Black Children’s Literature: Titles We Recommend
By Michaela O’Callaghan, Aimee Haldron and Joanne Boustead
Black representation is incredibly important, arguably most so in children’s literature. Books have a massive influence on children growing up and it is important that Black children are able to read about characters that accurately represent them. Here is a list of books that deserve to be shouted about more.
Bedtime Stories: Beautiful Black Tales from the Past
This hardback, with a foreword by Candice Braithwaite, was published on 7 October by Scholastic. It is a lovely collection of short tales from Black history that make great bedtime reads. The tales are beautifully illustrated, written by Black authors, and give great insight into the untold stories of individuals such as Phillis Wheatley, the first African-American author of a published book of poetry and John Blanke, a Black musician in the early 16th century.
Black and British: A Short, Essential History
Published in 2020 by Macmillan Children’s Books, this book has received wide acclaim. It was the winner of the Book of the Year, Children's Illustrated and Non-Fiction at The British Book Awards, 2021 and was also shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2020. Written by David Olusoga, this book is a brilliant introduction to Black British history, ideal for ages 12 and over and is packed full of maps and photos.
The Story of Afro Hair
This is a stunning book that explores the history of Afro hair. Young readers can learn all about the fashion and styles of Afro hair from Ancient Egypt and the Harlem Renaissance, to Britain in the 1980s. Written by K. N. Chimbiri and illustrated by Joelle Avelino, it offers a unique and fun look at Black history and is great for a range of readers.
Little People, Big Dreams
Little People, Big Dreams, published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books, is a highly acclaimed picture book biography series that explores the lives of a range of creative and innovative individuals to inspire and empower children. Many titles in the series explore the lives of Black individuals throughout history from Harriet Tubman to Jean-Michel Basquiat, from Ella Fitzgerald to Muhammad Ali. Each book is illustrated by a different artist and the books are filled with extra facts, timelines and historical photos. We really love the range of people young readers can learn about and be inspired by in this series.
The Place for Me: Stories About the Windrush Generation
This anthology published by Scholastic includes twelve moving and emotional tales that are inspired by first-hand accounts of the Windrush generation. There are ten fact files that provide extra detail and insight alongside the stories. With photographs and original illustrations which help to bring history to life, this is an empowering and emotional recognition of an often misunderstood part of Black British history.
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
This book, written by Vashti Harrison and published by Penguin Random House Children’s UK, explores the stories of forty Black women in history who broke boundaries. This is a great collection of stories about a range of women from politicians and mathematicians to singers, all having done great things. This book was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2019 and it is clear why, as it is both educational and visually stunning.
Aziza’s Secret Fairy Door and the Ice Cat Mystery
by Pan Macmillan on 14 October is the second title in a fun and inclusive young adventure series. The story follows Aziza as she crosses the threshold into Shimmerton and finds it unexpectedly covered in ice. It’s up to Aziza to team up with her fairy friends to track down Ccoa the missing Ice Cat in order to put everything right again. Perfect for night-time reading, this book will have children’s imaginations running wild.
Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem
"After making history as the youngest inaugural poet in American history, Amanda Gorman has gone on to write Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem."
After making history as the youngest inaugural poet in American history, Amanda Gorman has gone on to write Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem. Published by Penguin Random House on 30 September, this lyrical picture book is sure to become a firm family favourite. Through her words, Gorman emphasises the importance of unity and encourages children to work together to create change - not just for themselves, but for their community and the world too. With rhythmic illustrations by Loren Long, Change Sings is the perfect picture book for parents and children to read, perhaps even sing, together.