BY DONNA DUARTE-LADD
This month, February, is Black History Month, a time to honor Black America. And while we do this, it is also an opportunity to remind ourselves that educating our children on what it means to be Black, and what better way than by learning through literature?
Here are 10 books for the kids and family to read this month and every month afterward.
Author Meena Harris (yes, niece of Vice President Harris) shares on an “ambitious girl” and her journey of discovering what girls and women have faced in the past and present challenges and what they may face in the future obstacles. An incredible story for girls to read about the positivity of being ambitious and reframing what it means to be ambitious and proud. Ages 4 to 8.
“Don’t Touch My Hair” by Sharee Miller
In this sweet book (a follow up to “Princess Hair”), we learn what Aria loves about her hair, which compliments are OK, but touching her hair without asking? Not OK. Beautifully and creatively illustrated, the reader follows Aria on her adventures and learns how she skillfully demands boundaries. Ages 4 to 8.
A picture biography book on pioneering woman Shirley Chisholm. Authored by bestselling author Veronica Chambers and vividly illustrated by Rachelle Baker, kids will learn about this amazing woman and her life.
For starters, she was the first Black woman to campaign for the Democratic nomination for the United States’ presidency. And there is more for children to learn about, including her childhood in Barbados to attending Brooklyn College. I didn’t learn about this icon until college; start them young and teach your child about Shirley Chisholm. Ages 4 to 8.
Kids will learn from some of the greatest Black music icons of all time in this artfully and detailed book. Learn about Prince, Nina Simone and other music legends’ backgrounds, hit songs and other fun facts like nicknames and their signature style.
An eclectic array of music icons from Marvin Gaye to N.W.A. is featured in this cool book. Kids will learn how these Black artists changed the music scene, defined an era with their sound, and in some instances changed the musical landscape with their sound. Ages 7 to 10.
A lovely read for your toddler, this book shares how to celebrate all shades of brown complexions. It is about looking beyond all skin colors and accepting friends for who they are, not what they look like. Vividly illustrated, this book makes for a lovely morning or bedtime storytime. Ages infant to 12.
Brooklyn author and New York Times bestseller Jacqueline Woodson shares a story on an interracial friendship that the reader can experience through the eyes of a child. A great book to discuss with your child about race, friendships, segregation and more. Ages 5 to 8.
Kids can learn about 52 Black heroes such as Toni Morrison, Nelson Mandela, Maurice Ashley and 49 other incredible leaders, icons and innovators. Geared toward kids ages 7 to though 10, I can also see reading this book to my younger child as each hero lends a powerful story. While we celebrate a book such as this for Black History Month, it is a book that can be cherished and learned from forever. Ages 7 to 10.
What started as a personal project for Black History Month turned into a sweetly illustrated book on strong and, yes, bold Black women. Author Vashti Harrison shares profiles on iconic women that are both informative and educational. An essential read for kids to understand bravery and empowerment. Ages 8 to 12.
The young reader in your family is most likely obsessed with the Logan family (“Song of the Trees” and “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry”), the last book in the family saga. The civil rights movement, like the books before, is woven into this story. Without giving too much away, read how Cassie grows from a teen to a strong black woman. Young adult.
Teens have seen that we as a nation and world have much work to do. This anti-racist book should be required reading for all young adults as well as adults. Well researched and chock-full of history, the book is a helpful refresher of civil injustices that are part of our past and present and may serve as a motivator of change for teens. Ages 12 and up.