Celebrating Black Children’s Authors: From board books to biographies

Children's Discovery Museum
Purple Museum
Published in
6 min readFeb 13, 2021


Our selected favorites feature beautiful bed-time books, magical tales of being a school-aged child, and biographies of visionaries and leaders. Which ones will you include in your library?

Please, Baby, Please

By Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee, Illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Follow baby through a day of fun and mischief, with beautiful and vivacious illustrations. From the morning to bedtime, babies will be babies!

Woke Baby

By Mahogany L. Browne, Illustrated by Theodore Taylor III

As soon as baby wakes, we know he’s special and has the world in his hands and at his feet.

Lullaby (For a Black Mother)

Poem by Langston Hughes, Illustrated by Sean Qualls

Follow along to Langston Hughes’ poem as a mother sings her baby to sleep. Beautiful mixed media illustrations give this book texture and life. Each line of the lullaby shows a mother’s unwavering love for her baby.

Hands Up!

By Breanna J. McDaniel, Illustrated by Shane W. Evans

In this beautiful picture book, a young girl has so many reasons to raise her hands up in the air, from moments of joy to acts of imagination and ultimately, to a protest march that showcases her confidence and strength. Reach your hands up, up, up in triumph!

The King of Kindergarten

By Derrick Barnes and Vanessa Brantley-Newton

The world and kindergarten are this kid’s kingdom as he gets ready for his first day at school. Every step along the way is special, from brushing his teeth to eating breakfast to riding the bus. He makes many friends and has a royal time on his first day, ready to do it all over again the next day!

Dancing in the Wings

By Debbie Allen, Illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Sassy loves nothing more than dancing. But she is taller than any of the other dancers and gets teased by them and other children because of it. She has doubts because of being out of place that she will make the upcoming dance auditions. She tries out anyway, and finds herself in the spotlight, rather than dancing in the wings.

Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment

By Parker Curry and Jessica Curry, Illustrated by Brittany Jackson

Parker goes to the Museum with her mom and friends where they explore extraordinary art. However, the most magical moment is when Parker looks up and is awe-struck by First Lady Michelle Obama’s portrait. Parker has so many questions about the First Lady and determines that in fact, she is a queen! Parker sees herself in this portrait and it inspires her to imagine endless possibilities for her own future.

Don’t Touch My Hair!

By Sharee Miller

Aria loves her hair and so do many others, even sea creatures and aliens. They all touch her hair without asking and Aria comes to a point where she can no longer take it anymore. She sets out to let them know that her hair is special and that it (and she) needs to be respected.

Follow Your Dreams, Little One

By Vashti Harrison

Follow Your Dreams, Little One is among the great library of books featuring notable heroes throughout history created by author Vashti Harrison. The book begins with “Follow your dreams, little one. There’s so much good you can do,” then leads into examples of great leaders such as James Baldwin, Alvin Ailey, and Frederick Douglass.

This is Your Time

By Ruby Bridges

Ruby Bridges was just six years old when she became the first black child to integrate an all-white elementary school in New Orleans. Ruby Bridges recalls her experience as a young girl and summons the young peacemakers of the world to continue the fight for racial justice.

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

By Vashti Harrison

Geared towards elementary-aged children, this book illustrates famous to not as well known African American women from history. From scientists to politicians to artists, there are 40 great leaders and biographies to learn about, a good starting point for young readers.

Young, Gifted, and Black

By Jamia Wilson, Illustrated by Andrea Pippins

Meet 52 black heroes from past and present in this creatively illustrated book. You can start from the end of the book and choose who you begin your reading journey with or you can read it from cover to cover.

This Jazz Man

By Karen Ehrhardt, Illustrated by R.G. Roth

“This jazz man, he plays one…” begins this dynamically illustrated book celebrating jazz and prominent musicians such as Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker. At the end of the book, you get to learn more about each one’s contribution to jazz. Read along or sing along to the tune of “This Old Man”!

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race

By Margot Lee Shetterly, Illustrated by Laura Freeman

This book highlights the careers and perseverance of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, all super human computers. Learn more about their incredible work as mathematicians who prevailed despite all odds such as racial and gender discrimination.

The ABCs of Black History

By Rio Cortez, Illustrated by Lauren Semmer

From “A” is for Anthem, to “L” is for Love, to “Z” is for Zenith, this book weaves together the past and present, history and hope.

I Am Enough

By Grace Byers, Illustrated by Keturah H. Bobo

This book’s message is all about loving who you are and being kind to yourself and others. Just like birds in the sky, wind in the trees, simply being is enough and beautiful in its own right.

Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose’s Storytime Featuring “I Am Enough”