A collection of favorite Picture Books by Black Authors and Illustrators.
Black History Month is a good time to bring some attention to all of the wonderful picture books by Black authors and illustrators. Of course, anytime is a good time to read them - not just in February!
This is not a comprehensive list of all the picture books by all the Black authors and illustrators, these are just some of our most favorites. I've included a wide variety of picture books on this list: books about Black joy, books about important figures in history, fairytales, playful books, and more.
If you want a shorter list to choose from, the first 10 books on this list are my very favorite. If you're looking for more great books by Black authors, be sure to check these out too:
- Bookmarks: A New Netflix Show for Kids
- Excellent Middle Grade Books by Black Authors
- Favorite Books for Teens by Black Authors
- Favorite Contemporary Fiction by Black Authors
Note: the Amazon links below are Affiliate Links.
Picture Books by Black Authors & Illustrators
The Old Truck
This is a brand new favorite at our house. The words tell the story of an old truck growing older on a family farm, but the pictures tell the story of the family growing up alongside it. It's so clever and the retro style illustrations are perfection. A phenomenal picture book!
I Am Every Good Thing
This is an empowering, upbeat book about confidence and Black joy. It's a celebration of Black boys, but it's a beautiful and inspiring book that ALL children can learn from and appreciate. The illustrations are stunning! It's been a favorite read aloud at my house since I brought it home.
We LOVE this book! It's a beautiful story about a girl who wants her skin to be lighter like her sister. But after a magical journey into the stars she learns to appreciate her midnight skin. It's a gorgeous book about learning to love your own unique beauty.
Before She Was Harriet
This is a stunning picture book biography about Harriet Tubman. Did you know that in addition to being the underground railroad liberator that we now think of her as, she was also a suffragist, and a nurse, and a Union spy? This is a must read!
Don't Call Me Grandma
This book begins like this: "Great-Grandmother Nell is scary." Don't you love it already? I had a grandma that was a little scary when I was a kid, so I was hooked right away! This book was inspired by the author's real great-grandmother who might have been a little grumpy on the outside, but was a fascinating person. It's a fantastic story!
Freedom Soup is a New Year's tradition in Haiti and this fun and lively picture book tells you all about it. It's an absolute delight to read aloud.
Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment
Parker Curry was just a little girl when she first saw Michelle Obama's portrait at the National Portrait Gallery. The experience was so powerful that her and her mother turned it into this wonderful picture book. Get your hands on this one as fast as possible.
What Is Given from the Heart
This book moved me to tears the first time I read it. Otis and his mama are struggling financially, but even though they are barely scraping by Otis is determined to help another family who recently lost everything in a fire. It's a beautiful book about giving from the heart.
The Undefeated (Caldecott Medal Book)
We were so excited last year when this won the Caldecott award - it was one of our top picture book picks too! It's a spectacular illustrated poem about Black life and American history. The illustrations are phenomenal.
Thank You, Omu!
Omu is making her special stew, but it smells so good that it's bringing in people from all over the neighborhood. Generous Omu wants to give everyone stew, but will she have enough for herself? Read and find out!
Because Mama works all week, Saturday is her special day with her daughter. But on this Saturday all their special plans seem to be going wrong. Mama feels bad until she realizes that her daughter is happy just to be spending time together. I adore this book!
The Day You Begin
This book perfectly captures all the feelings, both good and bad, that come with a new beginning and a step into the unknown. It's a great book to read at the start of a new school year, or really anytime you need a little confidence boost.
This book celebrating natural Black hair is a delight to read. The book is based on the popular short film, also by Matthew Cherry.
Misty Copeland is not just an amazing dancer, she's also pretty darn good at writing children's books. This, her debut picture book, tells the poetic story of a young dancer dealing with self-image issues. It's a great book to open a powerful dialogue.
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut
This book has won a whole pile of awards, and for good reason - it is a must read! It's a high-energy book with a wonderful read aloud rhythm about a mighty fine trip to the barbershop. Excellent!
Mae Among the Stars
Mae Jemison was the first Black woman to travel to space and this adorable picture book is a great way to introduce her story to young readers.
Not Quite Snow White
Tameika loves the stage and is excited when her school announces their Snow White musical. She wants to audition for the lead role, but her confidence is shaken when she hears people whispering that she's "not quite right" for the part. It's a wonderful story about self-confidence and what to to do when it takes a hit.
The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem's Greatest Bookstore
This is an excellent book about a real-life famous book store in Harlem. The author's personal connection to the story makes it an even more wonderful read!
Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal
This picture book biography tells the largely unknown story of Bass Reeves. He was born into slavery but became a feared and respected lawman in the wild west territories. It's a fascinating story!
Let 'Er Buck!: George Fletcher, the People's Champion
This is the true story of the famous Pendelton Round-Up in 1911. Three men were in the final round of the big rodeo, but when the Black man wins the judge declares someone else the winner. Luckily, the people watching weren't okay with such injustice and they make sure George Fletcher becomes the people's champion. It's a really great story!
The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family
This is a really touching book about two sisters and their first day of school wearing hijab. It's an age appropriate look at racism and also the beauty of different cultures.
The Lion & the Mouse
This wordless book is the most stunning version of the classic Lion and Mouse fable that you'll ever find. It's a Caldecott winner and a must have for every home library!
The Three Billy Goats Gruff
All of Jerry Pinkney's fairytale books are superb (check them all out!) but this one is my kids' favorite. The illustrations are perfection!
If you need a reminder that You matter, this is the book to read. It's clever and sweet and so beautifully executed.
Your Name Is a Song
When a little girl comes home from school frustrated that people can't pronounce her beautiful name, her mother teachers her all about the music and beauty in African, Latin, and Middle Eastern Names. It's really fun to read aloud.
All Because You Matter
This is a poetic manifesto for Black children everywhere - you matter! It's a really emotional and magical book.
I'm a sucker for a good grandparent book and this one checks all the boxes! It's pure pleasure reading about this grandma and her purse full of treasures.
Magnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration
This poetic celebration is a fantastic read aloud story, but honestly, it's the illustrations that first stole my heart. This one is adorable from start to finish!
Last Stop on Market Street
We've read this one so many times, I think I might have it memorized. It's practically perfect story about a boy and his grandmother taking the bus across town. The boy has a lot of questions for his grandma about why they always have to go to the dirty part of town, and her answers couldn't be more perfect.
Three Cheers for Kid McGear!
I had to include this one because my son is a HUGE fan. Pull this one out for all your construction/vehicle loving kids. The rhyming story is fun, but those illustrations will really pull you in!
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