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African Americans: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about African Americans?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to African Americans. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about African Americans.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.

When it comes to children’s stories about African Americans, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Corduroy to popular sellers like Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Snowy Day.

We hope this list of kids books about African Americans can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

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Top 10 Books About African Americans

#1
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Black Is a Rainbow Color
Written by Angela Joy & illustrated by Ekua Holmes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A child reflects on the meaning of being Black in this moving and powerful anthem about a people, a culture, a history, and a legacy that lives on. Red is a rainbow color. Green sits next to blue. Yellow, orange, violet, indigo, They are rainbow colors, too, but My color is black . . . And there’s no BLACK in rainbows. From the wheels of a bicycle to the robe on Thurgood Marshall's back, Black surrounds our lives. It is a color to simply describe some of our favorite things, but it also evokes a deeper sentiment about the incredible people who helped change the world and a community that continues to grow and thrive. Stunningly illustrated by Caldecott Honoree and Coretta Scott King Award winner Ekua Holmes, Black Is a Rainbow Color is a sweeping celebration told through debut author Angela Joy’s rhythmically captivating and unforgettable words.
#2
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This Little Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer
Written by Joan Holub & illustrated by Daniel Roode
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-5
Learn all about influential women who changed history in this engaging and colorful board book perfect for trailblazers-in-training! Paving the way to a future that’s bright. Helping the world with their skills, smarts, and might. Little trailblazers cause great big changes. In this follow up to This Little President and This Little Explorer, now even the youngest readers can learn all about great and empowering female trailblazers in history! Highlighting ten memorable women leaders who paved the way, parents and little ones alike will love this girl power primer full of fun, age-appropriate facts and bold illustrations.
#3
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The Proudest Blue
Written by Ibtihaj Muhammad & illustrated by Hatem Aly and S. K. Ali
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A powerful, vibrantly illustrated story about the first day of school--and two sisters on one's first day of hijab--by Olympic medalist and social justice activist Ibtihaj Muhammad. With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It's the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it's her older sister Asiya's first day of hijab--a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong. Paired with Hatem Aly's beautiful, whimsical art, Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad and Morris Award finalist S.K. Ali bring readers an uplifting, universal story of new experiences, the unbreakable bond between siblings, and of being proud of who you are.
#4
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Corduroy Lost and Found
Written by B.G. Hennessy & illustrated by Jody Wheeler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
A new adventure for a classic teddy bear! Corduroy the beloved bear slips out very early one morning to get a birthday present for Lisa. He spies what he thinks is a yellow balloon up in the sky, thinking that would be perfect for her. But when the sun rises, the balloon (really the full moon) disappears. And now Corduroy is lost. Lisa finds him, but not before Corduroy succeeds in getting just the right gift—a lollipop as yellow and round as the moon. Written in the whimsical style of Don Freeman and illustrated in the exact scratchboard technique he used to create Corduroy and A Pocket for Corduroy.
#5
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What Is Given from the Heart
Written by Patricia C. McKissack & illustrated by April Harrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
This final, magnificent picture book from three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and Newbery Honor author Patricia McKissack is a poignant and uplifting celebration of the joy of giving. "Misery loves company," Mama says to James Otis. It's been a rough couple of months for them, but Mama says as long as they have their health and strength, they're blessed. One Sunday before Valentine's Day, Reverend Dennis makes an announcement during the service— the Temples have lost everything in a fire, and the church is collecting anything that might be useful to them. James thinks hard about what he can add to the Temple's "love box," but what does he have worth giving? With her extraordinary gift for storytelling, McKissack—with stunning illustrations by Harrison—delivers a touching, powerful tale of compassion and reminds us all that what is given from the heart, reaches the heart.
#6
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Maya Angelou
Written by Lisbeth Kaiser & illustrated by Leire Salaberria
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4
Meet Maya Angelou, the world's most beloved writer and speaker! Now available as a board book in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the life of Maya Angelou, from her early traumatic childhood to her time as a singer, actress, civil rights campaigner and, eventually, one of America's most beloved writers of poetry, memoirs, and essays. With stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!
#7
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Trombone Shorty
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A Grammy-nominated headliner for the New Orleans Jazz Fest describes his childhood in Tremâe and how he came to be a bandleader by age six.
#8
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All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom
Written by Angela Johnson & illustrated by E.B. Lewis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9
Experience the joy of Juneteenth in this celebration of freedom from the award-winning team of Angela Johnson and E.B. Lewis. Through the eyes of one little girl, _All Different Now_ tells the story of the first Juneteenth, the day freedom finally came to the last of the slaves in the South. Since then, the observance of June 19 as African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond. This stunning picture book includes notes from the author and illustrator, a timeline of important dates, and a glossary of relevant terms. Told in Angela Johnson’s signature melodic style and brought to life by E.B. Lewis’s striking paintings, _All Different Now_ is a joyous portrait of the dawn breaking on the darkest time in our nation’s history.
#9
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I Have a Dream
Written by & illustrated by Kadir Nelson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Presents the text of the famous speech given on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. by Martin Luther King, Jr., complemented by paintings illustrating the ideals the civil rights leader described.
#10
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Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford & illustrated by Michele Wood
picture book
Recommend Ages: 10-13
**In a moving, lyrical tale about the cost and fragility of freedom, a _New York Times_ best-selling author and an acclaimed artist follow the life of a man who courageously shipped himself out of slavery.** _What have I to fear?_ _My master broke every promise to me._ _I lost my beloved wife and our dear children._ _All, sold South. Neither my time nor my body is mine._ _The breath of life is all I have to lose._ _And bondage is suffocating me._ Henry Brown wrote that long before he came to be known as Box, he "entered the world a slave." He was put to work as a child and passed down from one generation to the next -- as property. When he was an adult, his wife and children were sold away from him out of spite. Henry Brown watched as his family left bound in chains, headed to the deeper South. What more could be taken from him? But then hope -- and help -- came in the form of the Underground Railroad. Escape! In stanzas of six lines each, each line representing one side of a box, celebrated poet Carole Boston Weatherford powerfully narrates Henry Brown's story of how he came to send himself in a box from slavery to freedom. Strikingly illustrated in rich hues and patterns by artist Michele Wood, _Box_ is augmented with historical records and an introductory excerpt from Henry's own writing as well as a time line, notes from the author and illustrator, and a bibliography.
Table of Contents
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Books About African Americans and Values And Virtues

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Black Is a Rainbow Color
Written by Angela Joy & illustrated by Ekua Holmes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A child reflects on the meaning of being Black in this moving and powerful anthem about a people, a culture, a history, and a legacy that lives on. Red is a rainbow color. Green sits next to blue. Yellow, orange, violet, indigo, They are rainbow colors, too, but My color is black . . . And there’s no BLACK in rainbows. From the wheels of a bicycle to the robe on Thurgood Marshall's back, Black surrounds our lives. It is a color to simply describe some of our favorite things, but it also evokes a deeper sentiment about the incredible people who helped change the world and a community that continues to grow and thrive. Stunningly illustrated by Caldecott Honoree and Coretta Scott King Award winner Ekua Holmes, Black Is a Rainbow Color is a sweeping celebration told through debut author Angela Joy’s rhythmically captivating and unforgettable words.
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What Is Given from the Heart
Written by Patricia C. McKissack & illustrated by April Harrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
This final, magnificent picture book from three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and Newbery Honor author Patricia McKissack is a poignant and uplifting celebration of the joy of giving. "Misery loves company," Mama says to James Otis. It's been a rough couple of months for them, but Mama says as long as they have their health and strength, they're blessed. One Sunday before Valentine's Day, Reverend Dennis makes an announcement during the service— the Temples have lost everything in a fire, and the church is collecting anything that might be useful to them. James thinks hard about what he can add to the Temple's "love box," but what does he have worth giving? With her extraordinary gift for storytelling, McKissack—with stunning illustrations by Harrison—delivers a touching, powerful tale of compassion and reminds us all that what is given from the heart, reaches the heart.
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Last Stop on Market Street
Written by Matt De La Pena & illustrated by Christian Robinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
A young boy rides the bus across town with his grandmother and learns to appreciate the beauty in everyday things. By the author of the celebrated picture book A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis.
Honorable Mentions
Antiracist Baby Picture Book book
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Izzy Gizmo book
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Unspoken book
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Love Will See You Through book
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  1. Antiracist Baby Picture Book - From the National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning and How to Be an Antiracist comes a new 9x9 picture book that empowers parents and children to uproot racism in our society and in ourselves, now with added discussion prompts to help readers recognize and reflect on bias in their daily lives. Featured on Good Morning America, NPR’s Morning Edition, CBS This Morning, and more! Take your first steps with Antiracist Baby! Or rather, follow Antiracist Baby’s nine easy steps for building a more equitable world. With bold art and thoughtful yet playful text, Antiracist Baby introduces the youngest readers and the grown-ups in their lives to the concept and power of antiracism. Providing the language necessary to begin critical conversations at the earliest age, Antiracist Baby is the perfect gift for readers of all ages dedicated to forming a just society.

  2. Izzy Gizmo - Izzy Gizmo loves to invent but gets frustrated when her inventions fail to work properly, so when she finds a crow with a broken wing her grandfather urges her to persist until she finds a way to help.

  3. Unspoken - In this wordless picture book, a young Southern farm girl discovers a runaway slave hiding behind the corn crib in the barn and decides to help him.

  4. Love Will See You Through - The niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. reveals six timeless and universal principles that encompass the civil rights leader’s greatest legacy: Love will see you through. Growing up as the niece of Martin Luther King Jr., Angela Farris Watkins witnessed firsthand the principles and values that “Uncle M.L.” practiced and lived by throughout his fight for equality. Drawing from experiences and episodes both personal and well-known, Dr. Watkins artfully details the guiding beliefs of one of the greatest men in history. Including “have courage” and “love your enemies,” these six hallmarks of virtue and nonviolence reinforce the truth that “the universe honors love” and will inspire readers of all ages.

Books About African Americans and Slavery

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All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom
Written by Angela Johnson & illustrated by E.B. Lewis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9
Experience the joy of Juneteenth in this celebration of freedom from the award-winning team of Angela Johnson and E.B. Lewis. Through the eyes of one little girl, _All Different Now_ tells the story of the first Juneteenth, the day freedom finally came to the last of the slaves in the South. Since then, the observance of June 19 as African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond. This stunning picture book includes notes from the author and illustrator, a timeline of important dates, and a glossary of relevant terms. Told in Angela Johnson’s signature melodic style and brought to life by E.B. Lewis’s striking paintings, _All Different Now_ is a joyous portrait of the dawn breaking on the darkest time in our nation’s history.
Add to list
Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford & illustrated by Michele Wood
picture book
Recommend Ages: 10-13
**In a moving, lyrical tale about the cost and fragility of freedom, a _New York Times_ best-selling author and an acclaimed artist follow the life of a man who courageously shipped himself out of slavery.** _What have I to fear?_ _My master broke every promise to me._ _I lost my beloved wife and our dear children._ _All, sold South. Neither my time nor my body is mine._ _The breath of life is all I have to lose._ _And bondage is suffocating me._ Henry Brown wrote that long before he came to be known as Box, he "entered the world a slave." He was put to work as a child and passed down from one generation to the next -- as property. When he was an adult, his wife and children were sold away from him out of spite. Henry Brown watched as his family left bound in chains, headed to the deeper South. What more could be taken from him? But then hope -- and help -- came in the form of the Underground Railroad. Escape! In stanzas of six lines each, each line representing one side of a box, celebrated poet Carole Boston Weatherford powerfully narrates Henry Brown's story of how he came to send himself in a box from slavery to freedom. Strikingly illustrated in rich hues and patterns by artist Michele Wood, _Box_ is augmented with historical records and an introductory excerpt from Henry's own writing as well as a time line, notes from the author and illustrator, and a bibliography.
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Before She Was Harriet
Written by Lesa Cline-Ransome & illustrated by James E. Ransome
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A lush and lyrical biography of Harriet Tubman, written in verse. An evocative poem and opulent watercolors come together to honor a woman of humble origins whose courage and compassion make her larger than life.
Honorable Mentions
Juneteenth for Mazie book
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Freedom Bird: A Tale of Hope and Courage book
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Words Set Me Free book
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So Tall Within book
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  1. Juneteenth for Mazie - Mazie is ready to celebrate liberty. She is ready to celebrate freedom. She is ready to celebrate a great day in American history — the day her ancestors were no longer slaves. Mazie remembers the struggles and the triumph, as she gets ready to celebrate Juneteenth. This beautiful story by award-winning author and illustrator Floyd Cooper will captivate both children and adults.

