In light of the recent verdict in the Trayvon Martin case, many parents are wondering, “What should I tell my children?” For parents looking for a place to start, we’ve created a list of five great books for young readers. Books can serve as an opening into serious discussion on race and social justice issues, build confidence and instill pride in young African American readers, and counter negative messages that children may be absorbing from other media outlets.
Ranging from lighthearted stories to titles that deal with serious topics, including loss, inner city issues, and race relations, these books will instill confidence in young readers, build their self-worth, and inspire them to overcome whatever obstacles they may face.
1. Black All Around by Patricia Hubbell, illustrated by Don Tate
This gentle picture book, perfect as a read-aloud, is a meditation on the prominence and beauty of the color black.
2. As Fast As Words Could Fly by Pamela M. Tuck, illustrated by Eric Velasquez
Young Mason Steele, an African American boy in 1960s Greenville, North Carolina, relies on his inner confidence and his typing skills to face challenges and break racial barriers after he begins attending a “whites-only” high school.
3. Chess Rumble by G. Neri, illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson
A story in free verse about a troubled boy who learns to use his mind instead of his fists through the guidance of an unconventional mentor and the game of chess.
4. The Palm of My Heart: Poetry by African American Children By David Adedjouma, Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
African American children celebrate the beauty of their lives and culture through poetry.
5. The Jones Family Express by Javaka Steptoe
Javaka Steptoe combines humor and warmth in the story of Steven, an African American boy, who wants to find a special gift for his aunt when she comes to visit. A warm celebration of love in a strong African American family.