As the mother of my own amazing Black boy who has already made his transition into college, connecting with the younger him through storytelling and encouraging a love of reading has always been an important aspect of my parenting journey.
I recently joined MOBB – Mothers of Black Boys United, a Facebook group that provides a forum for moms of Black sons to share our concerns and propose solutions to the challenges our children face. Hearing from mothers of younger sons about the challenges they face finding stories specifically for and about our sons got me thinking.
When I was in their shoes years ago, it was also hard to find books that I could use to inspire or affirm him. No list of resources to forge that connection as his love of reading peaked.
But luckily, it’s the dawn of a new day.
I’ve compiled a list of 25 books for Black boys that will absolutely become a part of my “Auntie” library starting today.
Stories of our boys learning to accept themselves. Finding their place in the world. Celebrating family. Basking in love and even being silly.
Simply being children.
These are the books I wish I’d had or known about when his racial identity and social questions started to trickle into our breakfast conversations.
Let’s fill their heads with positive images of themselves, and foster their love of reading.
You know what they say: if not us, then who?
25 Children’s Books That Celebrate Amazing Black Boys
“Do you know what’s inside of your treasure chest? What you become is determined by what’s inside of you! Understanding what’s inside of you will allow you to unlock your hidden treasure. Today, believe that you are great, and your future is full of promise. Your hidden treasure is waiting to be exposed.”
“Max loves his grandpa. When they must say good-bye after a visit, Grandpa promises Max that the moon at Grandpa’s house is the same moon that will follow him all the way home. On that swervy-curvy car ride back to his house, Max watches as the moon tags along. But when the sky darkens and the moon disappears behind clouds, he worries that it didn’t follow him home after all. Where did the moon go—and what about Grandpa’s promise?”
3. Daddy Calls Me Man by
4. Peekaboo Morning by
“A toddler plays a game of peekaboo, and you’re invited to play too. First there’s Mommy to find, with Daddy not far behind. Then Puppy comes peeking around the corner, and a favorite toy train brings the toddler to Grandma and Grandpa. Isadora’s brilliant, joyful pastel illustrations capture the familiar and cozy people, toys and animals that will delight babies.”
“What began as a spiritual has developed into one of America’s best-known songs, and now for the first time it appears as a picture book, masterfully created by award-winning artist Kadir Nelson.Through sublime landscapes and warm images of a boy and his family, Kadir has created a dazzling, intimate interpretation, one that rejoices in the connectedness of people and nature.”
“This picture book is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the momentous Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in, when four college students staged a peaceful protest that became a defining moment in the struggle for racial equality and the growing civil rights movement.”
7. Bippity Bop Barbershop by
“A young boy, Miles, makes his first trip to the barbershop with his father. Like most little boys, he is afraid of the sharp scissors, the buzzing razor, and the prospect of picking a new hairstyle. But with the support of his dad, the barber, and the other men in the barbershop, Miles bravely sits through his first haircut.”
“Norman the goldfish isn’t what this little boy had in mind. He wanted a different kind of pet — one that could run and catch, or chase string and climb trees, a soft furry pet to sleep on his bed at night. Definitely not Norman.”
9. Brothers of the Knight by
10. The Skin You Live In by
“With the ease and simplicity of a nursery rhyme, this lively story delivers an important message of social acceptance to young readers. Themes associated with child development and social harmony, such as friendship, acceptance, self-esteem, and diversity are promoted in simple and straightforward prose.”
“Malcolm X grew to be one of America’s most influential figures. But first, he was a boy named Malcolm Little. Written by his daughter, this inspiring picture book biography celebrates a vision of freedom and justice.”
“EllRay Jakes is tired of being bullied by fellow classmate Jared Matthews. But when EllRay tries to defend himself, he winds up in trouble. Then his dad offers him a deal: If he stays out of trouble for one week, they’ll go to Disneyland! EllRay says he can do it. But saying it and doing it are two very different things.”
13. You Can Do It! by
“The colorful characters from Sesame Street teach young children about racial harmony. Muppets, monsters, and humans compare noses, hair, and skin and realize how different we all are. But as they look further, they also discover how much we are alike.”
15. My Brother Charlie by
16. Chocolate Me! by
“The boy is teased for looking different than the other kids. His skin is darker, his hair curlier. He tells his mother he wishes he could be more like everyone else. And she helps him to see how beautiful he really, truly is.”
17. Full, Full, Full of Love by
“For the youngest member of an exuberant extended family, Sunday dinner at Grannie’s can be full indeed – full of hugs and kisses, full of tasty dishes, full to the brim with happy faces, and full, full, full of love. With a special focus on the bond between little Jay Jay and his grannie, Trish Cooke introduces us to a gregarious family we are sure to want more, more, more of.”
“Alex is a marvelous little boy who is just like other people in some ways, such as getting angry sometimes, but also unique because of his special laugh, his grizzly hugs, and his own interesting thoughts.”
19. If I Ran For President by
“If you ran for President, you would have to do a lot of hard work. You would study the nation’s problems, tell the American people about your platform, select a running mate, and debate your opponents on live television.”
21. My Name is Judah by
“This is a delightful story about a little boy with a unique name. Judah meets three new friends and shares the secret of his unique name. Judah and his new friends Suzie, Jorge, and Tom share a fun-filled day together.”
22. Yesterday I Had the Blues by
“Ever had the blues? Yesterday one boy had them bad–not just the ordinary blues, the “deep down in my shoes” blues, the “go away Mr. Sun quit smilin’ at me” blues. But today he’s traded in those blues for greens, the “runnin’ my hands along the hedges” greens, the kind of greens that make him want to be Somebody.”
23. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Picture Book Edition by William Kamkwamba
“A remarkable true story about human inventiveness and its power to overcome crippling adversity. It will inspire anyone who doubts the power of one individual’s ability to change his community and better the lives of those around him.”
24. How Many Stars in the Sky? by
“Mama’s away one night, and her son can’t sleep. He tries to relax by counting stars, but the more of them he sees, the more determined he is to count every single one. Then the boy finds that Daddy can’t sleep either. Together, the two of them set off on an unforgettable all-night journey of discovery.”
25. End Zone by
RELATED ARTICLE: 10 Children’s Books With Black Characters to Buy This Season
Interested in writing for Nia? We’re looking for Guest Writers to join our contributor team! Click HERE to find out how.