Updated: Oct 10
Children's books featuring Black girls 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 girls and the diversity of Black girls to remind them to embrace the happiness that surrounds them.
For your convenience, we've included publisher's descriptions along with each book.
The creator of Here Wee Read, Charnaie Gordon, and the New York Times bestselling publisher and author of Mae Among the Stars, Roda Ahmed, debut their first-ever collaboration with the extraordinary adventures of the one and only Etta Extraordinaire!
Meet Etta! Etta was born to be a shining star. When Etta discovers her school is hosting a talent show, she wants to share her many talents with the world. Even though she has never performed onstage before, all Etta needs to do is make a plan. (Etta always has a plan!) And in 1, 2, 3, 4 steps, she's ready for her big performance on the big stage in front of a BIG audience. Or is she?
Find out how Etta beats her worries, with the help of her loving family, in this joyful story created by celebrated writers Roda Ahmed and Charnaie Gordon and illustrator Chloe Burgett. Find it here
A confident little Black girl has a fantastic first day of school in this companion to the New York Times bestseller The King of Kindergarten.
MJ is more than ready for her first day of kindergarten! With her hair freshly braided and her mom's special tiara on her head, she knows she's going to rock kindergarten. But the tiara isn't just for show--it also reminds her of all the good things she brings to the classroom, stuff like her kindness, friendliness, and impressive soccer skills, too! Like The King of Kindergarten, this is the perfect book to reinforce back-to-school excitement and build confidence in the newest students. Find it here
Frustrated by a day full of teachers and classmates mispronouncing her beautiful name, a little girl tells her mother she never wants to come back to school. In response, the girl's mother teaches her about the musicality of African, Asian, Black-American, Latinx, and Middle Eastern names on their lyrical walk home through the city.
Empowered by this newfound understanding, the young girl is ready to return the next day to share her knowledge with her class. Your Name is a Song is a celebration to remind all of us about the beauty, history, and magic behind names.
Your Name is a Song includes back matter perfect for parents, educators, caregivers, and young readers who want to learn more about the names featured in the story. The "Glossary of Names" lists each name's meaning, origin, and pronunciation. Additionally, readers can use a listed link to access an online video of the author pronouncing all the names in the book. Find it here
From Daniel Bernstrom, the acclaimed author of One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree, comes a charming and irresistibly fun picture book about a young blind girl and her grandmother who experience the vibrant everyday music of their busy city.
A young girl, filled with the sounds of her beloved city, shares a song with her grandmother that changes the two forever. After helping Grandma realize that the city makes music as beautiful as the sounds they hear in church on Sunday morning, the two sit down and take in all the sounds of the city...together.
Song in the City bridges the gap between generations of music and family, while centering love, understanding, and joy. Find it here
In a companion to Build a House, Rhiannon Giddens--winner of a Grammy Award and a Pulitzer Prize and cofounder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops--gives wing to a moving tale of grace and transcendence, with acclaimed artist Briana Mukodiri Uchendu.
At a sparrow's urging, a young girl feels a mysterious trembling in her arms, a lightness in her feet, a longing to be free. Her mother tells her that her Granny Liza experienced the same, as did many of their people before her. Perhaps it's time, Mama says, to slip the bonds of earth and join the journey started long ago. To hold each other tight and rise.
Drawing on lyrics from the song "We Could Fly" by Rhiannon Giddens and Dirk Powell, which in turn draw on a heritage of African folklore, this incantatory dialogue between a mother and daughter paired with startlingly beautiful illustrations celebrates love, resilience, and the spiritual power of the "old-time ways"--tradition and shared cultural memory--to sustain and uplift. Find it here
A visit to Washington, DC's National Portrait Gallery forever alters Parker Curry's young life when she views First Lady Michelle Obama's portrait.
When Parker Curry came face-to-face with Amy Sherald's transcendent portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama at the National Portrait Gallery, she didn't just see the First Lady of the United States. She saw a queen--one with dynamic self-assurance, regality, beauty, and truth who captured this young girl's imagination. When a nearby museum-goer snapped a photo of a mesmerized Parker, it became an internet sensation. Inspired by this visit, Parker, and her mother, Jessica Curry, tell the story of a young girl and her family, whose trip to a museum becomes an extraordinary moment, in a moving picture book.
