Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Simon Kids in exchange for an honest review. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.
I’m in full 2020 review mode pouring over all of the beautiful books I’ve received from publishers and authors so far. Freedom Bird is an absolute gem that left me in happy tears with a full heart.
In the beginning, readers are introduced to an enslaved family of four: Samuel, Maggie, Millicent and John Wheeler who live on Simon Plenty’s plantation. Very early on, John and Millicent’s parents are sold away leaving them behind. Although the children were left alone on the plantation, their parents had already sown the seeds of freedom in their children’s minds and hearts. They told them stories of how people could fly away to freedom as free as a bird and they believed it.
One day while working out in the field, a huge bird is flying overhead all of the enslaved people. Annoyed of the bird, the white overseer grabs his leather whip and yanks the bird right out of the sky injuring it. Late in the evening, Millicent and John sneak out in the field and bring the injured into a shed to begin bringing it back to health. They are able to keep the bird hidden for four months until it was discovered.
Upon discovery from the overseer, Millicent tells the bird to fly away and it does. In a daring escape to freedom Millicent and John follow the bird which leads them West. In the author’s note you find out this book is a combination of three stories from history meant to all sit alongside each other: Big Jabe, Freedom Bird, and Thunder Rose. Millicent in this book is Millicent MacGruder, mother of Thunder Rose who escaped to freedom and went West.
The thing I love most about this story is it filled me with so much comfort and peace knowing enslaved people desired and longed for freedom. Some history books describe enslaved people as being “happy” which just isn’t true. The fact that Samuel and Maggie sowed the seeds of freedom in their children’s minds and hearts fills me with so much joy. I cannot begin to fathom what it must have been like to be enslaved living on a plantation especially as a child without your parents. Humans are truly resilient beings.
Freedom Bird is a beautifully written, compelling, (sometimes heartbreaking) yet inspiring story about enslaved Americans of African descent and their desire to be as free as a bird. Due to a few pages of lengthy text, I’d recommend this one for slightly older readers ages 8 – 9 and up. Although it can be read aloud with people of all ages. A great book to add to your home, school or public library for reading during Black History Month or anytime of the year. Publishes January 14, 2020 from Simon Kids. Ages 5-9 and up.
Your turn: Have you ever read the other two books mentioned in this post (Big Jabe and Thunder Rose) also written by Jerdine Nolen? Feel free to share in the comments.
Disclaimer: I received complimentary copies of these awesome books to enjoy and share in partnership with A Kids Book About. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.
In response to the extraordinary spread of COVID-19, A Kids Book About created a completely FREE resource to help kids and grownups everywhere learn more about COVID-19. Click here to download. Note: Be sure to choose the PDF version of the file to download.
Talking to children about “tough” topics doesn’t have to be difficult. Especially when you have helpful books like these published from A Kids Book About. Have you seen these books yet?
A Kids Book About publishes hardcover, high-quality books that cover a range of challenging, empowering and important topics for kids ages 5-9. They have an impressive growing collection of books about: money, creativity, feminism, body image, depression, cancer, racism and more.
A Kids Book About all started with A Kids Book About Racism, a book written by co-founder and CEO, Jelani Memory. As a black father with a blended family (4 white kids and two brown kids), racism was an inevitable topic of conversation. He thought he’d only print one copy, but it turned out other grownups thought their kids could use an honest kids book on the topic. That one book turned into more by new authors on topics like belonging, feminism, gratitude, cancer, and so many more.
Each book has an easy to follow text-only format with no illustrations. Essentially, these books are meant to be conversation starters and are best read with a grown up to answer any discussion questions children may have. I really enjoyed the books we received about racism, money and creativity.
The book about racism really hit home for me because racial prejudice and structural racism is still very present in today’s society. This book made it very easy for me to explain to my children what racism is and they understood it.
As we embark upon Black History Month a month and a half from now, it is my hope many educators and parents use A Kids Book About Racism to help navigate their discussions around race and racism. One of the biggest paradoxes with Black History Month is many view it as a “teachable moment” to help children learn about the same old topics like slavery and the Civil Rights Movement, but then abandon the topics again for a whole year. I believe it’s equally as important to educate ALL children on the ongoing presence of racism and not just during Black History Month.
Check out A Kids Book About Racism to get a jumpstart on having the important conversation about race and racism. Be sure to also check out their other amazing books too. This series empowers adults to have straightforward and honest conversations with children in an engaging and relatable way. Recommended for ages 5-9 and up.
Your turn: Have you checked out these books yet? Feel free to share in the comments.
Tonya Bolden is one of my favorite writers for historical fiction for both children and adults. It was such a treat to have the opportunity to interview her to chat books. Her forthcoming novel, Saving Savannah will be published January 14, 2020 and I’m so excited to read it since I thoroughly enjoyed Inventing Victoria.
Check out the publisher’s synopsis for Saving Savannah:
Savannah Riddle is lucky. As a daughter of an upper class African American family in Washington D.C., she attends one of the most rigorous public schools in the nation–black or white–and has her pick among the young men in her set. But lately the structure of her society–the fancy parties, the Sunday teas, the pretentious men, and shallow young women–has started to suffocate her. Then Savannah meets Lloyd, a young West Indian man from the working class who opens Savannah’s eyes to how the other half lives. Inspired to fight for change, Savannah starts attending suffragist lectures and socialist meetings, finding herself drawn more and more to Lloyd’s world. Set against the backdrop of the press for women’s rights, the Red Summer, and anarchist bombings, Saving Savannah is the story of a girl and the risks she must take to be the change in a world on the brink of dramatic transformation.
How did you come up with the characters for Inventing Victoria and Saving Savannah? Characters come to me in shadow, in outline. Then I ask questions. What does she want? What are her fears? And so forth. With Crossing Ebenezer Creek and Saving Savannah I was very much driven/led by an antique photograph of a young black woman that said to me, “This is Mariah!” and another one that said to me, “This is Savannah!”
Do you enjoy writing children’s books or adult books more? Don’t make a choose, please! (smile). Given that the majority of the forty-something books I’ve authored/co-authored/edited are for young people . . . Yes, my first love is writing for children. History is my passion and I believe that if we hook our young people on history—if we make history come alive for them—we really put them on the path of lifelong learning, critical thinking, curiosity, and making some sense of the world. Without history you have no context for your life, for your present era.
What are some of your must-have children’s books for a home library? That’s a tough one! I really believe that each home library should be tailor-made for a particular family’s interests and needs. The only must-have I can think of is range: books about the present and the past, books about people familiar and not familiar. In this global village of a world of ours, to borrow from the eminent Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, all our young people need mirrors, windows, and sliding doors.
Do you have any literacy rituals that you practice in your family or practiced in the past? Not really. Growing up I was crazy about books. Couldn’t get enough of books! And I have my parents to thank for that. My mother, who only had a sixth grade education and my father who only had a ninth grade education, were avid readers. There is a lost picture of me, maybe I was about two or three. And there I was propped up in my parents’ bed. I had my mother’s glasses sprawled on my face. I had a book in my hands. Upside down. I was imitating my parents. There is also a photograph of the living room of our apartment in East Harlem. We had recently moved in. The furniture was the old furniture we had in Brooklyn. There was no carpeting on the floor (at a time when carpeting was pretty much de rigueur). Front and center in this photograph is our family’s bookcase.
Besides reading, what are some other things parents can do to set their children up for literacy success? Engage them in critical thinking, early and often. Encourage them to create stories of their own. And while you’re at it, tell your children family stories.
Do you have a favorite book that you have written? If so, what is it and why? My favorite book of mine is always the one that is just about to come out or the one that has just come out. So right now Saving Savannah is dearest to my heart. But really it’s like a family with many children. Each is unique and you love them all equally (we hope) though each child has something in particular that endears you to her or him. With Saving Savannah I think Savannah Riddle is the character most like me. I didn’t realize this at first. My sister pointed this out after she read part of an early draft. As she gave me feedback, I shared with her that compared to Mariah in Crossing Ebenezer Creek andVictoria in Inventing Victoria, I found Savannah the easier character to write. My sister snickered, then said something like, “That’s because Savannah is you!”
If you could give parents one piece of advice about reading with children, what would it be? Discussions of books is vital. What did the young reader learn? What puzzled her or him? Is there anything the reader misunderstood? And don’t stop reading aloud! Whether your child is five or fifteen—or fifty—always make some time for gathering around a book and reading aloud. I don’t think we ever lose our love for being read to. I know it may be difficult to do read-alouds with teens, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try.
Any advice for aspiring writers and authors? Don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t be precious. Consider trying to get into the business as a writer for hire. That’s how I began.If you have a big hit out of the gate, save your money. You never know. Some careers do nothing but skyrocket. Others have peaks and valleys. Once you get your foot in the door consider diversifying. Being able to write for different ages, different genres can come in handy when there are shifts in the industry. On year picture books are hot! Two years later not so much. Have many arrows in your quiver—especially if you don’t have a day job.
Hardcover, Paperback or e-book (when reading a book on your own)? I like e-books for research because when traveling I can take so much research with me and still travel light.
Fiction, non-fiction or some other genre (when reading a book on your own)? Nonfiction tops the list. But really as my fiction and nonfiction require so much research, books I pick up just for pure pleasure are few and far between.
Name an adult book that:
a) Inspired you Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Paula Marshall’s Brown Girl, Brownstones, Gloria Naylor’s The Women of Brewster Place, Charles’s Johnson’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Oxherding Tale, Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories, Ivan Goncharov’s Oblomov, probably every Anton Chekhov short story I read, Eugene O’Neill’s plays, Carson McCullers’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Majorie Kinnan Rawlings’ The Yearling, W. Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage, Toni Cade Bambara’s Gorilla, My Love, Toni Morrison’s Sula.
b) Made you laugh out loud Several stories in Bambara’s Gorilla, My Love and in Naylor’s Brewster Place.
c) You recommend to others often To be honest, I don’t often have the occasion to recommend books to others.
Are you working on any special projects that you want to share with others? I’m brainstorming on the fourth linked novel that began with Crossing Ebenezer Creek. So next up after Saving Savannah is an as yet unnamed novel about the daughter of a character in Saving Savannah. I have the main character’s name (I think) and I have a photograph that says to me, “This is her!”
How can people get in touch with you on social media or on your website? Please visit tonyaboldenbooks.com!
Tonya Bolden is a critically acclaimed award-winning author/co-author/editor of more than two dozen books for young people. They include Inventing Victoria, Crossing Ebenezer Creek, which received five starred reviews; Finding Family, which received two starred reviews and was a Kirkus Reviews and Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year; Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl, a Coretta Scott King honor book and James Madison Book Award winner; MLK: Journey of a King, winner of a National Council of Teachers of English Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children; Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln and the Dawn of Liberty, an ALSC Notable Children’s Book, CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, and winner of the NCSS Carter G. Woodson Middle Level Book Award.
Tonya also received the Children’s Book Guild of Washington, DC’s Nonfiction Award. A Princeton University magna cum laude baccalaureate with a master’s degree from Columbia University, Tonya lives in New York City.
Your turn: Have you ever read any of Tonya Bolden’s books? Feel free to share some of your favorite Tonya Bolden books in the comments below.
Have you ever noticed Instagram is flooded with female bookstagrammers? I wanted to find out who some of the men are who also share and read books on Instagram. This ongoing series will feature some of the most well read men on Instagram who also share a passion for all things BOOKS. Let’s get up close and personal with: James Trevino. You may have seen his mesmerizing and elaborate photos on his mega popular Instagram account that is a visual bookish feast for your eyes. His tagline is “Don’t Be Basic” and you can shop his merchandise here.
It’s the “most wonderful time of the year” again and the holidays are here. One of our family’s favorite ways to celebrate the holiday season is to cuddle up and read lots of wonderful Christmas and holiday themed picture books.
Each year as soon as the holidays start to roll around, people often ask me for children’s holiday book recommendations – specifically Christmas books for children of color. As I’ve often said, I don’t discriminate when it comes to reading books on my own or with my kids. However, I do know the power of children seeing themselves reflected in literature especially around Christmas when they are bombarded with images of a White Santa Claus from the media to retail stores.
From the story of the nutcracker to the significance of the poinsettia, the multicultural/diverse books on this list include not only some traditional favorites, but also a few great modern additions too. Check out the list below, complete with publishers’ descriptions included.
Waiting for Christmas by Monica Greenfield, Jan Spivey Gilchrist Ages 5 – 6
Sharing a sense of wonder and excitement in the time just before Christmas, two African-American children enjoy decorating the tree, visiting with relatives, and checking for presents one last time.
Amazing Peace a Christmas Poem by Maya Angelou (Author), Steve Johnson (Illustrator), Lou Fancher (Illustrator) Ages 6 and up
Angelou’s beautiful, moving, and beloved poem, which she first read at the 2005 White House tree-lighting ceremony, now comes alive as a fully illustrated children’s book, celebrating the promise of peace in the holiday season. In this simple story, a family joins with their community—rich and poor, black and white, Christian, Muslim, and Jew—to celebrate the holidays.
The Cajun Nutcracker by Chara Mock, Jean Cassels
As Merrae dances with her friends and family to the sound of washboards and banjos, her excitement only grows when she receives a Nutcracker from Perrain for Christmas. But later that night, she awakes to find herself surrounded by nutrias and the evil Alligator King. Soon toy soldiers and the heroic Nutcracker come to life and begin to battle the creatures. After Merrae is saved by the Nutcracker, they sail through the swamp to see the Sugar Cane Fairy, where the air smells sweet with magnolias.
The Night Before Christmas by Rachel Isadora
A gorgeous re-imagining of the beloved Christmas poem, set in Africa. Since Clement Clarke Moore penned this Christmas classic in 1825, it has been beloved by children around the world. Now, Caldecott Honor winner Rachel Isadora sets the poem in Africa, capturing the anticipation and excitement of Christmas in her stunning collages.
