Toys & Books

10 Beautiful Picture Books for Kids by Black Authors

There’s nothing a good book can’t do. It can whisk you off on an adventure, open your eyes to new experiences, and dole out answers to the problems plaguing your heart. Especially for our youngest family members, a library full of books can act as a window to the larger world—which makes it all the more important to ensure that our bookshelves paint an accurate picture for them.

But doing so isn’t always easy. Historically, U.S. publishers have churned out children’s books starring mostly white protagonists. The issue is so rampant that the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison reported that, after surveying 3,617 books in 2018, they found only 401 that focused on Black characters. Of those, the number of books written by Black authors was even less.

To help you build a better, more inclusive bookshelf for your little ones, we did the digging for you. Picking up one of these books will not only add much-needed diversity to your shelf, but also send a message to the publishing industry about the titles we want to see.

Read on for 10 brilliant, beautiful picture books—every one of them sharing a small sliver of the Black experience, as penned by a Black author.

Derrick Barnes
The King of Kindergarten

Newberry Honor Award-winning author Derrick Barnes offers this heartwarming story about a plucky and confident boy on his first day of kindergarten. Jubilant and full of heart, this New York Times Best Seller is a perfect pick for any kid on the brink of a new experience.

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Debbie Allen
Dancing in the Wings

Big-hearted Sassy dreams of being a ballerina—even if she feels like she doesn't fit the part. Following this totally lovable heroine, this book promises to inspire young readers to embrace their true selves and pursue their heart's desires.

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JaNay Brown-Wood
Imani's Moon

Undeterred by teasing and bullying, Imani keeps her head high as she embarks on a mission to touch the moon.

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John Steptoe
Mufaro's Beautiful Daughter's: An African Tale

This African retelling of the Cinderalla story is a wholly engaging, Caldecott Award-winning book with gorgeous illustrations.

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Janice N. Harrington
The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County

Funny, spirited, and memorable, this selection follows our chicken-chasing queen on her quest to best the one hen that always escapes her grasp.

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Floyd Cooper
Max and the Tag-Along Moon

On his drive home from his beloved grandfather's house, Max finds reassurance in the moon—a beautiful sight he and his grandfather can share, even when they're not together.

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Misty Copeland

Professional ballerina Misty Copeland encourages a young dancer on her journey to the stage, recounting the dedication and passion she needed to find her way.

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Andrea Pippins
Who Will You Be?

An ode to family, this sweet book explores the vast potential our little ones hold when they are nurtured in love.

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Jerome Pumphrey
The Old Truck

A story of girlhood, perseverance, and loyalty, "The Old Truck" is sure to warm your heart. Here, an imaginative young girl works her family's farm alongside a trusty old pickup truck. Years later, she returns to its side to bring it back to life.

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Read More: 18 Kids’ Books to Help Start a Discussion About Race