10 Children’s Books Featuring Black Characters That Your Kid Should Read

There’s nothing sweeter than climbing into bed with your child after bath time to read a book together. After all, reading helps boost their literacy as well as their language skills. And it also helps them to discover new worlds and cultures beyond their own. That’s why you should look for books that offer diversity so that your child develops a sense of empathy for others and learns inclusion at an early age. After all, reading about various cultures and experiences that are different from their own can enhance your child’s understanding of the world and make them a more compassionate kiddo, too. So if you want to give your child’s library a much-needed makeover, these 10 children’s books featuring black characters come in at the top of any child’s reading list.

There’s nothing wrong with your child having a favorite book (or four) that they love reading night after night. Thing is, if they’re consistently reading the same books, (and with the same characters and experiences), it might be time to try something new. “Parents should ensure that their home libraries are full of books that feature all types of diversity,” says Vera Ahiyya, a teacher in Brooklyn, NY. “But diversity doesn’t mean non-white — to be inclusive the books should feature Black and brown characters, indigenous people, different family structures, gender inclusiveness, and so on.”

If you’re looking to offer more diversity in your kiddo’s book collection, check out these children’s books featuring black characters that your child will love to read again — and again.

Hair Love – Matthew A. Cherry

Zuri knows her hair is beautiful, the way that it curls and bounces. But when Zuri’s daddy tries to style it in an extra special way for his daughter, they both wind up bonding in a whole new (and amazing) way. Written by Matthew A. Cherry, the book is an adorable darling daddy/daughter tale about love and acceptance.

The King of Kindergarten – Derrick Barnes

The first day of kindergarten is a really big deal, but this little boy is ready for it! He’s so excited to experience new things and knows that he’ll have a great day in this book that celebrates self-confidence and pride in being exactly who you are.


Sulwe – Lupita Nyong’o

Sulwe is a beautiful black girl who wishes that her dark skin were lighter. Written by actress Lupita Nyong’o, Sulwe delves into what colorism means and why children (and adults) should love themselves, no matter what their skin tone is.

Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment – Parker Curry and Jessica Curry

Based on a true story, Parker Looks Up tells the tale of when Parker Curry and her mom, Jessica, visited the National Portrait Gallery, and the little girl saw a portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama. The book expresses what it’s like to finally see yourself represented in a work of art, and realize that anything is possible.

Black, White, Just Right! – Marguerite W. Davol

This book, which focuses on an African American mother and a white father, shows how families look “just right” when there’s love and acceptance. It challenges the belief that families should only look one way, or that parents should be of the same skin color.

Woke Baby – Mahogany L. Browne

Woke Baby is about a child who is awake—in every sense of the word. Woke babies wake up early, seize the day, and empower others as they make changes in the world. It might inspire you to have a woke baby, too.

Teach Your Dragon About Diversity – Steve Herman

Can you imagine how cool it would be to have a pet dragon? He could do so many amazing things, like light birthday candles in a single breath. But what if he didn’t see how awesome he was and felt down because he was different from his friends and had red skin? This sweet book teaches children what diversity is and how it’s our differences that bring us together—and not apart.

Dream Big, Little One – Vashti Harrison

This board books shows how strong black women have changed the world. It’s especially inspiring for girls to read black history and see role models who will inspire them to dream big as well, knowing that they can achieve anything they set their mind to.

One Love – Cedella Marley

Based on the legendary song “One Love” by Bob Marley, the picture book is perfect for preschoolers to show what happens when everyone works together. The lyrics of the song come alive on each page as a young girl works with her community to make their neighborhood (and their lives) better.

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