Celebrate all the lovely things that Baby discovers about Christmas. This board book, the perfect gift for a new baby, features rhythmic poetry.
A Piñata in a Pine Tree: A Latino Twelve Days of Christmas by Pat Mora (Author), Magaly Morales (Illustrator) Ages 4 – 7
In this version a little girl receives gifts from a secret amiga, whose identity is a sweet surprise at the book’s conclusion. There are things to find and count in Spanish on every page, with pronunciations provided right in the pictures and a glossary and music following the story.
This jazz-inspired reinvention of The Nutcracker is a worthy tribute to the dreamlike wonder and magic of the Christmas season. In this original retelling, set in New York City during the height of the Harlem Renaissance, one little girl finds her voice as a musician thanks to her enchanting adventures with a magical toy.
Presented from an African-American perspective by a Coretta Scott King Award-winning author, a holiday tale provides readers with twenty-three charming poems that capture the joy and happiness of one family’s Christmas celebration.
Walk This World at Christmastime by Big Picture Press (Author), Debbie Powell (Illustrator) Ages 5 – 8
A collection of global cultures, Walk This World at Christmastime illustrates the ways people around the world celebrate Christmas. Travel to a new set of countries with every turn of the page. Lift the numbered flaps for all the fun of an Advent calendar in a format to be read again and again.
Tree of Cranes by Allen Say Ages 4 – 7
As a young Japanese boy recovers from a bad chill, his mother busily folds origami paper into delicate silver cranes in preparation for the boy’s very first Christmas.
A Stork in a Baobab Tree: An African 12 Days of Christmas by Catherine House (Author), Polly Alakija (Illustrator) Ages 5 – 8
Set in Africa during the Christmas season, this is the story of a village preparing for a celebration – the birth of a child. The story is told in verse inspired by the traditional carol The Twelve Days of Christmas, but in this version the gifts are: 1 stork in a baobab tree, 2 thatched huts, 3 woven baskets, 4 market traders, 5 bright khangas, 6 women pounding, 7 children playing, 8 wooden carvings, 9 grazing goats, 10 drummers drumming, 11 dancers dancing and 12 storytellers.
Nine Days to Christmas: A Story of Mexico by Marie Hall Ets (Author), Aurora Labastida (Author) Ages 6 -10
Ceci eagerly awaits Las Posadas, the traditional nine-day series of yuletide celebrations. This year she’ll lead the candlelight procession that reenacts Mary and Joseph’s trek to Bethlehem. Meanwhile, Mother takes her to the old marketplace to choose her very first piñata. Ceci is dazzled by the colorful array of options, and after making her choice has second thoughts about the fate of her piñata once the posada takes place.
I Got the Christmas Spirit by Connie Schofield-Morrison (Author), Frank Morrison (Illustrator) Ages 3 – 6
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and a mother and daughter are enjoying the sights and sounds of the holiday season. The little girl hears sleigh bells ringing and carolers singing. She smells chestnuts roasting–CRUNCH! CRUNCH! CRUNCH!–and sees the flashing lights of the department store windows–BLING! BLING! BLING! She spreads the spirit of giving wherever she goes. And when she reaches Santa, she tells him her Christmas wish–for peace and love everywhere, all the days of the year.
Yoon and the Christmas Mitten by Helen Recorvits (Author), Gabi Swiatkowska (Illustrator) Ages 4 – 8
When Yoon’s teacher lends her a book about Santa Claus, Yoon can’t wait to show it to her parents. To Yoon’s disappointment, though, her mother responds, “We are not a Christmas family.” As Christmas Eve approaches, Yoon learns more and more about this exciting holiday. But no matter how hard she tries to convince her parents to sing Christmas songs or put up Christmas stockings, they always say no. A determined Yoon soon realizes that she must use her own “Shining Wisdom” to persuade her parents that they can indeed be a Christmas family.
Arturo and the Navidad Birds by Anne Broyles (Author), KE Lewis (Illustrator) Ages 4 – 7
It’s time for Arturo and his Central American grandmother, Abue Rosa, to decorate their Christmas tree. Abue Rosa shares with him the family history of each ornament as it is hung. But what happens when Arturo plays with—and breaks—a glass bird? Young readers will find out in this touching, bilingual picture book.
N Is for Navidad by Susan Middleton Elya (Author), Merry Banks (Author), Joe Cepeda (Illustrator) Ages 5 – 6 Bienvenidos! to a celebration of Christmas, Latino-style! From the ngel (angel) hung above the door to the zapatos (shoes) filled with grass for the wise men s camels, each letter in this festive alphabet introduces children to a Spanish word, and each colorful page takes them through another joyous aspect of the 22 days of the traditional holiday.
An Angel Just Like Me by Mary Hoffman (Author), Ying-Hwa Hu, Cornelius Van Wright Ages 5 – 6
An inspiring text and festive illustrations highlight the story of Tyler’s quest to find a Christmas tree angel who does not have golden hair and pink skin, but rather looks like him and his family, is a unique Christmas story that celebrates ethnic diversity.
‘Twas Nochebuena by Roseanne Greenfield Thong (Author), Sara Palacios (Illustrator)
It’s Christmas Eve, and you’re invited to a Nochebuena celebration! Follow a family as they prepare to host a night filled with laughter, love, and Latino tradition. Make tasty tamales and hang colorful adornos (decorations) on the walls. Gather to sing festive canciones (songs) while sipping champurrado (hot chocolate). After the midnight feast has been served and the last gifts have been unwrapped, it’s time to cheer, “Feliz Navidad and to all a good night!”
Grace at Christmas by Mary Hoffman Ages 6 – 9
When her grandmother takes in a stranded family at Christmas, Grace is reluctant to share her favorite holiday with strangers, even though the visiting family includes a “real live ballerina.”
This is the story of a treasure thought to be lost in a batch of tamales; of a desperate adn funny attempt by Maria and her cousins to eat their way out of trouble; and the warm way a family pulls together to make it a perfect Christmas after all.
Christmas Soup by Alice Faye Duncan, Phyllis Dooley Ages 4 – 7
While Mama is making the traditional Christmas soup her children wish for more. When Baby Fannie prays ‘Bless our home with something more’— and that ‘more’ turns out to be two hungry strangers to feed, it seems as if things can’t get much worse. But the soup—a true feast for the hungry pair—is shared, and the Beene children learn a lesson about giving they won’t soon forget.
Hold Christmas in Your Heart by Cheryl Willis Hudson
A collection of traditional and contemporary African American Christmas songs, stories, and poems for the very young, illustrated by a selection of respected African American artists. Works from legends such as Langston Hughes, Lucille Clifton, and Nikki Grimes (just to name a few) are perfectly complimented by rich illustrations from a number of renowned illustrators including, George Ford, Cal Massey, and Sylvia Walker.
A World of Cookies for Santa: Follow Santa’s Tasty Trip Around the World by M.E. Furman (Author), Susan Gal (Illustrator) Ages 4 – 7 A World of Cookies for Santa takes readers across the globe to see all the treats that await Santa on Christmas Eve. Head to the Philippines, where children leave out puto seko cookies and ginger tea for Santa; jet to Russia for a honey-spice cookie; then set out for Malawi for a sweet potato cookie! When you’ve returned home, the journey’s still not over—M. E. Furman provides recipes for children to bake some of Santa’s cookies for themselves. A World of Cookies for Santa is a multicultural celebration that families will return to year after year.
The Miracle of the First Poinsettia by Joanne Oppenheim (Author), Fabian Negrin (Illustrator) Ages 4 and up
Originally native to Mexico, beautiful poinsettia plants decorate homes around the world every holiday season. But few people who love the plant s deep red tones know the traditional Mexican tale about how the poinsettia first came to be. In this extraordinary collaboration, Fabian Negrin brings his warm, glowing scenes to Joanne Oppenheim s thoughtful narrative, transporting readers to Old-World Mexico and into the arms of a young girl as her trust leads her straight into a miracle. A beautiful alternative to the traditional nativity story, this book is a wonderful evocation of Mexican customs and culture.
Silent Night by Lara Hawthorne Ages 5 – 6
Celebrate the magic of Christmas with this beautifully illustrated book, based on the world’s best-loved carol. Rediscover the Nativity Story in all its glory—from quaking shepherds to heaven-sent angels—as the song lyrics are brought to life on every spread. The world’s diversity is reflected in a cast of characters with a range of skin tones.
Baby Jesus Like My Brother by Margery W. Brown Ages 5 – 6
When Keisha explains the meaning of Christmas to her brother Tony, the young boy finds many similarities between Jesus’ family and his own African American family.
The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve (Author), Ellen Beier (Illustrator) Ages 4 – 8
Virginia’s old coat is too small. The cold South Dakota wind blows across the Rosebud Indian Reservation, making her shiver as she walks to school. Virginia dreams of a new coat arriving in the Theast boxes–parcels of clothing from churches in The East. But, she knows she may not have a chance for a coat this year. Her father is the village Episcopal priest, so her family chooses last, and as Mama always says, The others need it more than we do. Generosity and unexpected joy remind Virginia of the importance of community within this story from the author s childhood.
Christmas Soul: African American Holiday Stories by Allison Samuels (Author), Michele Wood
With original stories by Debbie Allen, Halle Berry, Jamie Foxx, Whitney Houston, D.L. Hughley, Monica, and more. In this collection of poignant and witty original stories, African American celebrities recount their favorite childhood Christmas memories. Accompanied by evocative oil pintings, these stories will illuminate the holidays for years to come.
A Child is Born by Margaret Wise Brown, Floyd Cooper Ages 2 – 4
This lyrical celebration of the miracle of Christmas is now just the right size for little hands! Margaret Wise Brown’s simple, poetic language brought to life by Floyd Cooper’s spectacular paintings offer a fresh perspective on the Holy Family and the miraculous birth of Christ.
Who Built the Stable?: A Nativity Poem by Ashley Bryan Ages 4 – 8
Told in gentle rhyme and illustrated with Ashley Bryan’s enormous talent, this is a picture book that captures the reason for the season in all its wonder and beauty. Who Built the Stable? is a celebration of Christmas, of the kindness of children, and of the new hope born with each new baby.
12 Days of Christmas by Rachel Isadora
Set in Africa, this beautiful rendition of the classic Christmas carol has a unique twist: colorful icons illustrate the various gifts repeated in each verse of this cumulative song, creating a rebus-style text that gives young children a fun way to follow along and chime in with the lyrics.
Miracle on 133rd Street by Sonia Manzano (Author), Marjorie Priceman (Illustrator) Ages 4 – 8
It’s Christmas Eve and Mami has bought a delicious roast for a Christmas feast. But, oh no! It’s too big to fit in the oven. Jose and Papa need to find an oven big enough to cook Mami’s roast. As they walk from door to door through their apartment building, no one seems to be in the Christmas spirit. So they head down the street to find someone willing to help, and only when they do, lo and behold, the scent—the itself magical smell—of dinner begins to spread, and holiday cheer manifests in ways most unexpected.
Jackie’s Gift by Sharon Robinson, E.B. Lewis Ages 4 – 8
Young Steve Satlow is thrilled when his hero Jackie Robinson moves onto his block. After the famed second baseman invites Steve to a Dodgers game, the two become friends. So when Jackie hears that the Satlows don’t have a Christmas tree, he decides to give them one, not realizing the Satlows are Jewish. But Jackie’s gift helps these two different families discover how much they have in common.
Christmas for 10 by Cathryn Falwell Ages 2-4
A simple counting format frames a family’s cheerful preparation for Christmas, from one star on top of the tree and one wreath, to ten hands stringing popcorn and ten people wishing peace for all.
Christmas Makes Me Think by Tony Medina, Chandra Cox Ages 5 – 6
While thinking about all the wonderful things that come with the arrival of Christmas, an African-American boy begins to think about the less fortunate people in the world and vows to make a difference this year by sharing his gifts with others that are more in need.
An Island Christmas by Lynn Joseph, Catherine Stock Ages 6 – 8
As Christmas approaches, Rosie helps her mother and Tantie prepare black-currant cake, sorrel drink, and soursoup ice cream; finishes making her gifts for everyone; and decorates the tree.
O Christmas Tree by Vashanti Rahaman, Frané Lessac (Goodreads Author) (Illustrator) Ages 2 – 5
This Christmas, Anslem wants a Christmas tree more than anything else in the world. He wants “to touch it and smell it and get a feel and a smell of real Christmas.”
But there are no Christmas trees in the West Indies where Anslem lives. He must depend on the boat that brings evergreens from the north. In past years, the trees arrived fresh and green. But this year, the first year his family can afford a tree, the evergreens are so dry that not a single tree has a single needle on it. Anslem is deeply disappointed, until his neighbor Miss Mary shows him that the West Indies have a beautiful Christmas tree of their own.
Poppa’s Itchy Christmas by Angela Shelf Medearis (Author), John Ward (Illustrator) Ages 4 – 8
After spending weeks guessing what is in the packages under the Christmas tree, George is unhappy to receive a homemade muffler and itchy long underwear, but they come in handy when he has an accident while ice skating.
Snowflake Kisses and Gingerbread Smiles by Tori Trent Parker, Earl Anderson Ages 2 – 3
A sparkling holiday picture book with a soft, padded cover featuring striking photos of young African-American children celebrating Christmas, one of the most popular holidays of the year.
Messy Bessey’s Holidays by Patricia McKissack (Author), Fredrick McKissack (Author), Dana Regan (Illustrator) Ages 5 – 7
Bessey and her mother bake cookies for Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah, and after cleaning up the kitchen, they distribute the treats to their neighbors.
Chita’s Christmas Tree by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard (Author) Ages 4 – 8
Papa and Chita leave downtown Baltimore in a buggy to find a Christmas tree in the deep woods.
