Not only are the books that follow written by black authors, but they are also fully illustrated and very engaging, while also imparting important life lessons across topics and themes such as pride, confidence, being comfortable in your own skin, being different, being successful, being brave, and being important.
Some of the books we have chosen for our shortlist are moving fictional stories, while others are true stories about inspirational black people and the various things they have achieved.
And without further ado, here’s the list. You will find a brief run through of what each book is about, and the links are provided for you to find out more.
Let’s get this shortlist of books off to a great start! This book is exactly what it sets out to be. It features 50 different amazing and inspirational real life black people who’ve made a difference in the world.
The stories are all short and sweet, and it’s a perfect way to complete family bonding time when your little ones go to sleep.
When you tuck them in at night, you can read them a story from the book in any order you like.
You could read one story per night for 50 nights, and the kids are sure to have favorites that they’ll want you to read with them again and again.
You will find stories of both men and women, including famous activists, scientists, artists, politicians, business people, inventors, Nobel Prize winners, musicians and more.
They are people who overcame adversities, and were prepared to take action, even when others said it just couldn’t be done.
There’s a synopsis of each of them and what they’ve achieved and how, and a lovely bank of 50 affirmations at the back of the book to back up the messages the book it so adequately conveys.
This is also no ordinary book – it comes from the pens of world renowned poet and author Maya Angelou, with stunning contemporary, streetwise art from Jean-Michel Basquiat.
It’s a book that celebrates the courage within us all. It features strong words of bravery and calm to inspire readers and admirers to face anything that might challenge them, real, or imagined.
The poem contains the affirmation “Life doesn’t frighten me at all.” And this powerful statement is reinforced to the reader through the art of repetition in different verses and different contexts.
This is a particularly moving and inspiring true story. A brief bibliography, in fact.
It tells the story of Nina Simone who grew up in a small town in North Carolina, with a love and passion for music – she was singing before she could talk!
She took music lessons and learned about classical music, and she just loved pieces that started off ever so softly and gently, but gradually rose until it was thunderous, just like in her mother’s preaching.
She began her performing career with a voice that’s rich and sweet.
But, with the emergence of the Civil Rights Movement and its continued growth, she raised her voice in thunderous roar as a powerful protestor, fighting against racial discrimination and inequality. So inspiring!
Author Jazmyn Simon was inspired to write this story following a conversation she had with her daughter.
It tells the story of a lovely little girl called irie, who has been comparing herself to other little girls, and thinks that she isn’t perfect the way she is. But of course, her mother certainly doesn’t think that!
So Irie’s mama tells a magical story of how Irie was intentionally made to be exactly who she is, featuring all the aspects of a young lady that mama truly admired and wanted for her beloved daughter. Such things as a bright smile, sparkling eyes, and above all, a kind heart.
This lovely children’s book was both written and illustrated by the same talented young man, and it does an excellent job of conveying a very important, heartfelt message.
The book begins with the following quote, “For anyone who isn’t sure if they matter. You do.”
And the book elaborates on this wonderful sentiment by telling a story about lots of different creatures and people, and how they are all connected to one another, and how each and every one of them is important.
It’s both sensitive and impactful, and if you ask us, the confidence it can instill in kids is nothing short of magical.
We just love this children’s story book. It is so joyful and inspiring.
And not only that – it’s a rhyming story, too, which is something that kids love. It really gets their attention, and the rhyming verses really help the words to sink in as they are read and heard out loud.
And it also makes the words easy to remember and recall, which is an especially good thing when it’s a story like this one.
It follows the story of central character Riley, who learns about all the wonderful things he can do when he’s a grown up.
Thanks to the assistance of his older cousin Joe, Riley is taken on a string of wonderful journeys and adventures that show Riley that he can literally be anything he wants to be.
There are charming illustrations, and the book doesn’t make a big deal about the central character being black.
Such a valuable message to impart to young readers, that when they grow up they can be anything they want to be.
In this marvelous children’s book, among the stunning watercolor illustrations from the talented, award-winning artist, Lese Cline-Ransome tells the remarkable story of the famous American abolitionist, social activist, and revolutionary, known as Harriet Tubman.
What she is most known for is escaping enslavement and embarking on rescue missions utilizing the Underground Railroad, to rescue hundreds of people from slavery, prior to the Civil War, all the while with a bounty on her head.
And if all that’s not enough, she’s had many other roles besides. Before she became known as Harriet Tubman, she was the slave girl Minty with a determined spirit, as a Union spy she was General Tubman, she was also known as Moses, and as a young girl known as Araminta she showed her father the first steps on the path to freedom.
This amazing lyrical biography of such a remarkable black woman summarizes all these different roles she played before she came to be known as Harriet Tubman. It is a piece of history to be treasured through the generations.
This autobiographical children’s book is a true account of life for young African Americans in Farmville, Virginia, following the landmark civil rights case of Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka.
Basically, rather than schools being integrated at speed, black children were actually prohibited from attending school for 5 full years. Denied an education. Such an atrocity.
However, it does of course have a good ending – the story of a community triumphed together regardless! The story is expertly told and beautifully illustrated.
This uplifting story is inspired by a mother’s experience of being the only black child in a classroom full of white students.
One day, the teacher is giving a talk about slavery and civil rights, and as she does, the girl can feel everyone’s eyes turn to her, and she couldn’t help but wonder, “Is that all you see when you look at me?” She feels small and wants to be even smaller, she’s embarrassed.
But the girl’s mother changes her mind about how she ought to feel and the lineage she came from.
What follows is an empowering talk where the mother explains how she’s come from a line of powerful women, a living representation of those that have come before her. Women with intelligence, deep resilience and resourcefulness.
Girls like her should sit up straight with pride because she is a beautiful and powerful young woman who can go forth and take on the world in her stride. Emboldened and empowered forever more.
The cook also features stunning illustrations with a fitting bold palette.
Very few people have ever made it to outer space. It takes a considerable amount of learning, ability, talent and patience in order to become a fully-fledged astronaut.
This is the story of African American Mae Jemison, who always dreamed of going into space. The idea filled her with wonder and awe, and she decided she was going to do it.
Backed by rock-solid self-belief, hard work and persistence, and encouraging words from her parents, Little Mae achieved incomparable success – she was the first African American woman to travel in space.
The story is both true and truly inspiring. It demonstrates to the lucky reader that dreams can come true, and if you have a passion you want to fulfill, it certainly can be worth striving for.
We hope you’ve enjoyed browsing through our shortlist of favorite children’s books by black authors.
We’re sure you’ll agree that it’s a great selection to choose from. They are inspirational and encouraging, and are sure to benefit your child in one way or another.
Why not choose several books? Thanks for reading!
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