Black History Month picture books help your youngest readers celebrate our rich culture and history, not just in February, but all year long.
While this is by no means an all inclusive list, we hope this is a good starting place for your family.
Do you have older readers in your family? We have a list of Black History Month children’s books for teens and tweens.
Inspiring Figures in Black History
These Black History Month picture books highlight incredible people who aren’t always featured among our most well-known legends but nevertheless paved the way for generations to come.
Sewing Stories: Harriet Powers’ Journey from Slave to Artist
written by Barbara Herkert, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
The true story of a woman named Harriet Powers whose handmade pictorial quilts cemented her place as an artist in African-American folk art is a must-add to the Black History Month picture books side of your child’s library. (For ages 4-8)
She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story
written by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Don Tate
A beautifully illustrated picture book about Effa Manley, the first and only woman to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. (For ages 4-8)
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race
written by Margot Lee Shetterly and illustrated by Laura Freeman
Based on the Academy Award-nominated movie, this picture book highlights four Black women mathematicians: Dorothy Johnson Vaughn, Mary Winston Jackson, Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson, and Christine Darden.
These women helped change the trajectory of space travel, and this is one of those Black History Month picture books that bring history to life in a way that is educational and fun. Filled with colorful illustrations and historical timelines, your young reader will enjoy reading this book. (For ages 4-8)
Landmark Events in Black History
These Black History Month picture books go beyond slavery and the Civil Rights Movement.
written by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by James E. Ransome
Ruth Ellen and her family are moving up North, as are many Black families during the Great Migration. Seated by the window, she observes the changing landscape as the train moves further away from the South and settles in New York.
From the beautifully illustrated pages that look like paintings to the short, easy-to-read poems, your child will be captivated by this book that captures an important era of Black history. (For ages 4-8)
The Great Migration: An American Story
written and illustrated by Jacob Lawrence
With images this arresting, your child will be content to simply look at the pictures in artist Jacob Lawrence’s telling of the Great Migration. This picture book will grow with your child as they find new ways to connect with Black history. (For ages 4-8)
The ABCs of Black History
written by Rio Cortez and illustrated by Lauren Semmer
Aimed at younger readers, this book quickly touches on important figures and events such as The Great Migration, Zora Neale Hurston, and Malcom X, with memorable rhyming text.
For example, the letter C stands for church, community and civil rights with a drawing of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. For additional resources, parents can find an index at the back of the book providing further details on all the people, places, and events mentioned. (For ages 5+)
Harlem Renaissance Party
written by Faith Ringgold
Lonnie and his uncle go back in time to the 1920s, where they encounter famous Black musicians and writers, including Langston Hughes, W.E.B DuBois, and Josephine Baker.
The author creates an unforgettable journey through the Harlem Renaissance, filling your child’s senses with vibrant colors on each page. (These colors symbolize the explosion of creative expression in Harlem.)
While they may not know Langston Hughes or Zora Neale Hurston yet, they will remember how reading Harlem Renaissance Party made them feel. (For ages 4-8)
Creative Expression: Music, Dance, and Art
These Black History Month picture books show a broad range of the artistry of our people covering a variety of icons from Basquiat to DJ Kool Herc.
B is for Breakdancing: An ABC Book of Ways to Shake What Your Momma Gave You
written by Dr. Tamara Pizzoli and illustrated by Howell Edwards Creative
An exciting way to explore old and new dances, B is for Breakdancing will have the entire family up on their feet by the end. (For ages 4-8)
(Editor’s Note: Dr. Tamara Pizzoli, who lives in Italy, shared her expat parenting story with us.)
Discovering African American Art for Children
written by James Haywood Rolling, Jr.
This picture book is a visual journey through 12 works of art created by talented Black artists in the United States. (For ages 5-8)
Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina
written by Lea Lyon and Alexandria LaFaye, and illustrated by Jessica Gibson
A young Black girl falls in love with ballet after seeing it on TV. The book’s lyrical words and illustrations will keep your child glued to your side. (For ages 4-8)
(Editor’s Note: Do you have a ballerina at home? Read how you can support your tiny dancer’s ballet dreams here.)
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat
written by Javaka Steptoe
Jean-Michel Basquiat is well known in the art world for his unique paintings. But before he was a famous artist, he was just a little boy with a big dream.