A Doll For Navidades by Esmeralda Santiago (Author), Enrique O. Sanchez (Illustrator) Ages 4 – 8
Las Navidades are coming. The house smells of cinnamon and coconut, crepe paper festoons the yard, and best of all, the Three Magi will soon bring presents to all the children. Esmeralda hopes they will bring her a baby doll. But instead, she receives something far more precious: she experiences firsthand the magic of giving and the power of her family’s love for her.
Mim’s Christmas Jam by Andrea Davis Pinkney (Author), Brian Pinkney (Illustrator) Ages 4 – 8
The best part of Christmas is the whole family savoring Mim’s belly-hum jam together. But this Christmas, Pap is far away in New York City, digging a hole for something called the subway, and his family is missing him something awful. Pap aches to be home, but the heartless foremen of his dig site have decided there will be no break, not even for Christmas. It looks like it’s going to be one lonely holiday for everyone . . . until young Saraleen and Royce send their pap a gift that may just inspire a Christmas miracle.
Christmas in the Time of Billy Lee by Jerdine Nolen, Barry Moser Ages 4 – 7
One holiday season Ellie makes three wishes: that her parents will see that her friend Billy Lee is not imaginary; that snow will fall on Septon’s Creek for the first time in fifty years; and that joy will return–especially to her parents, who always seem worried lately. Billy Lee always says, “There is magic in believing something good with all your heart.” When Ellie begins to believe, all kinds of miracles occur, from broken tree lights twinkling again, to angel shapes appearing in snow, to the biggest one of all: a baby brother arriving soon.
Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko (Author) Ages 5 – 8
Holiday time at Sadie’s house means golden gelt sparkling under the Christmas tree, candy canes hanging on eight menorah branches, voices uniting to sing carols about Macabees and the manger, and latkes on the mantel awaiting Santa’s arrival. A great book for blended families who celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah.
EllRay Jakes Rocks the Holidays! by Sally Warner (Author), Brian Biggs (Illustrator) Ages 6 – 8
It’s almost Christmas and school is going great for EllRay. He’s “blending in” just the way he likes. So when his father tells him he should be proud to be part of the African-American “community,” EllRay isn’t so sure he wants to call attention to his differences. After all, he’s only one of two boys in his class with brown skin. And then, totally by accident, he insults the other boy—one of his best friends—and all at once EllRay’s back to being the center of attention. And not exactly for good reasons.
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen (Author), Jerry Pinkney (Illustrator) Ages 5 – 8
The luminous art of three-time Caldecott Honor recipient Jerry Pinkney transforms the nineteenth-century Danish girl of Andersen’s tale into a child plucked straight from America’s melting pot, shedding new light on the invisibility of the poor among the prosperous-a circumstance as familiar in Andersen’s day as it is in our own.
Your turn: Which books on this list are your favorites? Did you discover some new books to read with your little readers? Feel free to share in the comments.
Today libraries offer library card holders so much more than just something to read. For anyone on a budget, there are amazing perks and services available to take advantage of with your library card.
For example, my daughter learned how to use the sewing machine for free at our local library. They made adorable fabric place mats and she’s so proud of how hers turned out. Although she already knows how to sew by hand, I also signed her up for the hand sewing class at the library.
Here are some of the other perks and resources available at different libraries across the country:
Check out tools from the tool-lending library
Check out toys for children ages 2-6
Discounted or free passes to local attractions
Foreign language classes
Seed library to try out seeds in your garden or windowsill planter
Borrow infrared thermometers to improve the efficiency of your home
Try out podcasting microphones and equipment
Borrow board games
Learn a new skill by taking free courses online
Borrow knitting needles for your next knitting project
Check out a telescope! (My local library has one you can check out and borrow)
When I asked my Instagram community for some things their libraries offered, here are a few responses I received:
I checked out a telescope!
We’ve checked out power tools for home projects.
All time favorite library experience was the library that will order any book from Amazon and have it delivered to your house if they don’t already have it at the library and then you just turn it into the library when you’re done! Who knew!!
My local library has a 3D printer and some amazing kids STEM activities!
The most unique thing we offer is dinner and a movie at the library. The library is transformed into a restaurant with decorations, candles, music playing, etc. Our teen volunteers work as servers.
We checked out a state parks pass from our library to go camping for free.
We LOVE our library! We’ve checked out board games, video games, toy kits (like musical instruments and building blocks), and even a coding robot! Ours now offers local museum and zoo passes to check out too, which is great for families with a tighter budget.
We do so many great activities at our local library from having a Pinterest live class, learning macrame to making 80’s crafts. I love trivia nights. I have learned how to knit with my arms. We had adult science night and we had fun making rockets and testing them on a summer night.
Our library has a “nature backpack” with a parking pass to the state parks, animal and plant ID books, and binoculars.
My daughter went to a week of summer camp at the library. The theme was Spellbound. They did all sorts of magical activities: writing in invisible ink, making wands, and reading stories about magical creatures.
Ours offer free tutoring to children, by certified teachers, during the week and on Saturdays. Our public libraries also offer movie nights, and theater performances. Without their help I couldn’t have the books, audio books, music and films my students enjoy in the classroom. I’m so grateful for public libraries!
At my previous library gig we offered circulating bakeware! It was a lovely way for people to test different baked goods or create a treat for a loved one (or themselves!) without having to pay 20 to 30 dollars to procure the baking dish. We made some delicious cake donuts using a donut pan from the library.
We love our library. Next week we are taking a Toddler Music Class in Spanish at our library.
As you can see, you don’t have to be an avid reader to enjoy everything the library has to offer. I encourage you to check with your local library and see if they also have a Library of Things you can check out besides books and audiobooks.
Your turn: Are you a regular library user? Let me know the most unusual or interesting thing you ever did or checked out from a library.
What books are you and your kids looking forward to reading in 2020? We’re entering this new decade with another epic list of diverse reads to share with you. Ready?
Most of the books listed here are recommended either for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and early elementary readers since my children fall within those groups and so do the little readers in my core target audience. However, I’ve also included a few middle grade and young adult books for slightly older readers to enjoy as well. The best part is most of these books are available for pre-order now so you can get a head start on your shopping.
Rest assured, I’ve selected what I think will be the “best of the best” in terms of diverse books. I know other amazing books will be released throughout the year, but these are the ones that were on my radar right now. As other books are released, I will come back and make changes to this post throughout the year so be sure to check it periodically or bookmark it to read later.
I’m definitely looking forward to sharing most (if not all) of these books with my little readers. As always, I tried to target books that will likely have: stunning illustrations, read aloud appeal, a kid-friendly theme – or all three! Enjoy!
Note: ** Since other countries have different release dates, some of these books may be released earlier or later internationally than the months I have listed as publication dates do sometimes change. **
Trailblazers: Beyonce Queen of the Spotlight by Ebony Joy Wilkins Ages 8 – 12 and up
Beyoncé Knowles became famous as the lead singer of the popular group Destiny’s Child. But on her own, she’s had even bigger hits. From movies to Grammy Awards to performing at the Super Bowl halftime show, Beyoncé is one of the world’s most amazing superstars. Find out how the girl who entered local singing competitions became one of history’s greatest trailblazers!
Always, Jackie by J. Patrick Lewis, John Thompson Ages 6 – 8
The unbelievable yet true story of how an eight-year-old white kid from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, met the legendary Jackie Robinson in 1954—and how the two became lifelong friends.
Mindy Kim and the Lunar New Year Parade by Lyla Lee, Dung Ho Ages 6 – 9
Mindy is excited to celebrate the Lunar New Year! Even though it’s the first one without her mom, Mindy is determined to enjoy the day. She decides to make traditional Korean New Year food, a rice cake soup that’s her favorite. But things aren’t going quite to plan, and the celebration doesn’t feel the same as it did before.
With the help of her family and friends, can Mindy find a way to still enjoy her old holiday traditions, and create new ones along the way?
Bread for Words: A Frederick Douglass Story by Shana Keller, Kayla Stark Ages 6 – 9
Frederick Douglass knew where he was born but not when. He knew his grandmother but not his father. And as a young child, there were other questions, such as Why am I a slave? Answers to those questions might have eluded him but Douglass did know for certain that learning to read and to write would be the first step in his quest for freedom and his fight for equality. Told from first-person perspective, this picture-book biography draws from the real-life experiences of a young Frederick Douglass and his attempts to learn how to read and write.
Yasmin the Writer by Saadia Faruqi (Author), Hatem Aly (Illustrator) Ages 5 – 8
Ms. Alex has assigned Yasmin’s class to write about their heroes. Yasmin loves to write, but she can’t decide who her hero is. After dismissing lots of ideas, could it be that Yasmin’s hero has been right beside her all along?
Michelle Obama: First Lady and Superhero: I Can Read Level 1 by Sarah Howden (Author), Nick Craine (Illustrator) Ages 5 – 6
Invited to camp out on the White House front lawn during a special Girl Scouts trip, young Darlene is supported by her friend, Sam, as she tries to scramble up the courage to demonstrate her knot-tying skills to First Lady Michelle Obama.
Hosea Plays On by Kathleen M. Blasi (Author), Shane W. Evans (Illustrator) Ages 3 – 9
This heartwarming picture book (based on a true story) depicts a day in the life of Hosea Taylor, a musician who—with his charm, talent, and generosity—brought joy to everyone he met. Every day, Hosea takes the Number 42 bus into the city to play his shiny brass saxophone—and to hopefully earn enough money. Setting up in his favorite place, Hosea makes sweet music as people greet him with a smile, a little girl dances, and crowds surround him. A surprise ending reveals what the money is really for.
Farah Rocks Fifth Grade by Susan Muaddi Darraj (Author), Ruaida Mannaa (Illustrator) Ages 8 – 12
Farah and her best friend, Allie Liu, are getting excited to turn in their applications to the Magnet Academy, where they both hope to attend sixth grade. But when new girl Dana Denver shows up, Farah’s world is turned upside down. As Dana starts bullying Farah’s little brother, Samir, Farah begins to second-guess her choice to leave him behind at Harbortown Elementary/Middle School. Determined to handle it on her own, Farah comes up with a plan–a plan that involves lying to those closest to her. Will her lies catch up with her, or can Farah find a way to defeat the bully and rock fifth grade?
Stella Diaz Never Gives Up by Angela Dominguez
Stella gets a big surprise when her mom plans a trip to visit their family in Mexico! Stella loves marine animals, and she can’t wait to see the ocean for the first time . . . until she arrives and learns that the sea and its life forms are in danger due to pollution. Stella wants to save the ocean, but she knows she can’t do it alone. It’s going to take a lot of work and help from old and new friends to make a difference, but Stella Díaz never gives up!
Brave. Black. First.: 50+ African American Women Who Changed the World by Cheryl Willis Hudson (Author), Erin K. Robinson
Published in partnership with curators from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, this illustrated biography compilation captures the iconic moments of fifty African American women whose heroism and bravery rewrote the American story for the better.
Inspired by the #SayHerName campaign launched by the African American Policy Forum, these poems pay tribute to victims of police brutality as well as the activists insisting that Black Lives Matter. Elliott engages poets from the past two centuries to create a chorus of voices celebrating the creativity, resilience, and courage of Black women and girls.
This collection features forty-nine powerful poems, four of which are tribute poems inspired by the works of Lucille Clifton, Audre Lorde, Nikki Giovanni, and Phillis Wheatley.
From acclaimed author and illustrator pairing comes a beautiful picture book biography about the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin and how she fought for respect throughout her life. Aretha Franklin is the Queen of Soul, a legend. But before she became a star, she was a shy little girl with a voice so powerful it made people jump up, sway, and hum along.
Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles (Ages 14 and up)
In his first contemporary teen novel, critically acclaimed author and two-time Edgar Award finalist Lamar Giles spotlights the consequences of societal pressure, confronts toxic masculinity, and explores the complexity of what it means to be a “real man.”
By and By: Charles Albert Tindley, the Father of Gospel Music by Carole Boston Weatherford and Bryan Collier (Ages 4 – 8)
At a time when most African Americans were still enslaved, Charles Tindley was born free. His childhood was far from easy, with backbreaking hours in the fields, and no opportunity to go to school. But the spirituals he heard as he worked made him long to know how to read the Gospel for himself. Late at night, he taught himself to read from scraps of newspapers. From those small scraps, young Charles raised himself to become a founding father of American gospel music whose hymn was the basis for the Civil Rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.”
Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon by Kelly Starling Lyons, Laura Freeman (Illustrator) Ages 9 – 12 Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon celebrates a contemporary black STEAM role model, a man whose quiet work enabled the creation of an iconic building reflecting America’s past and future. With a stirring text by Kelly Starling Lyons, vibrant pictures by Laura Freeman, and an afterword from Philip Freelon himself, it is sure to inspire the next generation of dreamers and builders.
Patricia’s Vision: The Doctor Who Saved Sight by Michelle Lord (Author), Alleanna Harris (Illustrator) Ages 5 and up
Born in the 1940s, Patricia Bath dreamed of being an ophthalmologist at a time when becoming a doctor wasn’t a career option for most women—especially African-American women. This empowering biography follows Dr. Bath in her quest to save and restore sight to the blind, and her decision to “choose miracles” when everyone else had given up hope. Along the way, she cofounded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness, invented a specialized laser for removing cataracts, and became the first African-American woman doctor to receive a medical patent.
Leaving Lymon by Lesa Cline-Ransome Ages 8 – 12
Lymon’s father is, for the time being, at Parchman Farm–the Mississippi State Penitentiary–and his mother, whom he doesn’t remember all that much, has moved North. Fortunately, Lymon is being raised by his loving grandparents. Together, Lymon and his grandpops share a love of music, spending late summer nights playing the guitar.
