Representation matters and it definitely matters for Black children. One treasured way to ensure our youth feel seen and validated is through books with characters who look like them. Promoting early literacy is also imperative in our communities, so finding age-appropriate books that celebrate Black children is a task we don’t take lightly. In honor of the first Black Children’s Book Week, (February 27 – March 5) the ESSENCE staff shared their favorite reads for the little ones in our lives. From infant and toddler board books to young adult page turners, at least one selection on this list is sure to fit the bill for someone special in your life as well.

Happy Reading!

Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson

“This story is for parents and children in need of assistance adjusting to a new edition to the family. All kiddos deserve grace when having to share their parents.”

– Bry’onna Mention, Associate News and Politics Editor

Bedtime Bonnet by Nancy Redd

“Introduce your toddler to bonnets, scarves and wave caps in a sweet tone. This book normalizes the sacred bedtime ritual of caring for Black hair.”

– Keyaira Boone, Contributing Editor

In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers by Folami Abiade

“It’s the idea of celebrating Black dads that drew me. Many of them do deserve (and need) a shout-out.”

Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds

“How many Black superheroes do we know? And a teenage one at that—had to add it to my young adult gift rotation.”

The Crossover (series) by Kwame Alexander

“I’ve found this to be a good gift for young athletes who may not like to read.

– Grace White, Copy Chief

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe

“I’m fond of stories that put a spotlight on African history and culture, because so few do. This book gives a great moral lesson as well.” 

The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton

“I loved this mystery, which gives kids a history lesson on slavery, as a teenager. It was also made into a great TV movie!” 

– Victoria Uwumarogie, Senior Lifestyle Editor

I Am Enough by Grace Byers

“I love this book for my goddaughter because it promotes individuality, self-love, and celebrating differences.”

– Toccara Labady, Digital Account Manager

Did I Tell You I Love You Today? by Deloris Jordan and Roslyn M. Jordan

“In the crush and rush of everyday life, reading this book to my young sons makes sure that I affirm them and express my love for them. The book is beautifully illustrated, and the rhyme pattern makes it fun to read.”

– Aiesha Powell, Research Lead

Skin Like Mine by Tiffany Elle Burgess

“This book is a favorite because it addresses colorism both within and outside the family structure.”

– Angela Watford, Contributing Copy Editor

The ABCs of Black Wall Street by Claudia Walker

“I’m not relying on anyone’s school system to teach my son about America’s wealthiest Black communities and the innovators who made them thrive. Books like this ensure I don’t have to while we both learn more about history makers like Madam C.J. Walker and O.W. Gurley.”

— Bridgette Bartlett Royall, Senior Research Editor

Dream Big, Little One and Follow Your Dreams, Little One both by Vashti Harrison

“I love these books for my two nieces and nephew who are all under the age of 4. Pictures are worth a million words, and the three of them having the opportunity to experience books with images of influential leaders who look like they do will help them see themselves as divine creations who can go anywhere in this world. They’re also not too lengthy, so good reads for lights out/bedtime. Lol! 

– Temperance McKinley, Digital Account Manager

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