  2. Freedom Bird: A Tale of Hope and Courage - In this inspiring story in the tradition of American black folktales, an enslaved brother and sister are inspired by a majestic and mysterious bird to escape to freedom in this dramatic and unforgettable picture book. There was nothing civil about that war. They should have called it what it was: a big, bad war. Brother and sister Millicent and John are slaves on Simon Plenty’s plantation and have suffered one hurt and heartbreak after another. Their parents had told them old tales of how their ancestors had flown away to freedom just as free and easy as a bird. Millicent and John hold these stories in their hearts long after their parents are gone. “Maybe such a time will come for you,” their parents said. Then one day a mysterious bird appears in their lives. The bird transforms them and gives them the courage to set their plan into motion and escape to freedom.

  3. Words Set Me Free - “Words Set Me Free is the inspiring story of young Frederick Douglass’s path to freedom through reading”—

  4. So Tall Within - From celebrated author Gary D. Schmidt comes a picture book biography of a giant in the struggle for civil rights, perfectly pitched for readers today. Sojourner Truth was born into slavery but possessed a mind and a vision that knew no bounds. So Tall Within traces her life from her painful childhood through her remarkable emancipation to her incredible leadership in the movement for rights for both women and African Americans. Her story is told with lyricism and pathos by Gary D. Schmidt, one of the most celebrated writers for children in the twenty-first century, and brought to life by award winning and fine artist Daniel Minter. This combination of talent is just right for introducing this legendary figure to a new generation of children.

Want to see books about slavery?

Books About African Americans and Holidays

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Corduroy Lost and Found
Written by B.G. Hennessy & illustrated by Jody Wheeler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
A new adventure for a classic teddy bear! Corduroy the beloved bear slips out very early one morning to get a birthday present for Lisa. He spies what he thinks is a yellow balloon up in the sky, thinking that would be perfect for her. But when the sun rises, the balloon (really the full moon) disappears. And now Corduroy is lost. Lisa finds him, but not before Corduroy succeeds in getting just the right gift—a lollipop as yellow and round as the moon. Written in the whimsical style of Don Freeman and illustrated in the exact scratchboard technique he used to create Corduroy and A Pocket for Corduroy.
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I Have a Dream
Written by & illustrated by Kadir Nelson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Presents the text of the famous speech given on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. by Martin Luther King, Jr., complemented by paintings illustrating the ideals the civil rights leader described.
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Going Up!
Written by Sherry J Lee & illustrated by Charlene Chua
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Today is Olive's birthday party, and Sophie and her dad have baked cookies. Sophie's dad holds the platter so Sophie can push the elevator button for the tenth floor. But on the way up, the elevator stops to let the Santucci brothers get on. Then on the next floor, Vicky, Babs and their dog, Norman, get in. And as the elevator ascends, it keeps stopping, and more neighbors squeeze in to the crowded space: the Habibs, the Flores family, Mr. Kwan, Vi Tweedle with her Chihuahua, Minx. Everyone is going to the party! Playfully combining the excitement and anticipation of a party with children's universal love of riding in elevators, Sherry J. Lee's picture book story is ultimately about community and a sense of belonging. With characters from many cultural backgrounds, it showcases the everyday diversity that many urban children experience. Charlene Chua's illustrations provide loads of funny details and visual narratives that aren't in the text, making for a multilayered reading experience. The book's tall, narrow trim size adds to the effect of the rising elevator.
Honorable Mentions
Li'l Rabbit's Kwanzaa book
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The Hula Hoopin' Queen book
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Grandma's Tiny House book
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This Jazz Man book
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  1. Li'l Rabbit's Kwanzaa - Li’l Rabbit is not having a very good Kwanzaa. Granna Rabbit is sick, and so his family won’t celebrate his favorite part of Kwanzaa this year: a big feast called Karamu. Li’l Rabbit knows what to do! He’ll find Granna Rabbit a special treat for Karamu so she can celebrate anyway. He looks under a pile of logs, in the field, and in the pond and along the way meets Groundhog, Momma Field Mouse, and the frogs—but he doesn’t find anything for Granna Rabbit. Maybe I’m just too little to help Granna Rabbit celebrate Kwanzaa, Li’l Rabbit thinks. Or maybe he just needs a little help from his family and friends. Inspired by Brer Rabbit, a trickster character from the African-American folklore tradition, the story of Li’l Rabbit captures the true meaning of Kwanzaa—coming together to help others.

  2. The Hula Hoopin' Queen - A spunky girl has a hula-hooping competition with her friends in Harlem, and soon everyone in the neighborhood—young and old alike—joins in on the fun. Kameeka is confident that today she will finally beat her rival, Jamara, and become the Hula-Hoopin’ Queen of 139th Street. But then Mama reminds her that today is their neighbor Miz Adeline’s birthday, and Kameeka has a ton of chores to do to get ready for the party they are hosting. Kameeka’s disappointed to be stuck at home and can only think about the hoopin’ competition. Distracted, Kameeka accidentally ruins Miz Adeline’s birthday cake, and has to confess to her that there won’t be a cake for her special day. But then Miz Adeline’s confesses something too: she’s also got the itch—the hula-hoopin’ itch! Her fingers start snappin’. Her hips start swingin’. Soon everyone’s hips are swinging as the party spills out onto the street. The whole neighborhood’s got the itch—the hula-hoopin’ itch! With vibrant illustrations by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen is a charming celebration of family and community ties. Set in Harlem, this intergenerational story shows the importance of staying young at heart.

  3. Grandma's Tiny House - This sweet, rhyming counting book introduces young readers to numbers one through fifteen as Grandma’s family and friends fill her tiny house on Brown Street. Neighbors, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and grandkids crowd into the house and pile it high with treats for a family feast. But when the walls begin to bulge and no-body has space enough to eat, one clever grandchild knows exactly what to do. Where there’s a will there’s a way when families grow and come together.

  4. This Jazz Man - In this toe-tapping jazz tribute, the traditional “This Old Man” gets a swinging makeover, and some of the era’s best musicians take center stage. The tuneful text and vibrant illustrations bop, slide, and shimmy across the page as Satchmo plays one, Bojangles plays two . . . right on down the line to Charles Mingus, who plays nine, plucking strings that sound “divine.” Easy on the ear and the eye, this playful introduction to nine jazz giants will teach children to count—and will give them every reason to get up and dance! Includes a brief biography of each musician.

Want to see books about holidays?

Books About African Americans and 1950 - 1999

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Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Written by Dee Romito & illustrated by Laura Freeman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9
This stunning picture book looks into the life of Georgia Gilmore, a hidden figure of history who played a critical role in the civil rights movement and used her passion for baking to help the Montgomery Bus Boycott achieve its goal. Georgia decided to help the best way she knew how. She worked together with a group of women and together they purchased the supplies they needed-bread, lettuce, and chickens. And off they went to cook. The women brought food to the mass meetings that followed at the church. They sold sandwiches. They sold dinners in their neighborhoods. As the boycotters walked and walked, Georgia cooked and cooked. Georgia Gilmore was a cook at the National Lunch Company in Montgomery, Alabama. When the bus boycotts broke out in Montgomery after Rosa Parks was arrested, Georgia knew just what to do. She organized a group of women who cooked and baked to fund-raise for gas and cars to help sustain the boycott. Called the Club from Nowhere, Georgia was the only person who knew who baked and bought the food, and she said the money came from "nowhere" to anyone who asked. When Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested for his role in the boycott, Georgia testified on his behalf, and her home became a meeting place for civil rights leaders. This picture book highlights a hidden figure of the civil rights movement who fueled the bus boycotts and demonstrated that one person can make a real change in her community and beyond. It also includes one of her delicious recipes for kids to try with the help of their parents!
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Rosa Parks
Written by Lisbeth Kaiser & illustrated by Marta Antelo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
New in the Little People, Big Dreams series, discover the incredible life of Rosa Parks, ' The Mother of the Freedom Movement', in this inspiring story. In this true story of an inspiring civil rights activist, Rosa Parks grew up during segregation in Alabama, but she was taught to respect herself and stand up for her rights. In 1955, Rosa refused to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Her decision had a huge impact on civil rights, eventually leading to the end of segregation on public transport. With stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!
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Dream Big
Written by Deloris Jordan & illustrated by Barry Root
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Olympic dreams come true in this inspiring picture book from Michael Jordan’s mother, author of the New York Times bestselling Salt in His Shoes. Long before he became a professional All-Star basketball player, Michael Jordan had dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal—and with dedication and perseverance, that’s exactly what he did. This heartwarming picture book, written by Michael’s mother and illustrated by Barry Root, gives a rare glimpse into a sports hero’s childhood and emphasizes the role that good values play in success. An ideal companion to the New York Times bestselling Salt in His Shoes and releasing in time for the 2012 Olympics, Dream Big is an inspiration to all.
Honorable Mentions
Grandmama's Pride book
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I Am Rosa Parks book
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Work It, Girl: Mae Jemison: Blast off into space like book
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Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe book
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  1. Grandmama's Pride - While on a trip in 1956 to visit her grandmother in the South, six-year-old Sarah Marie experiences segregation for the first time, but discovers that things have changed by the time she returns the following year.

  2. I Am Rosa Parks - Recounts Rosa Parks’ daring effort to stand up for herself and other African Americans by helping to end segregation on public transportation.

  3. Work It, Girl: Mae Jemison: Blast off into space like - In this imaginatively illustrated book from the Work It, Girl series, discover how Mae Jemison became the first African American woman in space in this true story of her life. Then, learn 10 key lessons from her work you can apply to your own life. When Mae Jemison was a little girl, she loved science, dancing, and dinosaurs. She watched the Apollo moon landings and wondered why none of the astronauts were women—and she just didn’t buy the answers she was given Work It, Girl is an empowering series of biographies featuring modern women in the world of work, from designers and musicians to CEOs and scientists. Each of these vibrantly illustrated books tells the story of a remarkable woman in 10 chapters that highlight transformative moments in her life, following the ups and downs that she faced on her road to success. At the end, 10 key lessons show what you can learn from these moments, and self-reflection questions help you apply these lessons to your own life. Brightly colored photo illustrations of 3-D cut paper artwork featuring inspiring quotes from these amazing women bring their stories to vivid life. Learn how to work it as you lay the foundations for your own successful career.

  4. Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe - Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe. On the outside, you couldn’t find two girls who looked more different. But on the inside, they were alike—full of hopes and dreams and plans of what might be. Ella Fitzgerald’s velvety tones and shube-doobie-doos captivated audiences. Jazz greats like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington couldn’t wait to share the stage with her, but still, Ella could not book a performance at one of the biggest clubs in town—one she knew would give her career its biggest break yet. Marilyn Monroe dazzled on the silver screen with her baby blue eyes and breathy boo-boo-be-doos. But when she asked for better scripts, a choice in who she worked with, and a higher salary, studio bosses refused. Two women whose voices weren’t being heard. Two women chasing after their dreams and each helping the other to achieve them. This is the inspiring, true story of two incredibly talented women who came together to help each other shine like the stars that they are.

