15 Must-Read Children’s Books

15 must read children's books header

AD – PR Product | For this post, I wanted to share children’s books I have personally read and would recommend along with suggestions of other children’s books written by the authors. 

By children’s books, I am mainly referring to picture books that have short sentences or paragraphs of text, however, I have included a few books and graphic novels for older children, and I will specify the age range for each book. Furthermore, all of the children’s books are written by black authors, and the books are sorted in alphabetical order. 

#1 Chief & Lilly Go to London by Naomi Nicole (Ages 2-8)

The cover of Chief & Lilly Go to London by Naomi Nicole

I was kindly gifted a copy of Chief & Lilly Go to London, and it is about the stuffed toys Chief and Lilly who meet siblings Shelby and Kobe and together they help find Pierre the bear who is missing in Buckingham Palace. I love the story and the illustrations are detailed and colorful. My daughter enjoys the book as well, and I have read it to her numerous times during bedtime. The book also has great messages including helping others and getting along with your siblings. The last page includes facts about Buckingham Palace and questions to encourage children to learn more on their own. Naomi Nicole has published 3 more books in The Adventures of Chief & Lilly series including Chief & Lilly Go to Paris, Chief & Lilly Go to Rome, and Chief & Lilly Go to Barcelona along with a limited edition book Chief & Lilly Save Christmas. The books are available as paperback or ebook, and I have purchased the ebook of Chief & Lilly Go to Paris to continue the adventure. In this book, Chief and Lilly with the help of Cecile and Victor track down a missing artwork from the Louvre. The books are fun and full of adventure, and I would highly recommend them. 

£3.99-£9.99 at Naomi Nicole Publishing

 

#2 The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (Ages 10-12)

The cover of The Crossover by by Kwame Alexander

The Crossover is the graphic novel adaptation of the book with the same name, and it is about twelve-year-old Josh Bell and his twin brother Jordan as they play their winning season of basketball for their school. The illustrations were mainly black and white with a splash of orange, which made them pop. The story itself is emotional and Josh deals with real-life issues such as his brother having a girlfriend and spending more time with her and his father having health problems. The ending is especially emotional, but the graphic novel is worth reading especially for older children who do not have a lot of motivation to read regular books without pictures. 

 

#3 The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson (Ages 5-8)

The cover of The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

The Day You Begin is about Angelina who feels like an outsider on the first day of school because she is different from her classmates. The illustrations are colorful, and the story has a wonderful message of embracing your differences (race, ethnicity, hair, athletic ability, etc.) and if you share your story, you can find friendship with others. The Day You Begin is a great book for children to read before they start a new grade or a new school because it lets them know that it is okay to be different, and by sharing their story, they can become friends with their classmates. Jacqueline Woodson has written other children’s books including Each Kindness, which is about a girl named Chloe who rejects the new girl Maya and Chloe later regrets her actions. 

 

#4 Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry (Ages 4-8)

You have probably have seen the short film based on this book, but if not, Hair Love is about a father trying to do his daughter’s hair. Hair Love is a sweet story about the bond between father and daughter and loving your natural hair. If you would like to see the short film, I have included it below, but I do highly recommend reading the book as well. 

 

#5 I Am Enough by Grace Byers (Ages 4-8)

The cover of I Am Enough by Grace Byers

As suggested by the title of this book, I Am Enough is about how you are enough and your skin, hair, frame, etc. does not dictate your worth. The illustrations include diverse characters such as children of different races and ethnicities and a child in a wheelchair. The book has a great message of loving yourself as you are, which makes it a wonderful read for children. Grace Byers also wrote I Believe I Can, which is an affirmation for children to love and believe in themselves. 

 

#6 I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown and Jason “Rachel” Brown (Ages 4-8)

The cover of I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown

I Am Perfectly Designed was written by Karamo Brown and his son, and it is about a father and son who take a walk through the city and discover how they are perfectly designed. The illustrations are colorful and include diverse background characters, and the book is sweet in showing the relationship between father and son. The book can also be a reminder when you are feeling down that you are perfectly designed just the way you are. 

 

#7 Imani’s Moon by JaNay Brown-Wood (Ages 6-9)

The cover of Imani's Moon by JaNay Brown-Wood

Imani’s Moon is about a Maasai girl named Imani who wants to do something great – touch the moon. Imani works hard to reach her goal despite the teasing she faces from the other children. The illustrations are beautiful, and the story includes elements of Maasai culture and mythology such as Olapa the moon goddess and Anansi the spider. The book also has a great message of working hard and not giving up no matter what others may say to reach your dreams. 

 

#8 Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison (Ages 8-12)

The cover of Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History includes biographies of 40 black women in American history such as Sojourner Truth, Bessie Coleman, Alice Ball, Shirley Chisholm, Katherine Johnson, Maya Angelou, and Julie Dash. The biographies are educational and inspiring and the accompanying illustrations are lovely. Vashti Harrison also wrote Little Leaders: Exceptional Men in Black History which includes biographies of black men who broke barriers and fought injustice to make the world a better place. 