The Amazing Life of Azaleah Lane by Nikki Shannon Smith (Author), Mari Lobo (Illustrator) Ages 6 – 8
Azaleah can’t wait for her class field trip to the National Zoo in Washington D.C., especially when her teacher announces the chance to earn extra credit. But when Azaleah gets home, she quickly realizes extra credit isn’t as easy as she thought. Azaleah’s younger sister Tiana can’t find Greenie, her stuffed animal, and she’s sure he’s been stolen. With Mama at the restaurant and Daddy at work on a big case, it seems Azaleah is the only one available to track down the stolen stuffie. Can Azaleah get to the bottom of the mystery in time to finish her extra credit?
Mamie “Peanut” Johnson had one dream: to play professional baseball. She was a talented player, but she wasn’t welcome in the segregated All-American Girls Pro Baseball League due to the color of her skin. However, a greater opportunity came her way in 1953 when Johnson signed to play ball for the Negro Leagues’ Indianapolis Clowns, becoming the first female pitcher to play on a men’s professional team. During the three years she pitched for the Clowns, her record was an impressive 33-8. But more importantly, she broke ground for other female athletes and for women everywhere.
The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne by Lesa Cline-Ransome, John Parra (Ages 4 – 8)
Ethel Payne always had an ear for stories. Seeking truth, justice, and equality, Ethel followed stories from her school newspaper in Chicago to Japan during World War II. It even led her to the White House briefing room, where she broke barriers as the only black female journalist. Ethel wasn’t afraid to ask the tough questions of presidents, elected officials, or anyone else in charge, earning her the title, “First Lady of the Black Press.”
In 1848, Mary Walker was born into slavery. At age 15, she was freed, and by age 20, she was married and had her first child. By age 68, she had worked numerous jobs, including cooking, cleaning, babysitting, and selling sandwiches to raise money for her church. At 114, she was the last remaining member of her family. And at 116, she learned to read. From Rita Lorraine Hubbard and rising star Oge More comes the inspirational story of Mary Walker, a woman whose long life spanned from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, and who–with perseverance and dedication–proved that you’re never too old to learn.
Lizzie Demands a Seat: Elizabeth Jennings Fights for Street Car Rights by Beth Anderson, E.B. Lewis Ages 7-10
One hundred years before Rosa Parks took her stand, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Jennings tried to board a streetcar in New York City on her way to church. Though there were plenty of empty seats, she was denied entry, assaulted, and threatened all because of her race–even though New York was a free state at that time. Lizzie decided to fight back. She told her story, took her case to court–where future president Chester Arthur represented her–and won! Her victory was the first recorded in the fight for equal rights on public transportation, and Lizzie’s case set a precedent.
Ana & Andrew: The Perfect Pet by Christine Platt, illustrated by Junissa Bianda Ages 5 – 7
Ana & Andrew are getting a new pet! They research different pets before choosing the best pet for their family. Then they pick a name for it! With the name Ana & Andrew choose, they learn from a famous African American that skin color does not affect a persons abilities.
Ana & Andrew: Going to Ghana by Christine Platt, illustrated by Junissa Bianda Ages 3 – 7
Ana & Andrew are going to Ghana! Papa is travelling to Ghana and the family gets to go too! Ana & Andrew love learning about Ghanaian culture, especially the food! While there, they visit Cape Coast Castle to honor their ancestors. There, they learn about the origins of the slave trade.
Ana & Andrew: The Magic Violin by Christine Platt, illustrated by Junissa Bianda Ages 3 – 7
Ana & Andrew are learning to play the violin! They are excited to join the youth orchestra. At first it is fun. But when they start to lose interest, Ana & Andrew learn from an important African American about the importance of practicing.
From sunset to bedtime, two brown-skinned parents lovingly care for their beautiful brown baby: first, they play outside, then it is time for dinner and a bath, and finally a warm snuggle before bed.
Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became a Bookmobile Ballerina by Lea Lyon & Alexandria LaFaye, illustrated by Jessica Gibson Ages ( – )
This beautiful first-ever biography of Sylvia Townsend tells the story of how one determined girl got her wings by discovering the magic of the bookmobile, keeping the beat in her feet, and staying on her tippy-toes . . . always ready for liftoff.
Just Like Me by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Ages 4 – 8)
A collection of poetry filled with engaging mini-stories about girls of all kinds: girls who feel happy, sad, scared, powerful; girls who love their bodies and girls who don’t; country girls, city girls; girls who love their mother and girls who wish they had a father. With bright portraits in Vanessa’s signature style of vibrant colors and unique patterns and fabrics, this book invites readers to find themselves and each other within its pages.
Just Like a Mama by Alice Faye Duncan, illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow Ages (4-8)
Carol Olivia Clementine lives with Mama Rose. Mama Rose is tender and sweet—everything a child could wish for in a parent. But she is also as stern and demanding as any good parent should be. In the midst of their happy home, Carol Olivia Clementine misses her mother and father. While she longs to be with them, she also learns to embrace the love that is present. Mama Rose becomes her “home.” And Carol Olivia Clementine concludes that she loves Mama Rose “just like a mama.”
Overground Railroad by Lesa Cline-Ransome, James E. Ransome Ages 4 – 8
In poems, illustrated with collage art, a perceptive girl tells the story of her train journey from North Carolina to New York City as part of the Great Migration. Each leg of the trip brings new revelations as scenes out the window of folks working in fields give way to the Delaware River, the curtain that separates the colored car is removed, and glimpses of the freedom and opportunity the family hopes to find come into view.
Kids around the world use electric energy to do all kinds of things–adults do, too! From cleaning the clothes we play in, to lighting up our dinner tables, to keeping us warm and toasty when the weather is cold, electricity is a huge part of our lives. Unfortunately, it can also have a big impact on our planet.
Earth Hour–a worldwide movement in support of energy conservation and sustainability–takes place each March and is sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF). During Earth Hour, individuals, communities, and businesses in more than 7,000 cities turn off nonessential electric lights for one hour. Across each continent–from the Eiffel Tower to the Great Wall of China to the Statue of Liberty–one small act reminds all of us of our enormous impact on planet Earth.
A Ride to Remember tells how a community came together—both black and white—to make a change. When Sharon Langley was born in the early 1960s, many amusement parks were segregated, and African-American families were not allowed entry. This book reveals how in the summer of 1963, due to demonstrations and public protests, the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in Maryland became desegregated and opened to all for the first time.
This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons On How to Wake Up, Take Action and Do the Work by Tiffany Jewell, illustrated by Aurelia Durand (Ages 11 – 15)
Gain a deeper understanding of your anti-racist self as you progress through 20 chapters that spark introspection, reveal the origins of racism that we are still experiencing, and give you the courage and power to undo it. Each chapter builds on the previous one as you learn more about yourself and racial oppression. Exercise prompts get you thinking and help you grow with the knowledge.
No matter where they live, all children gaze at the blue sky, bask in the warmth of the golden sun, dig in the rich dirt, and watch clouds grow soft and rosy at end of day. Through the eyes of one inquisitive and thoughtful young narrator, young readers explore the idea of perspective, and come to realize that all of us, everywhere, share the colors of the world. The gentle, poetic text and gorgeous collaged illustrations make this just right to say goodnight.
Black Is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy, Ekua Holmes (Ages 4-8)
From the wheels of a bicycle to the robe on Thurgood Marshall’s back, Black surrounds our lives. It is a color to simply describe some of our favorite things, but it also evokes a deeper sentiment about the incredible people who helped change the world and a community that continues to grow and thrive.
Magnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration by Samara Cole Doyon (Author), Kaylani Juanita (Illustrator) Ages 5-6 Magnificent Homespun Brown is an exploration of the natural world and family bonds through the eyes of a young, mixed-race narrator―a living, breathing, dazzlingly multi-faceted, exuberant masterpiece, firmly grounded in her sense of self-worth and belonging. This is a story―a poem, a song, a celebration― about feeling at home in your own beloved skin.
Brother and sister Millicent and John are slaves on Simon Plenty’s plantation and have suffered one hurt and heartbreak after another. Their parents had told them old tales of how their ancestors had flown away to freedom just as free and easy as a bird. Millicent and John hold these stories in their hearts long after their parents are gone. “Maybe such a time will come for you,” their parents said. Then one day a mysterious bird appears in their lives. The bird transforms them and gives them the courage to set their plan into motion and escape to freedom.
Saving Savannah by Tonya Bolden (Ages 14 and up)
Savannah Riddle is lucky. As a daughter of an upper class African American family in Washington D.C., she attends one of the most rigorous public schools in the nation–black or white–and has her pick among the young men in her set. But lately the structure of her society–the fancy parties, the Sunday teas, the pretentious men, and shallow young women–has started to suffocate her.
Then Savannah meets Lloyd, a young West Indian man from the working class who opens Savannah’s eyes to how the other half lives. Inspired to fight for change, Savannah starts attending suffragist lectures and socialist meetings, finding herself drawn more and more to Lloyd’s world.
Because of segregation, black people weren’t allowed to compete against white people in sports. Althea didn’t care. She just wanted to play tennis against the best athletes in the world. And with skill and determination, she did just that, eventually becoming the first black person—man or woman—to win a trophy at Wimbledon.
The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver by Gene Baretta, Frank Morrison Ages 4-8
When George Washington Carver was just a young child, he had a secret: a garden of his own.
Here, he rolled dirt between his fingers to check if plants needed more rain or sun. He protected roots through harsh winters, so plants could be reborn in the spring. He trimmed flowers, spread soil, studied life cycles. And it was in this very place that George’s love of nature sprouted into something so much more—his future.
Little Martin grew up in a family of preachers: his dad was a preacher, his uncle was a preacher, his grandfather was a preacher…so maybe he’d become a great preacher too. One day, a friend invited him to play at his house. Martin was shocked when his mother wouldn’t let him in because he was black. That day he realized there was something terribly unfair going on. Martin believed that no one should remain silent and accept something if it’s wrong. And he promised himself that—when he grew up—he’d fight injustice with the most powerful weapon of all: words.
Echo Brown is a wizard from the East Side, where apartments are small and parents suffer addictions to the white rocks. Yet there is magic . . . everywhere. New portals begin to open when Echo transfers to the rich school on the West Side, and an insightful teacher becomes a pivotal mentor.
Each day, Echo travels between two worlds, leaving her brothers, her friends, and a piece of herself behind on the East Side. There are dangers to leaving behind the place that made you. Echo soon realizes there is pain flowing through everyone around her, and a black veil of depression threatens to undo everything she’s worked for.
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks Ages 8 – 12
Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime? A crime he says he never committed. Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family.
Clean Getaway by Nic Stone Ages 8 – 12
Set against the backdrop of the segregation history of the American South, take a trip with New York Times bestselling Nic Stone and an eleven-year-old boy who is about to discover that the world hasn’t always been a welcoming place for kids like him, and things aren’t always what they seem–his G’ma included.
Who Did It First? 50 Politicians, Activists, and Entrepreneurs Who Revolutionized the World brings together all of these trailblazers into one stunning package. With both well-known figures and lesser-known heroes, this book is a celebration of the inspiring innovators who braved uncharted waters to pave the path for future generations.
Brown Sugar Babe by Charlotte Watson Sherman (Author), Akem (Illustrator) Ages 4 – 8
“I don’t want to be brown!” says a little girl about her skin. But so many beautiful things in the world are brown — calming beaches, cute animals, elegant violins, and more. Brown is musical. Brown is athletic. Brown is poetic. Brown is powerful! Through lyrical words and stunning illustrations, it soon becomes clear that this brown sugar babe should be proud of the skin she’s in.
Cece loves science―and experimenting! In this Cece Loves Science Level 3 I Can Read!, Cece’s teacher, Miss Curie, explains the opposite forces of push and pull. To demonstrate this concept, she divides the class into two teams. Each team must make a treat dispenser for Cece’s dog, Einstein, that uses both forces. Cece and her classmates rely on science, creativity, and teamwork―and they learn a lot along the way.
The Cece Loves Science books introduce readers to basic concepts of science, technology, engineering, and math, and are perfect for the classroom. This Level 3 I Can Read! focuses on basic scientific vocabulary and includes a glossary of terms and fun activities for readers to try on their own.
Vote for Our Future by by Margaret McNamara, Micah Player Ages 4 – 8
Every two years, on the first Tuesday of November, Stanton Elementary School closes for the day. For vacation? Nope! For repairs? No way! Stanton Elementary School closes so that it can transform itself into a polling station. People can come from all over to vote for the people who will make laws for the country. Sure, the Stanton Elementary School students might be too young to vote themselves, but that doesn’t mean they can’t encourage their parents, friends, and family to vote!
Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business by Lyla Lee, Dung Ho Ages 6 – 9 Fresh Off the Boat meets Junie B. Jones in this first novel in an adorable new chapter book series about Mindy Kim, a young Asian American girl who is starting a snack business!
Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring by Kenard Pak Ages 4 – 8
Join a boy and his dog as they explore nature and take a stroll through the countryside, greeting all the signs of the coming season. In a series of conversations with everything from the melting brook to chirping birds, they say goodbye to winter and welcome the lushness of spring.
Ruth Objects: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Doreen Rappaport (Author), Eric Velasquez (Illustrator) Ages 7 – 10
When Ruth was a young girl, her mother encouraged her to read, be independent, and stand up for what she thought was right. Ruth graduated first in her class at Cornell University and tied for top of her graduating class at Columbia Law School. But she faced prejudice as both a woman and a Jew, making it difficult to get a job. Ruth eventually found work as a law clerk, and her determination, diligence, and skill led to a distinguished career as a lawyer. In 1993, she became the second woman ever appointed to the United States Supreme Court.
In 1870 Benjamin Turner, who spent the first 40 years of his life as a slave, was elected to the U.S. Congress. He was the first African American from Alabama to earn that distinction. In a recreation of Turner’s own words, based on speeches and other writings that Turner left behind, co-authors Marti S. Rosner and Frye Gaillard have crafted the story of a remarkable man who taught himself to read when he was young and began a lifetime quest for education and freedom.
