Updated: Apr 20
As an organization, seeing and celebrating the beauty and dignity and value in everyone is so very important. And during February we take dedicated time to reflect on Black history and the Black experience in America, to listen and hold nurturing space to the stories of our Black neighbors, and to envision a future of flourishing for all Black Americans.
We wanted to share children’s books by Black authors and centering Black characters because representation is so important. And we want you to be equipped with an abundance of resources that share Black stories and highlight the Black experience.
First up, we have You Can Be ABCs by Robert Samuel White II and Robert Samuel White III. This is such a fun book that allows kids to dream. And it provides an opportunity to speak encouragement over our children.
Beautiful illustrations and essential stories fill these books by Vashti Harrison! The names and the narratives make these perfect companions for Black History Month and throughout the year.
Names carry so much significance and worth. Saying someone’s name and remembering someone’s name, spelling someone’s name right and pronouncing someone’s name right shows someone they are seen and valued. This precious book follows the young Ashanti’s journey of wishing she had a different name to realizing the rich blessing her name is. It’s an important lesson that will help children feel cherished and cherish others.
The lyrical text of Amanda Gorman’s children’s picture book, Change Sings, shares a message with readers big and small that their words and actions do make a powerful difference in the world. It’s an inspiring and empowering book!
Words are powerful. Stacey Abrams shares that message in her inspiring children’s book. In it, young Stacey loves words and feels content learning and reading and processing the world through them. But when asked to participate in the spelling bee, fear creeps in and the words of a classmate discourage her. Her mother’s encouraging words help her be brave and she is able to rise above the negativity. Stacey learns the importance of persevering and of speaking truth. This helps little readers know they can navigate hard things and their words have power.
The connection between the father and daughter in the picture book, Hair Love, by Matthew Cherry is just beautiful! And a book that declares the beauty of Black hair is really significant.
Many see LeBron James, now the all-time leading scorer in NBA history, as a sports hero. But he is a very real hero to those who attend the I Promise School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
The pages of his children's picture book recite the students' promise and with it share the power of education.
Ruby Bridges was the first Black student to desegregate the all-white elementary school near where she lived in Louisiana. She truly embodies courage, resilience, beauty, and hope. Her story is so important and we are grateful Ruby Bridges continues to tell it today.
Destiny moves to a new neighborhood and struggles with the new setting and with making new friends. But her family helps her remember she is loved and she is brave. And she jumps in and has fun! The Fresh Princess by Denene Millner is a sweet one.
If you're looking for a way to explain what Juneteenth is to the kids in your life and why we celebrate it, this board book from Dorena Williamson is the perfect companion! The words and the pictures provide a way for children to understand an important day in America's history.
When you need a book to inspire courage and kindness, curiosity and resilience in children and in yourself, reach for What the Road Said by poet, author, and activist Cleo Wade. It is full of encouraging reminders for this journey of life!
We love the empowering messages of these books by Grace Byers! These are great for a classroom or a kid's room to set a foundation in little mind's that they are valued for who they are and can do anything.
The Williams sisters carried poise and confidence, skill and determination while making history. Venus and Serena have let an indelible mark on not only the tennis world, but the world of professional sports. Reading about their hard work, struggles, and accomplishments is truly inspiring!
Such an inspirational poem paired with vibrant art makes Hey Black Child a book to turn to for recognizing and celebrating. It fosters recognizing the dignity of Black people, celebrating the achievements of the Black community, and allowing Black children to dream.
Kelley Starling Lyons crafted an inspiring message with her book, My Hands Tell a Story. It honors intergenerational love in families and listening to the stories of those who have walked through life longer. This is such a sweet reminder of the shaping power our hands and stories have for the future.
Our Children Can Soar highlights leading African American figures. It links them together to show how change builds upon change and each generation's impact builds upon the last. It celebrates historic accomplishments and it empowers future influence!
Do your kids bring home Scholastic fliers from school? Whether you flip through a flyer or head to their website, make sure you check out the children's books they have that center children of color! They have a great selection of fantastic stories!
Did you know Ciara and Russell Wilson released a children's picture book? Why Not You? is an encouragement to dream big and be confident!
Of Thee I Sing is a beautiful children's book by Barack Obama. It is full of stirring letters to his daughters that give courage and motivation and empowerment while also teaching about thirteen revolutionary Americans.
Children can be such a force for good. In Meena Harris' picture book, Kamala and Maya's Big Idea, readers step into a true story from Vice-President Harris' childhood. This story tells kids that they can make a difference and their voices do matter for their community. It reminds them that when they face disappointment or obstacles, they have the strength to keep going!
Bestselling author Ibram Kendi shares an essential message in his picture book, Goodnight Racism. It helps children imagine a better world and have the language to speak about justice and equality. It's a beautiful reminder that we are all connected as we all sleep under the same moon!
The curiosity of children is beautiful! Daria Peoples-Riley allows children to not feel alone with their questions surrounding our country in her powerful book America, My Love, America, My Heart. It is an invitation to readers, young and old, to deeply reflect.
Ms. Lydia, a Youth Program Specialist with the Orange County Library System, partnered with Mayor Demings and the MLK Initiative Book Club to give a book review of "That is My Dream," by Langston Hughes and Daniel Miyares. We are grateful for the many ways the OCLS serves the community.
Watch her review here.
Thank you for celebrating Black History Month with us in February and every month! We love getting to share these great books with you that celebrate Black authors and center Black stories. Black history is American history. There is power in representation and dignity in every person!