersectional perspective she needed as a child in this colorful story of a young girl who refuses to give up. It’s available in English and Spanish.