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Children's books featuring African American boys often focus on the struggles they face at the hands of an often-unjust society. While it's important for children to understand the history of America and the work that is still left to be done, that isn't the entire existence of their childhoods.
There is also joy - loving and fulfilling - JOY.
This list of children's books celebrates the everyday lives of Black boys and the joys and diversity of Black boys to remind them to embrace the happiness that surrounds them.
For your convenience, we've included publisher's descriptions along with each book.
Each day is a grand family adventure with the fathers and sons in this lyrical picture book filled with lush illustrations.
A young son and his father trek through trees and listen to birdsong, dig for worms and go fishing, and enjoy the breeze sitting side by side, just like Pop Pop and Daddy did, years ago.
A heartfelt and hopeful tale that touches on grieving the loss of a loved one as a father and son recreate old memories and make new ones in a day-long hiking adventure. Find it here
From debut author Antwan Eady and artist Gracey Zhang comes a glowing tale about the young dreaming big. A perfect story to demonstrate how pride in where we come from can bring a shining confidence.
When Nigel looks up at the moon, his future is bright. He imagines himself as...an astronaut, a dancer, a superhero, too! Among the stars, he twirls. With pride, his chest swells. And his eyes, they glow. Nigel is the most brilliant body in the sky.
But it's Career Week at school, and Nigel can't find the courage to share his dreams. It's easy to whisper them to the moon, but not to his classmates--especially when he already feels out of place. Find it here
Celebrate the bond between parent and child in this touching picture book.
This touching story from bestselling author Deloris Jordan celebrates the blessings new parents wish for their babies all through their lives.
With a strong emphasis on the bonds families share, the inspirational text is accompanied by exquisite art from renowned illustrator James E. Ransome. From infancy to adulthood, there is always a place for Baby Blessings. Find it here
Max loves his grandpa. When they must say good-bye after a visit, Grandpa promises Max that the moon at Grandpa’s house is the same moon that will follow him all the way home.
On that swervy-curvy car ride back to his house, Max watches as the moon tags along. But when the sky darkens and the moon disappears behind clouds, he worries that it didn’t follow him home after all.
Where did the moon go—and what about Grandpa’s promise? Find it here
The picture book Snowy Mittens: A Winter Adventure isa celebration of Black joy and the simple pleasures of a day in the snow from award-winning poet and picture book author Shauntay Grant.
Follow along as a young boy spends the day sledding and ice skating with his family in this spare and poetic picture book.
With a simple story--and simply stunning color illustrations from Candice Bradley--Snowy Mittens is an ode to celebrating winter's coziest wonders, big and small. Find it here
In this companion book to the bestselling, I Love My Hair, a young boy, 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.
Written in a reassuring tone with a jazzy beat and illustrated with graceful, realistic watercolors, this book captures an important rite of passage for boys and celebrates African-American identity. Find it here
All it takes is a loving teacher to help a boy get control of his sizzling superpowers, in this vibrant picture book by bestselling author Derrick Barnes.
Bobby Beacon's got fire flowing through his veins. And now he's psyched to attend a new school that'll help him get a better grip on his powers. But right off the bat, his new teacher is not too welcoming.
That causes Bobby's hot temper to land him in the principal's office. It ain't easy to stay calm when people don't seem to understand you and are always pushing you to the edge. Good thing Bobby gets moved to a class with an understanding teacher who clues him in on ways to calm himself and shows him that caring for others is its own kind of superpower. With her help--and some cool new friends--he just might be on his way to becoming the best version of himself possible. Find it here
From the author of Not Quite Snow White comes a story about a young Muslim boy celebrating the many reasons he loves going to his local masjid in this jubilant and playful picture book perfect for fans of Mommy's Khimar and Abdul's Story.
Friday is Kamal's favorite day of the week because he gets to go to the masjid for Jumu'ah prayer. The masjid is where he can be with his friends, hear the teachings of the imam, and pray with the community that he loves so dearly. He just can't help the bounce in his step, the smile on his face, or the joy bubbling up in his chest every time Friday rolls around!
Inspired by the famous nursery rhyme "This Is the House That Jack Built," each spread in this buoyant picture book builds on the rhythmic list of things Kamal loves about the masjid. Find it here
A joyful, empowering story of a boy made royal by his mother's hand-stitched clothes, inspired by the author's childhood in St. Lucia, and with art by a #1 NYT bestselling artist with St. Lucian roots.
What makes a patchwork prince? A prince must be ready for adventure--ready for the night, ready to pluck the brightest, most beautiful fabrics from the scrap heap, ready to run when danger comes. With the treasures he and his mother collect, she will make him clothes fit for royalty: No flashy jewels, no crown, but a cut and drape that hug his Black shoulders just right. And in his new clothes, with chin held high, he will know he is a prince.
Together with Kitt Thomas's beautiful, exuberant artwork, acclaimed author Baptiste Paul brings readers a celebratory story about confidence and self-worth, and the enduring love between a mother and son. Find it here
Award-winning picture book creator Frank Morrison makes his author/illustrator debut in an exuberant story about being yourself.
Epic has tricks you won't believe. He's the kick flipping, big rail king. When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he can't wait to hit the street with his skateboard. But his old moves don't feel fresh without a crew to see 'em. Epic thinks about giving up his board to fit in, but an encouraging word from his dad helps him see that the trick to making new friends is to always be yourself. Be you. . . be epic!