Books About African Americans and Race Relations

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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Written & illustrated by Mildred D. Taylor
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14
Winner of the Newbery Medal, this remarkably moving novel has impressed the hearts and minds of millions of readers. Set in Mississippi at the height of the Depression, this is the story of one family's struggle to maintain their integrity, pride, and independence in the face of racism and social injustice. And it is also Cassie's story—Cassie Logan, an independent girl who discovers over the course of an important year why having land of their own is so crucial to the Logan family, even as she learns to draw strength from her own sense of dignity and self-respect. * "[A] vivid story.... Entirely through its own internal development, the novel shows the rich inner rewards of black pride, love, and independence."—Booklist, starred review
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The Story of Ruby Bridges
Written by Robert Coles & illustrated by George Ford
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
For months six-year-old Ruby Bridges must confront the hostility of white parents when she becomes the first African American girl to integrate William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans in 1960.
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A Ride to Remember: A Civil Rights Story
Written by Sharon Langley and Amy Nathan & illustrated by Floyd Cooper
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9
**The true story of how a ride on a carousel made a powerful Civil Rights statement**   _A Ride to Remember_ tells how a community came together—both black and white—to make a change. When Sharon Langley was born in the early 1960s, many amusement parks were segregated, and African-American families were not allowed entry. This book reveals how in the summer of 1963, due to demonstrations and public protests, the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in Maryland became desegregated and opened to all for the first time. Co-author Sharon Langley was the first African-American child to ride the carousel. This was on the same day of Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Langley’s ride to remember demonstrated the possibilities of King’s dream. This book includes photos of Sharon on the carousel, authors’ notes, a timeline, and a bibliography.
Honorable Mentions
The Youngest Marcher book
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Teammates book
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This Promise of Change: One Girl's Story in the Fight for School Equality book
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Lizzie Demands a Seat!: Elizabeth Jennings Fights for Streetcar Rights book
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  1. The Youngest Marcher - Meet the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963, in this moving picture book that proves you’re never too little to make a difference. Nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks intended to go places and do things like anybody else. So when she heard grown-ups talk about wiping out Birmingham’s segregation laws, she spoke up. As she listened to the preacher’s words, smooth as glass, she sat up tall. And when she heard the plan—picket those white stores! March to protest those unfair laws! Fill the jails!—she stepped right up and said, I’ll do it! She was going to j-a-a-il! Audrey Faye Hendricks was confident and bold and brave as can be, and hers is the remarkable and inspiring story of one child’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.

  2. Teammates - This is the moving story of how Jackie Robinson became the first black player on a Major League baseball team when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940s, and how on a fateful day in Cincinnati, Pee Wee Reese took a stand and declared Jackie his teammate. Illustrated with a blend of historic photographs and eloquent watercolors by Paul Bacon.

  3. This Promise of Change: One Girl's Story in the Fight for School Equality - In 1956, one year before federal troops escorted the Little Rock 9 into Central High School, fourteen year old Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve African-American students who broke the color barrier and integrated Clinton High School in Tennessee. At first things went smoothly for the Clinton 12, but then outside agitators interfered, pitting the townspeople against one another. Uneasiness turned into anger, and even the Clinton Twelve themselves wondered if the easier thing to do would be to go back to their old school. Jo Ann—clear-eyed, practical, tolerant, and popular among both black and white students—-found herself called on as the spokesperson of the group. But what about just being a regular teen? This is the heartbreaking and relatable story of her four months thrust into the national spotlight and as a trailblazer in history. Based on original research and interviews and featuring backmatter with archival materials and notes from the authors on the co-writing process.

  4. Lizzie Demands a Seat!: Elizabeth Jennings Fights for Streetcar Rights - In 1854, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Jennings, an African American schoolteacher, fought back when she was unjustly denied entry to a New York City streetcar, sparking the beginnings of the long struggle to gain equal rights on public transportation. One hundred years before Rosa Parks took her stand, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Jennings tried to board a streetcar in New York City on her way to church. Though there were plenty of empty seats, she was denied entry, assaulted, and threatened all because of her race—even though New York was a free state at that time. Lizzie decided to fight back. She told her story, took her case to court—where future president Chester Arthur represented her—and won! Her victory was the first recorded in the fight for equal rights on public transportation, and Lizzie’s case set a precedent. Author Beth Anderson and acclaimed illustrator E. B. Lewis bring this inspiring, little-known story to life in this captivating book.

Books About African Americans and 21st Century

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Maya Angelou
Written by Lisbeth Kaiser & illustrated by Leire Salaberria
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4
Meet Maya Angelou, the world's most beloved writer and speaker! Now available as a board book in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the life of Maya Angelou, from her early traumatic childhood to her time as a singer, actress, civil rights campaigner and, eventually, one of America's most beloved writers of poetry, memoirs, and essays. With stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!
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Maya Angelou
Written by Lisbeth Kaiser & illustrated by Leire Salaberria
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
In the Little People, Big Dreams series, discover the lives of outstanding people from designers and artists to scientists. All of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. The book follows Maya Angelou, from her early traumatic childhood to her time as a singer, actress, civil rights campaigner and, eventually, one of America's most beloved writers. This inspiring and informative little biography comes with extra facts about Maya's life at the back.
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Dream Big, Little One
Written & illustrated by Vashti Harrison
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
This beautifully illustrated book showcases women who changed the world. Featuring 18 trailblazing black women in American history, Dream Big, Little Leader is the irresistible board book adaptation of Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History. Among these women, you'll find heroes, role models, and everyday women who did extraordinary things - bold women whose actions and beliefs contributed to making the world better for generations of girls and women to come. Whether they were putting pen to paper, soaring through the air or speaking up for the rights of others, the women profiled in these pages were all taking a stand against a world that didn't always accept them. The leaders in this book may be little, but they all did something bigand amazing, inspiring generations to come.
Honorable Mentions
Epic Athletes: Serena Williams book
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The President Sang Amazing Grace book
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Work It, Girl: Michelle Obama: Become a leader like book
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Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History book
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  1. Epic Athletes: Serena Williams - An inspiring middle-grade biography of the most celebrated women’s tennis player ever, Serena Williams, from acclaimed sports journalist Dan Wetzel! Serena Williams is no stranger to overcoming obstacles. From growing up in a tough neighborhood to combatting racism to weathering severe health issues, there is no challenge she can’t defeat, no hurdle that will get in the way of her unwavering desire to be the best tennis player in the world. As a little girl, Serena spent years training at her local court with her father and older sister, Venus, dreaming of one day winning Grand Slam titles and earning the number one ranking in the world. In this exciting biography, young readers will discover what it takes to become a champion. Bestselling author Dan Wetzel brings to life the story of an athlete and trailblazer who broke records and racial barriers. Publishing right between Wimbledon and the US Open, and featuring action-packed comic-style interior art, this uplifting biography of the most celebrated women’s tennis player of all time is sure to be a hit with young sports fans across the country.

  2. The President Sang Amazing Grace - Lyrical account of the day President Obama sang with a grieving nation following the 2015 shooting in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina When nine people were killed in a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, the nation grieved as one, and when President Barack Obama sang “Amazing Grace” during his eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney, it was acknowledged as one of the most powerful moments of his presidency. Singer/songwriter Zoe Mulford was so moved that she wrote the song “The President Sang Amazing Grace,” which was then illustrated by filmmaker and painter Jeff Scher for a video that has been viewed countless times. This book presents the lyrics to the song, Scher’s paintings, excerpts from Obama’s eulogy, biographies of those who were killed, historical context, and sheet music.

  3. Work It, Girl: Michelle Obama: Become a leader like - In this imaginatively illustrated book from the Work It, Girl series, discover how Michelle became an inspirational leader, FLOTUS, lawyer, author, and role model in this true story of her life. Then, learn 10 key lessons from her work you can apply to your own life. Michelle Obama grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a little bungalow with a close-knit family. She loved going to school, and she knew that, one day, she would use her voice to empower other young girls, just like her. Young Michelle was a brilliant student and wonderful daughter. With hard work and talent, she propelled herself into the universities of Princeton and Harvard. She qualified as a lawyer and life was going smoothly…Then she met a guy named Barack. Work It, Girl is an empowering series of biographies featuring modern women in the world of work, from designers and musicians to CEOs and scientists. Each of these vibrantly illustrated books tells the story of a remarkable woman in 10 chapters that highlight transformative moments in her life, following the ups and downs that she faced on her road to success. At the end, 10 key lessons show what you can learn from these moments, and self-reflection questions help you apply these lessons to your own life. Brightly colored photo illustrations of 3-D cut paper artwork featuring inspiring quotes from these amazing women bring their stories to vivid life. Learn how to work it as you lay the foundations for your own successful career.

  4. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History - A NEW YORK TIMES INSTANT BESTSELLER!A USA TODAY BESTSELLER! This beautifully illustrated book introduces readers of all ages to 40 women who changed the world. Featuring forty trailblazing black women in American history, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of breaking boundaries and achieving beyond expectations. Illuminating text paired with irresistible illustrations bring to life both iconic and lesser-known female figures of Black history such as abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash. Among these biographies, readers will find heroes, role models, and everyday women who did extraordinary things - bold women whose actions and beliefs contributed to making the world better for generations of girls and women to come. Whether they were putting pen to paper, soaring through the air or speaking up for the rights of others, the women profiled in these pages were all taking a stand against a world that didn’t always accept them. The leaders in this book may be little, but they all did something big and amazing, inspiring generations to come.

Books About African Americans and Musicians

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Trombone Shorty
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A Grammy-nominated headliner for the New Orleans Jazz Fest describes his childhood in Tremâe and how he came to be a bandleader by age six.
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Ella Fitzgerald
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara & illustrated by Bàrbara Alca
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Meet Ella Fitzgerald, one of the most influential jazz singers of all time! New in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the inspirational life of the First Lady of Song, from her early singing days on the streets of Harlem, to her success as a jazz legend, with the message: 'It's not where you come from, but where you're going that counts.' With stylish and quirky illustrations and a facts and photo section at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!
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Hosea Plays On
Written by Kathleen M. Blasi & illustrated by Shane W. Evans
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-9
This heartwarming picture book (based on a true story) depicts a day in the life of Hosea Taylor, a musician who—with his charm, talent, and generosity—brought joy to everyone he met. Every day, Hosea takes the Number 42 bus into the city to play his shiny brass saxophone—and to hopefully earn enough money. Setting up in his favorite place, Hosea makes sweet music as people greet him with a smile, a little girl dances, and crowds surround him. A surprise ending reveals what the money is really for. Kathleen Blasi’s delightful text and Shane Evan’s colorful images capture the real-life closeness between the much-loved Hosea—who shared his passion for music and life with everyone—and his community. An Author's Note explains how Blasi learned about Hosea Taylor (1948-2016), and what compelled her to write his story.
Honorable Mentions
A Voice Named Aretha book
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Little Melba and Her Big Trombone book
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Ben's Trumpet book
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Sonny's Bridge book
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  1. A Voice Named Aretha - A beautiful picture book biography about the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, and how she fought for equal rights throughout her life. Aretha Louise Franklin grew up in a house of music. The shy daughter of a famous Detroit preacher and civil rights activist, Aretha’s big voice surprised those around her, and everyone agreed: her powerful singing would someday make her a star. After relocating to New York City and signing a record deal, Aretha relentlessly pursued her dream of stardom. But it took many years of tireless touring and recording until her hit record “Respect” finally brought her the acclaim she deserved. Along the way, Aretha used her talents to fight for respect and equal rights along the way by refusing to perform for “whites only” audiences. With six decades of hits, countless memorable performances, and millions of lives touched, Aretha’s legacy of resilience and respect will inspire for generations to come.

  2. Little Melba and Her Big Trombone - “A biography of African American musician Melba Doretta Liston, a virtuoso musician who played the trombone and composed and arranged music for many of the great jazz musicians of the twentieth century. Includes afterword, discography, and sources”—

  3. Ben's Trumpet - The story of Ben is fiction, but it could be the story of more than one jazz musician who grew up in the twenties. Using the art-deco style of the period, Rachel Isadora not only captures the poignancy and yearning of a youthful talent, but in page after page of striking art seems to convey the very sound of music.

  4. Sonny's Bridge - This groovy, bebopping picture book biography chronicles the legendary jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins’s search for inspiration on the Williamsburg Bridge after quitting the jazz scene in 1959. Rollins is one of the most prolific sax players in the history of jazz, but, in 1959, at the height of his career, he vanished from the jazz scene. His return to music was an interesting journey—with a long detour on the Williamsburg Bridge. Too loud to practice in his apartment, Rollins played on the New York City landmark for two years among the cacophony of traffic and the stares of bystanders, leading to the release of his album, The Bridge. Written in rhythmic prose with a bebop edge, this picture-book biography of Sonny Rollins’s journey to get his groove back will delight young and old fans alike.