Sometimes bad things happen, and you have to tell everyone. Sometimes terrible things happen, and everybody knows. On April 19, 1995, something terrible happened in Oklahoma City: a bomb exploded, and people were hurt and killed. But that was not the end of the story. Those who survived―and those who were forever changed―shared their stories and began to heal. Near the site of the bomb blast, an American elm tree began to heal as well. People took care of the tree just as they took care of each other. The tree and its seedlings now offer solace to people around the world grappling with tragedy and loss.
Joni: The Lyrical Life of Joni Mitchell by Selina Alko (Author, Illustrator)
Celebrate the captivating life of Joni Mitchell, the world-famous songbird who used her music to ignite and inspire an entire generation, in this stunning picture book biography from award-winning author and illustrator Selina Alko. Brought to life by Selina Alko’s rainbow collages and lyrical language, this heartfelt portrait of a feminist and folk icon is perfect for parents, children, and music lovers everywhere. Back matter includes a letter from the author and Joni’s full discography.
The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story by Aya Khalil, Anait Semirdzhyan Ages 4-7
Kanzi’s family has moved from Egypt to America, and on her first day in a new school, what she wants more than anything is to fit in. Maybe that’s why she forgets to take the kofta sandwich her mother has made for her lunch, but that backfires when Mama shows up at school with the sandwich. Mama wears a hijab and calls her daughter Habibti (dear one). When she leaves, the teasing starts.
Ohana Means Family by Ilima Loomis (Author), Kenard Pak (Illustrator) Ages 4 – 8
Acclaimed illustrator and animator Kenard Pak’s light-filled, dramatic illustrations pair exquisitely with Ilima Loomis’ text to celebrate Hawaiian land and culture.
Part Ojibwe and part white, River lives with her white mother and stepfather on a farm in Ontario. Teased about her Indigenous heritage as a young girl, she feels like she doesn’t belong and struggles with her identity.
Now eighteen and just finished high school, River travels to Winnipeg to spend the summer with her Indigenous father and grandmother, where she sees firsthand what it means to be an “urban Indian.”
Music Is My Life: Soundtrack your mood with 80 artists for every occasion by Myles Tanzer, Ali Mac Ages 8 – 12
Do you remember the first time you discovered an artist you really loved? Have you listened to them over and over again at different points throughout your life? This book harnesses that feeling, by collecting together 80 of music’s finest artists to guide young people through the good, bad and sad times. Whatever the feeling, these artists have been there and sung about it. Organised by mood, young ones can dip into the library to discover new artists from decades past to present day. Fall in love with John Legend, shout about it with Nirvana, love yourself with Lizzo, or cry it out with Adele. With 80 artists, bands, and composers from all genres (including classical) there’s something for every family member to love and recommend to the next generation.
Selena: Queen of Tejano Music by Silvia López, Paola Escobar
Selena Quintanilla’s music career began at the age of nine when she started singing in her family’s band. She went from using a hairbrush as a microphone to traveling from town to town to play gigs. But Selena faced a challenge: People said that she would never make it in Tejano music, which was dominated by male performers. Selena was determined to prove them wrong.
The Boy Who Became a Dragon: A Biography of Bruce Lee by Jim Di Bartolo Ages 8 – 12
Bruce Lee was born on November 27, 1940 – in both the hour and the year of the dragon. Almost immediately, he was plunged into conflict: as a child in Hong Kong as it was invaded and occupied by the Japanese; as the object of discrimination and bullying; and as a teenager grappling against the influence of gangs.
I’m Gonna Push Through by Jasmyn Wright, Shannon Wright (Ages 4-8)
Inspired by a mantra written for her third-grade students, Jasmyn Wright’s uplifting call to “push through” is an invitation to young readers to announce their own power and to recognize and reaffirm that of others, regardless of setbacks. Her empowering words not only lift children up, but show them how to lift themselves up and seize their potential.
A little boy who lives with his grandpa isn’t reprimanded for being afraid to go to school one day. Instead, Big Papa takes him away in his time machine—a 1952 Ford—back to all of the times when he, himself, was scared of something life was handing him.
Full of heartfelt moments and thrilling magical realism, Big Papa and the Time Machine speaks to the African American experience in a touching dialogue between two family members from different generations, and emerges as a voice that shares history and asks questions about one family’s experience in 20th-century black America.
Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z by Irene Latham (Author), Charles Waters Mehrdokht Amini Ages 8-12
How can we make the world a better place? This inspiring resource for middle-grade readers is organized as a dictionary; each entry presents a word related to creating a better world, such as ally, empathy, or respect. For each word, there is a poem, a quote from an inspiring person, a personal anecdote from the authors, and a “try it” prompt for an activity.
Growing up in the late 19th century, Laura Wheeler Waring didn’t see any artists who looked like her. She didn’t see any paintings of people who looked like her, either. As a young woman studying art in Paris, she found inspiration in the works of Matisse and Gaugin to paint the people she knew best. Back in Philadelphia, the Harmon Foundation commissioned her to paint portraits of accomplished African-Americans. Her portraits still hang in Washington DC’s National Portrait Gallery, where children of all races can admire the beautiful shades of brown she captured.
Equality’s Call: The Story of Voting Rights in America by Deborah Diesen, Magdalena Mora
The founders of the United States declared that consent of the governed was a key part of their plan for the new nation. But for many years, only white men of means were allowed to vote. This unflinching and inspiring history of voting rights looks back at the activists who answered equality’s call, working tirelessly to secure the right for all to vote, and it also looks forward to the future and the work that still needs to be done.
A Girl Like Me by Angela Johnson, Nina Crews (Ages 5 – 10)
Empower young readers to embrace their individuality, reject societal limitations, and follow their dreams. This inspiring picture book brings together a poem by acclaimed author Angela Johnson and Nina Crews’s distinctive photocollage illustrations to celebrate girls of color.
It’s springtime in Ms. Cupid’s class, and the entire class is excited to build their very own leprechaun traps. Maybe, if they catch one, they will all get the gift of good luck!
And after a few magical clues, it looks like there might be a leprechaun on the loose in Frankie Sparks’s house! Her best friend, Maya, is convinced the leprechaun exists, but Frankie has her doubts—especially when it feels like every trap she designs fails! Will Frankie and Maya find their lucky charm, or figure out how to create some luck all on their own?
The twenty groundbreaking women—including Rosalind Franklin, Marie Tharp, Shirley Anne Jackson, and more—came from all kinds of backgrounds and had all kinds of life experiences. Some grew up rich. Some grew up poor. Some were always the smartest kid in class. Some struggled to do well in school. But all had one thing in common: They were born curious. Are you curious, too?
The Only Woman in the Photograph Frances Perkins & Her New Deal for America by Kathleen Krull, Alexandra Bye (Ages 4-8)
Frances realized she had to make her voice heard, even when speaking made her uncomfortable, and use it to fight injustice and build programs to protect people across the nation. So when newly-elected President Franklin Delano Roosevelt finally asked Frances to be the first female Secretary of Labor and help pull the nation out of the Great Depression, she knew she had to walk through that open door and forward into history.
Frances realized she had to make her voice heard, even when speaking made her uncomfortable, and use it to fight injustice and build programs to protect people across the nation. So when newly-elected President Franklin Delano Roosevelt finally asked Frances to be the first female Secretary of Labor and help pull the nation out of the Great Depression, she knew she had to walk through that open door and forward into history.
I Am a Promise by Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce (Author), Rachel Moss (Illustrator), Ashley Rousseau (Contributor) Ages 4- 8 I Am a Promise takes readers on Shelly Ann’s journey from her childhood in the tough inner-city community of Waterhouse in Kingston, Jamaica, through her development as a young athlete, to her first Olympic gold medal in the 100-meter sprint in 2008.
Cool Cuts by Mechal Renee Roe Ages 3 – 7
African-American boys will love seeing strong, happy reflections of themselves in this vibrant, rhythmic picture book celebrating a diversity of hip black hairstyles. From a ‘fro-hawk to mini-twists and crisp cornrows, adorable illustrations of boys with cool curls, waves, and afros grace each page, accompanied by a positive call-and-response affirmation that will make boys cheer. It’s a great read-aloud to promote positive self-esteem to boys of all ages, building and growing the foundation of self-love (and hair love!) and letting every boy know that “You are born to be awesome!”
Read as part of the series or as a stand-alone novel! Arcade and the Fiery Metal Tester is the third book in the humorous and imaginative Coin Slot Chronicles series by New York Times bestselling author, former NFL running back, and Dancing with the Stars champion Rashad Jennings.
Summer in the City (Volume 2) (Mango Delight) by Fracaswell Hyman Ages 8 – 12 and up
In this sequel to Mango Delight, the delightful heroine’s adventures—and misadventures—continue as she prepares to make her off-Broadway debut.
Where Mango goes, drama is sure to follow! It’s summer break, and Mango is content to spend her time babysitting her brother, hanging with her friend Izzy, and binge-watching movies late into the night. Then she runs into her drama teacher, who has some big news: their middle school play Yo, Romeo! is headed to the stage in New York City . . . and he wants Mango for the lead role! After overcoming her mom’s initial reluctance—and with some firm rules established—Mango goes off to Brooklyn to stay with her Aunt Zendaya in a teeny apartment and prepare for her theatrical debut. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, but soon Mango must confront homesickness, insecurity, and the all-important question of what it means to be a good friend—especially when you’re far away from the people you love.
Jennifer Keelan was determined to make a change―even if she was just a kid. She never thought her wheelchair could slow her down, but the way the world around her was built made it hard to do even simple things. Like going to school, or eating lunch in the cafeteria.
Jennifer knew that everyone deserves a voice! Then the Americans with Disabilities Act, a law that would make public spaces much more accessible to people with disabilities, was proposed to Congress. And to make sure it passed, Jennifer went to the steps of the Capitol building in Washington DC to convince them. And, without her wheelchair, she climbed. ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP!
The most powerful pirate in history was a woman who was born into poverty in Guangzhou, China, in the late 1700s. When pirates attacked her town and the captain took a liking to her, she saw a way out. Zheng Yi Sao agreed to marry him only if she got an equal share of his business. When her husband died six years later, she took command of the fleet. Over the next decade, the pirate queen built a fleet of over 1,800 ships and 70,000 men. On land and sea, Zheng Yi Sao’s power rivaled the emperor himself. Time and again, her ships triumphed over the emperor’s ships.
Like the Moon Loves the Sky by Hena Khan, Saffa Khan Ages 3 – 5
In this moving picture book, author Hena Khan shares her wishes for her children: “Inshallah you find wonder in birds as they fly. Inshallah you are loved, like the moon loves the sky.” With vibrant illustrations and prose inspired by the Quran, this charming picture book is a heartfelt and universal celebration of a parent’s unconditional love.
Be You! by Peter H. Reynolds
Discover a joyful reminder of the ways that every child is unique and special, from the beloved creator of The Dot, Happy Dreamer, and New York Times bestseller, The Word Collector. Here, Reynolds reminds readers to “be your own work of art.” To be patient, persistent, and true. Because there is one, and only one, YOU.
Violet Choudhury may be part of the popular clique at school, but as one of a handful of brown girls in a small Illinois town, all she really wants to do is blend in and disappear. Unfortunately for her, she’s got a knack for seeing spirits, including the dead—something she’s tried to ignore all her life. But when the queen bee of Violet’s cheerleading squad ends up dead following a sex tape that’s not as consensual as everyone wants to believe, Violet’s friends from the spirit world decide it’s the perfect time for Violet to test her skills and finally accept the legacy of spiritual fighters from whom she’s descended. Her mission? Find the killer. Or else she’s next.
Sissy: A Coming of Gender Story by Jacob Tobia Ages 14 and up
As a young child in North Carolina, Jacob Tobia wasn’t the wrong gender, they just had too much of the stuff. Barbies? Yes. Playing with bugs? Absolutely. Getting muddy? Please. Princess dresses? You betcha. Jacob wanted it all, but because they were “a boy,” they were told they could only have the masculine half. Acting feminine labelled them “a sissy” and brought social isolation.
The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert
Beach-loving surfer Alberta has been the only black girl in town for years. Alberta’s best friend, Laramie, is the closest thing she has to a sister, but there are some things even Laramie can’t understand. When the bed and breakfast across the street finds new owners, Alberta is ecstatic to learn the family is black-and they have a 12-year-old daughter just like her.
A lyrical meditation on the preciousness of one child and the vastness of the universe, this gorgeously illustrated picture book shares the immensity of a parent’s love along with the message that we are all connected to the broader cosmos in important and intimate ways.
Rise Up! The Art of Protest by Jo Rippon (Author), Mari Copeny (Foreword) Ages 8 – 12
Human rights belong to every single one of us, but they are often under threat. Developed in collaboration with Amnesty International, Rise Up! encourages young people to engage in peaceful protest and stand up for freedom. Photographs of protest posters celebrate the ongoing fight for gender equality, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, refugee and immigrant rights, peace, and the environment.
A celebratory and inspiring look at some of the most important black women in STEM
Award-winning author Tonya Bolden explores the black women who have changed the world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in America. Including groundbreaking computer scientists, doctors, inventors, physicists, pharmacists, mathematicians, aviators, and many more, this book celebrates more than 50 women who have shattered the glass ceiling, defied racial discrimination, and pioneered in their fields. In these profiles, young readers will find role models, inspirations, and maybe even reasons to be the STEM leaders of tomorrow. These stories help young readers to dream big and stay curious. The book includes endnotes, a bibliography, and an index.
From the New York Times bestselling creators of I Am Enough comes an empowering follow-up that celebrates every child’s limitless potential. I Believe I Can is an affirmation for boys and girls of every background to love and believe in themselves.
