Picture Books to Celebrate Black History Month 

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Picture Books to Celebrate Black History Month Title Photo
Post by Laura R.

Parents, librarians, and educators know it’s important for kids to see themselves and their lives reflected in the stories they read. In honor of Black History Month this February, I’ve gathered a list of eight of my favorite picture books featuring African-American protagonists.

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"Leo Loves Baby Time" by Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Ruth Hearson

This story is one of several excellent picture books by author-illustrator duo Anna McQuinn and Ruth Hearson, all featuring African-American main characters. Also check out Leo Can Swim and Lola Loves Stories. In Leo Loves Baby Time, Leo and his mom head to baby storytime at their local library where they sing songs, play with scarves, and have playtime. A great book for your baby or toddler, it has just the right amount of text and bright illustrations of babies for little ones to marvel at. I especially love this book because I lead Baby Storytime every week at my branch—it tells the story of storytime!

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"Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship" by Irene Latham & Charles Waters, illustrated by Sean Qualls & Selina Alko

I adore this brand new picture book, a series of conversational poems told from the alternating voices of two children, one black, one white. Charles and Irene are paired together for a poetry project in their fifth grade class, and neither are thrilled by the match. As the poems progress, the two write about going to church and having dinner with family, but they also deal with racial differences and the difficulties of talking about them. Eventually, their experiences start to bring them together. Reading this deeply heartwarming book with your child is great way to spark important conversations about race.

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"Chocolate Me!" by Taye Digg, illustrated by Shane W. Evans

Chocolate Me! is a celebration of blackness and a story of self-affirmation for young readers. This easy-to-follow picture book has repeating text and big, bright illustrations. We follow a little boy as he wishes he could be more like his white neighborhood friends, with different hair and a narrower nose. But after a sweet pep talk from his loving mother, all of that changes.

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"Alfie" by Thyra Heder

In this adorable picture book about the relationship between a girl and her pet, we first hear the story from the perspective of seven-year-old Nia, then from the perspective of her turtle, Alfie. After Nia receives Alfie as a birthday gift, she introduces him to all her stuffed animals and decorates his terrarium. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to notice. Then one day, Alfie disappears. Will the pair be reunited? Read the story to find out; you’ll be sure to fall in love with both narrators!

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"28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World" by Charles R. Smith, Jr., illustrated by Shane W. Evans

A new and different take on black history, this non-fiction picture book dedicates a page each to twenty-eight important moments in African American culture. Many of the dates feature well-known figures, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., as well ones not so well-known, like Matthew Henson, arctic explorer. Descriptions of the events are written in verse and include a short paragraph of factual information for curious readers.

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"My Good Morning" by Kim Crockett Corson & Jelena Brezovec

I enjoy My Good Morning because, like so many children who read picture books, our main character is mixed race. But that’s not the focus of the story. We follow a little girl as she gets ready for a day at kindergarten, brushing her teeth, getting dressed, and having breakfast—with a few mistakes along the way. Finally, it’s time to say goodbye to Dad, but she won’t cry! With fun rhyming text and expressive illustrations, parents and kids alike will relate to this character’s daily routine.

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"Princess Truly in My Magical Sparkling Curls" by Kelly Greenawalt, illustrated by Amariah Rauscher

Just like Chocolate Me!, this story is one of self-affirmation, but with a female protagonist. The second and newest of the Princess Truly series, the story focuses on Truly’s beautiful “fluffy, puffy” hair. Simple rhyming text details Truly’s confidence in herself as she explores outer space and the deep sea. My Magical Sparkling Curls is a great read to show girls it’s okay to believe in themselves and to see themselves as beautiful.

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"Last Stop on Market Street" by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson

Last Stop on Market Street received the Newbery Medal, a Caldecott Honor, and a Coretta Scott King Award Honor in 2016, and in my book, it totally deserves all of them. The pictures are perfect: vibrant and simple in Christian Robinson’s signature fashion. The story follows CJ as he makes his way from church to a mystery location with his nana. CJ grumbles about making the trek across town, but Nana has some wisdom to share about the beauty of their neighborhood. When the pair finally get where they’re going (I won’t say where) CJ’s glad they came, and you will be too!

These are only a few of the great picture books available today. Stop in to your Aurora Public Library for many more recommendations and happenings!

Posted by zsmith@auroragov.org On 15 February, 2018 at 2:52 PM  3 Comments

Comments
Great (Guest) said On 23 February, 2018 at 6:49 AM
Great  
Elizabeth (Guest) said On 22 February, 2018 at 5:53 PM
I read Princess Truly for storytime at my library! Everyone loved it. And I'm so scared for Alfie the turtle's fate now, you have no idea. THE SUSPENSE, LAURA.  
Steph (Guest) said On 22 February, 2018 at 5:51 PM
I absolutely loved the surprise at the end of "Last Stop on Market Street." The illustrations and wise grandma made it such a fun and beautiful read!   
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