Good books for Black children in grades Pre-K to 6th
African American families and educators often struggle to find reading materials that highlight the many accomplishments, experiences, and interests of Black people. Quality and appropriate books about Black Americans and people of color other than Martin Luther King are challenging to find.
In this complex and harsh environment, primarily rooted in race, race relations, and African American history and studies, it has become more difficult for Black parents to find and obtain quality children’s literature.
In addition to the literature about Africans brought to America as slaves. The slave trade, Civil War, segregation, and Jim Crow laws, African American families want their kids to read about emancipation, the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, the first African Americans to achieve greatness in their field and the rich history of the Africana American community.
Discussions about Black men and women’s many contributions to American history are often limited to Black History Month. Still, the quest to learn more about African American history has become more relative with the emergence of the Black Lives Matter and social justice movement in the United States and globally.
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These movements have heightened awareness of racial prejudice and oppression, systematic racism, and equality, leading to much confusion in many societal areas and within the Black community.
Children’s literature is important because it provides students with opportunities to appreciate their cultural heritage and those of others as well as develop emotional intelligence and creativity.
To provide quality educational materials, Dr. Eric R. Jackson, Ph.D., Professor of African American Studies at Northern Kentucky University, has identified 15 must-read books for African American parents and students in grades Pre-K to 6th.
African American kids children’s stories for ages 3-12
Dashawn BillBill Johnson
Super Bill is a superhero children’s book based in Cincinnati, Ohio. This book creates a spotlight for role models by defining more than one way to be a superhero.
Anthony D. Brice and Kristy High
A little boy faces a world of adversity that makes him question who he is. He goes on a magical journey of self-discovery and uncovers a powerful revelation that changes his life forever.
Dr. Christine Gibson
This book introduces Christine, a very inquisitive 5-year-old. She is questioned for the first time on her outward appearance and must learn why she is so great.
Ashley Aya Ferguson
An inspirational illustrated poem for girls. The colorful illustrations and strong poetic verses promote self-esteem and confidence in children. Also, it helps them to believe that anything is possible if they believe in their unique abilities.
Grandma Mimi always brings warm hugs, sweet treats, and her purse when her special granddaughter visits.
In this illustrated volume, the author shows how Simone Biles won many Olympic and World Champion medals by age 22.
This book encourages young Black children to believe in themselves and dream big.
This illustrated volume introduces Black children to various forms of jazz music.
Third-grader Calvin deals with his next-door neighbors moving away and a school bully moving in.
This children’s book celebrates the diversity of children and the essential things that make us all the same.
Fabian E. Ferguson
The author tells a unique and fun story of a young boy’s adventurous interactions with his dad. Most importantly, the story is written from the child’s perspective. The child’s imagination runs wild with fantasy during dad and son time.
Sharon Langley and Amy Nathan
In this children’s book, the author tells how a community, both Black and white, came together to change.
Ellen Levine’s Henry
This illustrated children’s book is a stirring, dramatic story of an enslaved African American who mails himself to freedom.
Children discover and explore the qualities that make them different and understand that that difference is all right.
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This author creates a beautiful children’s picture book biography about the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. The book focuses on how she fought for respect throughout her life.
This remarkably crafted, illustrated children’s book is focused on the truly inspirational story of mathematician Katherine Johnson. She was made famous by the award-winning film “Hidden Figures.”
Christian P and Lillian Christian
A coming-of-age story that follows the journey of a young black girl named Lillian, who battles her fear of monsters. Lillian’s struggle with her phobia becomes a metaphor for her challenges in navigating adolescence and embracing her inner strength.
In this critically acclaimed children’s book, the author follows the story of a young girl. The girl wishes for her dark skin to be lighter. The story is about colorism and learning to love oneself, regardless of skin tone.
The author tells the story of Nya’s trip to the neighborhood fire station to visit her aunt.
Mistakes Are How I Learn: An Early Reader Rhyming Story Book for Children to Help with Perseverance and Diligence
Written to engage young children, the author includes stories that seek to empower children with the affirmations to overcome obstacles.
About the author, Eric R. Jackson
Eric R. Jackson holds a doctorate from the University of Cincinnati. He is a professor of history and black studies in the Department of History and Geography at Northern Kentucky University, where he teaches courses in American and African American history/studies, race relations, and peace studies.
He has over 50 publications, including articles in such journals as Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, Journal of African American History, and Journal of World Peace.
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Good Books for Black Children ages 3-12 photo provided by Adobe Stock