Fresh Princess: Style Rules! by Denene Millner, illustrated by Gladys Jose (Ages 4 – 8)
Destiny loves everything about school, but when she shows up to Paul Robeson Prep, it’s bigger than she ever imagined, the uniforms are plain, and all her friends already have a “thing.” Destiny suddenly doesn’t feel so fresh and wonders how she’ll ever stand out. That’s when she notices something super cool about her uniform jacket…Will Destiny find a way to make her mark?
Tiara’s Hat Parade by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell (Ages 4 – 8)
Tiara has a gift for storytelling; her momma has a gift for making hats. When a new store opens that sells cheaper hats, Momma has to set her dreams aside, but Tiara has an idea for helping Momma’s dreams come true again.
Who Got Game?: Baseball: Amazing but True Stories! by Derrick Barnes and John John Bajet Ages 8 – 12
Derrick D. Barnes, winner of the 2018 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award for outstanding new writer, is a star in the YA and children’s literary world. His picture book, Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, won four honors at the 2018 American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards, including the Coretta Scott King Author Honor. Now comes his first nonfiction book (and the first in a sports series), where he shines a spotlight on 45 fascinating baseball records, personalities, and anecdotes rarely mentioned in popular baseball lore. Like John “Bud” Fowler, William Edward White, Moses Fleetwood Walker, and Weldy Walker—four African Americans who integrated white teams decades before Jackie Robinson. Or Jackie Mitchell, the 17-year-old girl who struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
When Grandpa Gives You a Toolbox by Jamie L.B. Deenihan (Author), Lorraine Rocha (Illustrator) Ages 3 – 7
You asked for a special house for your dolls; but instead Grandpa gives you a toolbox! What do you do? Launching it into outer space is a bad idea. So is feeding it to a T. rex! Instead, be patient, pay attention, and you might find that you’re pretty handy. And just maybe, with grandpa’s help, you’ll get that dollhouse after all. This clever story celebrates kindness, hard work, and community, as well as variety in gender expression: the male main character proudly engages in activities that might be considered typically girl (playing with dolls) and typically boy (building with tools).
Evonne Goolagong by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara (Author), Lisa Koesterke Ages 4 – 7
In this book from the critically acclaimed Little People, BIG DREAMS series, discover the life of Evonne Goolagong, the inspiring indigenous Australian tennis player.
Evonne grew up on a hot, dusty farm in Australia. She was the third of eight children, and descendant of the Wirundjuri people, who have lived on the land for more than 60,000 years. Her talent for tennis was discovered at a local tennis club, and before she knew it, the girl dreaming about the place called “Wimbledon” was playing on center court.
Princess Truly: I Can Build It! by Kelly Greenawalt, illustrated by Amariah Rauscher Ages ( – )
Princess Truly is a great inventor! With her magic, sparkling curls, she can build anything from a Brushy-Brush machine to a super-cool, turbo-boosted racing bike for her little brother. But when Truly and her sidekick pug Sir Noodles discover that the animal shelter is all out of treats, it’s time for their biggest invention yet… the Super Snack Machine!
Chia and the Fox Man: An Alaskan Dena’ina Fable by Barbara Atwater (Adapter), Ethan Jacko Atwater (Adapter), Mindy Dwyer (Illustrator) Ages 5-7
Life is hard for Chia. His village doesn’t have enough food and every day there are many chores to do. Chia always goes to bed hungry and tired, until one day in the middle of the night he wakes to a strange noise. He decides to investigate―and meets the legendary Fox Man. Will the Fox Man be able to help Chia and his village?
We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade (Ages 3-6)
Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, Carole Lindstrom’s bold and lyrical picture book We Are Water Protectors issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguarding the Earth’s water from harm and corruption.
Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice by Mahogany L. Browne, Elizabeth Acevedo & Olivia Gatwood, illustrated by Theodore Taylor III (Ages 6 – 11)
Historically poets have been on the forefront of social movements. Woke is a collection of poems by women that reflects the joy and passion in the fight for social justice, tackling topics from discrimination to empathy, and acceptance to speaking out.
I Am Brown by Ashok Banker, Sandhya Prabhat (Ages 5 – 8)
A joyful celebration of the skin you’re in―of being brown, of being amazing, of being you.
Work It Girl, Mae Jemison by Caroline Moss, illustrated by Sinem Erkas Ages 8 – 12
In this imaginatively illustrated book from the Work It, Girl series, discover how Mae Jemison became the first African American woman in space in this true story of her life. Then, learn 10 key lessons from her work you can apply to your own life.
Work It Girl, Michelle Obama by Caroline Moss, illustrated by Sinem Erkas Ages 8 – 12
Michelle Obama grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a little bungalow with a close-knit family. She loved going to school, and she knew that, one day, she would use her voice to empower other young girls, just like her. Young Michelle was a brilliant student and wonderful daughter. With hard work and talent, she propelled herself into the universities of Princeton and Harvard. She qualified as a lawyer and life was going smoothly…Then she met a guy named Barack.
In this imaginatively illustrated book from the Work It, Girl series, discover how Michelle became an inspirational leader, FLOTUS, lawyer, author, and role model in this true story of her life. Then, learn 10 key lessons from her work you can apply to your own life.
Love Your Body by Jessica Sanders (Author), Carol Rossetti Ages 8 – 12 Love Your Body introduces the language of self-love and self-care to help build resilience, while representing and celebrating diverse bodies, encouraging you to appreciate your uniqueness. This book was written for every girl, regardless of how you view your body. All girls deserve to be equipped with the tools to navigate an image-obsessed world.
What I Like Most by Mary Murphy, Zhu Cheng-Liang Ages 3 – 7
A little girl observes, one by one, things that give her pleasure — the apricot jam on her toast, the light-up shoes that make her feet bounce, the sparkling river, the pencil whose color comes out like a ribbon. But even after the jar becomes empty, and the shoes grow too small, and the pencil is all used up, one thing will never change.
Fly, Firefly by Shana Keller, Ramon Kaulitzki Ages 5 – 7
One evening at dusk a wind current carries a lone firefly out over the sea. Glancing down into the water, the insect is mesmerized by the glowing bioluminescence, mistaking it for other fireflies. Seeking company, the firefly plunges into the waves. Luckily, there are human bystanders who can lend a hand. Based on an event witnessed by nature writer and ecologist Rachel Carson (The Sea Around Us and Silent Spring) where a firefly attempts to join its “family” in the ocean, this lyrical story written in verse perfectly illustrates the wonder and delight the natural world offers those who pay close enough attention. Back matter includes science facts about fireflies and bioluminescence, as well as information about Carson’s life.
When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson (Author, Illustrator), Omar Mohamed (Author), Iman Geddy (Illustrator) Ages 9 – 12
Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day.
Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson Ages 7 – 10
The Hart family of Portland, Oregon, faces many setbacks after Ryan’s father loses his job, but no matter what, Ryan tries to bring sunshine to her loved ones.
A Story About Afiya by James Berry, Anna Cunha (Ages 5 – 8)
Some people have dresses for every occasion but Afiya needs only one. Her dress records the memories of her childhood, from roses in bloom to pigeons in flight, from tigers at the zoo to October leaves falling. A joyful celebration of a young girl’s childhood, written by the late Coretta Scott King Book Award-winning Jamaican poet James Berry.
Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade, Cozbi A. Cabrera Ages 6 – 9
This picture-book biography explores the intersections of race, gender, and the ubiquitous poverty of the Great Depression—all with a lyrical touch worthy of the subject. Gwendolyn Brooks was the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize, receiving the award for poetry in 1950. And in 1958, she was named the poet laureate of Illinois. A bold artist who from a very young age dared to dream, Brooks will inspire young readers to create poetry from their own lives.
Rafael Guastavino Sr. was 39 when he left a successful career as an architect in Barcelona. American cities―densely packed and built largely of wood―were experiencing horrific fires, and Guastavino had the solution: The soaring interior spaces created by his tiled vaults and domes made buildings sturdier, fireproof, and beautiful. What he didn’t have was fluent English. Unable to win design commissions, he transferred control of the company to his American-educated son, whose subsequent half-century of inspired design work resulted in major contributions to the built environment of America.
Immigrant Architect is an introduction to architectural concepts and a timely reminder of immigrant contributions to America. The book includes four route maps for visiting Guastavino-designed spaces in New York City: uptown, midtown, downtown, and Prospect Park.
BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford (Author), Michele Wood Ages 10 and up
In stanzas of six lines each, each line representing one side of a box, celebrated poet Carole Boston Weatherford powerfully narrates Henry Brown’s story of how he came to send himself in a box from slavery to freedom.
Bedtime Bonnet by Nancy Redd, Nneka Myers Ages 3-7 Bedtime Bonnet gives readers a heartwarming peek into quintessential Black nighttime hair traditions and celebrates the love between all the members of this close-knit, multi-generational family.
The Cat Man of Aleppo by Karim Shamsi-Basha (Author), Irene Latham (Author), Yuko Shimizu (Illustrator) Ages 4 – 8
Alaa loves Aleppo, but when war comes his neighbors flee to safety, leaving their many pets behind. Alaa decides to stay–he can make a difference by driving an ambulance, carrying the sick and wounded to safety. One day he hears hungry cats calling out to him on his way home. They are lonely and scared, just like him. He feeds and pets them to let them know they are loved. The next day more cats come, and then even more! There are too many for Alaa to take care of on his own. Alaa has a big heart, but he will need help from others if he wants to keep all of his new friends safe.
To a rock climber, a boulder is called a “problem,” and you solve it by climbing to the top. There are twists and turns, falls and scrapes, and obstacles that seem insurmountable until you learn to see the possibilities within them. And then there is the moment of triumph, when there’s nothing above you but sky and nothing below but a goal achieved.
Ashima Shiraishi draws on her experience as a world-class climber in this story that challenges readers to tackle the problems in their own lives and rise to greater heights than they would have ever thought possible.
In My Anaana’s Amautik by Nadia Sammurtok (Author), Lenny Lishchenko (Illustrator) Ages 3 – 7
Nadia Sammurtok lovingly invites the reader into the amautik―the pouch in the back of a mother’s parka used to carry a child―to experience everything through the eyes of the baby nestled inside, from the cloudlike softness of the pouch to the glistening sound of Anaana’s laughter. Sweet and soothing, this book offers a unique perspective that will charm readers of all ages.
Bo the Brave by Bethan Woollvin (Author, Illustrator) (Ages 5-9 )
A feisty little girl learns who the real monsters are in this brilliantly funny medieval adventure.
Once, there lived a little girl called Bo. Bo wanted to be just like her brothers and capture a fearsome monster. Bo is small, too small to catch a monster―or so her brothers say. But Bo isn’t one to take no for an answer, so she sets off on a quest to catch a monster of her own.
Wherever I Go by Mary Wagley Copp (Author), Munir D. Mohammed (Illustrator) Ages 6-9
A hopeful and timely picture book about a spirited little girl living in a refugee camp.
Of all her friends, Abia has been at the Shimelba Refugee Camp the longest—seven years, four months, and sixteen days. Papa says that’s too long and they need a forever home. Until then, though, Abia has something important to do. Be a queen.
A Journey Toward Hope by Victor Hinojosa (Author), Coert Voorhees (Author), Susan Guevara (Illustrator) Ages 4 – 8
Every year, roughly 50,000 unaccompanied minors arrive at the US/Mexico border to present themselves for asylum or related visas. The majority of these children are non-Mexicans fleeing the systemic violence of Central America’s “Northern Triangle”: Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.
A Journey Toward Hope tells the story of Rodrigo, a 14-year-old escaping Honduran violence; Alessandra, a 10-year-old Guatemalan whose first language is Q’eqchi’; and the Salvadoran siblings Laura and Nando. Though their reasons for making the journey are different and the journey northward is perilous, the four children band together, finding strength in one another as they share the dreams of their past and the hopes for their future.
Who Will You Be? by Andrea Pippins Ages 3 – 6
A mama wonders who her child will grow up to be. Will her little one be curious like Grandpa and adventurous like Auntie Amina? Compassionate like Amy and joyful like cousin Curlena? Moving from family members to the wider community, she muses about which attributes her child will possess. A perfect gift for a baby shower, birthday, or graduation. Who Will You Be? features gorgeous artwork and gentle words that celebrate childhood and is an ode to the power of our village–and a reminder that every child is uniquely wonderful.
Grandpa Grumps by Katrina Moore (Author), Xindi Yan (Illustrator) Ages 4 – 8
Daisy’s Yeh-Yeh is visiting for the first time from China, and Daisy is so excited to meet him! She has big plans for all the fun they’ll have together, like tea parties and snow angels, but when Yeh-Yeh arrives, Daisy finds him less jolly than she imagined. Throughout the week, she tries all sorts of things to get him past his grumpiness. Will she be able to make him smile before he goes home?
Inspired by the eagerly awaited birth of her daughter, Kaavia James Union Wade, New York Times bestselling author and award-winning actress Gabrielle Union pens a festive and universal love letter from parents to little ones, perfect for welcoming a baby to the party of life!
She Persisted in Sports: American Olympians Who Changed the Game by Chelsea Clinton Ages 4 – 8
Throughout history, women have been told that they couldn’t achieve their dreams, no matter how hard they tried. Women athletes have faced their own unique set of challenges, across countless sports and levels of play. In this third She Persisted book, Chelsea Clinton introduces readers to women who have excelled in their sports because of their persistence.
She Persisted in Sports is a book for everyone who has ever aimed for a goal and been told it wasn’t theirs to hit, for everyone who has ever raced for a finish line that seemed all too far away, and for everyone who has ever felt small or unimportant while out on the field.
Bubble Kisses by Vanessa Williams, Tara Nicole Whitaker Ages 3 – 8
A young girl adores her goldfish, Sal. But Sal is no ordinary pet: while she can’t fetch a ball or curl up on a lap, she can give bubble kisses that transform the girl into a mermaid and transport her to a world of underwater adventures. There, beneath the sea, they play, sing, and dance with other mermaids. The catchy, breezy, rhymed tale is perfect for bedtime, and the book includes a CD plus a link to a digital download.
