170 children's books with black characters

I love reading good children’s books with my three-year-son and recommending them to my friends who are mothers. When I recently sent them a book recommendation, one mom requested books with black characters.

This mom and I have black children and it is important for us to have books with characters that resemble them. It helps our children make a connection with the characters, plot, and setting.

Suddenly I started creating a list of books we have read with black characters. At first, I thought the list would consist of 25 books. However, as I began writing, it went from 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, and then finally to 170 books!

Some of these books I have read to my son, and then some he read independently.

Below is a video of Read Aloud Strategies to Make Books Fun For Kids!

Read these books below and make them come alive to your children.

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1. Max Goes to the Barber by Adria F. Klein/Mernie Gallagher-Cole

  • This book explores a boy’s visit to the barber as he gets his hair cut and combed.

2. Max Goes to the Dentist by Adria F. Klein/Mernie Gallagher-Cole

  •  This book describes what a trip to the dentist entails. As a result, Max learns how to take proper care of this teeth.

3. Max Goes to School by Adria F. Klein/Mernie Gallagher-Cole

  • Learn about Max’s day at school, as he listens to a story, draws a picture, plays on the playground, and eats lunch.

4. Max Goes to the Library by Adria F. Klein/ Mernie Gallagher-Cole

  • Max, who loves to read, discovers all the services available to him during a visit to the library.

5. Max Goes to the Zoo by Adria Klein/Mernie Gallagher-Cole

  • Max and his friend, Lily, spend a day exploring the zoo. Read this book and find out what animals they see.

6. Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn/Rosaline Beardshaw

  • Lola and her mom go to the library weekly. Find out what fun she has and the friends she meets.

7. The Snowy Day by Erza Jack Keats

  • This work reveals the adventures of a little boy in the city on a very snowy day.

8. Peter’s Chair by Erza Jack Keats

  • Learn how Peter’s world is turned upside down with the arrival of a new baby sister.

9. Goggles by Erza Jack Keats

  • Peter and his friend find motorcycle goggles. Find out what happens when the older boys from the neighborhood want the goggles.

10. Pet Show by Erza Jack Keats

  • Archie faces a dilemma  when he wants to enter a pet show but his cat runs away. Read how he uses fast thinking to solve his problem.

11. Whistle for Willie by Erza Jack Keats

  • Learn about Peter, on a hot summer day, who wants to whistle for his dog, Willie.

12. Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang

  • This book is about bedtime fun and a countdown to pleasant dreams.

13. Whose Toes are Those by Jabari Asim/LeUyen Pham

  • Kids will enjoy this interactive book that celebrates the game, This Little Piggy.

14. I Am So Brave by Stephen Krensky/Sara Gillingham

  • Discover how this boy grows out of toddlerhood with courage and success!

15. I Know A lot by Stephen Krensky/Sara Gillingham

  • Discover how this girl grows out of toddlerhood with new knowledge to share!

16. Shades of Black: A Celebration of our Children by Sandra L. Pinkney/Miles Pinkney

  • This book explores the various skin tones, hair texture, and eye color of black children.

17. Shanna’s Teacher Show by Jean Marzollo/Shane W. Evans

  • Today Shanna is playing a teacher who knows how to make learning fun! She also teaches kids creativity and how to problem solve.

18. God Bless the Child by Billie Holiday/Arthur Herzog, Jr.

  • This book is based off the song by Billie Holiday, “God Bless the Child.”

19. Harper Counts Her Blessings by Kristi Guillory Reid/Jerry Craft

  • This book shows children the importance of taking the time each day as a family to reflect upon their blessings and to thank God.

20. Peek a Boo Morning by Rachel Isadora

  • A toddler plays a game of peekaboo with her family.
My son reading a book.

21. Peek a Boo Bedtime by Rachel Isadora

  • A fun-loving toddler delights in entertaining his family, friends, and puppy with his special game throughout the day.

22. Green Pants by Kenneth Kraegel

  • Jameson only wears green pants. When he wears green pants, he can do anything. If he wants to be in his cousin’s wedding, he is required to wear a tuxedo, with black pants. What will he do?

23. Brown Boy Brown Boy What Can you Be by Ameshia Arthur

  • Read about Matthew as he considers all the things he can accomplish and the careers he can do.

24. Dad Who Will I Be? by G. Todd Taylor/Jorge Hernandez

  • This book inspires, encourages, and educates young readers to be great by introducing them to heroes of color from a number of different professions.

25. Full Full Full of Love by Trish Cooke/Paul Howard

  • For the youngest member of an extended family, Sunday dinner
    at Grannie’s can be full of hugs and kisses, tasty dishes, happy faces, and love. This book has a special focus on the bond between little Jay Jay and his grannie.