Parker Looks Up follows Parker, along with her baby sister and her mother, and her best friend Gia and Gia's mother, as they walk the halls of a museum, seeing paintings of everyone and everything from George Washington Carver to Frida Kahlo, exotic flowers to graceful ballerinas. Then, Parker walks by Sherald's portrait of Michelle Obama...and almost passes it. But she stops...and looks up!
Parker saw the possibility and promise, the hopes and dreams of herself in this powerful painting of Michelle Obama. An everyday moment became an extraordinary one...that continues to resonate its power, inspiration, and indelible impact. Because, as Jessica Curry said, "anything is possible regardless of race, class, or gender." Find it here
In this lyrical picture book, world-renowned poet, New York Times bestselling author, and Coretta Scott King Honor winner Nikki Giovanni and fine artist Erin Robinson craft an ode to the magic of a library as a place not only for knowledge but also for imagination, exploration, and escape.
In what other place can a child "sail their dreams" and "surf the rainbow" without ever leaving the room? This ode to libraries is a celebration for everyone who loves stories, from seasoned readers to those just learning to love words, and it will have kids and parents alike imagining where their library can take them.
This inspiring read-aloud includes stunning illustrations and a note from Nikki Giovanni about the importance of libraries in her own childhood. Find it here
This joyous and loving celebration of family is the first-ever picture book to highlight Black nighttime hair traditions--and is perfect for every little girl who knows what it's like to lose her bonnet just before bedtime.
In my family, when the sun goes down, our hair goes up!
My brother slips a durag over his locs.
Sis swirls her hair in a wrap around her head.
Daddy covers his black waves with a cap.
Mama gathers her corkscrew curls in a scarf.
I always wear a bonnet over my braids, but tonight I can't find it anywhere!
Bedtime Bonnet gives readers a heartwarming peek into quintessential Black nighttime hair traditions and celebrates the love between all the members of this close-knit, multi-generational family. Find it here
This endearing picture book from South Africa follows the story of a little girl who, with help from her grandmother, explores her identity and learns to appreciate her name.
"There was once a beautiful little girl with a heart as big as her name, Kantiga. But Kantiga did not like her name." Hearing this, her gogo tells her a family tale of the magical clay pot that seems to be useless because it is cracked and broken. We learn how this flaw makes it more than perfect.
Follow this beautiful tale, full of color and folklore, as Kantiga tries to find the perfect name and on the journey learns a bit more about who she is and where she is from. Find it here
In her grandmother's garden, a young Black girl learns about mindfulness and herbal medicine in this soothing intergenerational story about our connection to nature.
It's Joy's first summer in her grandmother's South Carolina garden--a rite of passage. In the midst of okra, spinach, and strawberries, Grammy teaches Joy that plants are friends with many uses. Herbs, for example, can be turned into medicine.
There in Grammy's abundant backyard, Joy learns to listen for the heartbeat of the earth and connect it to her own as she takes deep breaths and puts her intentions into the soil. By the story's end, she learns to grow seeds in her own garden, honoring all that her grandmother taught her. With sensory-rich illustrations from award-winning illustrator Ashleigh Corrin, Joy Takes Root is a blissful reminder of all that might bloom. Find it here
A little girl, baking bread with her grandmother, becomes transported by the tales her grandmother's hands tell-those that spring from the rose-painted nails, a flower-banded wedding ring, and the way her fingers move and glide.
These hands have many tales to tell. But only if you listen.
Like Zoe, author Kelly Starling Lyons grew up baking treats with her grandma. Now, she celebrates those special moments in stories.
In the back of the hardcover version - the bread recipe is included. Find it here
In this warm and tender story by the Caldecott Honor-winning creator of Thank You, Omu!, join a mother and daughter on an up-and-down journey that reminds them of what's best about Saturdays: precious time together.
Today would be special. Today would be splendid. It was Saturday! But sometimes, the best plans don't work out exactly the way you expect....
