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Celebrating Black History with Children’s Books by Black Authors

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While we recognize the daily contributions made by Black Americans, we must celebrate and honor all things Black during February.

As an educator, I believe literature to be the backbone of our curriculum, with our teaching styles as the body itself. Books showcase our history, highlight the many accomplishments of the past, and leave room to discuss the potential of our future. During February, we pause to honor Black pioneers and influential members who made society what it is today. Here are ten books I recommend for any home and classroom looking to explore Black history and Black literature for children.

A note to families:

I’ve spent nearly a decade studying and working in the educational field. During this time, I have been exposed to hundreds of children’s books all with varying storylines, highlighting history, science, and social-emotional skills. 

This book list is just a glimpse of Black history from the perspective of Black authors featuring fiction and nonfiction books, from the focal point of Black characters and our experiences. 

Regardless of race and ethnicity, these diverse books can be implemented and honored at home and at school, as they showcase stories that will be appreciated for generations to come.

Ten Trailblazing Children’s Books for Black History Month

Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History
Vashti Harrison

Author and Illustrator Vashti Harrison puts the spotlight on various Black men who influenced history in this volume of biographies. This book is a go-to for highlighting multiple Black influencers, featuring activists to athletes. 

Mae Among the Stars
Roda Ahmed

This picture book, written in honor of Mae Jemison, the first African American woman who traveled into space, is ideal for young readers. Beautifully illustrated, this book is for children and parents who dare to dream big.

Don’t Touch My Hair
Sharee Mille

A fictional story that relates to real-life experiences, this book helps teach our children personal boundaries and autonomy, as it follows a young girl, Aria, who loves her hair, but can’t seem to escape people wanting to be near it or touching it.

The ABC's of History
Rio Cortez

From A-Z, this book celebrates Black beauty, Black holidays, and everything in between in this insightful read along. A story that will resonate with readers more and more as the years pass, this is a must-have for your book collection.

I Am Enough
Grace Byers

A New York Times bestseller, this picture book is an ode to self-love filled with heartwarming affirmations and beautiful imagery. It is a great read for children learning to love themselves and build confidence, and makes a perfect bedtime story.

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read
Rita Lorraine Hubbard

Follow the life story of Mary Walker, a former enslaved woman who learned to read at age 116. Read this inspirational story discussing heartbreak and determination in a world that wasn’t always kind.

Lupita Nyong’o

A necessary story on self-love for Black skin, especially for dark-skinned girls and boys. Read how a young girl struggles with her self-image compared to her lighter-skinned sister. This story’s imagery flows like poetry as it highlights the beauty of all shades of Black.

Thank You, Omu!
Oge Mora

Tracing back to its Nigerian roots, Omu, which means “queen” in Igbo, shares the heartwarming story of food and how it can bring community together. The book addresses many social-emotional skills like kindness, sharing, selflessness, and disappointment.

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race
Margot Lew Shetterly

Based on a true story and film, this children’s book version celebrates Black mathematicians Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Christine Darden, whose brilliance as “human computers” helped launch NASA’s astronauts into space. This story is a much-needed biography highlighting the barriers the women faced because of sexism and racism.

My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
Martin Luther King III

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a famous father and a key trailblazer in the Civil Rights movement. This children’s book is a memoir from Dr. King’s son highlighting his father’s accomplishments over the years, specifically during Martin III’s childhood. This book is a staple for any child’s library to learn about historical figures of that time.

To see the full list of the children’s book visit my website

Since my viral Twitter thread back in 2020, I have had numerous opportunities to read and review a plethora of children’s books, especially those regarding race and diversity. Because of this, my love for children’s books has grown, along with my awareness of Black authors writing these necessary stories. I’ve completed the manuscript for my own children’s book, and I’m currently on the hunt for an illustrator to complement it. I hope to publish my baby-in-progress, All of Me, this year.

Brittany Smith, Educator, and Explorer

Brittany Smith

Brittany Smith Educator Twitter: @wanderingbritt_

My name is Brittany Smith, M.Ed, and I’ve been an early childhood educator for the past six years. I’m an all-around advocate for children’s rights, and the promotion of inclusion and diversity. In my spare time I enjoy exploring the world, and empowering other women to travel the world solo. This year I hope to publish my first children’s book, All of Me. Until then, you can check my website for updates and more information.

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