Children’s books by Black authors about Black children are still in the minority. Lately, I see more books (especially picture books and chapter books) with Black protagonists written by white authors, which strikes me as odd (but is a discussion for another day). This isn’t just personal speculation too; the stats agree.
In 2020, the Cooperative Children’s Books Center reported that only 7.9% of children’s books published in the US were written by Black people. The numbers are even lower for Latinx, Arab-Americans, and Indigenous people.
For the last three years, I’ve been working to highlight books by authors of different ethnicities, because it’s important for kids to see themselves represented in stories. And while no two ethnic experiences are exactly the same, Black people write more accurately about Black people. They provide opportunity for children in their stories to experience joy, sadness, discrimination, and also the mundane activities of life.
On this page, I’ll share our lists of Black stories for kids of all ages! You’ll find recommendations for Black picture books, chapter books, middle grade books, and young adult titles. I hope this resource will be timeless and useful for all readers during every month of the year (not just February and June).
200+ Children’s Books by Black Authors
Table of Contents
Click the links to visit the embedded posts. Here are 200+ children’s books by Black authors.
This delightful list features stories by Black authors from the US, but also a few of my favorites by Nigerian authors and other authors of African descent.
I’ve separated the list into fiction and non-fiction. You’ll find stories about self-love, Black hair, Black joy, dance, food, bedtime, family, and so much more.
Some of my favorites on the list are:
- Shhh! The Baby’s Asleep by JaNay Brown-Wood
- Sing to the Moon by Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl
- Off to See the Sea by Nikki Grimes
- Catch That Chicken by Atinuke
- Sleep Well, Siba and Saba by Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl
- Bunheads by Misty Copeland
Early Readers and Chapter Books
Many chapter books tend to be part of a series, which helps to keep young readers invested and reading. The same is true of the books on this list. You’ll find early readers, chapter books, and young middle grade books among our recommended titles. What’s the difference between these book types?
- Early readers are books with minimal text and lots of pictures (one step after picture books) — typically under 100 pages long.
- Chapter books are the traditional chapter books — typically under 200 pages — with more text than illustrations and pictures on every other page or so.
- Young middle grade books: Middle grade books are traditionally published for kids ages 8-12 so there’s quite a wide range of them. The books in this section feature younger protagonists in the 4th and 5th grades and are a great starting point for kids who are ready for longer stories without pictures (although some have illustrations).
Some of my favorites on this list are:
- Too Small Tola by Atinuke
- The Amazing Life of Azaleah Lane by Nikki Shannon Smith
- J.D and the Great Barber Battle by J. Dillard
- Rock Star #1( Jada Jones) by Kelly Starling Jones
- Ways to Make Sunshine by Renee Watson
- Maya and the Robot by Eve Ewing
Middle Grade Books by Black Authors
As a huge fan of middle grade books, this is my favorite lists of books by Black authors! It’s such a stunning selection of sci-fi, historical fiction, and contemporary fiction about Black tweens by Black authors. These kids are solving mysteries, coming of age, making art, finding new friends, and enjoying warm family dynamics across a variety of socio-economic status.
A few of my top reads on this list are:
- From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
- When Winter Robeson Came by Brenda Woods
- Turning Point by Paula Chase
- Some Places More Than Others by Renee Watson
- Fast Pitch by Nic Stone
- Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams
- Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson
- Squad Goals by Erika J. Kendrick
Teen Books by Black Authors
Teen books by Black authors shine in several genres! While I mostly read contemporary, realistic fiction, my list of Black YA books is quite comprehensive. The teens in these stories are bold, creative, in love, traveling, dancing, writing, singing, and just so beautiful!
My favorite Black YA stories on this list are:
- Love Is a Revolution by Renee Watson
- Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass
- One True Loves by Elise Bryant
- Charming As a Verb by Ben Philippe
- Now That I’ve Found You by Kristina Forest
These lists are updated at least once a year so you can always find new titles to peruse whenever you stop by! Happy reading!
Want more children’s books?
- Graphic novels for kids
- Children’s books about anxiety
- Children’s books by Asian authors