Scott Woods is a Black librarian who loves making lists. Woods created a list of diverse books for Black children — 28 Black Picture Books That Aren’t About Boycotts, Buses or Basketball. I gravitated toward this list because Scott Woods made a great point and as a Black librarian he knows what he’s talking about. It’s not that boycotts, buses, and basketball aren’t important, interesting or fun. The Black/African-American experience isn’t limited to a few tropes. Black children are just as multi-faceted as their many complexions and hair types. Black kids have multiple interests and many different stories can be told about their real or imagined experiences.
Woods explains why he created this refreshing list:
A few years ago I was asked by a local TV station to suggest some books for children in honor of Black History Month. Being a Black librarian I relished the opportunity, but I did point out that my offerings would avoid the typical fare of Black children’s books: boycotts, buses and basketball. We’ve picked up a few other hobbies since the 1960s, and there are hundreds of books to show for it. Here is a humble sampling of some just in time for Black History Month. 28 children’s picture books, most of them featuring Black children doing what all children do: play, make up stories, learn life lessons, and dream.
FOUR DIVERSE BOOKS FOR BLACK CHILDREN & WHY I LOVE THEM!
Written by Lane Fredrickson with illustrations by Michael Robertson
Published by Sterling Children’s Books
Many children have read and loved a monster book at least once in their lives. However, it’s rare a Black child gets to see someone who looks like them being frightened under the covers. Or, in the case of Winifred Schnitzel she’s turning the tables on the absolutely annoying neighborhood monster.
Daddy Calls Me Man
Written by Angela Johnson with illustrations by Rhonda Mitchell
Published by Scholastic Inc.
Simply put, books about Black dads and their children are very hard to find. There are even less about Black families who appreciate art. Little Noah is so inspired by the art he sees at home that he brings them to life in his own special way. He makes the art jump off the paper and into his reality.
The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore
Written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson with illustrations by R. Gregory Christie
Published by Carolrhoda Books
Young Lewis’s father, Lewis Michaux Sr.’s bookstore, the National Memorial African Bookstore was very popular in Harlem. People from all walks of life including Malcolm X and Langston Hughes frequented the store. There, books were purchased, read, and customers exchanged ideas with each other. This all happened during the politically charged 1960s. If the last names of the author and main characters seems familiar it is because Lewis Michaux Sr. is Vaunda Micheaux Nelson’s great-uncle. Needless to say, a love of books runs in the family.
Written by Jerdine Nolen with illustrations by Kadir Nelson
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers
Thunder Rose came into the world with a roaring applause from rain, thunder, and lightning. Rose is a rose like no other; commanding lightning and our hearts. Kadie Nelson’s magnificent art captures a child who is eerily self-aware and bucks tradition.
Click here to see the full list of 28 Black Picture Books That Aren’t About Boycotts, Buses or Basketball.
Which books will you be adding to your reading list? Let us know in the comments section.
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