26. I Look Up to Michelle Obama by Anna Membrino/Fatti Burke

  • This board book reveals Michelle Obama’s excellent qualities with text designed to share and read aloud.

27. Mary had a Little Glam by Tammi Sauer/Vanessa Brantley-Newton

  • This little Mary has swag! In this fun take on Mother Goose, fashionable Mary helps childhood’s characters go glam.

28. Dream Big, Little One by Vashi Harrison

  • This book showcases black women who changed the world.

29. Marvelous Me: Inside and Out by Lisa Bullard/Brandon Reibeling

  • There is no one else quite like Alex as he is one of a kind. This book will encourage children to embrace the things that make them unique.

30. Baby Dance by Ann Taylor/Majorie van Heerden

  • For the babies who respond to music and movement, this work provides a playful poem that has a father and child dancing.

31. Milo’s Museum by Zetta Elliott/Purple Wong

  • Milo is excited about her class trip to the museum.  However, Milo realizes that the people from her community are missing from the museum. Milo takes matters into her own hands and opens her own museum!

32. Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee/Tonya Lewis Lee

  • This book explores the thrills of bringing up a baby! Families everywhere will want to share in these precious moments again and again.

33. Leo Loves Baby Time by Anna McQuinn/Ruth Hearson

  • On Wednesdays, Leo and his mom go to Baby Time, where he plays peek-a-boo, sings, and meets new friends.

34. Leo Can Swim by Anna McQuinn/Ruth Hearson

  • Leo and Daddy go to swim class where they kick, bounce, and dive like little fish.

35. Pretty Brown Face by Andrea Davis Pinkney/Brian Pinkney

  •  Join the fun as a baby boy discovers the unique features on his face. This board book also celebrates the loving closeness of an African American family.

36. I Love My Hair by Natasha Anatasia Tarpley/E.B. Lewis

  • Keyana discovers the beauty and magic of her special hair, encouraging black children to be proud of their heritage and to enhance their self-confidence.

37. Afro-Bets 1,2,3 by Cheryl Willis Hudson

  • Children will enjoy learning numbers 1 through 10 as the Afro-Bets take turns stretching and bending into numbers.

38. Afro-Bets ABC Book by Cheryl Willis Hudson

  • The Afro-Bets ABC book uniquely presents letters A through Z for young children to discover with the fun-filled, captivating Afro-Bets Kids.

39. Afro-Bets Book of Colors by Margery Brown/Culverson Blair

  • Learn the colors in a fun way with the Afro-Bets Kids.

40. Afro-Bets Book of Shapes by Margery Brown/Culverson Blair

  • Learn the shapes in a fun way with the Afro-Bets Kids.

41. Riley Can be Anything by Mrs. Davina Hamilton/Elena Reinoso

  • This inspiring rhyming story follows Riley as he discovers some of the wonderful things he can do when he grows up.

42. Chocolate Me by Taye Diggs/Shane W. Evans

  • The boy in this book is teased for looking different than the other kids. He tells his mother he wishes he could be more like everyone else. She helps him to see how beautiful he is.

43. Mixed Me by Taye Diggs/Shane W. Evans

  • This story is about a boy named Mike who has to answer many questions about being mixed. Learn about the day in the life of a mixed-race child with this book.

44. I Am Mixed by Garcelle Beauvais/Sebastian A. Jones

  • This book follows twins, Jay and Nia, who explore what it is like to be of mixed ancestry, proving that a child is more than the sum of their parents.

45. I Love you More Than by Taye Diggs/Shane W. Evans

  • This story is perfect for families who are separated, whatever the circumstances. Its message of love highlights the bond between parent and child in ways that little ones will understand.

46. Lullaby (For a Black Mother) by Langston Hughes/Sean Qualls

  • The poet, Langston Hughes, celebrates the love between an African American mother and her baby.

47. Ada Twist Scientist by Andrea Beaty/David Roberts

  • Ada learns the value of thinking her way through problems and continuing to stay curious.

48. When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner/David Catrow

  • This book inspires young readers to learn about their own special gifts and how they fit into God’s divine plan.

49. Monster Trouble by Lane Fredrickson/Michael Robertson

  • Nothing frightens Winifred Schnitzel, but she needs her sleep. The neighborhood monsters WON’T let her be! What’s a girl to do? (Hint: Monsters HATE kisses!)

50. Even Superheroes Have Bad Days by Shelly Becker/Eda Kaban

  • This energetic picture book has plenty of fun ideas to help kids cope when they’re feeling overwhelmed.

51. Hank’s Big Day by Evan Kuhlman/Chuck Groenink

  • Hank is a pill bug with a busy life.  His daily routine involves nibbling a dead leaf, climbing up a long stick, avoiding a skateboarder, and playing pretend with his best friend, a human girl named Amelia.

