10 Must Read Picture Books for Black Boys


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Reading was one of my favorite things to do growing up. I read everything, even billboards, I have been told. My love for reading transcended into adulthood. I can’t really remember reading too many books with characters that looked like. There weren’t many that depicted our culture and family dynamic. In fact, the only book with brown characters that I remember reading as a kid is, Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters. Wait! There was Phillip Hall Likes Me, I Reckon Maybe. But as I remember, that book was quite old. Hence, “reckon”. And it was a novel. There weren’t many black picture books when I was younger. None that I was aware of or can recall.

I started reading to my son when he was about a month old. I know, I know, he probably had no idea what was going on and I am positive he does not remember mommy reading books to him at a month old. And I am not going to act like I read up on a study that told me reading to my kid that young will make him a genius. I didn’t. I just wanted to get into the habit of reading to him early. It worked. As he got older, I became determined to read books to him with characters that look like him.

Now we visit the library about twice a month. Our very first visit to our local library, after it re-opened, was pretty interesting. After being there for about 5 minutes, I walked over to the librarian’s desk in the children’s area. “Is there an African American section for children’s books?” She looked bewildered, to say the least. I am not sure if she was caught off guard by the question but maybe she felt some kind of way that she had to deliver the ad news. They don’t have a black section in picture books. The librarian attempted to help us out. She brought over two Ezra Jack Keets books. Then she explained that they don’t separate the children’s books like they do the adult books, which makes the search difficult. I was left to my own devices and finally found what we were looking for. A few months of visiting the library, deep diving, looking for picture books with brown faces on the covers, the titles below quickly became the little guy’s favorite.

Check them out:

  1. Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

  2. Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes

  3. Max and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper

  4. Brown Boy Joy by Dr. Thomishia Booker

  5. Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee

  6. Peter’s Chair By Ezra Jack Keats

  7. A Beach Tail by Karen P. Williams

  8. He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands by Kadir Nelson

  9. Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashit Harrison

  10. Chocolate Me! by Taye Diggs

I hope your little one enjoys these books as much as mine does.

Happy Reading!

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