The news may have shifted from highlighting ongoing protests across the country, but it’s amazing to see that the momentum hasn’t stopped in the fight for Black lives.
As books and anti-racism resources continue to be shared, it’s important to not only highlight books with Black characters but to celebrate and uplift the work of Black creators.
Here are 12 picture books by Black authors and illustrators to add to your book shelves:
She Was the First!: The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm
written by Katheryn Russell-Brown, illustrated by Eric Velasquez
Publication date: August 4, 2020
A timely, inspiring picture book biography of the dynamic twentieth-century educator, activist, and politician Shirley Chisholm.
Calling the Water Drum
Written by LaTisha Redding, illustrated by Aaron Boyd
The story of a young Haitian boy who loses his parents as they attempt to flee Haiti in a boat, and after this loss can only communicate with the outside world through playing his drum.
Hammering for Freedom: The William Lewis Story
Written by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, illustrated by John Holyfield
The inspirational story of William “Bill” Lewis, a hardworking blacksmith who slowly saved his money and bought the freedom of each and every member of his enslaved family.
Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan
Written by Mary Williams, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Based on heartbreaking yet inspirational true events in the lives of the Lost Boys of Sudan, Brothers in Hope is a story of remarkable courage, and an amazing testament to the unyielding power of the human spirit.
Sweet Potato Pie
Written by Kathleen D. Lindsey, illustrated by Charlotte Riley-Webb
In this fictional story set in the South in the 1920s, an African American girl and her family sell Mama’s sweet potato pies at the Harvest Celebration to raise money and save their farm.
Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon
Written by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Laura Freeman
Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon celebrates a contemporary black STEAM role model, a man whose quiet work enabled the creation of an iconic building reflecting America’s past and future.
Poems in the Attic
Written by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
Award-winning poet Nikki Grimes brings us a tender collection of poems about a young girl and her mother, who grew up as a child of an Air Force serviceman. Told in alternating free verse and tanka (similar to haiku) poems.
Written by Tony Medina, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
In this uplifting story told in verse, a young boy living in the inner city projects tells of his hopes, fears, and dreams.
Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas
Written by Gwendolyn Hudson Hooks, illustrated by Colin Bootman
The life story of Vivien Thomas, an African American surgical technician who developed the first procedure used to perform open-heart surgery on children.
Written by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, illustrated by Adjoa J. Burrowes
Destiny loves words, and her favorite place in the world is Mrs. Wade’s bookstore, but when she learns the store may have to close, Destiny is determined not to let this happen.
Catching the Moon: The Story of a Young Girl’s Baseball Dream
Written by Crystal Hubbard, illustrated by Randy DuBurke
If there was anything in the world better than playing baseball, Marcenia Lyle didn’t know what it was. As a young girl in the 1930s, she chased down fly balls and stole bases, and dreamed of one day playing professional ball.
Written by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Shadra Strickland
In this gentle, award-winning picture book, an African American boy nicknamed Bird uses drawing as a creative outlet as he struggles to make sense of his grandfather’s death and his brother’s drug addiction.