As Luke seems to be moving on to new adventures, Emmett struggles in unexpected ways, especially in swim class and the “It Takes A Village” entrepreneurship class. Without his brother to turn to for support, Emmett works to build a new crew of “superfriends,” who’ll help him plan something spectacular for the end-of-camp awards night and celebration. Along the way, Emmett learns that no matter what, there can be many ways to define family.
Based on the feature film Boy Genius, starring Miles Brown, Rita Wilson, and Nora Dunn.
Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry, Juana Martinez-Neal Ages 4 – 7
Captain Swashby loves the sea, his oldest friend. And he loves his life by the sea just as it is: salty and sandy and serene.
One day, much to Swashby’s chagrin, a young girl and her granny commandeer the empty house next door. All Swashby wants is for his new neighbors to GO AWAY and take their ruckus with them.
The Fighting Infantryman: The Story of Albert D. J. Cashier, Transgender Civil War Soldier by Rob Sanders, Nabi Ali Ages 6 – 9
In 1861, the winds of war blew through the United States. Jennie Hodgers, a young immigrant from Ireland, moved west to Illinois and soon had a new name and a new identity–Albert D. J. Cashier. Like many other young men, Albert joined the Union Army. Though the smallest soldier in his company, Albert served for nearly three years and fought in forty battles and skirmishes. When the war ended, Albert continued to live his life as a man. His identity fit him as snug as his suspenders.
Decades later, a reporter caught wind of the news that an old man in the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home was actually a woman. The news swept through the country. What would happen to Albert and his military pension? Would he be allowed to continue to live as he wished? How would his friends, fellow soldiers, and others in the community react? This book is published in partnership with GLAAD to accelerate LGBTQ inclusivity and acceptance.
Jack and the Beanstalk by Carly Gledhill (Ages 2 – 5)
When Jack is sent to market to sell his family’s cow, he makes a trade for some magical beans, much to his mother’s chagrin. To Jack’s surprise, the beans grow into a giant beanstalk. Jack climbs all the way up and encounters a frightening giant. But when the giant is fast asleep, Jack climbs up and steals his treasures.
Federico and the Wolf by Rebecca J. Gomez (Author), Elisa Chavarri (Illustrator) Ages 4 – 7
With his red hoodie on and his bicycle basket full of food, Federico is ready to visit Abuelo. But on the way, he meets a hungry wolf. And now his grandfather bears a striking resemblance to el lobo. Fortunately, Federico is quick and clever—and just happens to be carrying a spicy surprise! Federico drives the wolf away, and he and Abuelo celebrate with a special salsa. Recipe included.
Brick by Brick by Heidi Sheffield Ages 3 – 7
Papi is a bricklayer, and he works hard every day to help build the city, brick by brick. His son, Luis, works hard too–in school, book by book. Papi climbs scaffolds, makes mortar, and shovels sand. Luis climbs on the playground and molds clay into tiny bricks to make buildings, just like Papi. Together, they dream big about their future as they work to make those dreams come true. And then one Saturday, Papi surprises Luis with something special he’s built for their family, brick by brick.
Parachutes by Kelly Yang Ages 14 and up
They’re called parachutes: teenagers dropped off to live in private homes and study in the United States while their wealthy parents remain in Asia. Claire Wang never thought she’d be one of them, until her parents pluck her from her privileged life in Shanghai and enroll her at a high school in California.
Rainbow Revolutionaries: Fifty LGBTQ+ People Who Made History by by Sarah Prager (Author), Sarah Papworth (Illustrator) Ages 8 – 12 Rainbow Revolutionaries brings to life the vibrant histories of fifty pioneering LGBTQ+ people our history books forgot to mention. This book is a celebration of the many ways these hidden heroes have made a difference and will inspire young readers to make a difference, too. Featuring an introduction, map, timeline, and glossary, this must-have biography collection is the perfect read during Pride month and all year round.
Adam Rippon, Alan L. Hart, Alan Turing, Albert Cashier, Alberto Santos-Dumont, Alexander the Great, Al-Hakam II, Alvin Ailey, Bayard Rustin, Benjamin Banneker, Billie Jean King, Chevalier d’Éon, Christina of Sweden, Christine Jorgensen, Cleve Jones, Ellen DeGeneres, Francisco Manicongo, Frida Kahlo, Frieda Belinfante, Georgina Beyer, Gilbert Baker, Glenn Burke, Greta Garbo, Harvey Milk, James Baldwin, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, José Sarria, Josephine Baker, Juana Inés de la Cruz, Julie d’Aubigny, Lili Elbe, Ma Rainey, Magnus Hirschfeld, Manvendra Singh Gohil, Marsha P. Johnson, Martine Rothblatt, Maryam Khatoon Molkara, Natalie Clifford Barney, Navtej Johar, Nzinga, Pauli Murray, Renée Richards, Rudolf Nureyev, Sally Ride, Simon Nkoli, Stormé DeLarverie, Sylvia Rivera, Tshepo Ricki Kgositau, Wen of Han, We’Wha
Be Amazing: A History of Pride by Desmond Napoles (Author), Dylan Glynn Ages 3 – 6
In Be Amazing, drag kid Desmond Napoles is Amazing, walking you through the history of the LGBTQ community, all while encouraging you to embrace your own uniqueness and ignore the haters.
A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi (Author), Laura Shovan (Author) Ages 10 – 12
A timely, accessible, and beautifully written story exploring themes of food, friendship, family and what it means to belong, featuring sixth graders Sara, a Pakistani American, and Elizabeth, a white, Jewish girl taking a South Asian cooking class taught by Sara’s mom.
Siha Tooskin Knows the Strength of His Hair by Charlene Bearhead, Wilson Bearhead Ages 9 – 11
Paul Wahasaypa—Siha Tooskin—has learned from Ena (his mom) and Ade (his dad) to maintain a strong mind, heart, and spirit. Though starting at a new school can be hard, especially when the kids there have never experienced the values and culture of the Nakota people. Join Paul as Mitoshin (his grandfather) helps remind him how strength of character can be found in the strength of his hair.
The Siha Tooskin Knows series uses vivid narratives and dazzling illustrations in contemporary settings to share stories about an 11-year-old Nakota boy.
In this deeply moving nonfiction picture book, award-winning author Caren Stelson brings Sachiko Yasui’s story of surviving the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and her message of peace to a young audience.
Sachiko’s family home was about half a mile from where the atomic bomb fell on August 9, 1945. Her family experienced devastating loss. When they returned to the rubble where their home once stood, her father miraculously found their serving bowl fully intact. This delicate, green, leaf-shaped bowl which once held their daily meals now holds memories of the past and serves as a vessel of hope, peace, and new traditions for Sachiko and the surviving members of her family.
Flying High: The Story of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles by Michelle Meadows and Ebony Glenn (Ages )
When she was six years old, Simone’s family took shape in a different way. Her grandparents Ron and Nellie Biles adopted Simone and her sister Adria. Ron and Nellie became their parents. Simone was also introduced to gymnastics that same year, launching a lifelong passion fueled by remarkable talent, sacrifice, and the undying support of her family.
American as Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar Ages 8 – 12
As the only Indian American kid in her small town, Lekha Divekar feels like she has two versions of herself: Home Lekha, who loves watching Bollywood movies and eating Indian food, and School Lekha, who pins her hair over her bindi birthmark and avoids confrontation at all costs, especially when someone teases her for being Indian.
From Children’s Literature Legacy Award winner Nikki Grimes and highly-acclaimed illustrator Wendell Minor comes a stunning picture book about the beauty of the natural world and finding a new place to call home.
Every morning, a young girl walks her grandmother to the Aajibaichi Shala, the school that was built for the grandmothers in her village to have a place to learn to read and write. The narrator beams with pride as she drops her grandmother off with the other aajis to practice the alphabet and learn simple arithmetic. A moving story about family, women and the power of education—when Aaji learns to spell her name you’ll want to dance along with her.
Women in countless countries continue to endure the limitations of illiteracy. Unjust laws have suppressed the rights of girls and women and kept many from getting an education and equal standing in society. Based on a true story from the village of Phangane, India, this brilliantly illustrated book tells the story of the grandmothers who got to go to school for the first time in their lives.
My Rainy Day Rocket Ship by Markette Sheppard (Author), Charly Palmer (Illustrator) Ages 4-8
A stormy afternoon and an order from Mom to stay inside are no match for this little dreamer, who uses everyday household items—a rocket chair, a cardboard box, an old dish rag, and a super-duper imagination—to whip up a trip around the universe he won’t soon forget.
Iggy Peck and the Mysterious Mansion by Andrea Beaty, David Roberts Ages 6-9
Iggy Peck is an architect at his very core: When he’s not making houses out of food, his head is up in the clouds, dreaming of design. So he’s totally blown away when Ada Twist’s Aunt Bernice inherits an old house from ice-cream mogul Herbert Sherbert that is filled with countless rooms from all his favorite architectural periods. But something’s not quite right . . . Everyone says the house is haunted, and it seems that a number of priceless antiques—which were supposed to help Aunt Bernice pay for the house’s upkeep—have gone missing. If they can’t find those antiques, Aunt Bernice might lose the house forever. It will take all of Iggy’s knowledge of architecture and the help of the other Questioneers—Rosie Revere, Ada Twist, and Sofia Valdez—to solve the mystery and find the treasure!
Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices by S. K. Ali, Aisha Saeed Ages 8 – 12 Once Upon an Eid is a collection of short stories that showcases the most brilliant Muslim voices writing today, all about the most joyful holiday of the year: Eid! Eid: The short, single-syllable word conjures up a variety of feelings and memories for Muslims. Maybe it’s waking up to the sound of frying samosas or the comfort of bean pie, maybe it’s the pleasure of putting on a new outfit for Eid prayers, or maybe it’s the gift giving and holiday parties to come that day. Whatever it may be, for those who cherish this day of celebration, the emotional responses may be summed up in another short and sweet word: joy. The anthology will also include a poem, graphic-novel chapter, and spot illustrations.
Violet and Pablo are best friends who love science! So when they discover a riddle that opens a magic portal in the Science Space at school, they can’t wait to check it out! Along with their new classmate, Deepak, the friends discover a magical makerspace called the Maker Maze. It’s a laboratory full of robots, 3D printers, an antigravity chamber, and more. Doors line the walls of the makerspace, with a new science adventure waiting behind each one.
Violet and Pablo are best friends who love science! So when they discover a riddle that opens a magic portal in the brain fair at school, they can’t wait to check it out! In this adventure, the friends enter the Maker Maze–a magical makerspace–along with a set of twins who are interested in learning all about the brain. The kids can’t wait to solve science puzzles . . . if first, they can learn to work together!
Greta Thunberg: Little People, Big Dreams Ages 4 – 7
When young Greta learned of the climate crisis, she stopped talking. She couldn’t understand why people in power were not doing anything to save our Earth. One day she started protesting outside the Swedish Parliament, creating the “School Strike for Climate.” Soon, lots more young people joined her in a global movement that shook adults and politicians alike. She had found her voice and uses it to inspire humans to action with her powerful message: “No one is too small to make a difference.”
Take your first steps with Antiracist Baby! Or rather, follow Antiracist Baby‘s nine easy steps for building a more equitable world.
With bold art and thoughtful yet playful text, Antiracist Baby introduces the youngest readers and the grown-ups in their lives to the concept and power of antiracism. Providing the language necessary to begin critical conversations at the earliest age, Antiracist Baby is the perfect gift for readers of all ages dedicated to forming a just society.
Libby Loves Science by Kimberly Derting (Author), Shelli R. Johannes(Author), Joelle Murray Ages 4 – 8
Libby and her friends volunteer to run the science booth at their school fair and have some great ideas, but Libby does not always follow directions precisely. Includes a worksheet for each experiment mentioned.
A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow Ages 14 and up
Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Nevermind she’s also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes.
My America by Karen Katz (Ages 2 -6)
In this beautiful celebration of immigration, children from around the world tell their stories, sharing their love of where they’re from and where they live now―homes old and new. As they describe the foods they eat, the languages they’ve learned, the sports they play, and more, the differences and similarities that link us all are revealed.
Lift as You Climb: The Story of Ella Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell (Author), R. Gregory Christie (Illustrator)
Long before the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, Ella Baker worked to lift others up by fighting racial injustice and empowering poor African Americans to stand up for their rights. Her dedication and grassroots work in many communities made her a valuable ally for leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and she has been ranked as one of the most influential women in the civil rights movement. In the 1960s she worked to register voters and organize sit-ins, and she became a teacher and mentor to many young activists.
3 2 1 Awesome!: 20 Fearless Women Who Dared to Be Different by Eva Chen (Author), Derek Desierto (Illustrator) Ages 1-3
Instagram superstar and New York Times-bestselling author of Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes Eva Chen shines a spotlight on 20 amazing women―including Megan Rapinoe, Sonia Sotomayor, J.K. Rowling, Greta Thunberg and more!―in this sassy and fun counting board book, perfect for the youngest of budding feminists.
Goodnight, Little Dancer by Jennifer Adams (Author), Alea Marley (Illustrator) Ages 3-6
In this soothing, gentle rhyming picture book, author Jennifer Adams bids sweet dreams to the youngest readers who identify as ballerinas by day and tender, sleepy children by night. With luminous art from illustrator Alea Marley, Goodnight, Little Dancer is sure to send little ones to sleep with twirling, dancing dreams.
Jean-Michel Basquiat by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Luciano Lozano Ages 4-7
Jean-Michel was born in Brooklyn, New York. His father was from Haiti and his mother was Puerto Rican–American. As a child, his gift for art was noticed by his teachers and nurtured by his mother. After struggling in high school, he gained recognition as part of the graffito duo SAMO that spray-painted cryptic messages and images around the landscape of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. He eventually made his way to the New York gallery scene and on to international acclaim.
