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5 African American Children's Books Online

by Dakotah Jennifer

It can be and has been said that learning begins at storytime. Whether this takes place on the carpet in a classroom or in bed before going to sleep, the stories we explore and share with children are the ones that will, in some way, influence how they see not only themselves, but the world and others. They will carry those lessons with them for the rest of their lives. For this reason, it is so important that we fill their heads with important and compassionate stories that will help them empathize and accept whatever comes their way. With the nation in turmoil over the recent murder of George Floyd, now is the time to teach children, of any color, how to love themselves and others. These books are a great start.

Hair Love

This book recently made headlines when the short film the book is based on won an Oscar for Best Short Film. Both the film and book focus on a young black girl whose father needs to learn how to do her hair. There isn’t anything that hasn’t been said about this book, and its significance, already. It is fresh, warm, funny, and incredibly well done. The illustrations are dynamic, and the writing is just as interesting and full of love. This is truly a must-have. You can buy it here.


Last Stop on Market Street

This book, full of vibrant and engaging drawings, has the main character CJ, asking “Why do other people have what I don’t?” which is a question that many kids most likely ask without an in depth-sensitive answer. This book is their answer. It celebrates the city and all of its complexity, highlights what the bus ride has to offer, and attempts to view CJ’s situation from another angle, one that honors a positive point of view. You can buy it here.


Sulwe

This book comes from the magic mind of powerhouse actress and outspoken activist Lupita Nyong’o. It focuses on a young girl named Sulwe who finds herself questioning her darker skin, that of “color of midnight,” while those around her have light skin. Her sister gets called “sunshine” while Sulwe gets teased about her skin color. Her journey towards self-love, which is the best kind, is at times heartbreaking but in the end gorgeous and vital. You can buy it here.


I Am Loved

This book features poems by the ever-talented, award-winning poet Nikki Giovanni alongside dreamy and colorful pictures by Ashley Bryan. In short, it is love. It is a book bursting with love from every inch. Both artists celebrate black women from page to page, unapologetically, and wholeheartedly. It is so incredibly important for black children to see themselves without any sort of stake or pain involved, just happy with the world and of course, with themselves. You can buy it here.


I Can Be Anything! Don’t Tell Me I Can’t

In this book, Zoe begins by declaring exactly what the title says. She can do anything! There isn’t a doubt within her. As she goes on to imagine everything she can do and be, which is anything at all, doubt seeps in, questioning if she truly can do everything. It asks, what if you fall? And true to her nature, Zoe acknowledges that if she did fall, which isn’t impossible but very unlikely, she wouldn’t let it stop her. She would make friends with Martians and become an archeologist. She doesn’t let anything, including her own doubt, stop her. Exemplifying this kind of problem solving and confidence early on can make a world of difference within a child. You can buy it here.

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