From the moment they come into the world, little black girls works just a little bit harder than their peers to construct a healthy sense of self in a society that prizes values and attributes that don't mirror those they possess. We as their caregivers must help them find the way by offering them as many affirming messages as possible. We can do this with our words and by our example; however, books can also prove to be important points of contact into the souls and spirits of black girls. Here, we've compiled a list of books to promote a positive self-image in younger, black girls.
And when you're done with this list, check out our follow-up "25 More Empowering Books for Black Girls"
Girl of Mine - Jabari AsimThis companion book to Boy of Mine shows a dazzling little girl enjoying playtime in the moon's soft glow. As daddy cradles his baby girl, she is suddenly whisked away on a fantastical adventure, swinging above lush floral gardens under the golden moonlight. The sweet text, inspired by "Rock-A-Bye Baby," will whisk little ones off to peaceful slumber.
Lola at the Library - Anna Mcquinn
I Can Do It Too! - Karen BaickerThis heartwarming story reminds us how satisfying it is to grow up surrounded by love. I Can Do It Too! affirms a little girl's growing independence as she, too, can begin to do all the things she sees her parents, relatives and neighbors do: pouring juice at breakfast, strumming a guitar, and even riding a bike! The simple cadence of text and direct-to-the-heart art result in a book as warm and generous as its message, providing reading pleasure for toddlers, older siblings, and the grown-ups who love them.
Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale - John SteptoeThis is the tale of Mufaro's two daughters, two beautiful girls who react in different ways to the king's search for a wife - one is aggressive and selfish, the other kind and dignified. The king takes on disguises to learn the true nature of both girls and of course chooses Nyasha, the kind and generous daughter, to be his queen.
The Colors of Us - Karen KatzSeven-year-old Lena is going to paint a picture of herself. She wants to use brown paint for her skin. But when she and her mother take a walk through the neighborhood, Lena learns that brown comes in many different shades.
Nappy Hair - Carolivia HerronA lively, empowering story about Brenda's knotted-up, twisted, nappy hair and how it got to be that way! Told in the African-American "call and response" tradition, this story leaps off the page
I Love My Hair! - Natasha Anastasia TarpleyThis whimsical, evocative story about a girl named Keyana encourages African-American children to feel good about their special hair and be proud of their heritage
Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky - Faith Ringgold
Kindergarten to Second Grade
Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt - Deborah Hopkinson
As a seamstress in the Big House, Clara dreams of a reunion with her Momma, who lives on another plantation--and even of running away to freedom. Then she overhears two slaves talking about the Underground Railroad. In a flash of inspiration, Clara sees how she can use the cloth in her scrap bag to make a map of the land--a freedom quilt--that no master will ever suspect.
Come On, Rain - Karen HesseNewbery Medalist Karen Hesse recreates the body and soul-renewing experience of a summer downpour after a sweltering city heat wave.
Amazing Grace - Mary Hoffman
Jamaica's Find - Juanita Havill
Jamaica finds a stuffed dog at the playground and after taking him home without trying to find the owner discovers her conscience as well. Jamaica’s honest and appealing character inspired five more books, each about a childhood ethical dilemma.
Princess Truly and The Hungry Bunny Problem - Kelly GreenawaltPrincess Truly and The Hungry Bunny Problem is a picture book for children, especially girls, ages 4-8. It's an enchanting tale about a clever, problem-solving princess with magical curly hair featuring the delightful illustrations of Amariah Rauscher.
Dancing in the Wings - Debbie AllenSassy is a long-legged girl who always has something to say. She wants to be a ballerina more than anything, but she worries that her too-large feet, too-long legs, and even her big mouth will keep her from her dream. When a famous director comes to visit her class, Sassy does her best to get his attention with her high jumps and bright leotard. Her first attempts are definitely not appreciated, but with Sassy's persistence, she just might be able to win him over.
Rosa - Nikki Giovanni
Fifty years after her refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus, Mrs. Rosa Parks is still one of the most important figures in the American civil rights movement. This tribute to Mrs. Parks is a celebration of her courageous action and the events that followed.
Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom - Carole Boston WeatherfordThis poetic book is a resounding tribute to Tubman's strength, humility, and devotion. With proper reverence, Weatherford and Nelson do justice to the woman who, long ago, earned over and over the name Moses.
The Other Side - Jacqueline WoodsonClover's mom says it isn't safe to cross the fence that segregates their African-American side of town from the white side where Anna lives. But the two girls strike up a friendship, and get around the grown-ups' rules by sitting on top of the fence together.
A Sweet Smell of Roses - Angela Johnson
Ruth and the Green Book - Calvin Alexander RamseyRuth was so excited to take a trip in her family's new car! In the early 1950s, few African Americans could afford to buy cars, so this would be an adventure. But she soon found out that black travelers weren't treated very well in some towns. Many hotels and gas stations refused service to black people. Daddy was upset about something called Jim Crow laws...
The Patchwork Path: A Quilt Map to Freedom - Bettye StroudNow that Hannah’s papa has decided to make the run for freedom, her patchwork quilt is not just a precious memento of Mama — it’s a series of hidden clues that will guide them along the Underground Railroad to Canada. A fictionalized account of a fascinating oral history, THE PATCHWORK PATH tells the story of a two of the thousands who escaped a life of slavery and made the dangerous journey to freedom — a story of courage, determination, and hope.
Tar Beach - Faith Ringgold
"Ringgold recounts the dream adventure of eight-year-old Cassie Louise Lightfoot, who flies above her apartment-building rooftop, the 'tar beach' of the title, looking down on 1939 Harlem. Part autobiographical, part fictional, this allegorical tale sparkles with symbolic and historical references central to African-American culture.
Second Grade to Fourth Grade
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