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Books About African Americans and Feelings And Emotions

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Up, Up, Up, Down!
Written & illustrated by Kimberly Gee
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
Follow an energetic toddler’s day that’s full of opposites—ups and downs, nos and yesses, yums and yucks, and more.
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Ruby Finds a Worry
Written & illustrated by Tom Percival
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
From the creator of Perfectly Norman comes a sensitive and reassuring story about what to do when a worry won't leave you alone. Meet Ruby--a happy, curious, imaginative girl. But one day, she finds something unexpected: a Worry. It's not such a big Worry, at first. But every day, it grows a little bigger . . . And a little bigger . . . Until eventually, the Worry is ENORMOUS and is all she can think about. But when Ruby befriends a young boy, she discovers that everyone has worries, and not only that, there's a great way to get rid of them too . . . This perceptive and poignant story is the perfect springboard for talking to children about emotional intelligence and sharing hidden anxieties.
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I Am So Brave!
Written by Stephen Krensky & illustrated by Sara Gillingham
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3
Celebrates a toddler's growing comfort with such things as hearing loud noises and being left with a babysitter.
Honorable Mentions
Love by Sophia book
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The Honest-to-Goodness Truth book
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The Rain Stomper book
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Just Like a Mama book
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  1. Love by Sophia - The precocious Sophia and her pet giraffe Noodle learn how to look at life, love, and art in this latest installment of the series that Kirkus Reviews calls “fun, clever, and empowering.” Sophia loves her family and her wonderful pet giraffe Noodle, so when she gets an assignment to draw something she loves, she wants to make it extra special. Taking her teacher’s advice, Sophia uses a little perspective and creates a work she calls Love. Before she can place her masterpiece on the refrigerator, her whole family has to approve of the painting. But this is the Whitney, the Guggenheim, the Louvre of refrigerators. Can Sophia persuade them to take a chance on a new perspective, so they can see love from her point of view?

  2. The Honest-to-Goodness Truth - If telling the truth is the right thing to do, why is the whole world mad at Libby? “Tell the truth and shame the devil,” Libby’s mama has told her. So whatever is Libby doing wrong? Ever since she started telling only the truth, the whole world seems to be mad at her. First it’s her best friend, Ruthie Mae, who gets upset when Libby tells all their friends that Ruthie Mae has a hole in her sock. Then Willie gives her an ugly look when she tells the teacher he hasn’t done his homework. It seems that telling the truth isn’t always so simple. Children will sympathize with Libby as she struggles to figure out that even though it’s always wrong to tell a lie, there’s a right and a wrong way to tell the truth. Giselle Potter’s naively stubborn illustrations perfectly capture this humorous and poignant story by award-winning author Patricia C. McKissack.

  3. The Rain Stomper - When it begins to rain and storm on the day of her big parade, Jazmin—a baton twirler—stomps, shouts, and does all she can think of to drive the rain away.

  4. Just Like a Mama - Celebrate the heart connection between adopted children and the forever families who welcome them with kindness, care, and unconditional love in this powerful picture book from the author of Honey Baby Sugar Child. Carol Olivia Clementine lives with Mama Rose. Mama Rose is everything—tender and sweet. She is also as stern and demanding as any good parent should be. In the midst of their happy home, Carol misses her mother and father. She longs to be with them. But until that time comes around, she learns to surrender to the love that is present. Mama Rose becomes her “home.” And Carol Olivia Clementine concludes that she loves Miss Rose, “just like a mama.” This sweet read-aloud is, on the surface, all about the everyday home life a caregiver creates for a young child: she teachers Clementine how to ride a bike, clean her room, tell time. A deeper look reveals the patience, intention, and care little ones receives in the arms of a mother whose blood is not her blood, but whose bond is so deep—and so unconditional—that it creates the most perfect condition for a child to feel safe, successful, and deeply loved.

Books About African Americans and Being Yourself

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The Proudest Blue
Written by Ibtihaj Muhammad & illustrated by Hatem Aly and S. K. Ali
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A powerful, vibrantly illustrated story about the first day of school--and two sisters on one's first day of hijab--by Olympic medalist and social justice activist Ibtihaj Muhammad. With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It's the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it's her older sister Asiya's first day of hijab--a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong. Paired with Hatem Aly's beautiful, whimsical art, Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad and Morris Award finalist S.K. Ali bring readers an uplifting, universal story of new experiences, the unbreakable bond between siblings, and of being proud of who you are.
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Mixed Me!
Written by Taye Diggs & illustrated by Shane W. Evans
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Mom and Dad say I'm a blend of dark and light: "We mixed you perfectly, and got you just right." Mike has awesome hair. He has LOTS of energy! His parents love him. And Mike is a PERFECT blend of the two of them. Still, Mike has to answer LOTS of questions about being mixed. And he does, with LOTS of energy and joy in this charming story about a day in the life of a mixed-race child.
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A Picture Book of Jesse Owens
Written by David A. Adler & illustrated by Robert Casilla
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A comprehensive look at the life of the man who has often been called the World's Fastest Human. Jesse Owens was born on a farm to a large family with many siblings. His grandparents had been slaves, and his sharecropper parents were poor. But against all odds, Jesse went on to become one of the greatest athletes in history. He learned to run with such grace that people said he was a "floating wonder." After setting multiple world records as a college athlete, Jesse competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Adolf Hitler intended for the games to display Aryan superiority, but Jesse disrupted that plan. He became the first American track-and-field athlete to receive four gold medals, and established his legacy as a hero in the face of prejudice. This child friendly entry in David A. Adler's well-known series contains an accessible mix of biography, facts, and history supported with lifelike illustrations. Back matter includes an author's note and a timeline.
Honorable Mentions
Ta-Da! book
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A Letter to Amy book
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Chocolate Me! book
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I Am Enough book
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  1. Ta-Da! - What makes a good story? One little girl thinks it’s a princess with magical powers that can—ta-da!—overcome any obstacle. Her friend thinks it’s—dun dun duh!—a combination of dragons, pirates, and fire that cause total chaos. But as their stories intertwine, these two young storytellers soon learn that a good story needs both conflict—dun dun duh!—and resolution—ta-da! An irresistible celebration of imaginary play, storytelling, and the joys of collaboration, this gorgeous picture book features two strong voices throughout, making it the perfect read-aloud.

  2. A Letter to Amy - Generations of children have read, re-read, and loved Ezra Jack Keats’s award-winning, classic stories about Peter and his neighborhood friends. Now, for the first time, Peter’s Chair, A Letter to Amy, and Goggles! are available in paperback exclusively from Puffin. “A master of ingenious collages, Keats has made brilliant variegated pictures.”—_The Horn Book _Ezra Jack Keats (1916-1983) was the beloved author and/or illustrator of more than eighty-five books for children.

  3. Chocolate Me! - The boy is teased for looking different than the other kids. His skin is darker, his hair curlier. He tells his mother he wishes he could be more like everyone else. And she helps him to see how beautiful he really, truly is.

  4. I Am Enough - A New York Times bestseller and Goodreads Choice Awards picture book winner! This is a gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another—from Empire actor and activist Grace Byers and talented newcomer artist Keturah A. Bobo. This is the perfect gift for mothers and daughters, baby showers, and graduation. We are all here for a purpose. We are more than enough. We just need to believe it.

Books About African Americans and School

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New Kid
Written & illustrated by Jerry Craft
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Gene Luen Yang, New Kid is a timely, honest graphic novel about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real, from award-winning author-illustrator Jerry Craft. Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?
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Grace Goes to Washington
Written by Kelly DiPucchio & illustrated by LeUyen Pham
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-8
"Who's in charge here?" When Grace learns about the three branches of the United States government, she and the rest of the student council put the lesson into practice as they debate how to spend the money from a school fund-raiser. Should they buy new sports equipment? Books for the library? Instruments for the music room? The arguments continue as they travel to Washington, DC, for a field trip. Exploring government buildings and national monuments, Grace feels closer than ever to her dream of becoming president someday. But she and her classmates have a lot to learn about what it means to serve the needs of the people, especially when the people want such different things! In this follow-up to New York Times best seller Grace for President, Kelly DiPucchio not only introduces how our government makes decisions, but also shares what it takes to be a true public servant.
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Mister Lincoln's Way
Written & illustrated by Patricia Polacco
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
When Mr. Lincoln, "the coolest principal in the whole world," discovers that Eugene, the school bully, knows a lot about birds, he uses this interest to help Eugene overcome his intolerance.
Honorable Mentions
Harlem Grown: How One Big Idea Transformed a Neighborhood book
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The Noisy Classroom book
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The Day You Begin book
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Mary Had a Little Glam book
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  1. Harlem Grown: How One Big Idea Transformed a Neighborhood - “An inspiring picture book for youngsters with meaningful ties to the environment, sustainability, and community engagement.” —Booklist
    “Hartland’s gouache illustrations wobble endearingly, colorfully capturing the children’s triumph, and the kinetic energy and colorful vibrancy of the city neighborhood.” —Publishers Weekly
    Discover the incredible true story of Harlem Grown, a lush garden in New York City that grew out of an abandoned lot and now feeds a neighborhood. Once
    In a big city called New York
    In a bustling neighborhood
    There was an empty lot.
    Nevaeh called it the haunted garden.
    Harlem Grown tells the inspiring true story of how one man made a big difference in a neighborhood. After seeing how restless they were and their lack of healthy food options, Tony Hillery invited students from an underfunded school to turn a vacant lot into a beautiful and functional farm. By getting their hands dirty, these kids turned an abandoned space into something beautiful and useful while learning about healthy, sustainable eating and collaboration. Five years later, the kids and their parents, with the support of the Harlem Grown staff, grow hundreds of pounds of fruits and vegetables a year. All of it is given to the kids and their families. The incredible story is vividly brought to life with Jessie Hartland’s “charmingly busy art” (Booklist) that readers will pore over in search of new details as they revisit this poignant and uplifting tale over and over again. Harlem Grown is an independent, not-for-profit organization. The author’s share of the proceeds from the sale of this book go directly to Harlem Grown.

  2. The Noisy Classroom - The first day of school is coming… and I’m going to be in the noisy class. Any class but the noisy class will do! A young girl is about to enter the third grade, but this year she’s put into Ms. Johnson’s noisy class. Everything about the noisy class is odd. While all the other classes are quiet, Ms. Johnson sings and the kids chatter all day. The door is always closed, yet sounds from it can be heard in the hallway. With summer coming to an end and school starting, the girl realizes that soon she’ll be going to the noisy class. What will school be like now? Featuring the honest and delightful humor of debut author Angela Shanté and the bold, graphic imagery of debut illustrator Alison Hawkins, The Noisy Classroom encourages those with first-day jitters to reevaluate a scary situation by looking at it from a different angle and to embrace how fun school can be, even in nontraditional ways.

  3. The Day You Begin - Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature A #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER! National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and two-time Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner Rafael López have teamed up to create a poignant, yet heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone. There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you. There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it. Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway. (This book is also available in Spanish, as El Día En Que Descubres Quién Eres!)

  4. Mary Had a Little Glam - Mary has STYLE! In this fun take on Mother Goose, fashion-forward Mary helps some childhood favorites go glam. From the kid who lives in a shoe (and dons some fab footwear) to Jack, who breaks his crown but gets a great new one, Mary’s friends look fine. But are they too well dressed for recess? Don’t worry—Mary always shows her flair for what to wear!

Want to see books about school?