52. Not Norman: A Goldfish Story by Kelly Bennett/Noah Z. Jones

  • Norman the goldfish isn’t what this little boy had in mind. He wanted a different kind of pet. When he tries to trade Norman for a “good pet,” things don’t go as he planned.

53. Max and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper

  • Grandpa promises Max that the moon at his house is the same moon that will follow him all the way home. When the sky darkens and the moon disappears behind the clouds, he worries that it didn’t follow him home after all.

54. These Hands by Margaret Mason/Floyd Cooper

  • Joseph learns that people joined their hands to fight discrimination so that one day, their hands could do anything in this world.

55. Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Latham/Charles Waters

  • Two poets, one white and one black, explore race and childhood in this  collection tailored to provoke thought and conversation.

56. I Am Loved by Nikki Giovanni/Ashley Bryan

  • Nikki Giovanni’s collection of poems celebrates the importance of a child feeling loved.

57. The Word Collector by Peter Reynolds

  • Jerome discovers the magic and power of words all around him.

58. Max Speed by Stephen Shaskan

  • Max, a tiny speed racer, is off on the adventure of a lifetime in this  picture book. It proves that all you need for a big adventure is a little imagination.

59. Goodnight Lab: a Scientific Parody by Chris Ferrie

  • This book pokes fun at the clutter and chaos of a science lab life. Kids can laugh and learn at the same time.

60 . Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed/Stasia Burrington

  • This book is about Little Mae’s curiosity, intelligence, and determination, matched with her parents’ encouraging words. This paved the way for her incredible success at NASA as the first African American woman to travel in space.

61. Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly/Laura Freeman

  • This book is based on the New York Times bestselling book and the Academy Award–nominated movie. Author Margot Lee Shetterly and illustrator Laura Freeman bring to you the inspiring true story of four black women who helped NASA launch men into space.

62. Have You Thanked an Inventor Today? by Patricia McLaurin & Dian Wang

  • This is a book of African-American inventor contributions to the American landscape. This book was written to appeal to African-American youth, inspiring creative thought and innovation.

63. I Want to Be a Police Officer by Laura Driscoll/Cantalina Echeverri

  • This story teaches readers about police officers who protect people, investigate crimes, and even work with trained dogs.

64. I Want to be a Doctor by Laura Driscoll/Echeverri

  • This story teaches readers about Doctors, who help sick people feel better. When little brother Jack hurts his foot, the family gets to meet all kinds of doctors.

65. The Penny Pot by Stuart Murphy/Lynn Cravath

  • This book shows kids how to count and use money. It also addresses the concept of saving to get what you want.

66. Elevator Magic by Stuart Murphy/G. Brian Karas

  • This book teaches kids subtraction. Ben sees crazy things every time the door opens to the elevator. Ride along as he subtracts his way down to the lobby, and decide for yourself if it’s elevator magic.

67. Early Sunday Morning by Denene Millner/Vanessa Brantley-Newton

  •  June is a girl who collects helpful pieces of advice on how to be less nervous about her big solo.

68. A Wild Cowboy by Dana Kessimakis Smith/Laura Freeman

  • When a little boy gets to spend the day at Grandma’s house, he’s really preparing to go on the cowboy ride of his dreams. With his imagination working, he and his partner ride their horses  to meet their ranch hand.

69. Beautiful Blackbird by Ashley Bryan

  • Blackbird was voted the most beautiful bird in the forest. The other birds, who were colored red, yellow, blue, and green, begged Blackbird to paint their feathers with a touch of black so they could be beautiful too. Black-bird warns them that true beauty comes from within, however the other birds persist.

70. Take a Picture of Me, James Van Der Zee by Andrea Loney/Keith Mallett

  • This is a story of James  who opened his own portrait studio in Harlem. He took photographs of legendary figures of the Harlem Renaissance–politicians such as Marcus Garvey, performers including Florence Mills, Bill -Bojangles- Robinson, and Mamie Smith–and ordinary folks in the neighborhood too.

71. Who is Barack Obama? by Roberta Edwards/Who HQ

  • This is a biography about Barack Obama who made history as our first African-American President. Children will learn his life story and become big dreamers.

72. The Seven Days of Kwanzaa by Ella Grier/John William Ward

  • This is a story that celebrates and honors the richness of African-American culture and traditions. It includes lyrics to songs and four simple recipes to make a holiday feast.

73. Hey Black Child by Useni Eugene Perkins/Bryan Collier

  • This work consists of empowering poems that celebrate black children and  inspires young people to dream big and achieve their goals.

74. Pretend You’re a Cat by Jean Marzollo/Jerry Pinkney

  • This interactive book consists of rhyming verses asking the reader to purr like a cat, scratch like a dog, leap like a squirrel, and bark like a seal.

