Black History Month Books for Kids

Teacher reading black history books for kids to preschoolers

One of the best ways to ensure that children grow up respecting and valuing others is by regularly exposing them to people from many ethnic, cultural, or socioeconomic backgrounds. Black History is one opportunity to increase children’s understanding of themselves and others, and reading picture books together is a simple, meaningful way to get started.  

At Bright Horizons, we use picture books to explore all people and cultures. In particular, we choose books that show children and families in natural, everyday settings having authentic experiences. We especially love stories that demonstrate people’s strengths and contributions, and we use books to spark conversations about a variety of topics – from kindness and belonging to character and resilience.  

In the spirit of Black History Month, our education experts have rounded up a list of age-appropriate books that embody these very concepts – and are sure to be loved by the entire family.   
Black History Books for Kids

Infants and Toddlers

  • Baby Goes to Market by Atinuke. Join Baby and his doting mama at a bustling southwest Nigerian marketplace for a bright read-aloud and gentle introduction to numbers.
  • Baby Says by John Steptoe. A story of a baby who desperately wants to get his older brother’s attention.
  • Grandma and Me by Carole Boston Weatherford. A young child reflects on the many reasons they love their Grandma. This glorious celebration of family offers playful ideas for young children and the people who care for them.
  • Leo Loves Baby Time by Anna McQuinn. A great book for family engagement. One of many in the Leo series.
  • My Hair is Beautiful by Shauntay Grant. A powerful message of self-love and embracing your natural hair. 
  • Show Me Happy by Kathryn Madeline Allen. Lively and engaging photos expertly illustrate real kids doing several everyday activities. 
  • Whose Toes are Those? by Jibari Asim. A vibrant, playful verse that celebrates a beautiful brown baby’s adorable little toes.  

Preschool and Older

  • Bedtime Bonnet by Nancy Redd. 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. 
  • Black: The Many Colors of My World by Nancy Johnson James. In this loving and lovely ode to the color black, a girl describes the many wonders of her world – from the black of starry nights to her own black eyes, clear and bright.
  • Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins by Michelle Meadows. A lyrical picture book biography of Janet Collins, the first African American principal dancer at the Metropolitan Opera House. 
  • Brown: The Many Shades of Love by Nancy Johnson James. A boy describes the many beautiful hues of his family, including his own gingerbread.
  • Daniel’s Good Day by Micha Archer. When his neighbors give a variety of answers to the question, “What is a good day?” Daniel writes a poem about the everyday activities that give them joy.  
  • Hair, It’s A Family Affair! by Mylo Freeman. A beautifully illustrated picture book on the joys of natural hair, through the different hairstyles found in one family.
  • Hair Love by Matthew Cherry. Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own- coils and curls everywhere. It is up to daddy to style Zuri’s extra special hair. Follow the story of Zuri and her daddy’s loving relationship.
  • Jabari Tries and Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall. Jabari is inventing a machine that will fly all the way across the yard! But making it go from CRASH to WHOOSH will take grit, patience, and maybe even a little help from his sister.
  • Lali’s Feather by Farhana Zia and Stephanie Fizer Coleman. This endearing story of identification and values shows the rewards in looking closely and thinking imaginatively. 
  • Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena. A grandmother and her grandson take a bus to get across town. The grandson wonders why he does not have things that other children have. His grandmother’s reassuring and wise answers help him see the beauty and fun in life. 
  • Listen by Gabi Snyder. A meditative picture book about listening and mindfulness.
  • My Family Plays Music by Judy Cox. A young girl tries out different genres and instruments in this exuberant celebration of music.
  • Parker Looks Up by Parker and Jessica Curry. When Parker Curry came face-to-face with the portrait of Michelle Obama she didn't just see the First Lady of the United States but a person with self-assurance, beauty and truth.
  • Saturday by Oge Mora. When all of their special Saturday plans go awry, Ava and her mother still find a way to appreciate one another and their time together.
  • The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López. A heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone.

School-Age and Older

  • Althea Gibson by Megan Reid. Althea Gibson was the “quickest, tallest, most fearless girl Harlem had ever seen.” She began winning local tennis competitions when she was only twelve, but that wasn’t enough for her. She overcame racial segregation and prejudice to become the first black person to win at Wimbledon.  
  • Before She was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome. A lyrical biography of Harriet Tubman honors the woman of humble origins whose courage and compassion make her larger than life, discussing her roles as a slave, a conductor on the Underground Railroad, a nurse, a Union spy, and a suffragist.
  • Between the Lines by Sandra Neil Wallace . Ernie Barnes was an NFL football player who longed to make art. Finally his dream came true. Follow Ernie’s life story and the battle between his passion for art and his career as an athlete.
  • Bread for Words: A Fredrick Douglas Story by Shane Keller. Told from first-person perspective, this picture-book biography draws from the real-life experiences of a young Frederick Douglass and his attempts to learn how to read and write.
  • Carmela Full of Wishes by Matt de la Pena. When Carmela wakes up on her birthday, her wish has already come true--she's finally old enough to join her big brother as he does the family errands.
  • Cool Cuts by Mechal Renee Roe. Boys will love seeing strong, happy reflections of themselves in this vibrant, rhythmic picture book celebrating a diversity of hip black hairstyles.
  • From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks. 12-year-old Zoe Washington has a lot to think about: She’s auditioning for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge while trying to prove that her father, who was convicted of a terrible crime, is innocent. Janae Marks tackles a heavy topic with humor and hope.
  • I Am Ruby Bridges by Ruby Bridges. Ruby Bridges tells her story as never before and shares the events of the momentous day in 1960 when Ruby became the first Black child to integrate the all-white William Franz Elementary as a six year old little girl -- a personal and intimate look through a child's lens at a landmark moment in our Civil Rights history.
  • Ice Cream Man by Glenda Armand and Kim Freeman. Tells the story of Augustus Jackson – a poor boy from Philadelphia who left home when he was twelve to become a White House cook, and who later developed technologies to bring ice cream to the masses.
  • A Library by Nikki Giovanni. 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.
  • Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport. This picture-book biography is an excellent and accessible introduction for young readers to learn about one of the world's most influential leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King.
  • Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker and April Harrison. In this moving story that celebrates cultural diversity, a shy girl brings her West African grandmother – whose face bears traditional tribal markings – to meet her classmates.  
  • Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina by Lea Lyon and A. Lafaye. Lyrical, inspiring, and affecting text paired with bright, appealing illustrations make Ready to Fly perfect for aspiring ballerinas everywhere who are ready to leap and to spread their wings!
  • Shirley Chisholm is a Verb! by Veronica Chambers. A timely picture book biography about Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman in Congress, who sought the Democratic nomination to be the president of the United States.
  • Thurgood by Jonah Winter. Follow the story of Thurgood Marshall who became the first black U.S. Supreme Court Justice in history.

Reading Tips

As you read these books with your children, tie experiences back to something they already know. Point out similarities between your child and the people they read about in stories. 

Ask thoughtful questions to start conversations: “Was there ever a time when you wanted to help others?” or “Why do you think it’s important to work on something even when it’s hard?” or “Did you ever feel like something wasn’t fair?”  

Read these Black history books for kids with your children all year long, and help introduce topics of kindness, empathy, and inclusion early on.  



Bright Horizons
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Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
Teacher reading black history books for kids to preschoolers