Books About African Americans and New Experiences

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Jabari Jumps
Written & illustrated by Gaia Cornwall
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Working up the courage to take a big, important leap is hard, but Jabari is almost absolutely ready to make a giant splash. Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board. In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fears, newcomer Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for.
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Bippity Bop Barbershop
Written by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley & illustrated by E.B. Lewis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
In this companion book to the bestselling I Love My Hair, a young boy, Miles, makes his first trip to the barbershop with his father. Like most little boys, he is afraid of the sharp scissors, the buzzing razor, and the prospect of picking a new hairstyle. But with the support of his dad, the barber, and the other men in the barbershop, Miles bravely sits through his first haircut. Written in a reassuring tone with a jazzy beat and illustrated with graceful, realistic watercolors, this book captures an important rite of passage for boys and celebrates African-American identity.
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The Best Kind of Bear
Written by Greg Gormley & illustrated by David Barrow
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
When Nelly asks Bear what kind of bear he is, he isn't entirely sure how to answer. So off he goes to find out. But none of the different bears he meets on his travels are like him. Grizzly bears don’t have stitching; polar bears don’t have tags attached to their bottoms; spectacled bears are not as soft and bouncy as Bear is; and sun bears never wear bow ties. Disheartened, he returns to Nelly . . . only to discover what kind of bear he is — her own special bear!
Honorable Mentions
Your First Day of Circus School book
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Zoo Day book
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The Very Last Castle book
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Ariba book
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  1. Your First Day of Circus School - A clever, comical re-imagining of the classic “first day of school” story, with a circus twist! Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages! It’s the most amazing day on earth: the first day of school! It can be a daunting prospect, but don’t worry - your big brother can show you the ropes. Join a nervous boy and his enthusiastic older brother as they navigate the highs and lows of a first day at school . . . except this school is a big top, and the teacher is named Miss Stupendous, and the cafeteria can be a zoo, literally! It turns out, school isn’t so scary when you can let off steam during recess (on a steam train) and walk on stilts to all of your classes. With a bit of help from family and some new friends, you’ll make it to the top of the class in no time! This charming take on school readiness will delight new school-goers and take a bit of the fear out of those first-day jitters.

  2. Zoo Day - Beloved author Anne Rockwell celebrates animals of all kinds with a gorgeous new picture book about a child’s first visit to the zoo! A young boy and his family visit the zoo for the very first time. From gorillas to lions, polar bears to parrots, Anne Rockwell and her daughter, artist Lizzy Rockwell, celebrate a day he will never forget. With simple, lyrical text and bright illustrations that jump off the page, Zoo Day brings the joys of visiting the zoo vividly to life.

  3. The Very Last Castle - Ibb, curious about the lone castle in her town, forms a long-distant friendship with the guard and, despite warnings there is something fearful inside, accepts his invitation to enter.

  4. Ariba - Marcus’ joy over a new pair of shoes reminds his grandfather of an old story about a boy named Ariba and his adventure-loving shoes. Every time Ariba put his shoes on, something crazy would happen. Once they even took him climbing to the peak of the yellow mountain! But one day, Ariba decides he’s going to move from his small village to the city on the other side of the mountains. When he arrives, he buys all new things—including a new pair of shoes. His new life has no room for the old pair. And yet, wouldn’t you know it? No matter what he does, the shoes keep finding their way back to him…

Books About African Americans and Imagination And Play

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The Old Truck
Written & illustrated by Jarrett Pumphrey and Jerome Pumphrey
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
<p>When is an old truck something more? On a small, bustling farm, a resilient and steadfast pickup works tirelessly alongside the family that lives there, and becomes a part of the dreams and ambitions of the family's young daughter.</p><p>After long days and years of hard work leave the old truck rusting in the weeds, it's time for the girl to roll up her sleeves. Soon she is running her own busy farm, and in the midst of all the repairing and restoring, it may be time to bring her faithful childhood companion back to life.</p><p>With an eye-catching retro design and cleverly nuanced illustrations, <i>The Old Truck</i> celebrates the rewards of determination and the value of imagination.</p>
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Bath! Bath! Bath!
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Bath time is fun! fun! fun! in this playful board book! Today we had such fun! fun! fun! But now the day is done! done! done! After a fun-filled day, it's time to go home and take a bath! From washing tiny toes and your little nose to making rubber ducky go quack! quack! quack!, bath time is fun! fun! fun! The rhyming text makes this the perfect read-along story to get little ones excited for bath time.
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What If...
Written by Samantha Berger & illustrated by Mike Curato
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-6
Creativity, the power of imagination, and the importance of self-expression are celebrated in this inspiring picture book written and illustrated by real-life best friends. This girl is determined to express herself! If she can't draw her dreams, she'll sculpt or build, carve or collage. If she can't do that, she'll turn her world into a canvas. And if everything around her is taken away, she'll sing, dance, and dream... Stunning mixed media illustrations, lyrical text, and a breathtaking gatefold conjure powerful magic in this heartfelt affirmation of art, imagination, and the resilience of the human spirit.
Honorable Mentions
The Snowy Day book
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Tomorrow Most Likely book
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Lola Loves Stories with Daddy book
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Good Morning, Superman! book
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  1. The Snowy Day - Celebrate a major anniversary of a true classic! In 1962, a little boy named Peter put on his snowsuit and stepped out of his house and into the hearts of millions of readers. The Snowy Day transformed children’s literature with its pioneering portrayal of an African-American child and the charming story and artwork that won it the Caldecott Medal. Fifty years later, Viking proudly celebrates Peter’s adventure in this very special edition. Featuring eight pages of bonus material and a festive cover, this oversized edition of Keats’s beloved book is a must-have.

  2. Tomorrow Most Likely - Rather than focusing on going to bed—and what kid wants to think about going to bed?—this book explores all of the dreamy, wonderful, strange things the next day might bring. Whimsical, witty, and hopeful, this revolutionary rewriting of a classic goodnight book from bestselling author Dave Eggers and award-winning illustrator Lane Smith is a bedtime story for tomorrow ever after.

  3. Lola Loves Stories with Daddy - Bookworms big and small will be charmed by lovable Lola in this delightful sequel to LOLA AT THE LIBRARY that celebrates imagination and the love of reading. Lola loves to go to the library with her daddy. Every night she reads a new story, and the next day, she acts it out. One day she’s a fairy princess, the next day she goes on a trip to Lagos! She becomes a tiger, a farmer, a pilot. . . . what will Lola be next? Children and adults will love following along with Lola’s adventures. LOLA LOVES STORIES is a wonderful introduction to the power of reading and how it can inspire young minds at the earliest ages.

  4. Good Morning, Superman! - Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s the… SUN! When morning comes, a young boy must prepare for his day, faster than a speeding bullet. Follow along as he leaps tall buildings (jumps out of bed) in a single bound, dons his heroic uniform (his clothes), and faces his greatest weakness (Kryptonite-colored toothpaste). Then it’s up, up, and away to daycare! The perfect companion to the best-selling author Michael Dahl’s Bedtime for Batman, this official DC Comics picture book will have Superman fans young and old delighting in their morning routines. Includes a morning routine checklist.

Books About African Americans and Confidence

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Amazing Grace
Written by Mary Hoffman & illustrated by Caroline Binch
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Although a classmate says that she cannot play Peter Pan in the school play because she is black, Grace discovers that she can do anything she sets her mind to do.
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Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut
Written by Derrick Barnes & illustrated by Gordon C. James
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8
Named one of the best books of 2017 by NPR, the Huffington Post , Publishers Weekly , Kirkus Reviews , the Los Angeles Times , the Boston Globe , the Horn Book Magazine , the News & Observer , BookPage , Chicago Public Library, and more The barbershop is where the magic happens. Boys go in as lumps of clay and, with princely robes draped around their shoulders, a dab of cool shaving cream on their foreheads, and a slow, steady cut, they become royalty. That crisp yet subtle line makes boys sharper, more visible, more aware of every great thing that could happen to them when they look good: lesser grades turn into As; girls take notice; even a mother’s hug gets a little tighter. Everyone notices. A fresh cut makes boys fly. This rhythmic, read-aloud title is an unbridled celebration of the self-esteem, confidence, and swagger boys feel when they leave the barber’s chair—a tradition that places on their heads a figurative crown, beaming with jewels, that confirms their brilliance and worth and helps them not only love and accept themselves but also take a giant step toward caring how they present themselves to the world. The fresh cuts. That’s where it all begins. Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is a high-spirited, engaging salute to the beautiful, raw, assured humanity of black boys and how they see themselves when they approve of their reflections in the mirror.
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Sulwe
Written by & illustrated by Vashti Harrison and Lupita Nyong'o
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
From Academy Award–winning actress Lupita Nyong’o comes a powerful, moving picture book about colorism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within. Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything. In this stunning debut picture book, actress Lupita Nyong’o creates a whimsical and heartwarming story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty.
Honorable Mentions
The King of Kindergarten book
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Dazzling Travis book
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I Can be Anything book
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The Night Is Yours book
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  1. The King of Kindergarten - A New York Times betseller! A confident little boy takes pride in his first day of kindergarten, by the Newbery Honor-winning author of Crown. The morning sun blares through your window like a million brass trumpets.It sits and shines behind your head—like a crown. Mommy says that today, you are going to be the King of Kindergarten! Starting kindergarten is a big milestone—and the hero of this story is ready to make his mark! He’s dressed himself, eaten a pile of pancakes, and can’t wait to be part of a whole new kingdom of kids. The day will be jam-packed, but he’s up to the challenge, taking new experiences in stride with his infectious enthusiasm! And afterward, he can’t wait to tell his proud parents all about his achievements—and then wake up to start another day. Newbery Honor-winning author Derrick Barnes’s empowering story will give new kindergarteners a reassuring confidence boost, and Vanessa Brantley-Newton’s illustrations exude joy.

  2. Dazzling Travis - Travis sets no limits to what he enjoys doing. Shopping and football, ballet and dress-up make Travis a one of a kind boy! But when some of the kids on the playground begin to pick on him, Travis truly dazzles. This empowering story encourages both boys and girls to challenge the social norm, revealing their true selves.

  3. I Can be Anything - Zoe is sure that she can be anything she wants to be, despite a little voice of doubt that points out the problems with her ideas—but first she needs to learn how to read.

  4. The Night Is Yours - From the New York Times bestselling illustrator of I Am Enough, this glowing, empowering picture book about a nighttime hide-and-seek game celebrates blackness and self-confidence. Little one, so calm and so happy, the darkness of the night is yours like the darkness of your skin. This lyrical text, narrated to a young girl named Amani by her father, follows her as she plays an evening game of hide-and-seek with friends at her apartment complex. The moon’s glow helps Amani find the last hidden child, and seems almost like a partner to her in her game, as well as a spotlight pointing out her beauty and strength. This is a gorgeous bedtime read-aloud about joy and family love and community, and most of all about feeling great in your own skin.

Want to see books about confidence?

Books About African Americans and Science And Nature

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Come On, Rain
Written by Karen Hesse & illustrated by Jon J Muth
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A young girl eagerly awaits a coming rainstorm to bring relief from the oppressive summer heat.
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The Bear's Garden
Written by Marcie Colleen & illustrated by Alison Oliver
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
**Inspired by the true story of a community garden in Brooklyn, New York, *The Bear’s Garden* by Marcie Colleen is a testament to how imagination and dedication can transform communities and create beauty for everyone in unexpected places.** A little girl sees an empty lot in a city and imagines what it can be. She sees a place to **grow**, a place to **play**, and a place to **love**. With the help of her stuffed bear, the girl brings her community together to create a beautiful garden. **An Imprint Book**
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Birds
Written & illustrated by Carme Lemniscates
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
Brilliant graphic illustrations and a gentle, thought-provoking text pay homage to birds and their wonder-inspiring ways. Birds are like thoughts. They come, stay awhile . . . and then fly away. Birds come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They like to chat with one another as they fly high and low in the sky. Birds make music, with songs that are like the loving words of a friend, and we are lucky enough to enjoy those sweet melodies. But best of all, birds are capable of flying wherever they please -- they just let their hearts guide them. And we can do that, too, if we use our imaginations. In a lyrical ode to our winged friends, the creator of Trees turns her eye to a diverse class of creatures that has much to teach about transcending the barriers that lie between us.
Honorable Mentions
Southwest Sunrise book
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The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver book
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Errol's Garden book
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Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace book
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  1. Southwest Sunrise - From Children’s Literature Legacy Award winner Nikki Grimes and highly-acclaimed illustrator Wendell Minor comes a stunning picture book about the beauty of the natural world and finding a new place to call home. The beauty of the natural world is just waiting to be discovered . . . When Jayden touches down in New Mexico, he’s uncertain how this place could ever be home. But if he takes a walk outside, he just might find something glorious. Flowers in bright shades . . .
    Birds and lizards and turtles, all with a story to tell . . .
    Red rock pillars towering in the distance . . .
    Turquoise sky as far as the eye can see . . .
    Perhaps this place could be home after all. Gorgeously poetic and visually stunning, this story from acclaimed creators Nikki Grimes and Wendell Minor celebrates the beauty of the Southwest as a young boy sees it for the very first time. Acclaim for One Last Word
    A Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Winner
    A New York Times Editor’s Choice

  2. The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver - The inspirational story of George Washington Carver and his childhood secret garden is brought to life in this picture book biography by the author-illustrator team behind Muhammad Ali: A Champion Is Born. When George Washington Carver was just a young child, he had a secret: a garden of his own. Here, he rolled dirt between his fingers to check if plants needed more rain or sun. He protected roots through harsh winters, so plants could be reborn in the spring. He trimmed flowers, spread soil, studied life cycles. And it was in this very place that George’s love of nature sprouted into something so much more—his future. Gene Barretta’s moving words and Frank Morrison’s beautiful paintings tell the inspiring life and history of George Washington Carver, from a baby born into slavery to celebrated botanist, scientist, and inventor. His passion and determination are the seeds to this lasting story about triumph over hardship—a tale that begins in a secret garden.