75. Angels Watching Over Me by Julia Durango/Elisa Kleven

  • This book reassures young children that someone is watching over their well-being.

76. Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes/Gordon C. James

  • The reader will understand the feelings of a young African American boy as he gets a “fresh cut. ”  This trip to the barbershop changes the way he feels about the world and in turn how the world perceives him. This book is for older or mature children.

77. Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex T. Smith

  • Little Red is on her way to visit Auntie Rosie with a basket of goodies and  medicine. Along the way she meets the Very Hungry Lion, who wants to gobble her up. The Lion’s plan doesn’t work out the way he wanted.

78. Penny and the Magic Puff Balls by Alonda Williams/Tyrus Goshay

  • Penny wanted to wear her hair “down” like all of the other girls in her class. She wondered why her friends had long straight hair and she did not.  Penny’s mom assured her that her hair is perfect. Penny learns through a series of fun adventures, that wonderful and magical things happen when she wears her puffballs.

79. I’m A Pretty Little Black Girl by Betty Bynum

  • Mia finds that pretty is within herself and her friends, and being pretty is way beyond what the mirror shows.

80. I Am Enough by Grace Byers/Kenturah A. Bobo

  • This book encourages girls to love who they are, respect others, and be kind to one another.

81. This Little Light of Mine by Public Domain/E.B. Lewis

  • “This Little Light of Mine” is an African-American spiritual song dating back to the days of slavery. The song is included in this book so that you can learn to play and sing.

82. World of Reading: Black Panther: This is Black Panther (Level 1) by Alexandra C. West/Marvel Press Artist

  • Kids will learn how T’Challa, an African Prince, protects his nation and becomes the Super Hero Black Panther.

83. Marvel’s Black Panther: Meet Black Panther (Level 2) by R.R. Busse

  • T’Challa, the Black Panther and warrior King of Wakanda, teams up with elite members of the Dora Milaje–Wakanda’s special forces–and C.I.A. agent Everett K. Ross to defend his kingdom.

84. Black Panther Little Golden Book by Frank Berrios/Patrick Spaziante

  • Children, ages 2-5, will love this action-packed Little Golden Book as they learn about the Black Panther–from his Wakandan origins to his powers as well as his friends and enemies.

85. Caribbean Dream by Rachel Isadora

  •  Children will learn about a place where they can run, splash, and sing, on an island in the West Indies. Rachel Isadora’s book celebrates the things that make the Caribbean a very special home.

86. Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans by Phil Bildner/John Parra

  • This is an inspiring story of a humble man and the heroic difference he made in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

87. Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

  • Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He has finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test. He’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. Find out why he still needs his father for encouragement.

88. Happy in Our Skin by Fran Manushkin/Lauren Tobia

  • This is a story about the human family and how wonderful it is to be just who you are.

89. Lottie Paris and the Best Place by Angela Johnson/Scott Fischer

  • Lottie Paris has a favorite place. The library! She loves to go there and read about space. She knows there are rules at the library, but sometimes they are difficult to follow.

90. Lottie Paris Lives Here by Angela Johnson/Scott Fischer

  • Lottie Paris loves to dress up, play on the slide, and prefers to eat cookies instead of vegetables. She has a great imagination and sees the possibilities in the simplest pleasures.

91. Seeing Into Tomorrow Haiku by Nina Crews/Dr. Richard Wright

  • A selection of haiku poems by the acclaimed 20th-century African-American writer, Dr. Richard Wright. This work reflects the timeless realities of African-American youth.

92. I Can be Anything!  Don’t Tell Me I Can’t by Diane Dillon

  • Zoe embraces all the wonders of our world and its possibilities. “I can be anything I want to be!” she tells us, presenting herself in a range of careers. “But what if you fail?” asks a voice of doubt that attempts to undermine her confidence.

93. Billy Boo is Stuck in Goo by Jennifer Hamburg/Ross Burach

  • Billy Boo is stuck in goo. When others try to rescue him, they get stuck as well. How will they get out of this situation?

94. My Name is Judah by Pamela Denise Mack

  • This is a story about a little boy named Judah, who meets three new friends. He shares the meaning of his name which is Praise. Judah and his new friends, Suzie, Jorge, and Tom share a fun-filled day together.

95. It’s Great Being a Dad by Dan Bar-el/Gina Perry

  • Mythical characters are roaming around a magical land having a great time. However, Bigfoot gets his foot stuck in a tree trunk and Unicorn gets her horn impaled on a table and Robot’s saw-arm gets rusted into position.  Dad is there to fix things–even when a Sneaky Flying Alligator Pirate steals the Fairy Queen Ballerina Doctor’s wand.

96. The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath by Julia Finley Mosca/Daniel Rieley

  • Patricia Bath made it her mission to become a doctor. When obstacles like racism, poverty, and sexism threatened this goal, she persevered and created a game-changing treatment for blindness!

97. Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library by Julie Gassman/Andy Elkerton

  • Have you ever thought about bringing your dragon to the library? Don’t do it! You might have the best intentions, but that dragon will cause nothing but trouble.  This book has diverse characters and discusses library etiquette in a humorous way.

98. Phoebe Sounds it Out by Julie Zwillich/Denise Holmes

  • Meet Phoebe whose name doesn’t look quite like it sounds. At school, her classmates practice writing their names, but she struggles. Her teacher tells her to “just sound it out.” Phoebe doubts herself and procrastinates before resolving to try. Find out what she does to overcome her problem.

99. Not ‘Til Tomorrow, Phoebe by Julie Zwillich/Denise Holmes

  • Phoebe’s day is full of tomorrows: Mama says they can make pancakes, her teacher announces musicians will visit the class, and Phoebe will get ice cream after her haircut—but none of it ’til tomorrow. Phoebe feels frustrated and impatient. Why can’t these good things happen right now?

100. The Colors of Us by Karen Katz

  • Seven-year-old Lena is going to paint a picture of herself. She wants to use brown paint for her skin. When she and her mother take a walk through the neighborhood, Lena learns that brown comes in many different shades.

101. Manners with a Library Book by Amanda Doering Tourville/Chris Lensch

  • Should you let your baby sister play with a library book? This book shows how good manners can help everyone enjoy library books.

102. The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires

  • Lou and her friends are BRAVE adventurers. They run faster than airplanes, build mighty fortresses and rescue wild animals. But Lou has never climbed a tree before, and she’s sure she can’t do it. So she tries to convince her friends to play a “not-up-a-tree” game.

103. I like Myself by Karen Beaumont/David Catrow

  • This book encourages kids to appreciate everything about themselves—inside and out. Here’s a little girl who knows what really matters.

104. For You are a Kenyan Child by Kelly Cunnane/Ana Juan

  • Imagine you live in a small Kenyan village, where the sun rises over tall trees filled with doves. You wake to the sound of a rooster’s crow and rather than kicking a soccer ball across a field, you kick a homemade ball of rags. Despite this, things aren’t that different for a Kenyan child than they would be for an American kid.

105. If You Were a Kid Docking at the International Space Station by John Gregory/Jason Raish

  • Tim and Lucy, whose cousin Marie, is getting ready to blast off into space finds out how people travel to and from the space station. They also learn what life is like for astronauts in space, why space exploration is important, and much more.

106. Beautiful Moon: A Child’s Prayer by Tonya Bolden/Eric Velasquez

  • A young boy wakes and has forgotten to say his prayers. Outside his window, a beautiful moon lights the city around him. As the moon slowly makes its way across the heavens, the boy offers a simple prayer for the homeless, the hungry, and others.

107. The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Taye Monatgue by Julia Finley Mosca/Daniel Rieley

  • After touring a German submarine in the early 1940s, young Raye wanted to become an engineer. However, sexism and racial inequality would challenge that dream.  She kept her greatest career accomplishment a secret for decades. Through it all, the gifted mathematician persisted.

108. Little Man Little Man: A Story of Childhood by James Baldwin/Nicholas Boggs

  • James Baldwin’s only children’s book, Little Man, Little Man, celebrates and explores the challenges and joys of black childhood.

109. We Love You Rosie by Cynthia Rylant/Linda Davick

  • Rosie is a very busy little dog. Sometimes she’s good, and sometimes she’s bad. Sometimes she wants to go out, and other times she wants to stay in. But no matter what, Rosie’s family loves her!

110. 3 x 4: Toon Level 1 (Toon Easy-to-read Comics, Level 1) by Ivan Brunetti

  • This book features a black male teacher who gave his class an assignment to draw sets of twelve. He encourages them to use their imagination to come up with creative solutions. Young readers will delight in the counting game while learning the basics of multiplication.

111. Kick it Mo (Mo Jackson) by David Adler/Sam Ricks

  • The soccer season is starting, and Mo has been working hard on his kicking skills. When he gets on the field on game day, it seems like all he gets to do is run back and forth. Will Mo ever get the chance to show his team what he can do?

112. Don’t Throw It To Mo! (Mo Jackson) by David Adler/Sam Ricks

  • Mo is the youngest kid on the Robins, his football team. His classmates don’t mind, but the kids on their rival team tease him for being a “butterfinger” who’s too tiny to catch the ball. How will Mo handle this situation?

113. Pass the Ball, Mo! (Mo Jackson) by David Adler/Sam Ricks

  • Mo loves basketball. He’s determined to learn how to pass, but as the shortest member of the team, he can’t seem to launch the ball high enough. Can Mo learn to pass in time to help his team win the big game?