 

#9 New Kid by Jerry Craft (Ages 8-12)

The cover of New Kid by Jerry Craft

New Kid is a graphic novel about seventh-grader Jordan Banks who starts going to a private school where he is one of the few kids of color in his grade. Jordan soon feels torn between the upscale world of his private school and the world of his neighborhood where his friends are. I am currently reading New Kid on Libby, and I would recommend it because I love the colorful illustrations and the story of what it is like to be a new kid. Jerry Craft also wrote Class Act (New Kid #2), which follows Jordan’s friend Drew and his experience as one of the few kids of color at their private school. 

 

#10 Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment by Parker Curry and Jessica Curry (Ages 4-8)

The cover of Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment by Parker Curry and Jessica Curry

Parker Looks Up is about when Parker and her family visit the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC where she sees the portrait of Michelle Obama and becomes inspired. The story is based on the viral photo that was taken of Parker Curry at the museum when she was 2-years-old. The illustrations are lovely, and the book highlights the importance of representation and how seeing successful people who look like you can help you realize the possibilities of your dreams and hopes for the future.

 

#11 Princess Cupcake Jones and the Missing Tutu by Ylleya Fields (Ages 5-7)

The cover of Princess Cupcake Jones and the Missing Tutu by Ylleya Fields

This book is about when Princess Cupcake Jones’ tutu goes missing and she searches her palace for it. The illustrations are cute, and on each page, there is a hidden word for children to find. The book teaches the lesson of tidying up in a fun way, which makes it great for any kid to read. Ylleya Fields has published four more books in the Princess Cupcake Jones series including Princess Cupcake Jones Won’t Go to School, Princess Cupcake Jones and the Queen’s Closet, Princess Cupcake Jones and the Dance Recital, and Princess Cupcake Jones Saddles Up!

 

#12 Rocket Says Look Up! by Nathan Byron (Ages 3-7)

The cover of Rocket Says Look Up! by Nathan Byron

Rocket Says Look Up! follows Rocket who is an aspiring astronaut and she wants everyone including her brother who is always looking down on his phone to look up and watch the meteor shower with her. The illustrations are adorable, and the book includes facts about meteor showers and an introduction to Mae Jemison, which is great for any child that loves space. I have also read Rocket Says Clean Up! where Rocket, her brother, and their mother visit their grandparents in Jamaica who run whale watching tours and an animal sanctuary. However, the beach there is covered in plastic, and Rocket and the Cleanup Crew help clean the beach. The book includes facts about trash in the sea and the last page lists ways kids can help clean up the beaches such as using reusable water bottles, wearing chemical-free sunscreen, and disposing of trash properly. The book is a great reminder to children and adults alike that we can take steps to reduce the trash in the oceans. 

 

#13 Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o (Ages 4-8)

The cover of Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o

This book is about Sulwe who has skin the color of midnight, and she is darker than everyone in her and family and at school, and she wants to be beautiful and bright like her mother and sister. The illustrations are beautiful, and in the book, Sulwe, which means star, learns to embrace her beauty inside and out. The book has a wonderful message of self-love, which makes it a lovely read. 

 

 

#14 We March by Shane Evans (Ages 4-8)

The cover of We March by Shane Evans

We March is the shortest book on this list with less than 70 words, but it is important as it tells about the 1963 March on Washington. The book follows a family and everyone else who came together to march for justice and freedom. The illustrations are simple and include a diverse range of characters, and the last page includes more information on the march and changes in the law that have resulted from marches. The book is a good introduction for children to the civil rights movement. Evans also wrote Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom, which is about the Underground Railroad.

 

#15 Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow (Ages 5-10)

The cover of Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

Your Name Is a Song is about a girl who never wants to go to school again because her teacher and classmates mispronounced her name. Her mother then teachers her about the musicality of names from all different cultures, and the next day she returns to school and shares what she learned with her class. The illustrations are cute, and the ending includes a glossary of the names in the book along with their pronunciation, origin, and meaning. This is a wonderful book to read for anyone who has a name that others have difficulty pronouncing and those who have difficulty pronouncing names from another culture. Every name in the book includes a pronunciation in parenthesis, which shows that every name is important and worth being pronounced correctly. 


Have you read any of these children’s books? Do you have any other recommendations? 

 

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46 thoughts on “15 Must-Read Children’s Books

  1. I’ve read a number of these and they are amazing — your selection is fantastic. I think everyone should read them (kids or not) as they are tackling issues and create beautiful, informative narratives that we need to hear more about. I would definitely recommend ‘Nibi’s Water Song’ (ages 4-8) by Sunshine Tenesco!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have read 6 but the rest I’m not familiar with. Like plots of a few for instance I’m enough. Is this an affiliate review? Just asking. Although hands down u did a very good job uplifting ethnic issues. All diversities should be a knowledged and empathy is needed which is taught in these books plots. Thanks for sharing ❤
    Isa A. Blogger
    http://bit.ly/39f9FN0

    Like

    1. That’s great you read 6 of them! No, it’s not an affiliate review as I don’t do any affiliate programs. I only received Chief & Lilly Go to London in exchange for a review.
      I definitely agree diversity should be acknowledged and celebrated!

      Like

  3. I am so happy to read this post. My 6 year old loves books. We read I am enough but I love the other recommendations. She currently has a school fair going on virtually. I will be sure to check out some of these other books. I know she would enjoy them.

    xo Erica

    Liked by 1 person

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