The colorful Basquiat inspired illustrations and simple text work together to tell a moving story that may inspire your child to also color outside the lines. (For ages 4-8)
Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice and Sing Inspired Generations
written by Kelly Starling Lyons and illustrated by Keith Mallett
Based on the true story of the origins of the Black National anthem, Sing a Song shows the ways “Lift Every Voice and Sing” continues to impact us. This is a critical piece of Black history. (For ages 5-8)
When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop
written by Laban Carrick Hill and illustrated by Theodore Taylor, III
Hip Hop is a part of Black History too! This fun picture book—and a Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe Award for New Talent winner—tells the story of how one young DJ changed the music game by creating breaks in the music to allow dancers more time to dance. (Otherwise known as breakdancing.) (For ages 6-10)
Art From Her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter
written by Kathy Whitehead
This picture book biography follows the career of Clementine Hunter. She went from being an unknown artist to having her work shown in museums, but endured many trials and tribulations due to racism. (For ages 6-8)
Interesting Facts About the Ancient African Art
written by Baby Professor
Children learn about ancient Africa’s history and traditions in this art history book for kids. (For ages 4-8)
Before There was Mozart: The Story of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George
written by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by James E. Ransome
Joseph Boulogne, the son of a Black enslaved woman and a white master, grows up to become a talented musician in 18th-century France. This beautifully illustrated book will be a delight to read together. (For ages 5-9)
Celebrating Our Culture and Identity
This list Black History Month picture books wouldn’t be complete without these stories which embody the magic and joy of being Black.
Shades of Black: Celebration of Our Children
written by Sandra L. Pickney and illustrated and photographed by Myles C. Pickney
A board book for the babies, Shades of Black celebrates everything that makes our kids special and unique. (For ages 0-3)
Whose Toes Are Those?
written by Jabari Asimand illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Perfect for a fun read while bonding with your little one, this board book for babies features images that look like them as they explore their teeny toes. (For ages 0-3)
written by Mahogany L. Browne and illustrated by Theodore Taylor III
“Look at your fist, fingers curled into a panther’s paw pointing up up up, reaching for justice.”
Filled with relatable lines for parents, this heartening book turns everyday moments into affirmations your baby will grow into and use. (For ages 0-3)
Brown Boy Joy
written by Dr. Thomishia Booker and illustrated by Jessica Gibson and Vicky Amrullah
A fun board book featuring boys of all shades and from all types of families participating in activities all little boys love to do. (For ages 5-8)
Black Is A Rainbow Color
written by Angela Joy and illustrated by Ekua Holmes
Beautifully illustrated with lyrical language adapted from famous poets, Black is a Rainbow Color will become a favorite in your home. It will also grow with your child as there are additional resources at the end of the book. (For ages 4-8)
Your Name Is a Song
written by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
The story of a little girl who is tired of everyone mispronouncing her name, this book celebrates the diversity behind “African, Asian, Black-American, Latinx, and Middle Eastern names.” It will also prompt your child to find the meaning behind their name. (For ages 5-9)
I Am Every Good Thing
written by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon C. James
This empowering book teaches everyone to count all of their positive attributes and never give up on their goals. (For ages 3-7)
written by DeShanna Neal and Trinity Neal, and illustrated by Art Twink
My Rainbow is based on a true story of a mother who finds a rainbow-colored wig for her transgender daughter. (For ages 4-8)
Stories Across the Diaspora
Black History Month picture books should encompass our culture across the diaspora, and these books do just that.
I Want to Ride the Tap Tap
written by Danielle Joseph and illustrated by Olivier Ganthier
This colorfully illustrated story follows one family (and the people they encounter) as they ride the tap tap—a bus service in Haiti. (For ages 2-6)
A is for Ackees: A Jamaican Alphabet Book
written by Rebekah
Learn about Jamaica’s culture through this beautifully illustrated, easy-to-read book. (For ages 0-3)
Ana and Andrew: Going to Ghana
written by Christine Platt
On a visit to Ghana with their father, Ana and Andrew learn about Ghanaian culture and visit Cape Coast Castle. (For ages 5-7)
(Editors Note: Read our interview with author, Christine Platt, about her journey to minimalism here.)
A is for Ayiti
written by Ibi Zoboi and illustrated by Joseph Zoboi
Learn about the history of Haiti with this alphabet book filled with beautiful images, written by mater mea role mama Ibi Zoboi. (For ages 0-3)
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters
written by John Steptoe
Set in Zimbabwe and fashioned after traditional African folktale, this is a story of a father of two beautiful daughters—but only one of them can become queen. (For ages 4-8)
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia
written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
A stirring story of how one woman, sick of seeing plastic bags pile up across her community, takes it upon herself to start recycling. (For ages 5-9)
Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees
written by Franck Prevot
Your child will love looking at this book with its emphasis on green foliage and colorful animals.
Wangari Maathi’s complex work as an environmentalist and human rights advocate is broken down in a way children can understand. (For ages 6-9)
If you’re looking for Black history Month books for older children, check out our Middle Grade and YA list here.