114. Get a Hit, Mo! by David Adler/Sam Ricks

  • Baseball season has arrived and Mo is all set to play with his team, the Lions. Mo always bats last, and he always plays right field—and no balls ever come to right field. Will Mo ever get his chance to help the Lions win?

115. Young, Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present by Jamie Wilson/Andrea Pippins

  • Children will meet 52 icons of color from the past and present in this celebration of inspirational achievement. This is a collection of stories about change makers to encourage, inspire and empower the next generation of youth.

116. Snow Day! by Candice Ransom/Erika Meza

  • Two siblings have woken up to snowy weather! Read along as they engage in their favorite winter activities with their neighborhood friends on their day off from school.

117. I am Human A Book of Empathy by Susan Verde/ Peter H. Reynolds

  • I Am Human shows that it’s okay to make mistakes while also emphasizing the power of good choices. This picture book is a celebration of empathy and encourages children to see themselves as part of one big imperfect family.

118. Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy by Tony Medina/Javaka Steptoe

  • Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy offers a fresh perspective of young men of color by depicting thirteen views of everyday life: young boys dressed in their Sunday best, running to catch a bus, and growing up to be teachers, and much more.

119. Kele’s Secret by Tolowa M. Mollel/Catherine Stock

  • A young Tanzanian boy named Yoanes overcomes his fear of the scariest place on his grandparents’ farm, the spooky shed, when he follows Kele, his grandmother’s hen, to see where she lays her eggs.

120. You Can Do It by Tony Dungy/Amy June Bates

  • Tony Dungy’s little brother, Linden, is a third grader who is having a bad day at school. Linden is the youngest of the Dungy family and the least motivated because he hasn’t found “it.” In a family where everyone seems to have found their special talent, all Linden knows is that he wants to make people happy.

121. We are Brothers by Yves Nadon/Jean Claverie

  • Every summer, two brothers swim to the rock, and one jumps off. But this summer, it’s time for both of them to take the leap. In this story, a younger brother discovers newfound strength and courage.

122. Thank You, Omu by Oge Mora

  • Everyone in the neighborhood loves Omu’s delicious stew! They follow their noses toward the scrumptious scent. And one by one, Omu offers a portion of her meal. Soon the pot is empty. Has she been so generous that she has nothing left for herself?

123. Two Problems for Sophia by Jim Averbeck/Yasmeen Ismail

  • Sophia quickly learns her new pet comes with two giraffe-sized problems. Learn what she does to solve these problems.

124. One Word from Sopha by Jim Averbeck/Yasmeen Ismail

  • Sophia tries various techniques to get the giraffe she always wanted. Find out if she is able to convince her Mom, Dad, Uncle, and Grand-mama.

125. Excellent Ed by Stacy McAnulty/Julia Sarcone-Roach

  • Everyone in the Ellis family is excellent–except Ed, the dog. Ed wonders if this is why he isn’t allowed to eat at the table or sit on the couch with the other children. He’s determined to find his own excellence.

126. Brave by Stacy McAnulty/Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

  • This book encourage kids to be brave in all the ways they can. This book will inspire kids to follow their hearts and to have courage, no matter the situation.

127. Goal by Mina Javaherbin/A.G. Goal

  • In a township in South Africa, Ajani and his friends have earned a brand-new, federation-size soccer ball. When a crew of bullies tries to steal their ball, find out if Ajani and his friends are able to beat them at their own game?

128. Me and Uncle Romie by Claire Hartfield/Jerome Lagarrigue

  • James can’t wait to get on board the train and go visit his uncle up north in New York City. He also  wishes he could take a little bit of home along with him. Will Uncle Romie, who’s a great artist, be able to help James?

129. Celebrate with ZaZa by Mylo Freeman

  • It’s Rosie’s birthday and Zaza is having a party for her. It’s time to celebrate!

130. Sleep Well, Siba and Saba by Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl/Sandra Van Doorn

  •  Sisters, Siba and Saba, are always losing something. Sandals, slippers, sweaters— – you name it, they lose it. When the two sisters fall asleep each night, they dream about the things they have lost that day. Until, one night, their dreams begin to reveal something entirely unexpected….

131. Danitra Brown, Class Clown by Nikki Grimes/E.B. Lewis

  • Best friends, Zuri Jackson and Danitra Brown, respond very differently to the start of school. For Zuri, there are so many things to ponder — a new teacher who replaced the old one she liked so much, passing math, and worrying about her mother’s health. But for Danitra, the only real deal is being true to herself, having fun, and supporting Zuri in any way she can.

132. Meet Danitra Brown by Nikki Grimes/Floyd Cooper

  • This book introduces young readers to Danitra Brown and her best friend, Zuri Jackson.”

