I’m a big proponent of #RaiseAReader and I also want my interracial kids to understand all of our collective history and culture. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day this month and Black History Month coming up in February, I looked through my daughter’s collection of picture books for some great stories to help kids and parents alike understand more about the important history of Black/African-Americans in this country, and our continued cultural contributions.
Here are our favorite Black History Month Books for children and families alike!
“I Am Enough” by Grace Byers
A fellow Alumnus of University of California, Irvine, Byers (who many may know from her role of Anika on Empire) writes a love letter to the reader promoting self-love and acceptance. It’s beautifully written and illustrated and something that we all likely could be repeating to ourselves throughout the day. The cover alone, with a Black girl with natural hair and dark skin, promotes a more diverse and inclusive standard of beauty thus we regularly display on the floating shelves in our daughter’s room.
“Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History” by Vashti Harrison
This book alone is a must-have in my opinion and it’s also part one of three-part series. We are looking forward to adding the two additional titles to our library. Harrison provides short stories on well-known names like poet and activist Maya Angelou but also lesser-known Black heroines like pilot Bessie Coleman. It’s a good one to read in order or sprinkle the stories throughout for some serious admiration and inspiration.
“The Day You Begin” by Jaqueline Woodson
I met this author at an American Library Association conference in New Orleans shortly after my daughter was born. I felt and still feel a close connection to Woodson’s honest look at how being different in our society can be discouraging, intimidating, and downright terrifying at times. It’s a reminder of how far we have come, but also about the inherent struggle people who are not part of any majority may feel. As such, it’s subsequently a story of it being okay being the only, and how to use that to shape yourself and your experiences.
“I Promise” by Lebron James
My husband recently went to a book store with the kids and picked up this title by the famous basketball player. James uses the importance of personal action and responsibility paired with family and community needs to model a way of life for the reader that in my opinion is highly based on generations of Black history dedication to lifting the entire community up socially, economically, and politically. It’s a way of life that many marginalized communities have had to adopt in order to combat systematic barriers to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.
The Drummer Who Lost His Beat” by Stephanie Bloom
I love this book in its representation of music that is so central to understanding the human experience and something that filled the rooms of my household growing up with a father who is an audiophile. Bloom takes the reader through the journey of a musician struggling artistically but also the important genres of music like Jazz and Blues that continue to shape and illustrate Black history and culture in the United States.
Do you have a favorite book to read with your children in celebration of Black History Month? Please let us know in the comments!