  3. Errol's Garden - Errol loves gardening, but he doesn’t have a proper garden. Although his home is full of beautiful plants, he longs for an outdoor space where he can grow things. A chance discovery leads to a solution, but Errol can’t do everything on his own. Luckily, help is near at hand. A heart-warming and inclusive tale about how one small boy’s dream of a garden unites a diverse community in a positive and enriching experience for everyone.

  4. Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace - As a young girl in Kenya, Wangari was taught to respect nature. She grew up loving the land, plants, and animals that surrounded her—from the giant mugumo trees her people, the Kikuyu, revered to the tiny tadpoles that swam in the river. Although most Kenyan girls were not educated, Wangari, curious and hardworking, was allowed to go to school. There, her mind sprouted like a seed. She excelled at science and went on to study in the United States. After returning home, Wangari blazed a trail across Kenya, using her knowledge and compassion to promote the rights of her countrywomen and to help save the land, one tree at a time.

Books About African Americans and Action And Adventure

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Corduroy
Written & illustrated by Don Freeman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
Corduroy was first introduced to readers in 1968, and in the fifty years since, his adventures have never stopped. Corduroy has been on the department store shelf for a long time. Yet as soon as Lisa sees him, she knows that he’s the bear for her. Her mother, though, thinks he’s a little shopworn—he’s even missing a button! Still, Corduroy knows that with a bit of work he can tidy himself up and be just the bear for Lisa. And where better to start than with a nighttime adventure through the department store, searching for a new button! Celebrate 50 years of this irresistible childhood classic, a heartwarming story about a little bear and a little girl finding the friend they have always wanted in each other.
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Bud, Not Buddy
Written & illustrated by Christopher Paul Curtis
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
The Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award-winning classic about a boy who decides to hit the road to find his father—from Christopher Paul Curtis, author of The Watsons Go To Birmingham—1963, a Newbery and Coretta Scott King Honoree. It’s 1936, in Flint Michigan. Times may be hard, and ten-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy on the run, but Bud’s got a few things going for him: 1. He has his own suitcase full of special things. 2. He’s the author of Bud Caldwell’s Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself. 3. His momma never told him who his father was, but she left a clue: flyers advertising Herman E. Calloway and his famous band, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression!!!!!! Bud’s got an idea that those flyers will lead him to his father. Once he decides to hit the road to find this mystery man, nothing can stop him—not hunger, not fear, not vampires, not even Herman E. Calloway himself. AN ALA BEST BOOK FOR YOUNG ADULTS AN ALA NOTABLE CHILDREN'S BOOK AN IRA CHILDREN'S BOOK AWARD WINNER NAMED TO 14 STATE AWARD LISTS “The book is a gem, of value to all ages, not just the young people to whom it is aimed.” —The Christian Science Monitor “Will keep readers engrossed from first page to last.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred “Curtis writes with a razor-sharp intelligence that grabs the reader by the heart and never lets go. . . . This highly recommended title [is] at the top of the list of books to be read again and again.” —Voice of Youth Advocates, Starred
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Thieves of Weirdwood
Written by William Shivering & illustrated by Anna Earley
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Artemis Fowl meets The Spiderwick Chronicles in this brand-new middle-grade fantasy series brimming with action, humor, and monsters beyond imagining. Twelve-year-olds Arthur and Wally are determined to steal their way up the ranks of the notorious Black Feathers gang. With loan sharks chasing after Arthur’s father and Wally’s brother’s hospital bill due, they’re in need of serious cash. When Arthur spots some wealthy strangers exiting a derelict mansion, he smells an opportunity for a big score. Little do the boys realize, they’ve stumbled upon Weirdwood Manor, the headquarters of a magical order who protect the Balance between the Real and Imaginary worlds. When Kingsport is besieged by nightmarish Imaginary monsters, it’s up to these young thieves to save their city.
Honorable Mentions
Campfire Stories book
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Mabel and Sam at Home book
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  1. Campfire Stories - Desmond Cole goes camping and tells some scary campfire stories in the eighth book of the Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol series! Camping with Desmond Cole is a lot of fun, until he starts telling ghost stories around the campfire. Most kids tell creepy stories that are totally fake, but Desmond tells totally true stories that will give you goosebumps. So, settle in while Desmond, Andres, and their ghost-friend, Zax, take turns trying to tell the scariest story of all. With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol chapter books are perfect for emerging readers.

  2. Mabel and Sam at Home - At the new house, there were movers and shouting and boxes and blankets. There were many places a girl like Mabel and a boy like Sam could be tripped over or smooshed or trod upon. There was one safe place where they would not. And that is how Mabel became a Sea Captain. In this three-part picture book of moving house and imaginative play, Mabel and Sam sail the high seas of their new home; tour the intriguing museum of their living room; journey through outer space to the safety of their own beds; and discover how far afield—and how close to home—imagination can take them.

Books About African Americans and Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Let the Children March
Written by Monica Clark-Robinson & illustrated by Frank Morrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9
Under the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, children and teenagers march against segregation in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963.
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A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr
Written by David A. Adler & illustrated by Robert Casilla
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
A brief biography of Baptist minister and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
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A Sweet Smell of Roses
Written by Angela Johnson & illustrated by Eric Velasquez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Minnie and her sister hear about a freedom march and leave their home to go to their city's downtown area where they listen to Dr. Martin Luther King and join the march, all the while smelling roses.
Honorable Mentions
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race book
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Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. book
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Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.?: A Who Was? Board Book book
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A Place to Land book
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  1. Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race - Based on the New York Times bestselling book and the Academy Award–nominated movie, author Margot Lee Shetterly and illustrator Laura Freeman bring the incredibly inspiring true story of four black women who helped NASA launch men into space to picture book readers! Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math…really good. They participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America’s first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they worked hard. They persisted. And they used their genius minds to change the world. In this beautifully illustrated picture book edition, we explore the story of four female African American mathematicians at NASA, known as “colored computers,” and how they overcame gender and racial barriers to succeed in a highly challenging STEM-based career. “Finally, the extraordinary lives of four African American women who helped NASA put the first men in space is available for picture book readers,” proclaims Brightly in their article “18 Must-Read Picture Books of 2018.” “Will inspire girls and boys alike to love math, believe in themselves, and reach for the stars.”

  2. Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - This picture book biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. brings his life and the profound nature of his message to young children through his own words. Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the most influential and gifted speakers of all time. Doreen Rappaport uses quotes from some of his most beloved speeches to tell the story of his life and his work in a simple, direct way. Bryan Collier’s stunning collage art combines remarkable watercolor pain

  3. Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.?: A Who Was? Board Book - The chronology and themes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s meaningful life are presented in a masterfully succinct text, with just a few sentences per page. The fresh, stylized illustrations are sure to captivate young readers and adults alike. With a read-aloud biographical summary in the back, this age-appropriate introduction honors and shares the life and work of one of the most influential civil rights activists of our time.

  4. A Place to Land - Much has been written about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the 1963 March on Washington. But there’s little on his legendary speech and how he came to write it. Find out more in this gripping book with illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Jerry Pinkney. Martin Luther King, Jr. was once asked if the hardest part of preaching was knowing where to begin. No, he said. The hardest part is knowing where to end. “It’s terrible to be circling up there without a place to land.” Finding this place to land was what Martin Luther King, Jr. struggled with, alongside advisors and fellow speech writers, in the Willard Hotel the night before the March on Washington, where he gave his historic “I Have a Dream” speech. But those famous words were never intended to be heard on that day, not even written down for that day, not even once. Barry Wittenstein teams up with legendary illustrator Jerry Pinkney to tell the story of how, against all odds, Martin found his place to land.

Books About African Americans and Technology

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Ada Twist, Scientist
Written by Andrea Beaty & illustrated by David Roberts
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Ada Twist’s head is full of questions. Like her classmates Iggy and Rosie—stars of their own New York Times bestselling picture books Iggy Peck, Architect and Rosie Revere, Engineer—Ada has always been endlessly curious. Even when her fact-finding missions and elaborate scientific experiments don’t go as planned, Ada learns the value of thinking her way through problems and continuing to stay curious.
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Mae Among the Stars
Written by Roda Ahmed & illustrated by Stasia Burrington
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
An Amazon Best Book of the Month A beautiful picture book for sharing, inspired by the life of the first African American woman to travel in space, Mae Jemison. A great classroom and bedtime read-aloud, Mae Among the Stars is the perfect book for young readers who have big dreams and even bigger hearts! When Little Mae was a child, she dreamed of dancing in space. She imagined herself surrounded by billions of stars, floating, gliding, and discovering. She wanted to be an astronaut. Her mom told her, "If you believe it, and work hard for it, anything is possible.” Little Mae’s curiosity, intelligence, and determination, matched with her parents' encouraging words, paved the way for her incredible success at NASA as the first African American woman to travel in space. This book will inspire other young girls to reach for the stars, to aspire for the impossible, and to persist with childlike imagination.
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Astro Girl
Written & illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
The stars are the limit for a little girl who acts out her wish to be an astronaut — inspired by a very special person. Astrid has loved the stars and space for as long as she can remember. “I want to be an astronaut!” she says to everyone who will listen. While her mama is away, Astrid and her papa have fun acting out the challenges an astronaut faces on a space mission — like being in zero gravity (“I can do that all day long!” she says), eating food from a kind of tube, and doing science experiments with the help of cookie sheets. When at last it’s time to meet Mama at the air base, Astrid wears her favorite space T-shirt to greet her. But where exactly has Mama been? Channeling a sense of childlike delight, Ken Wilson-Max brings space travel up close for young readers and offers an inspiring ending.
Honorable Mentions
Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention book
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Patricia's Vision: The Doctor Who Saved Sight book
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Counting the Stars book
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  1. Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention - In this companion to the award-winning Izzy Gizmo, Izzy Gizmo returns (together with Grandpa and Fixer) in a charming and eccentric tale of ambition, perseverance, and finding your inner strength. Izzy Gizmo has been invited to Technoff Isle’s annual convention where the inventor of the best machine will win coveted admittance to the Genius Guild. Great inventors produce gadgets that can be put to good use, so Izzy Gizmo decides to build a recycling machine that mends broken tools. But with fearsome foe Abi von Lavish getting the best of her at every turn, can Izzy Gizmo and Fixer create the winning invention? Featuring the creative and much-loved heroine of color, this wonderfully exuberant story has serious points to make about the importance of make do and mend.

  2. Patricia's Vision: The Doctor Who Saved Sight - The inspiring story of Dr. Patricia Bath, a groundbreaking ophthalmologist who pioneered laser surgery—and gave her patients the gift of sight. Born in the 1940s, Patricia Bath dreamed of being an ophthalmologist at a time when becoming a doctor wasn’t a career option for most women—especially African-American women. This empowering biography follows Dr. Bath in her quest to save and restore sight to the blind, and her decision to “choose miracles” when everyone else had given up hope. Along the way, she cofounded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness, invented a specialized laser for removing cataracts, and became the first African-American woman doctor to receive a medical patent.