133. World of Reading: Doc McStuffins All Stuffed Up: Pre-level 1 by Disney Book Group/Catherina Happy

  • Donny’s teddy bear keeps making him sneeze! Teddy is sad and doesn’t know why Donny won’t play with him anymore, but Doc is on the case!

134. Doc McStuffins Out of the Box (Flap ‘n Tab) by Disney Book Group/Marcy Kelman

  • Little Jack, Doc’s jack-in-the-box, is having trouble popping out of his box. His father, Big Jack, asks Doc to take a look, but Little Jack is too scared to let Doc examine him! Through this format, children can play along with Doc, Little Jack, and the rest of the toys using die-cut tabs and lift-the-flaps for a unique, experience.

135. Doc McStuffins Little First Look and Find – PI Kids by Editors of Phoenix International Publications/

  • Kids can search 7 amazing scenes for Doc McStuffins characters and objects. Then, go to the back of the book for extra Look and Find challenges!

136. Doc McStuffins Pet Vet by Disney Book Group/Disney Storybook Art Team

  • Donny’s new toy dog, Fetchin’ Findo, stops doing what he does best: fetching! Can Doc, the vet, find out what’s wrong with the little pup? This story is based on a special Pet Vet episode and includes lots of fun stickers!

137. The Ring Bearer by Floyd Cooper

  • Jackson’s mother is getting married, and he gets to be the ring bearer. But Jackson is worried . . . What if he trips? Or walks too slowly? She’s supposed to be the flower girl, but Jackson’s not sure she’s taking her job as seriously as she should.

138. Tea Cakes for Tosh by Kelly Starling Lyons/E.B. Lewis

  • Tosh loves listening to Grandma Honey tell family stories.  This story celebrates the important bond between grandchild and grandparent and the stories that make a family strong.

139. Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio/LeUyen Pham

  • When Grace’s teacher reveals that the United States has never had a female president, she decides to be the first. She immediately starts off her political career as a candidate in the school’s mock election!

140. I’m a Big Brother Now by Katura J. Hudson/Sylvia L. Walker

  •  This picture book explores the  excitement and pride of a young boy who takes on an important new role as a big brother.

141. The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller/Frank Morrison

  • It’s the day before the big parade and Alta can only think about one thing: Wilma Rudolph, three-time Olympic gold medalist.  Alta is the quickest kid in Clarksville, Tennessee, just like Wilma once was. But what happens when a new girl with shiny new shoes comes along and challenges Alta to a race?

142. A Beach Tail by Karen P. Williams/Floyd Cooper

  • This is story about a father-son bond. A boy named Gregory is lost on the beach  after his dad warns “Don’t go in the water, and don’t leave Sandy.” This work reassures the young reader that there is hope even in Greg’s moment of worry at finding himself lost and alone.

143. Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown/Frank Morrison

  • At age seven, Melba fell in love with a big, shiny trombone, and soon taught herself to play the instrument. By the time she was a teenager, Melba’s extraordinary gift for music led her to the world of jazz. She joined a band led by trumpet player Gerald Wilson and toured the country. Overcoming obstacles of race and gender, Melba went on to become a famed trombone player and arranger.

144. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña/Christian Robinson

  • Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus?  Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty in their routine and the world around them.

145. My Kicks: A Sneaker’s Story by Susan Verde/Katie Kath 

  • When a child finds that his toes have outgrown his favorite shoes, and they’ve gotten too dirty and smelly, his mom says it’s time for a new pair. Resistant to let go, the boy reminisces about all the good times he’s had with his favorite kicks on the city streets.

146. Don’t Touch My Hair by Sharee Miller

  • Wherever Aria goes, someone wants to touch her hair. However, Aria has had enough!

147. Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe

  • This is the story of Jean-Michel Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings that became famous in the 1980s.

148. What’s Special About Me, Mama? by Kristina Evans/Javaka Steptoe

  • This a great story about family, self-love and celebrating what makes one unique.

149. Knock, Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty/Bryan Collier

  • Every morning a boy awaits the sounds of his dad knocking on the door. But what happens when, one day, that “knock knock” doesn’t come? This powerful and inspiring book shows the love that an absent parent can leave behind, and the strength that children find in themselves as they grow up and follow their dreams.

150. When the Beat was Born: DJ Kool Here and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill/Theodore Taylor III

  • From his childhood in Jamaica to his youth in the Bronx, Laban Carrick Hill’s book tells how Kool Herc came to be a DJ. He invented music that would define a culture and transform the world.

151. Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews/Bryan Collier

  • From the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” was a prodigy,  leading his own band by age six. Today this Grammy-nominated artist headlines the legendary New Orleans Jazz Fest.

152. Grandma in Blue with a Red Hat by Scott Menchin/Harry Bliss

  • When a young boy learns about what makes art special, he realizes that these same characteristics are what makes his grandmother special, too. As a result, he finds the inspiration to create his own masterpiece that’s one of a kind.