Jesse Owens by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Anna Katharina Jansen Ages 4 – 7
Little Jesse, originally J.C., was born in Oakville, Alabama, during segregation. When he was nine, he moved with his parents and nine brothers and sisters to Cleveland, Ohio, to find a better life. There, he found his passion for running, and was making national headlines by high school, where he equaled the world record in the 100-yard dash. It was during the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics that he established himself as a legend, winning four gold metals that also delivered an unforgettable blow to Hitler and racism.
Nana Akua Goes to School by Patricia Elam Walker, April Harrison Ages 4 – 8
It is Grandparents Day at Zura’s elementary school, and the students are excited to introduce their grandparents and share what makes them special. Aleja’s grandfather is a fisherman. Bisou’s grandmother is a dentist. But Zura’s Nana, who is her favorite person in the world, looks a little different from other grandmas. Nana Akua was raised in Ghana, and, following an old West African tradition, has tribal markings on her face. Worried that her classmates will be scared of Nana–or worse, make fun of her–Zura is hesitant to bring her to school. Nana Akua knows what to do, though. With a quilt of traditional African symbols and a bit of face paint, Nana Akua is able to explain what makes her special, and to make all of Zura’s classmates feel special, too.
All Welcome Here by James Preller, Mary GrandPre (Ages 4 – 7)
The first day of school and all its excitement, challenges, and yes, anxieties, are celebrated here in connected haiku poems. A diverse cast of characters all start―and finish―their first days of school, and have experiences that all children will relate to.
Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee Ages 14 and up Featuring an all Asian cast of characters!
Sirscha Ashwyn comes from nothing, but she’s intent on becoming something. After years of training to become the queen’s next royal spy, her plans are derailed when shamans attack and kill her best friend Saengo. And then Sirscha, somehow, restores Saengo to life.
A Girl Like You by Frank Murphy and Carla Murphy, illustrated by Kayla Harren Ages 5 – 7
Every girl is a wonder! A Girl Like You encourages girls to embrace what makes them unique, to choose kindness, and to be their own advocates. In an age when girls can be whatever they want, this book reminds them of all the ways to be beautiful, brilliant, and uniquely themselves.
When Marva sees Duke turned away from their polling place, she takes it upon herself to make sure his vote is counted. She hasn’t spent months doorbelling and registering voters just to see someone denied their right.
And that’s how their whirlwind day begins, rushing from precinct to precinct, cutting school, waiting in endless lines, turned away time and again, trying to do one simple thing: vote. They may have started out as strangers, but as Duke and Marva team up to beat a rigged system (and find Marva’s missing cat), it’s clear that there’s more to their connection than a shared mission for democracy.
Shirley Chisholm Is a Verb by Veronica Chambers, illustrated by Rachelle Baker Ages 4 – 8 Shirley Chisholm famously said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” This dynamic biography illuminates how Chisholm was a doer, an active and vocal participant in our nation’s democracy, and a force to be reckoned with. Now young readers will learn about her early years, her time in Congress, her presidential bid and how her actions left a lasting legacy that continues to inspire, uplift, and instruct.
In this powerful, affirming poem by award-winning author Zetta Elliott, a Black child explores his shifting emotions throughout the year. Summertime is filled with joy―skateboarding and playing basketball―until his community is deeply wounded by a police shooting. As fall turns to winter and then spring, fear grows into anger, then pride and peace.
Join lovable, passionate Rocket as she sets off on a mission to save a Caribbean island from plastic pollution! When Rocket goes for a holiday to visit her grandparents, she’s shocked by the pollution that is spoiling their island home and putting the local sea life at risk. Can she think of a way to save the day? This is a heartwarming, timely and empowering picture book, showing how we ALL can make a difference.
Catch That Chicken by Atinuke, Angela Brooksbank Ages 2 – 5.
Lami is the best chicken catcher in her whole Nigerian village. Her sister may be speedy at spelling, her friend fast at braiding hair, and her brother brave with bulls, but when it comes to chickens, nobody is faster or braver than Lami. That is, until the day when Lami chases a little too fast, up the baobab tree, and reaches a little too far . . . ow! How can she catch chickens with an ankle that’s puffed up like an angry lizard? Could it be, as Nana Nadia says, that quick thinking is more important than quick running?
Speak Up by Miranda Paul, Ebony Glenn Ages 4 – 7
Join a diverse group of kids on a busy school day as they discover so many different ways to speak up and make their voices heard! From shouting out gratitude for a special treat to challenging a rule that isn’t fair, these young students show that simple, everyday actions can help people and make the world a better place.
Already a Butterfly: A Meditation Story by Julia Alvarez Weybridge VT (Author), Raúl Colón (Illustrator) Ages 5 – 9
With so much to do in so little time, Mari is constantly on the move, flitting from flower to flower, practicing her camouflage poses, and planning for migration. She’s the busiest butterfly around. But does being productive mean she is happy? Mari couldn’t say. The only way she feels like a butterfly is by acting like one. Little does Mari know, the secret to feeling like herself is simply to focus her breath, find her quiet place, and follow her instincts. With the guidance of a thoughtful flower bud, Mari soon learns to meditate and appreciate that she was a butterfly all along.
V Is for Voting by Kate Farrell and Caitlin Kuhwald (Ages 3 – 7)
An engaging introduction to the tenets of democracy, V Is for Voting is a playful, poetic, and powerful primer about the importance of voting and activism. Featuring Kate Farrell’s rhyming text and Caitlin Kuhwald’s bold art, plus thoughtful back matter, the book is a gorgeous, and crucial, addition to every young reader’s library.
Frustrated by a day full of teachers and classmates mispronouncing her beautiful name, a little girl tells her mother she never wants to come back to school. In response, the girl’s mother teaches her about the musicality of African, Asian, Black-American, Latinx, and Middle Eastern names on their lyrical walk home through the city. Empowered by this newfound understanding, the young girl is ready to return the next day to share her knowledge with her class. Your Name is a Song is a celebration to remind all of us about the beauty, history, and magic behind names.
I Got the School Spirit by Connie Schofield-Morrison (Author), Frank Morrison (Illustrator) Ages 3-6
As a new school year begins, a young girl is filled with school spirit as she zips her book bag shut, rides the bus, enjoys her classes, and eagerly anticipates the next day.
Danbi Leads the School Parade by Anna Kim (Author/Illustrator) Ages 3-7
Danbi is thrilled to start her new school in America. But a bit nervous too, for when she walks into the classroom, everything goes quiet. Everyone stares. Danbi wants to join in the dances and the games, but she doesn’t know the rules and just can’t get anything right. Luckily, she isn’t one to give up. With a spark of imagination, she makes up a new game and leads her classmates on a parade to remember!
A Unicorn Named Sparkle and the Pumpkin Monster by Amy Young Ages 2 – 6
Lucy and our favorite unicorn are back in Sparkle the Unicorn and the Pumpkin Monster. Lucy and Sparkle love Halloween, especially at Frank’s Pumpkin Farm. They get to run through corn mazes, play games, decorate pumpkins, and most importantly: eat a lot of cider donuts.
The fourth of five children, Aretha was born in Tennessee and took the stage at an early age in her father’s church choir. She went on to become the best-selling rhythm and blues singer of all time, and the first woman to be installed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Dark Was the Night: Blind Willie Johnson’s Journey to the Stars by Gary Golio, illustrated by E.B. Lewis Ages 5 – 8
Willie Johnson was born in 1897, and from the beginning he loved to sing–and play his cigar box guitar. But his childhood was interrupted when he lost his mother and his sight. How does a blind boy make his way in the world? Fortunately for Willie, the music saved him and brought him back into the light. His powerful voice, combined with the wailing of his slide guitar, moved people.
Willie made a name for himself performing on street corners all over Texas. And one day he hit it big when he got a record deal and his songs were played on the radio. Then in 1977, his song–“Dark Was the Night”–was chosen to light up the darkness when it was launched into space on the Voyager I space probe’s famous Golden Record. His immortal song was selected for the way it expresses the loneliness humans all feel, while reminding us we’re not alone.
RESPECT: Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Frank Morrison Ages 4 – 8 and up Aretha Franklin was born to sing. The daughter of a pastor and a gospel singer, her musical talent was clear from her earliest days in her father’s Detroit church where her soaring voice spanned more than three octaves.
Her string of hit songs earned her the title “the Queen of Soul,” multiple Grammy Awards, and a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But Aretha didn’t just raise her voice in song, she also spoke out against injustice and fought for civil rights.
Fauja Singh was born determined. He was also born with legs that wouldn’t allow him to play cricket with his friends or carry him to school miles from his village in Punjab. But that didn’t stop him. Working on his family’s farm, Fauja grew stronger to meet his own full potential.
He never stopped striving. At the age of 81, after a lifetime of making his body, mind, and heart stronger, Fauja decided to run his first marathon. He went on to break records all around the world and became the first person over 100 to complete the grueling long-distance race.
The true story of Fauja Singh reminds us that it’s both where we start and how we finish that make our journeys unforgettable.
Forever This Summer by Leslie C. Youngblood Ages 8 – 12
Georgie has no idea what to expect when she, Mama, and Peaches are plopped down in the middle of nowhere–AKA Bogalusa, Louisiana. G-baby wants to help out at the famous family diner that once served celebrities like the Jackson 5 and the Supremes, but with restaurateur Great Aunt Elvie needing help remembering day-to-day things, everyone is too busy to show G-baby the ropes.G-baby makes friends with Markie, a foster kid under Aunt Elvie’s care, who has a short arm caused by something called ULD and a huge singing voice. When G-baby’s best friend, Nikki, comes to visit they realize that the kids in town don’t have a place to hang out like their Boys & Girls club in Atlanta. G-baby, Nikki, and Markie embark on a mission to start a club of their own: the Bogalusa Summer Club. Since clubs aren’t exactly free, they decide to put on a talent show to raise money. Along the way, G-baby will discover an unexpected talent of her own: fighting for what’s fair and right even when everything is stacked against you.
Isaiah Dunn is My Hero by Kelly J. Baptist (Ages 8 – 10)
Isaiah is now the big man of the house. But it’s a lot harder than his dad made it look. His little sister, Charlie, asks too many questions, and Mama’s gone totally silent.
Good thing Isaiah can count on his best friend, Sneaky, who always has a scheme for getting around the rules. Plus, his classmate Angel has a few good ideas of her own–once she stops hassling Isaiah.
Tyaja Uses the THiNK Test by Linda Ryden (Author), Shearry Malone (Illustrator) Ages 6 – 8
Mrs. Snowden tells the kids that T = True, H = Helpful, N = Necessary, and K = Kind. If what you’re about to say isn’t any of these things, she tells them, you shouldn’t say it. Later that day, when Tyaja is about to criticize her friend Dhavi’s new haircut, she is stopped by four little elves sporting the letters T, H, N, and K, who reinforce Ms. Snowden’s lesson and remind Tyaja how friends should treat friends. Tyaja learns that she is the “I” in THiNK! full color.
Born Maria Corazon Sumulong Cojuangco in the Philippine province of Tarlac, little Corazon grew up around politics. She excelled in school, but eventually left her studies to get married. She remained in the background during her husband’s political career while she raised her five children. But when her husband was assassinated, she became the presidential candidate, and went on to restore democracy in the Philippines.
Bunheads by Misty Copeland, Setor Fiadzigbey Ages 5 – 8
In her first picture book since the bestselling and award-winning Firebird, Misty Copeland tells the story of a young Misty discovering her love for dance through the ballet of Coppélia. On her first day of class Misty is absolutely captivated by the narrative of the story and entranced by the dance. Nervous, yet excited, Misty decides to audition for one of the lead roles. As she prepares for the audition and, eventually, the performance, Misty learns to lean on her newfound friends for inspiration and rely on her own can-do spirit to dance her very best.
Featuring themes of teamwork, friendship, dedication, and hard work, children everywhere will be inspired to reach for their dreams in Misty’s exciting new picture book series, Bunheads.
Red Shoes by Karen English, illustrated by Ebony Glenn Ages 3 – 5
Malika is delighted when Nana surprises her with a beautiful new pair of red shoes! And with a click-clack-click and a swish, swish, swish, Malika wears her wonderful new shoes everywhere she goes. But one day, the shoes begin to pinch Malika’s toes. And alas, they don’t let her forget that her feet have grown! Soon Malika and Nana are off to the Rare Finds Resale Shop, where the shoes can be resold — so another little girl can enjoy them! Who will be the next to wear the red shoes? Malika wonders. Then Inna Ziya buys the shoes, and readers follow the shoes all the way across the world to Africa, where Amina, another little girl, who has fasted her first time for Ramadan is about to get an amazing gift!
Families Belong by Dan Saks, illustrated by Brooke Smart Ages 1 – 3 This deliciously warm board book is an appreciation of the unconditional love and comfort shared within a family. Through a handful of specific yet universal scenarios, from singing songs together to sharing food together, from dancing together to lying still together, this book invites the youngest readers to celebrate what it means for a family to be truly together.
Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built by Angela Burke Kunkel, Paola Escobar Ages 4 – 8 In the city of Bogata, in the barrio of La Nueva Gloria, there live two Joses. One is a boy who dreams of Saturdays– that’s the day he gets to visit Paradise, the library. The second Jose is a garbage collector. From dusk until dawn, he scans the sidewalks as he drives, squinting in the dim light, searching household trash for hidden treasure . . . books! Some are stacked in neat piles, as if waiting for José́. Others take a bit more digging. Ever since he found his first book, Anna Karenina, years earlier, he’s been collecting books–thick ones and thin ones, worn ones and almost new ones– to add to the collection in his home. And on Saturdays, kids like little Jose run to the steps of Paradise to discover a world filled with books and wonder.