Award-winning illustrator Frank Morrison offers a heartwarming, dynamic celebration of self-expression, inspired by his own journey through fatherhood. Find it here
Mechal Renee Roe, illustrator of Vice President Kamala Harris's Super Heroes Are Everywhere, creates a joyful, positive, read-together book celebrating boys with natural black hair that will have kids everywhere chanting: I am born to be awesome!
When the stars shine, the world is mine! I am born to be awesome! My hair is free, just like me! I am born to be awesome!
Boys will love seeing strong, happy reflections of themselves in this vibrant, rhythmic book full of hip Black hairstyles. From a 'fro-hawk to mini-twists and crisp cornrows, adorable illustrations of boys with cool curls, waves, and afros grace each page, accompanied by a positive message that will make kids cheer. It's a great read-aloud to promote positive self-esteem to boys of all ages, building and growing the foundation of self-love (and hair love!) and letting every boy know that You are born to be awesome! Find it here
This inspiring Little Golden Book tells the story of one young boy's first experience celebrating Juneteenth.
When Jayylen's grandfather, Paw Paw Jimmy, begins preparing for a big Juneteenth celebration, Jayylen has a lot of questions. Most importantly, what is Juneteenth?
His mother and Paw Paw Jimmy explain that the holiday marks the anniversary of when enslaved African Americans found out that they were free. Paw Paw Jimmy plays some zydeco for him, which is the type of music they will dance to at the celebration. Jayylen practices every day so that he will be able to play the frottoir (a percussion instrument similar to a washboard) for everyone. But will he be able to pull off an even bigger surprise for the day? Find it here
This sweet board book brings Bob Marley's beloved song to life for a new generation!
Every family will relate to this universal story of a boy who won't let anything get him down, as long as he has the help of three special little birds. Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, Every Little Thing contains beautiful, full-page designs that are as colorful and fun as the storyline. Including all the lyrics of the original song "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley, along with exciting new song verses, this cheerful children's book will bring a smile to faces of all ages--because every little thing's gonna be alright. Find it here
The barbershop is where the magic happens. Boys go in as lumps of clay and, with princely robes draped around their shoulders, a dab of cool shaving cream on their foreheads, and a slow, steady cut, they become royalty.
That crisp yet subtle line makes boys sharper, more visible, more aware of every great thing that could happen to them when they look good: lesser grades turn into As; girls take notice; even a mother’s hug gets a little tighter. Everyone notices. A fresh cut makes boys fly.
This rhythmic, read-aloud title is an unbridled celebration of the self-esteem, confidence, and swagger boys feel when they leave the barber’s chair—a tradition that places on their heads a figurative crown, beaming with jewels, that confirms their brilliance and worth and helps them not only love and accept themselves but also take a giant step toward caring how they present themselves to the world. The fresh cuts. That’s where it all begins.
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is a high-spirited, engaging salute to the beautiful, raw, assured humanity of black boys and how they see themselves when they approve of their reflections in the mirror. Find it here
Rodney is that kid who just can’t sit still. He's inside, but he wants to be outside. Outside is where Rodney always wants to be.
Between school and home, there is a park. He knows all about that park. It’s that triangle-shaped place with the yellow grass and two benches where grown-ups sit around all day. Besides, his momma said to stay away from that park.
When Rodney finally gets a chance to go to a real park, with plenty of room to run and climb and shout, and to just be himself, he will never be the same. Find it here
What was Michael Jordan like as a boy? You might be surprised that the greatest professional basketball player ever wasn't even the best player in his own family!
Michael Jordan was once just an ordinary little boy growing up in a North Carolina suburb, trying to keep up with his older brother Larry. Michael was always good at sports, but it seemed like Larry was always going to be bigger, quicker, and luckier. But Michael never gave up, and his practicing began to pay off. Then one summer day during a backyard game of one-on-one, Larry Jordan's little brother took him--and the whole family--by surprise!
Based on actual events, this story of a friendly sibling rivalry is enhanced by Floyd Cooper's stunning two-tone art. Jump! even features a gate-fold depicting Michael Jordan's trademark leap that will send young readers soaring. Find it here
Kai is the only member of his family who can't get the dance steps to the Electric Slide right. But Kai is determined to bust a move in this fun and sweet celebration of African American families.
Kai's aunt is getting married, and everyone in the Donovan family is excited about the wedding ... except Kai. The highlight of every Donovan occasion is dancing the electric slide--a groovy line dance with footwork that Kai can't quite figure out. More than anything, he wants to prove that he can boogie with the rest of his family and earn a cool nickname from his granddad. Can Kai break through his nerves and break it down on the dance floor?
Told with humor and heart by author Kelly J. Baptist and lively illustrations from debut picture book artist Darnell Johnson, The Electric Slide and Kai is a funky celebration with all the right moves! Find it here
Warm illustrations spice up this rhythmical ode to the joys of family and food -- full, full, full of pleasures.
For the youngest member of an exuberant extended family, Sunday dinner at Grannie's can be full indeed -- full of hugs and kisses, full of tasty dishes, full to the brim with happy faces, and full, full, full of love.
With a special focus on the bond between little Jay Jay and his grannie, Trish Cooke introduces us to a gregarious family we are sure to want more, more, more of. Find it here
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