153. Ron’s Big Mission by Rose Blue/Corinne Nadon

  • Nine-year-old Ron loves going to the library. Today, Ron is ready to take out books by himself, but in the segregated world of South Carolina in the 1950s, there is resistance. Children will learn how Ron desegregated his library through peaceful resistance.

154. Bippity Bop Barbershop by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley/E.B. Lewis

  •  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.

155. Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!: A Sonic Adventure by Wynton Marsalis/Paul Rogers

  • World-renowned jazz musician and composer Wynton Marsalis and acclaimed illustrator Paul Rogers takes readers (and listeners) on a rollicking, clanging, clapping tour through the many sounds that fill a neighborhood.

156. The 5’o Clock Band by Troy Andrews/Bryan Collier

  • After letting his band down by missing rehearsal, Shorty has some serious questions about what it means to be a leader. He hits the streets of New Orleans to find some answers and soak up inspiration.

157. All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold/Suzanne Kaufman

  • Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms.  A school where students grow and learn from each other’s traditions

158. Ben Doesn’t Like to be Hugged by Zetta Elliott/Purple Wong

  • A little girl uses rhyming verse to describe the unique traits of her autistic friend. Benny likes trains and cupcakes without sprinkles, but he can also be fussy sometimes. The narrator doesn’t mind, however, because “true friends accept each other just the way they are.”

159. The Day you Begin by Jacqueline Woodson/Rafael Lopez

  • Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical book reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. Sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

160. Around Our Way on Neighbor’s Day by Tameka Fryer Brown/Charlotte Riley-Webb

  • Neighbors gather on a hot summer day for a block party: Kids play Double Dutch; men debate at the barber shop and play chess; mothers and aunts cook and friends dance.

161. The Joys of Being a Little Black Boy by Valerie Reynolds/Chris Turner

  • Roy is a boy who will take  your children on a journey of joy with some of the world’s most notable Black men who were all at one time young Black boys.

162. Love your Hair by Dr. Phoenyx Austin

  • This book takes girls on a  journey, lead by a super-cute, confident  girl named Phoenyx, who loves her hair and wants every beautiful brown skin girl to love their hair too!

163. I’m a Pretty Princess by Crystal Swain-Bates

  • Makayla is a pretty black princess who lives in a castle  far away. Although she has cute dresses, a sparkling tiara, and a shiny wand, she knows that being a princess isn’t just about her fancy things. She wants to be the best princess ever!

164. Look What Brown Can Do by T. Marie Harris/Neda Ivanova

  • Every Brown child who’s still dreaming about what to be when they grow up should read this book. It encourages them to dream big and provides inspiration.

165. Naturally Me by Crystal Swain-Bates

  • This book is designed to boost self-esteem and build confidence in children of all ages. It follows a freckle-faced girl and a gap-toothed boy throughout their day as they show the reader how they celebrate their appearance and feel comfortable in their own skin.

166. I am a  Brilliant Little Black Boy by Betty K. Bynum/Joshua B. Drummond

  • The book  is a self esteem builder for young boys of color! It is a book of poems and a must for your library.

167. Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman

  • Grace loves stories. When she gets a chance to play a role in Peter Pan, she knows exactly who she wants to be. However she meets resistance from those in her class when she does not look the part.

168. Big Hair Don’t Care by Crystal Swain-Bates/Caroline Binch

  • Lola has bigger hair than the other kids at school. She is confident and  sings the praises of her big hair throughout this rhyming picture book.

169. Charlotte and the Quiet Place by Deborah Sosin/Sara Woolley

  • Charlotte likes quiet-time. However, wherever Charlotte goes, she is surrounded by noise. Where can Charlotte find a quiet place? Find out when you read this book.

170. This is the Rope by Jaqueline Woodson/James Ransome

  • This is the story of one family’s journey north during the Great Migration with a little girl in South Carolina who finds a rope under a tree one summer.  For three generations, that rope is passed down, used for everything from jump rope games to tying suitcases onto a car.

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8 thoughts on “170 Children’s Books with Black Characters

    1. Yes, I will grow this list. I will have another post with more books in 2-3 months. I will be sure to include your book. Thank you for commenting.

  1. There are some great stories in this collection! I love the Ezra Jack Keats books and “Ada Twist” is so great too! I have beautiful illustrated versions of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” And “What a Wonderful World” that you should check out! Also, one of our favorite bedtime stories is called “I Just Want to Say Goodnight”- it’s set in an African village, and the parents keep telling the little girl to go to bed but she wants to say goodnight to all the animals one by one. It has beautiful watercolor illustrations and the story is so sweet.

    1. Stefanie, thank you for the suggestions. I will write a new post in about 2-3 months with more books and add the titles you suggested here. Thank you!

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