  3. Counting the Stars - Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or astronauts walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used their knowledge, pencils, adding machines, and writing paper to calculate the orbital mechanics needed to launch spacecraft. Katherine Johnson was one of these mathematicians who used trajectories and complex equations to chart the space program. Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws were in place in the early 1950s, Katherine worked analyzing data at the NACA (later NASA) Langley laboratory. In 1962, as NASA prepared for the orbital mission of John Glenn, Katherine Johnson was called upon and John Glenn said “get the girl” (Katherine Johnson) to run the numbers by hand to chart the complexity of the orbital flight. He knew that his flight couldn’t work without her unique skills. President Barack Obama awarded Katherine Johnson the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 and her incredible life inspired the Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures. Get to know this incredible and inspirational woman with this beautifully illustrated picture book from an award-winning duo.

Want to see books about technology?

Books About African Americans and Performing Arts

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Josephine
Written by Patricia Hruby Powell & illustrated by Christian Robinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10
In exuberant verse and stirring pictures, Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson create an extraordinary portrait for young people of the passionate performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker, the woman who worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. Meticulously researched by both author and artist, Josephine's powerful story of struggle and triumph is an inspiration and a spectacle, just like the legend herself.
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A Dance Like Starlight
Written by Kristy Dempsey & illustrated by Floyd Cooper
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Little ballerinas have big dreams. Dreams of pirouettes and grande jetes, dreams of attending the best ballet schools and of dancing starring roles on stage. But in Harlem in the 1950s, dreams don’t always come true—they take a lot of work and a lot of hope. And sometimes hope is hard to come by. But the first African-American prima ballerina, Janet Collins, did make her dreams come true. And those dreams inspired ballerinas everywhere, showing them that the color of their skin couldn’t stop them from becoming a star. In a lyrical tale as beautiful as a dance en pointe, Kristy Dempsey and Floyd Cooper tell the story of one little ballerina who was inspired by Janet Collins to make her own dreams come true.
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Firebird
Written by Misty Copeland & illustrated by Christopher Myers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
In her debut picture book, Misty Copeland tells the story of a young girl–an every girl–whose confidence is fragile and who is questioning her own ability to reach the heights that Misty has reached. Misty encourages this young girl’s faith in herself and shows her exactly how, through hard work and dedication, she too can become Firebird. Lyrical and affecting text paired with bold, striking illustrations that are some of Caldecott Honoree Christopher Myers’s best work, makes Firebird perfect for aspiring ballerinas everywhere.
Honorable Mentions
The Legendary Miss Lena Horne book
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Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina book
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I Got the Rhythm book
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  1. The Legendary Miss Lena Horne - Celebrate the life of Lena Horne, the pioneering African American actress and civil rights activist, with this inspiring and powerful picture book from award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford. You have to be taught to be second class; you’re not born that way. Lena Horne was born into the freedom struggle, to a family of teachers and activists. Her mother dreamed of being an actress, so Lena followed in her footsteps as she chased small parts in vaudeville, living out of a suitcase until MGM offered Lena something more—the first ever studio contract for a black actress. But the roles she was considered for were maids and mammies, stereotypes that Lena refused to play. Still, she never gave up. “Stormy Weather” became her theme song, and when she sang “This Little Light of Mine” at a civil rights rally, she found not only her voice, but her calling.

  2. Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina - An inspiring picture book for little ballerinas everywhere! Ready to Fly is the true story of Sylvia Townsend, an African American girl who falls in love with ballet after seeing Swan Lake on TV. Although there aren’t many ballet schools that will accept a girl like Sylvia in the 1950s, her local bookmobile provides another possibility. A librarian helps Sylvia find a book about ballet and the determined seven-year-old, with the help of her new books, starts teaching herself the basics of classical ballet. Soon Sylvia learns how to fly—how to dance—and how to dare to dream. Lyrical, easy-to-read, and affecting text paired with bright, appealing illustrations make Ready to Fly perfect for aspiring ballerinas everywhere who are ready to leap and to spread their wings. Includes a foreword from Sylvia Townsend, a brief history of the bookmobile, an author’s note, and a further reading list.

  3. I Got the Rhythm - On a simple trip to the park, the joy of music overtakes a mother and daughter. The little girl hears a rhythm coming from the world around her- from butterflies, to street performers, to ice cream sellers everything is musical! She sniffs, snaps, and shakes her way into the heart of the beat, finally busting out in an impromptu dance, which all the kids join in on! Award-winning illustrator Frank Morrison and Connie Schofield-Morrison, capture the beat of the street, to create a rollicking read that will get any kid in the mood to boogie.

Books About African Americans and Siblings

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Lola Reads to Leo
Written by Anna McQuinn & illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
Lola reads story books to her new baby brother Leo, and even though Mommy and Daddy are busy, they still have time to read to Lola at bedtime.
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By My Brother's Side
Written by Tiki Barber, Ronde Barber, and Robert Burleigh & illustrated by Barry Root
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10
Introduces twin brothers Tiki and Ronde Barber, who worked hard to overcome obstacles and became National Football League stars, one as runningback for the New York Giants, the other as cornerback for the Tampa Bay Bucs.
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The Bell Rang
Written & illustrated by James E. Ransome
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Book of 2019 A young slave girl witnesses the heartbreak and hopefulness of her family and their plantation community when her brother escapes for freedom in this brilliantly conceived picture book by Coretta Scott King Award winner James E. Ransome. Every single morning, the overseer of the plantation rings the bell. Daddy gathers wood. Mama cooks. Ben and the other slaves go out to work. Each day is the same. Full of grueling work and sweltering heat. Every day, except one, when the bell rings and Ben is nowhere to be found. Because Ben ran. Yet, despite their fear and sadness, his family remains hopeful that maybe, just maybe, he made it North. That he is free. An ode to hope and a powerful tribute to the courage of those who ran for freedom, The Bell Rang is a stunning reminder that our past can never be forgotten.
Honorable Mentions
The Crossover book
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Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams book
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Hansel and Gretel book
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Sisters book
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  1. The Crossover - New York Times bestseller ∙ Newbery Medal Winner ∙ Coretta Scott King Honor Award ∙ 2015 YALSA 2015 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults ∙ 2015 YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers ∙ Publishers Weekly Best Book ∙ School Library Journal Best Book ∙ Kirkus Best Book “A beautifully measured novel of life and line.”—The New York Times Book Review “With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering,” announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he’s got mad beats, too, that tell his family’s story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood from Kwame Alexander. Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story’s heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.

  2. Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams - Venus and Serena Williams. Two peas in a pod. Best friends. Sisters. Six days a week they awoke before the sun came up to practice their serves and returns, to learn to run faster and hit harder. They were unstoppable. At age fourteen, Venus played her first professional match. Three years later, it was Serena’s turn. It wasn’t easy. Some tennis fans cheered for these two fresh faces, while those who were unhappy to see two black girls competing in a nearly all-white sport booed and taunted them. But they didn’t let it stop them. With vibrant mixed media art, nonfiction superstars Lesa Cline-Ransome and Coretta Scott King Honor winner James E. Ransome share the inspirational story of two tennis legends who were fierce competitors on the courts, but close sisters above all.

  3. Hansel and Gretel - Caldecott Honor winner Rachel Isadora gives readers a stunning new interpretation of this classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale, setting the infamous witch’s cottage deep in a lush African forest. Hansel and Gretel’s plight feels all the more threatening as they’re plunged into the thick, dark jungle of Isadora’s rich collages.

  4. Sisters - Celebrated picture book biographer Jeanette Winter shares the story of champion tennis players—and sisters—Venus and Serena Williams. Before they were famous tennis stars, Venus and Serena Williams were sisters with big dreams growing up in Compton, California. In the early mornings, they head to the tennis courts, clean up debris, and practice. They compete in their first tournament and they both win. From there, the girls’ trophy collection grows and grows. Despite adversity and health challenges, the sisters become two of the greatest tennis players of all time. This inspiring story of sisterhood, hard work, and determination is perfect for budding athletes or any young reader with a big dream.

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Books About African Americans and Bedtime And Dreams

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Brown Baby Lullaby
Written by Tameka Fryer Brown & illustrated by A.G. Ford
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6
From sunset to bedtime, two brown-skinned parents lovingly care for their beautiful brown baby: first, they play outside, then it is time for dinner and a bath, and finally a warm snuggle before bed. With Spanish words sprinkled throughout and featuring warm art by New York Times–bestselling and NAACP- Award–winning illustrator AG Ford, Brown Baby Lullaby is the perfect new baby or baby shower gift.
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Nighttime Symphony
Written by Timbaland & illustrated by Christopher Myers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
The sounds of the city at night create a lively lullaby in this melodious bedtime story from superstar producer and musician Timbaland, Caldecott Honor–winning illustrator Christopher Myers, and Kaa Illustration! hey there, darling baby child, you’re safe in here though the storm is wild the streetlights glow through dark so deep but safe in sound you’ll go to sleep As a little boy gets ready for bed, the sounds of a wild storm echo around him, lulling him to sleep. From the crash of thunder to the pitter-patter of raindrops to the beat of passing cars, the music of the city creates a cozy bedtime soundtrack.
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Super Spooked
Written by Gina Bellisario & illustrated by Jessika von Innerebner
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-8
Although she has battled supervillains, Ellie has recently become scared of the dark, so when she is invited to a Halloween sleepover at her best friend's house she is apprehensive--but when the villainous Fairy Frightmare sprinkles the girls with bad dream dust, trapping them all inside their nightmares, Ellie must squash her own fears to rescue her friends.
Honorable Mentions
Quiet! book
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Help Wanted, Must Love Books book
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  1. Quiet! - Sssh! Listen, what’s that noise? Each room in a house has different noises and in this book the text and visual clues help a child experience the home through sound, which will be familiar to those children who are blind or partially sighted.

  2. Help Wanted, Must Love Books - Shailey loves bedtime, especially reading with her dad. But her dad starts a new job, and it gets in the way of their bedtime routine. So Shailey takes action! She fires her dad, posts a Help Wanted sign, and starts interviews immediately. She is thrilled when her favorite characters from fairytales line up to apply. But Sleeping Beauty can’t stay awake, the Gingerbread Man steals her book, and Snow White brings along her whole team. Shailey is running out of options. Is bedtime ruined forever?

Books About African Americans and Africa

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Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters
Written & illustrated by John Steptoe
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Mufaro was a happy man. Everyone agreed that his two daughters were very beautiful. Nyasha was kind and considerate as well as beautiful, but everyone -- except Mufaro -- knew that Manyara was selfish, badtempered, and spoiled. When the king decided to take a wife and invited "The Most Worthy and Beautiful Daughters in the Land" to appear before him, Mufaro declared proudly that only the king could choose between Nyasha and Manyara. Manyara, of course, didn't agree, and set out to make certain that she would be chosen. John Steptoe has created a memorable modem fable of pride going before a fall, in keeping with the moral of the folktale that was his inspiration. He has illustrated it with stunning paintings that glow with the beauty, warmth, and internal vision of the land and people of his ancestors.
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The Water Princess
Written by Susan Verde and Georgie Badiel & illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Based on supermodel Georgie Badiel’s childhood, a young girl dreams of bringing clean drinking water to her African village With its wide sky and warm earth, Princess Gie Gie’s kingdom is a beautiful land. But clean drinking water is scarce in her small African village. And try as she might, Gie Gie cannot bring the water closer; she cannot make it run clearer. Every morning, she rises before the sun to make the long journey to the well. Instead of a crown, she wears a heavy pot on her head to collect the water. After the voyage home, after boiling the water to drink and clean with, Gie Gie thinks of the trip that tomorrow will bring. And she dreams. She dreams of a day when her village will have cool, crystal-clear water of its own. Inspired by the childhood of African–born model Georgie Badiel, acclaimed author Susan Verde and award-winning author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds have come together to tell this moving story. As a child in Burkina Faso, Georgie and the other girls in her village had to walk for miles each day to collect water. This vibrant, engaging picture book sheds light on this struggle that continues all over the world today, instilling hope for a future when all children will have access to clean drinking water.
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A Story, a Story
Written & illustrated by Gail E. Haley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Winner of the Caldecott Medal Once, all the stories in the world belonged to Nyame, the Sky God. He kept them in a box beside his throne. But Ananse, the Spider man, wanted them -- and caught three sly creatures to get them. This story of how we got our own stories to tell is adapted from an African folktale.
Honorable Mentions
Ashanti to Zulu book
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Rapunzel book
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The Fisherman and His Wife book
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Wherever I Go book
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  1. Ashanti to Zulu - Artists Leo and Diane Dillon won their second consecutive Caldecott Medal for this stunning ABC of African culture. “Another virtuoso performance. . . . Such an astute blend of aesthetics and information is admirable, the child’s eye will be rewarded many times over.”—Booklist. ALA Notable Book; Caldecott Medal.

