10 Uplifting Books That Empower Black Children

How to Help Your Kids Love Reading

The Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) released statistics that focuses on the number of children’s books by and about people of color. 319 of the 3,500 books they received by U.S. publishers in 2017 had significant African or African-American content/characters.

Only 116 of those books were written by Black authors and/or illustrators. Therefore, a little more than 9% of the books the CCBC received represented Black children, giving them hardly any representation in literature.

Why is this important? Well, it’s incredibly important for children to see themselves represented in the media that they consume—the books they read, the movies and TV shows they watch, etc. Without representation, they can feel othered. This “other” treatment can harm their self-confidence and ability to believe in the positive impact they could one day have on their community. That being said, there are more books that include representation than in the past —and the amount is only getting larger as more people understand the importance of diversity within art.

Check out this list of awesome books that empower Black children!

10 Books That Empower Black Children

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut

Author: Derrick Barnes

Illustrator: Gordon C. James

Winner of many awards, including the 2018 Kirkus Prize for young Readers, Crown is an incredibly high-spirited and empowering read for Black boys.


Please, Baby, Please

Author: Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee

Illustrator: Kadir Nelson

Written by Academy-Award nominated filmmaker Spike Lee and his wife, this book delves into the “chills, spills, and unequivocal thrills of bringing up baby.”

Mixed Me!

Author: Taye Diggs

Illustrator: Shane W. Evans

Taye Diggs was inspired by his own son, and he created this charming book to address the identity issues and experiences biracial children face.


I’m a Pretty Little Black Girl

Author: Betty K. Bynum

Illustrated: Claire Armstrong Parod

A quirky book about the equally quirky and free-spirited Mia, who realizes that beauty is more than the mirror’s image—it’s within herself and her friends.


Happy to Be Nappy

Author: bell hooks

Illustrated: Chris Raschka

The legendary motivational author writes a lyrical story that celebrates the beauty of a Black girl’s hair.


The Colors of Us

Author and Illustrator: Karen Katz

Readers will learn what main character, Lena, does in this children’s book, that “brown comes in many different shades.” Katz celebrates the similarities and differences that connect that people around us.



Trombone Shorty

Author: Troy Andrews

Illustrator: Bryan Collier

A book for older Black children, this is an illustrated autobiography on Troy Andrews. When he was young, he played a trombone twice his length. He’s now a Grammy-nominated artist.


Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me

Author: Daniel Beaty

Illustrator: Bryan Collier

This powerful book details the love an absent parent can leave behind and how strong and resilient children can grow and thrive afterward. Knock Knock shows kids what happens when they follow their dreams.


Hey, Black Child

Author: Useni Eugene Perkins

Illustrator: Bryan Collier

Bryan Collier brings Perkins’ poem to life. Meant to uplift and empower Black children, this lyrical poem seeks to inspire all who read it.


My Brother Charlie

Author: Holly Robinson Peete & Ryan Elizabeth Peete

Illustrator: Shane W. Evans

Actress and National Autism spokesperson, Holly Robinson Peete wrote this with her daughter based on her young son who has autism.

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Written by Emma Radebaugh

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