In this heartfelt and universal story, a mother and daughter look forward to their special Saturday routine together every single week. But this Saturday, one thing after another goes wrong--ruining storytime, salon time, picnic time, and the puppet show they'd been looking forward to going to all week. Mom is nearing a meltdown...until her loving daughter reminds her that being together is the most important thing of all.
Author-artist Oge Mora's highly anticipated follow up to Caldecott Honor Thank You, Omu! features the same magnificently radiant artwork and celebration of sharing so beloved in her debut picture book. Find it here
A little girl makes sure she walks out of the barbershop rocking the fabulous hair style she chooses.
Learn the importance of speaking up for what you want through this fun and empowering picture book.
When a little girl walks into her local barbershop, she knows she wants the flyest, freshest fade on the block! But there are so many beautiful hairstyles to choose from, and the clients and her mother suggest them all: parts, perms, frizzy fros, dye jobs, locs, and even cornrows!
But this little girl stays true to herself and makes sure she leaves the shop feeling on top with the look she picks!
Author Shauntay Grant's sweet, rhyming story encourages young girls to be self-confident and celebrates the many shapes and forms Black hair can take. Through their stunning illustrations, Kitt Thomas is able to bring life and movement to the versatile styles featured in this book. Find it here
A lyrical picture book debut from #1 New York Times bestselling author and presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman and #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator Loren Long
"I can hear change humming
In its loudest, proudest song.
I don't fear change coming,
And so I sing along."
In this stirring, much-anticipated picture book by presidential inaugural poet and activist Amanda Gorman, anything is possible when our voices join together. As a young girl leads a cast of characters on a musical journey, they learn that they have the power to make changes--big or small--in the world, in their communities, and in most importantly, in themselves.
With lyrical text and rhythmic illustrations that build to a dazzling crescendo by #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator Loren Long, Change Sings is a triumphant call to action for everyone to use their abilities to make a difference. Find it here
A gorgeous, imagination-sparking introduction to the beauty and interconnectedness of the Black diaspora.
A young girl living on the coast of South Carolina dreams of her distant relatives on the shores of Africa and beyond. Indigo Dreaming is a poetic meditation between two young girls--on different sides of the sea--who wonder about how they are intricately linked by culture, even though they are separated by location. The girls' reflections come together, creating an imaginative and illuminating vision of home, as well as a celebration of the Black diaspora.
This gorgeous lyrical tale engages the senses and evokes childlike curiosity and wonder. Find it here
The debut picture book from iconic voting rights advocate and bestselling author Stacey Abrams is an inspiring tale of determination, based on her own childhood.
Stacey is a little girl who loves words more than anything. She loves reading them, sounding them out, and finding comfort in them when things are hard.
But when her teacher chooses her to compete in the local spelling bee, she isn't as excited as she thought she'd be. What if she messes up? Or worse, if she can't bring herself to speak up, like sometimes happens when facing bullies at school?
Stacey will learn that win or lose . . . her words are powerful, and sometimes perseverance is the most important word of all. Find it here
Stacey's Extraordinary Words, from political leader Stacey Abrams and artist Kitt Thomas.
Stacey's favorite day of the week is Thursday, when the whole class goes to the library and she gets to lose herself in her beloved books.
On one of these special days, Stacey discovers that a new student named Julie has trouble reading in English, so they begin sharing books and stories to practice. Soon, more students start to join them.
Books take the group on magical adventures and reveal other worlds and cultures--but best of all, they bring them together as friends.
This is another inspiring tale, based on a true story from Stacey Abrams's childhood, about the life-changing power of books. Find it here
Mama's love is brighter than the sun, even on the rainiest of days. This celebration of a mother-daughter relationship is perfect for sharing with little ones!
On a rainy day when the house smells like cinnamon and Papa and Luca are still asleep, when the clouds are wearing shadows and the wind paints the window with beads of water, I want to be everywhere Mama is.
With lyrical prose and a tender touch, the Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Honor Book Mama and Me is an ode to the strength of the bond between a mother and a daughter as they spend a rainy day together. Find it here
Looking for more great read aloud ideas? Visit these fabulous book lists:
Join our community of BOOK LOVERS to get book news delivered to your inbox.