  2. Rapunzel - Caldecott Honor winner Rachel Isadora’s gorgeous collages breathe new life into this classic tale, capturing Rapunzel’s striking beauty and the lush African setting—a new home for this story—with wonderful details such as Rapunzel’s long dreadlocks and the prince’s noble steed—a zebra. Readers will delight in the vibrant illustrations, thrill at the appearances of the frightening sorceress, and chime in with the familiar line “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair,” as they follow this well-loved tale.

  3. The Fisherman and His Wife - Caldecott Honor winning artist Rachel Isadora brings another fabulous fairy tale to brilliant life with her stunning collages. The Brothers Grimm story of the kind fisherman who catches an enchanted fish, and his greedy wife who always wants more, is perfect for these give-me times. Rachel Isadora’s captivating collage-style artwork, featuring the African landscape and the increasingly turbulent ocean, provides a wonderful new backdrop for this classic story.

  4. Wherever I Go - A hopeful and timely picture book about a spirited little girl living in a refugee camp. Of all her friends, Abia has been at the Shimelba Refugee Camp the longest—seven years, four months, and sixteen days. Papa says that’s too long and they need a forever home. Until then, though, Abia has something important to do. Be a queen. Sometimes she’s a noisy queen, banging on her drum as she and Mama wait in the long line for rice to cook for dinner. Sometimes she’s a quiet queen, cuddling her baby cousin to sleep while Auntie is away collecting firewood. And sometimes, when Papa talks hopefully of their future, forever home, Abia is a little nervous. Forever homes are in strange and faraway places—will she still be a queen? Filled with hope, love, and respect, Wherever I Go is a timely tribute to the strength and courage of refugees around the world.

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Books About African Americans and Kwanzaa

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Kevin's Kwanzaa
Written by Lisa Bullard & illustrated by Constanza Basaluzzo
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
This book does a great job of simply explaining Kwanzaa through they eyes of a boy. I like that the book has extra information and facts to go along with the story, as well as a glossary and instructions to make a Kwanzaa craft at the end of the book.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7
Kevin is excited for his turn to light the candles on the last night of Kwanzaa. As he narrates through the week of Kwanzaa, readers learn about the origins, purpose, and rituals of this holiday.
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My First Kwanzaa
Written & illustrated by Karen Katz
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
This book is laid out simply with the words of Kwanzaa, definitions, and telling how they apply. The illustrations are cute and the book is informative!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
A simple way to get acquainted with Kwanzaa. "Hooray! Hooray! It's time to get ready for Kwanzaa." During the seven days of Kwanzaa, we celebrate the importance of family, friends, and community. This warm and lively introduction to a very special holiday will help even the youngest children join in! Author and illustrator Karen Katz's wonderful series of picture books for the very young offer a simple and fun way to get familiar with the traditions of holiday celebrations from different cultures.
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The Story of Kwanzaa
Written by Donna L. Washington & illustrated by Stephen Taylor
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
It’s Kwanzaa-time! Light the candles on the kinara! Fly the bendera, and tell stories from Africa! The festival of Kwanzaa was originated by Dr. Maulana Karenga to honor the customs and history of African Americans. The seven principles of Kwanzaa, called the Nguzo Saba, serve to remind African Americans of the struggles of the past, and also focus on present-day achievements and goals for the future. Activities at the end of the book include making your own cow-tail switch and baking benne cakes.
Honorable Mentions
Seven Spools of Thread book
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Together for Kwanzaa book
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My First Kwanzaa Book book
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The Sound of Kwanzaa book
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  1. Seven Spools of Thread - Lemony Snickers -

    Seven Spools of Thread is a wonderful book for celebrating Kwanzaa. The book features seven sons who must learn to work together to receive their inheritance. The illustrations are fantastic and celebrate the tradition of Kwanzaa with a proud, vibrant fusion of colors. The book teaches a great lesson about looking outside your circle to help those around you.

  2. Together for Kwanzaa - The Book Snob Mom -

    The illustrations in this book are gorgeous! It is definitely on the long side, but it's a fine story explaining the principles of Kwanzaa and emphasizing the bond between siblings.

  3. My First Kwanzaa Book - Introduces Kwanzaa, the holiday in which Afro-Americans celebrate their cultural heritage.

  4. The Sound of Kwanzaa - Hear the words, sing the songs, dance to the beat, and shout “Harambee!” as you jump into this joyful celebration of the sounds of Kwanzaa! The sound is Umoja—bringing us together. The sound is Kuumba—the songs of our ancestors. The sound is Kwanzaa! Lively verse and colorful illustrations guide you through the seven principles of this festive holiday. All you have to do is come close, gather round, and discover what Kwanzaa is all about!

Want to see books about Kwanzaa?

Epilogue

12 books that are just too good to leave off of our African Americans list.
When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree book
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Big Papa and the Time Machine book
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Wilma Unlimited book
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The Undefeated book
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  1. When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree - “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” In this imaginative take on that popular saying, a child is surprised to receive a lemon tree from Grandma for her birthday. After all, she DID ask for a new gadget! But when she follows the narrator’s careful—and funny—instructions, she discovers that the tree might be exactly what she wanted after all.

  2. Big Papa and the Time Machine - Discover the true meaning of being brave in this tender and whimsical picture book from Daniel Bernstrom (One Day in the Eucalytus, Eucalyptus Tree) and Shane Evans (Chocolate Me!) that follows a grandfather and grandson who travel through time in a beloved 1952 Ford. A little boy who lives with his grandpa isn’t reprimanded for being afraid to go to school one day. Instead, Big Papa takes him away in his time machine—a 1952 Ford—back to all of the times when he, himself, was scared of something life was handing him. Full of heartfelt moments and thrilling magical realism, Big Papa and the Time Machine speaks to the African American experience in a touching dialogue between two family members from different generations, and emerges as a voice that shares history and asks questions about one family’s experience in 20th-century black America. *“Wasn’t you scared?” “Oh, I was scared,” Big Papa said. “Sometimes you gotta walk with giants if you ever gonna know what you made of. That’s called being brave.”*

  3. Wilma Unlimited - A biography of the African-American woman who overcame crippling polio as a child to become the first woman to win three gold medals in track in a single Olympics.

  4. The Undefeated - The Newbery Award-winning author of THE CROSSOVER pens an ode to black American triumph and tribulation, with art from a two-time Caldecott Honoree. Originally performed for ESPN’s The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present. Robust back matter at the end provides valuable historical context and additional detail for those wishing to learn more.

Juneteenth Jamboree book
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Brown Girl Dreaming book
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Little Chef book
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Overground Railroad book
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  1. Juneteenth Jamboree - A young girl, who has just moved to her parents’ hometown, realizes that she has come home after the African American emancipation celebration of Juneteenth. It’s a fine day in June. Cassandra’s family has just moved from the city back to her parents’ hometown in Texas. Cassie likes her new house, and her new school is okay, but Texas doesn’t quite feel like home yet.What Cassie doesn’t know is that her family has a surprise for her - a Texas tradition. As she helps prepare red velvet cake, fried chicken, and piles of other dishes, she wonders what makes June 19th so important. It isn’t until Cassie and her family arrive downtown that she discovers what the commotion is about. And, in the process, she realizes that she and her family have indeed come home.With text and illustrations as warm as a summer day, author Carole Boston Weatherford and artist Yvonne Buchanan bring the African American emancipation celebration of Juneteenth to life for children. Readers of all ages will delight in this declaration of freedom and homecoming.

  2. Brown Girl Dreaming - In vivid poems that reflect the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, an award-winning author shares what it was like to grow up in the 1960s and 1970s in both the North and the South.

  3. Little Chef - In honor of the special day, Lizzie wakes up super early, as any good chef should, to prepare the perfect meal for her grandmother, whom Lizzie lauds as the greatest chef in the world.

  4. Overground Railroad - **A window into a child’s experience of the Great Migration from the award-winning creators of Before She Was Harriet and Finding Langston**.** As she climbs aboard the New York bound Silver Meteor train, Ruth Ellen embarks upon a journey toward a new life up North— one she can’t begin to imagine. Stop by stop, the perceptive young narrator tells her journey in poems, leaving behind the cotton fields and distant Blue Ridge mountains. Each leg of the trip brings new revelations as scenes out the window of folks working in fields give way to the Delaware River, the curtain that separates the colored car is removed, and glimpses of the freedom and opportunity the family hopes to find come into view. As they travel, Ruth Ellen reads from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, reflecting on how her journey mirrors her own— until finally the train arrives at its last stop, New York’s Penn Station, and the family heads out into a night filled with bright lights, glimmering stars, and new possiblity. James Ransome’s mixed-media illustrations are full of bold color and texture, bringing Ruth Ellen’s journey to life, from sprawling cotton fields to cramped train cars, the wary glances of other passengers and the dark forest through which Frederick Douglass traveled towards freedom. Overground Railroad is, as Lesa notes, a story “of people who were running from and running to at the same time,” and it’s a story that will stay with readers long after the final pages. A Junior Library Guild Selection Praise for Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome’s Before She Was Harriet**, a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and winner of the Christopher Award** * “Ransome’s lavishly detailed and expansive double-page spreads situate young readers in each time and place as the text takes them further into the past.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review * “a powerful reminder of how all children carry within them the potential for greatness.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

The Talking Eggs book
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A Poem for Peter book
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Tiara's Hat Parade book
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Going Down Home with Daddy book
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  1. The Talking Eggs - The author of such delights as The Christmas Ark and The Enchanted Tapestry joins forces with illustrator Pinkney to resurrect a colorful folktale that captures the unique flavor of the American South. A 1989 Caldecott Honor Book.

  2. A Poem for Peter - A celebration of the extraordinary life of Ezra Jack Keats, creator of The Snowy Day. The story of The Snowy Day begins more than one hundred years ago, when Ezra Jack Keats was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. The family were struggling Polish immigrants, and despite Keats’s obvious talent, his father worried that Ezra’s dream of being an artist was an unrealistic one. But Ezra was determined. By high school he was winning prizes and scholarships. Later, jobs followed with the WPA and Marvel comics. But it was many years before Keats’s greatest dream was realized and he had the opportunity to write and illustrate his own book. For more than two decades, Ezra had kept pinned to his wall a series of photographs of an adorable African American child. In Keats’s hands, the boy morphed into Peter, a boy in a red snowsuit, out enjoying the pristine snow; the book became The Snowy Day, winner of the Caldecott Medal, the first mainstream book to feature an African American child. It was also the first of many books featuring Peter and the children of his — and Keats’s — neighborhood. Andrea Davis Pinkney’s lyrical narrative tells the inspiring story of a boy who pursued a dream, and who, in turn, inspired generations of other dreamers.

  3. Tiara's Hat Parade - Tiara has a gift for storytelling; her momma has a gift for making hats. When a new store opens that sells cheaper hats, Momma has to set her dreams aside, but Tiara has an idea for helping Momma’s dreams come true again.

  4. Going Down Home with Daddy - “On reunion morning, we rise before the sun. Daddy hums as he packs our car with suitcases and a cooler full of snacks. He says there’s nothing like going down home.” Down home is Granny’s house. Down home is where Lil’ Alan and his parents and sister will join great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Down home is where Lil’ Alan will hear stories of the ancestors and visit the land that has meant so much to all of them. And down home is where all of the children will find their special way to pay tribute to family history. All the kids have to decide on what tribute to share, but what will Lil’ Alan do? In this rich and moving celebration of history, culture, and ritual, Kelly Starling Lyons’ eloquent text explores the power of family traditions. Stunning illustrations by Coretta Scott King Honor-winner Daniel Minter reveal the motion and connections in a large, multigenerational family.

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