Black History Month: Empowering Books to Read
Black History Month is the perfect time to celebrate books that empower children, especially Black children, and help them feel confident in themselves. The following list includes picture books and chapter books that affirm children with uplifting messages and bold stories.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of some of the books below for review purposes; however, all reviews are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Empowering Books to Read for Black History Month
Celebrate Black History Month with these empowering books for kids!
A Little Magic is the final installment in the wonderful Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess series (see my review of the earlier books). In A Little Magic, Kayla is all grown up and in college. She is ready to tell her mother exciting news about her future! As they share in the joy (and surprise!) of her news, it is a time for mother and daughter to reflect on Kayla’s journey so far. They look back on the special gifts Kayla’s mother has given her over the years, representing the love and encouragement she has showered on Kayla. Now it is Kayla’s turn to help her mother see that she is ready to leave the nest and make her dream of being on Broadway come true at last. A beautiful book about the special bond between mother and daughter, and about always having the courage and conviction to follow your dreams.
Carrimebac: The Town that Walked is an imaginative tale set in Georgia in that liminal time just after the end of the Civil War. Although slavery has ended, life for most Blacks is still incredibly difficult. That’s when ol’ Rootilla Redgums comes to town. She teaches everyone to make new products, like pots that never empty of food and walking sticks that never let you get lost. Thanks to their new skills, the Black families begin to thrive. But this only makes the whites in town grow suspicious, until one night they come dressed in white hoods and carrying torches. But they are in for another surprise, as Rootilla’s magic helps carry the entire town back across the waters to a safer, happier place. A gorgeous tale that tells of this horrible period in history in a way that is kid-friendly yet still emotionally powerful and ultimately full of hope.
I Am Me: A Book of Authenticity is the book every child needs to read. It encourages children to celebrate their own uniqueness, but in a way that celebrates the uniqueness of everyone else as well. It helps children understand that it’s not only okay to be different, it’s wonderful. Because when you look past the surface, no one is just like anyone else, really. When they find their joy, they can help others find theirs as well. I love that it also teaches children to appreciate their imperfections, because they make them interesting! The simple, affirming text is complemented by the joyous illustrations. Includes mindfulness exercises to help children celebrate who they are.
Brown Baby Lullaby is a sweet book to read with your little ones at bedtime. It follows an active baby as he winds down before bed. The book is full of tenderness and cuddles, as Momma and Papi help their little one through dinner, bathtime, and bedtime snuggles. I love that the parents understand their baby’s sometimes changeable moods, and cuddle him through his fussiness when he’s tired, and help him get out his wiggles before bed. A beautiful tribute to all the loving parents raising sweet brown babies.
Somebody to Love is a lovely new book about love, creativity, and the power of believing in yourself. When a young girl is gifted a toy instrument, she immediately falls in love. But other children laugh at her for not having a “real” instrument. The little banjolele sits neglected for years, until it finally works up its courage and calls to the girl, cajoling her into giving the little instrument a chance. When the banjolele finally has the opportunity to express itself, the girl and her family immediately realize how special it is. The girl names it “Baby,” and it becomes the star of her show. A sweet story about believing in yourself and finding courage to share your song with the world.
How can you succeed at something you’ve never done before? In Fly, a young girl decides to compete in a double Dutch competition, even though she doesn’t know how to double Dutch – yet. At first she tries to do it alone but soon finds that learning is faster – and more fun – with friends…even if they have never double Dutched before either! The skills they teach her are invaluable, but will it be enough? A beautiful story about the power of community and of believing in yourself. For more insight into the inspiration behind the book, don’t miss my interviews with author Brittany J. Thurman on Multicultural Children’s Book Day and Make a Way Media.
You So Black is the brilliant new book from Grammy-nominated artist Theresa Tha S.O.N.G.B.I.R.D., based on her viral spoken word. In it, she transforms the heavily charged insult “you so black” into an affirmation of Black excellence. It is a celebration of strength and beauty, at the same time as it is a recognition that Black “is hard to do.” Accompanied by gorgeous paintings from London Ladd, it is a wonderful book to instill pride and confidence.
In Nigel and the Moon, Nigel has a hard time sharing his dreams with his class, but every night he tells the moon how he imagines himself as an astronaut, a dancer, and a superhero. When his parents come to career week at school, Nigel is worried that that jobs won’t seem as prestigious as those of other parents. But when they demonstrate pride in their work, it gives Nigel confidence to share his own dreams. A wonderful book about believing in yourself and sharing your dreams with the world.
Crowned with Glory is a wonderful reminder that God has made you just as you are! It is a tribute to Black girls, and especially to their hair. Azira knows she is just as she is meant to be, including her gorgeous hair. She celebrates all the different ways she can style her hair, just as she recounts all the ways she can succeed in life. A truly uplifting book about self-love that helps children realize how special they are.
Smart Sisters is the latest in the Happy Hair series. It’s sparse text celebrates the bond between sisters, both those we are born with and those we find along the way. But what truly makes it special is the incredible artwork, which showcases a wide variety of skin tones, hair textures, and personal styles. A great book to celebrate self-confidence and the power of sisterhood.
Show the World helps children realize all the different, wonderful ways they can express themselves – from photography to cooking. Everyone has something meaningful to contribute to the world. This vibrant book encourages children to dig deep and share their gift with the world!
The spunky main character in Unfadeable fairly leaps off the page. On her own since her father’s death and her mother’s hospitalization, Bella is used to doing things for herself. But when her beloved neighborhood is threatened, Bella must learn to draw on the power of community to save it. In order to help her neighbors, she must step into the spotlight, with all the dangers that entails. Along the way, she slowly learns to accept the help and comfort she is offered from others, including those that will become her found family. A great middle grade read about the power of community and finding the courage to stand up for what is right.
Lotus Bloom just wants to play violin. When she is accepted into the new performing arts middle school, she thinks her dreams have come true. Even when other students jealous of her talent begin to bully her by throwing paper airplanes at her afro, Lotus’s instinct is to just ignore them and keep playing her music. But she unexpectedly comes under fire herself, accused of somehow causing the bullying because of her “unkempt” hair. Faced with expulsion, Lotus must decide when enough is enough, even when the adults in her life are pushing her to just make peace. Inspired by the real life struggles of many Black girls with racist dress codes, Lotus Bloom and the Afro Revolution is a fabulous portrait of the making of a reluctant revolutionary and the power of finding your voice.