Children’s literature provides us with valuable opportunities to discuss racial issues with children of all ages. Thanks to children’s books, we can explore complex concepts through the stories of relatable characters or historical figures. When age-appropriate text is paired with engaging illustrations and family dialogue, children can practice seeing the world from different perspectives. They will also gain a better understanding of the people and events that lead us to where we are today.
Whether you’ve been discussing racial issues with your children since birth or are just beginning to talk about race as a family, it’s essential to acknowledge Black History in these conversations. We’re thrilled to share a few of our favorite children’s books that support family dialogue about Black History.
If you’re interested in adding one or more of these books to your family’s library, please support a Black-owned independent bookstore like Cafe con Libros or one of the 125 Black-owned bookstores featured here. You can place online orders through Bookshop, a service that allows you to order any book and have it delivered directly to you, while benefiting independent bookstores!
ABC’s of Black History
By Rio Cortez, Illustrated by Lauren Semmer
Poet Rio Cortez wrote this poem for her daughter before she was born. This lyrical book offers a vast history of Black individuals, communities, and cultures- from the diaspora to the Black Lives Matter movement. This is a memorable, moving read that is sure to inspire lots of conversation!
Little People. Big Dreams: Rosa Parks
Written by Lisbeth Kaiser, Illustrated by Marta Antelo
An inspiring introduction to civil rights activist and “Mother of the Freedom Movement”, Rosa Parks. As a child, Rosa knew that the discrimination she experienced as a child “wasn’t right”.This book illustrates how a single action can have a ripple effect and implement significant change.
Who was Martin Luther King Jr.?
By Lisbeth Kaiser, Art by Stanley Chow
This board book is sturdy enough to be handled by babies and toddlers, with text that’s a perfect fit for preschoolers and beyond! Author Lisbeth Kaiser includes relatable anecdotes from Martin Luther King Jr.’s childhood, as well as the impact he made in his adult years. “He said that we could change the world peacefully.”
Let the Children March
By Monica Clark-Robinson, Illustrated by Frank Morrison
This powerful book tells the story of the Birmingham Children’s Cruaade of 1963, when over a thousand children volunteered to march for their civil rights. Their peaceful protest of segregation laws was met with acts of hatred, but soon lead to desegregation in Birmingham. “With nothing more than our feet, voices, and courage, we had done what others could not.”
Little Leaders, Bold Women in Black History & Little Leaders, Exceptional Men in Black History
By Vashti Harrison
Vashti Harrison celebrates Black women and men throughout history in her Little Leaders books. With unique illustrations, fascinating stories and interesting facts, these books are a must-have for every family’s home library. They even include suggestions for further research at the end of each book!
Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My True Story
By Ruby Bridges
This book features photographs of Ruby and her experience as the first Black child to desegregate Louisiana’s William Frantz Elementary School in 1960. We love that this story is told by Ruby herself!
Juneteenth for Mazie
By Floyd Cooper
In this beautifully illustrated book by Floyd Cooper, Mazie and her dad reflect on the struggles of her “great great great Grandpa Mose”. Once a slave, Mose witnessed the Emancipation Proclamation and celebrated his freedom on Juneteenth, just as Mazie does today.