Children’s Books to Inspire Black Joy During Black History Month & Beyond

February is a time when we honor Black voices and dive into Black history. It’s also a time when child welfare advocates bring conversations around disproportionality and disparity to the forefront and recommit to working for justice.

It’s equally important to help make space for joy and celebration for the Black children and families we serve. These kids deserve to see themselves reflected in books, be proud of their culture and know that they can thrive and have happy, connected lives!

Read on for a few recommendations for joyful children’s books that celebrate and center Black lives and culture.

Black All Around

Patricia Hubbell (Author), Don Tate (Illustrator)

“The letters that live
on each page of a book.
The hole in the ground
that’s a little mole’s nook.
The gleaming paint on a limousine.
The braided hair of a stately queen.”

A lovely tribute to the color black and a counter to the “black is bad” narrative that too many children start seeing and hearing early in life. Share this with a child and let them know that Black is beautiful!

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut

Derrick Barnes (Author), Gordon C. James (Illustrator)

“He’ll drape you like royalty with that cape
to keep the fine hairs off of your neck
and your princely robes.
It’s amazing what a tight fade, high/low/bald
does for your confidence:
Dark Caesar.”

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is a stylish, rhythmic dive into the pride and joy that can only come from a fresh haircut. A triumphant celebration of the beauty of Black hair and barbershop culture.

As Brave as You

Jason Reynolds (Author)

“Is bravery and becoming a man only about proving something, or is it just as important to own up to what you won’t do?”

This book follows Brooklyn-based brothers Genie and Ernie as they spend the summer in the country with their grandparents. Great for middle-schoolers, with themes around Black boyhood, coming of age and what it means to be a man.

A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope

Patrice Caldwell (Editor)

“Magical and real, this collection lives up to its goal with stories as diverse as the black experience. #BlackGirlMagic indeed.” – Kirkus Reviews

Intended for teens, A Phoenix First Must Burn centers Black women and gender nonconforming people through short stories that run the gamut of genre—folktales, fantasy, sci-fi and more. Stories of love and betrayal, strength and resilience, heroism and healing!