African American Childrens Books

African-American boy reading a book

Looking for the best African-American children's books offers parents and teachers a chance to highlight books that depicts the unique African-American experience as well as the everyday life of a child, regardless of skin color.

Reading Books with African-American Themes

A book with African-American characters is important to include on your child's reading list for a number of reasons. Even if you and your child are not African-American, children's stories with race themes present a diverse world and new perspectives that promote understanding to children, regardless of skin color.

African-American books also present issues that include:

  • Cultural identity and heritage
  • History of racial struggles
  • Everyday experiences of children

Choose an African-American book for your child that relates to his or her studies, questions about identity or with a rich story. The picture books offer an introduction to literature and reading that allows African-American children to see someone who looks like them as part of the story. Reading is important, and one way to get kids excited about reading is to find a character who they relate to on a personal level.

Great African-American Children's Books

African-American picture books for kids offer a variety of stories. The illustrated books range from books about black history to imaginative tales featuring African-American characters. In virtually every age group, a book is available with African-American themes.

Suggestions for some great books available at with African-American characters in a variety of situations include:

  • Baby Dance: Follow the actions in this infant and toddler book about a father keeping a baby happy while the child's mother sleeps.
  • Come On, Rain: Beautiful prose describes a child in the city as she eagerly awaits a downpour of rain.
  • Amazing Grace: Grace proves to her classmates and herself she can do anything she wants, no matter her gender or color of her skin.
  • My Brother Charlie: Charlie and Callie are twins, but with one major difference: Charlie has autism.
  • Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: This African folktale features two daughters and their travels as they vie to become the king's wife.
  • Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm: This highly entertaining imaginative book features a balloon farmer who teaches a young girl the magical tricks to his trade.
  • Tar Beach: A young girl imagines herself flying over New York City in this tale set on a family rooftop they refer to as "tar beach."

Of course, many more excellent African-American children's books are available. Ask a librarian or teacher to recommend ones that have a theme that fits with your child's current interests. Evaluate children's literature for African-American books for kids like any other books-look for classic tales with engaging characters and an underlying theme or morality.

Award Winning Books Featuring African-American Characters

Seek out award winning books that feature African-American characters when looking for a new story to introduce to your child. Two of the most prominent awards in children's books for African-Americans are the Coretta Scott King African-American Children's Book Awards and the John Steptoe Awards for New Talent in Black Children's Books.

Recent winners and honorees of these awards include:

The American Library Association evaluates books each year and gives the awards to the books that meet their criteria. These honored books are sure to be a wonderful addition to any children's book collection, especially a collection featuring African-American characters and themes.

Include a variety of people and experiences in the books in your child's library, including African-American children's books. These books highlight strong characters, promote diversity to a child of any skin color, and offer young African-American children characters they identify with on many levels.

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African American Childrens Books