Picture Books to Enjoy During Black History Month (and Every Month!)
While I (Ashley) value the opportunity in February to celebrate Black history, I never want that celebration to be reductive -- Black history, culture, and experience should never be reduced to a single month or painted with a broad brush. However, I didn't want to miss an opportunity to shout out some of our favorite picture books in our house -- these books are ones that my daughters love and that we read often. Particular favorites of my girls (ages 3 and 5) include Barack Obama's Of Thee I Sing, Matt de la Peña's The Last Stop on Market Street, and Taye Diggs's Mixed Me, but we love all of these amazing books.
Taye Diggs's Mixed Me (illustrated by Shane W. Evans) - This sweet story focuses on Mike, a kid coming from a biracial family. He talks about the ways that people misunderstand both him and his family while celebrating the uniqueness of being who he is.
Matthew A. Cherry's Hair Love (illustrated by Vashti Harrison) - This one comes from the Oscar-winning short film (also created by Matthew A. Cherry) where a little girl (with help from her well-intentioned dad) works on getting her hair just right while still celebrating her natural beauty.
Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson's The Undefeated - This award-winning powerful book depicts the legacy of black lives throughout history. I think what my five year old loves about it so much is how honest it is about the hard truth of the challenges we’ve had and continue to have in the US as parts of our society value the lives of some over the lives of others. She also loves the historical figures within the book, many of whom she recognizes from other places, and she loves the themes of perseverance, determination, and the celebration of life that resonate throughout the book. I love the stunning images, the use of repetition for emphasis, and the glossary giving information on everyone featured in the book.
Quvenzhané Wallis's A Night Out with Mama (illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton) - This sweet story, written by actress Quvenzhané Wallis (who was in Beasts of the Wild and Annie) recounts going to the Oscars ceremony with her mom. The sweetest part? The protagonist trips on the red carpet but gets back up again.
Grace Byers' I Am Enough (illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo) - This awesome book focuses on a celebration of self-love and self-acceptance while highlighting that the diversity and differences between people is what makes each one of them so beautiful. It focuses on the idea that kids can be lots of different things, but regardless of who they are, they are enough.
Matt de la Peña's The Last Stop on Market Street (illustrated by Christian Robinson) - This is a lovely story of a boy and his grandmother as they make their journey by city bus to serve at a soup kitchen. With great dialogue and beautiful illustrations, it captures the wisdom of the grandmother and the curiosity of the boy.
Jacqueline Woodson's The Day You Begin (illustrated by Rafael López) - This one is a beautiful story that helps kids discover and celebrate what makes them unique instead of feeling isolated, left out, or different. Woodson (who is a brilliant writer in her books for older kids and teens as well!) highlights how each of the kids feels insecurities, but when they open up to each other, those insecurities transform into human connections. Such a beautiful, empowering book with gorgeous illustrations.
Barack Obama's Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters (illustrated by Loren Long) - My daughters love this amazing story that draws connections between pioneering American heroes who have made positive impacts on society and the youth of America. It's gorgeous and celebrates the richness of our diverse American cultural heritage.
Renée Watson's Harlem's Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills (illustrated by Christian Robinson) - This historical picture book celebrates the life and legacy of Florence Mills with gorgeous illustrations (by Christian Robinson who also illustrated The Last Stop on Market Street).
#bookishfaves #picturebooks #kidlit #ownvoices #familyrelationships #celebrity #activism #diversereads #readthesenow
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