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There’s a notion that diverse children’s toys or diverse children’s books are only important for children from diverse backgrounds—but that is entirely untrue. It’s vital for all kids to see a true landscape of people reflected in their toys and books. It’s important for us all to learn the vital contributions of the incredible humans who have come before us and live alongside us. It’s necessary for the lines between “us” and “other” to disappear completely.
Books are not the only way to go about this work, but they are a start. When children are surrounded by diversity, it becomes a regular part of their life. So, be vigilant. Start young. Talk about hard things. Learn with your kids. Do the work. It’s always worth it.
Read on for 33 books featuring Black heroes and characters that every kid should read.
This beautifully illustrated board book edition of instant bestseller "Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History" showcases women who changed the world and is the perfect goodnight book to inspire big dreams.
This book teaches the little ones to follow their biggest dreams by introducing them to 18 different trailblazing women creators.
Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
Follows the incredible life of Harriet Tubman, the Underground Railroad conductor who "never lost a single passenger."
Editors of Caterpillar Books
Bop along with the greats in this adorable baby book that introduces little ones to the rappers that started it all!
This board book distills tennis superstar Serena Williams's excellent qualities into an eminently shareable read-aloud text with graphic, eye-catching illustrations.
This board book distills Michelle Obama's excellent qualities into deliciously illustrated little baby-sized bites with text designed to share and read aloud.
Brad M. Epstein
The entire family can share all the memories and history of his election as the 44th President of the United States!
Celebrate Oprah Winfrey’s most motivational and powerful moments, with quotes from the media mogul and vibrant illustrations.
A beautiful picture book for sharing, inspired by the life of the first African American woman to travel in space, Mae Jemison
An illustrated board book showcasing true stories of Black men throughout history.
An illustrated board book showcasing true stories of Black women throughout history.
Introductory series to teach young learners about Black history using bright and engaging illustrations.
A stirring, dramatic story of a slave who mails himself to freedom.
Carole Boston Weatherford
In luminous paintings and arresting poems, two of children's literature’s top African-American scholars track Arturo Schomburg’s quest to correct history.
Tells the story of thousands of African American children who marched in Birmingham, Alabama for their civil rights after being inspired by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Margot Lee Shetterly
The incredibly inspiring true story of four black women who helped NASA launch men into space.
Shane W. Evans
An illustrated story about the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and African American civil rights movement.
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, Jr.
Harriet Tubman's heroic and pivotal role in the fight against slavery is the subject of the 14th picture book in this New York Times bestselling biography series.
Kelly Starling Lyons
This celebrates a contemporary black STEAM role model, a man whose quiet work enabled the creation of an iconic building reflecting America's past and future.
This New York Times bestselling picture book biography series by Brad Meltzer has an inspiring message: we can all be heroes.
Laban Carrick Hill
This book tells the story of Dave, who despite having been a slave, was an extraordinary artist, poet, and potter living in South Carolina in the 1800s.
Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
New in the critically acclaimed "Little People, BIG DREAMS series," discover the life of Wilma Rudolph, the remarkable sprinter and Olympic champion.
Originally performed for ESPN's "The Undefeated," this poem is a love letter to Black life in the United States.
This book chronicles the story of Bessie Coleman, who became the first African-American to earn a pilot's license.
Rita Lorraine Hubbard
Imagine learning to read at the age of 116! Discover the true story of Mary Walker, the nation's oldest student who did just that.
A glowing picture book biography of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.
A visit to Washington, D.C.’s National Portrait Gallery forever alters Parker Curry’s young life when she views First Lady Michelle Obama’s portrait.
This book tells the story of the inspiring true story of singer, performer, and activist, Florence Mills.
Sandra Neil Wallace
Discover the remarkable true story of NFL star Ernie Barnes: a boy who followed his dreams and became one of the most influential artists of his generation.
Carole Boston Weatherford
This poetic book is a resounding tribute to Tubman's strength, humility, and devotion.
An inspiring picture book sports biography about two of the greatest female tennis players of all-time! Venus and Serena Williams: best friends, sisters, champions.
A stunningly illustrated book—written by Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o—about a young girl's journey with colorism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within.
This article was originally published on February 11, 2020, and has been updated for timeliness.