Hi friends, It has been a really heavy couple of weeks. I have spent a lot of time reading and liste...
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Jun 07, 2020

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Hi friends,

It has been a really heavy couple of weeks. I have spent a lot of time reading and listening and thinking and donating. One of the things I decided to do was create a list of 100 incredible books by African American creators. As a contributing editor at Book Riot for the last five years, I have been very lucky to read, review, and recommend hundreds of children’s books by black authors and illustrators. The following list includes books that I have in my apartment, that I’ve read with my children, that I’ve bought at bookstores or borrowed from libraries, and that I’ve given as gifts. Diversifying our homes and classrooms and schools and neighborhood libraries is one way to learn and listen and understand and support.

Here is my list, based on my original thread on Twitter that you can find here:

The Twitter thread also includes a short description of why I loved each book. Please note that this list includes a couple of deviations from the original Twitter thread based on reader feedback, and the numbering might not match up because I reordered some of the books for easier browsing.

Board Books

  1. Dream Big, Little One Board Book by Vashti Harrison
  2. Woke Baby Board Book by Mahoghany L. Browne, illustrated by Theodore Taylor, III
  3. Baby Says Board Book by John Steptoe
  4. Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Picture Books

  1. All Things Bright and Beautiful by Ashley Bryan
  2. The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
  3. Hey Black Child by Useni Eugene Perkins, illustrated by Bryan Collier
  4. Hands Up! By Breanna J. McDaniel, illustrated by Shane W. Evans
  5. Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry, illustrated by Vashti Harrison
  6. What Is Given From the Heart by Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by April Harrison
  7. Tallulah The Tooth Fairy CEO by Dr. Tamara Pizzoli, illustrated by Federico Fabiani
  8. Everett Anderson’s Goodbye by Lucille Clifton, illustrated by Ann Grifalconi
  9. Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James
  10. This is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by James Ransome
  11. Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryan
  12. Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora
  13. Blue Sky, White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
  14. You Matter by Christian Robinson
  15. The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
  16. Bird by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Shadra Strickland
  17. Please, Louise by Toni Morrison and Slade Morrison, and illustrated by Shadra Strickland
  18. A Place Where Hurricanes Happen by Renee Watson, illustrated by Shadra Strickland
  19. Don’t Touch My Hair! By Sharee Miller
  20. Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
  21. Life Doesn’t Frighten Me by Maya Angelou, illustrated by Jean-Michel Basquiat
  22. Lift Every Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson, illustrated by Elizabeth Catlett
  23. Overground Railroad by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome
  24. Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beatty, illustrated by Bryan Collier
  25. I Love My Hair! By Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
  26. Just Like Me by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
  27. Uptown by Bryan Collier
  28. Beautiful Blackbird by Ashley Bryan

Chapter Books

  1. Nikki and Deja (series) by Karen English, illustrated by Laura Freeman
  2. The Lucky Stone by Lucille Clifton
  3. Dragons in a Bag (series) by Zetta Elliott
  4. Jada Jones (series) by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
  5. Sasha Savvy Loves to Code by Sasha Ariel Alston, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Middle Grade Books (for ages 8 – 12)

  1. It All Comes Down to This by Karen English
  2. New Kid by Jerry Craft
  3. The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon
  4. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  5. From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
  6. Hoodoo by Ronald Smith
  7. Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome
  8. Blended by Sharon Draper
  9. Clean Getaway by Nic Stone
  10. Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
  11. My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich by Ibi Zoboi
  12. So Done by Paula Chase
  13. Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson
  14. The Last Last-Day-of-Summer by Lamar Giles
  15. One Shadow on the Wall by Leah Henderson
  16. For Black Girls Like Me by Mariama J. Lockington
  17. Tight by Torrey Maldonado
  18. Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams
  19. Some Places More Than Others by Renee Watson
  20. King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender
  21. Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes
  22. Miles Morales Spider Man by Jason Reynolds
  23. The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore
  24. We Could Be Brothers by Derrick Barnes
  25. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
  26. The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis
  27. Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia
  28. The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
  29. 8th Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
  30. Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender
  31. Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper
  32. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Middle Grade Book Series

  1. Ways to Make Sunshine by Renee Watson
  2. The Logan Family Saga (includes Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry) by Mildred D. Taylor
  3. Ghost by Jason Reynolds
  4. The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
  5. Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
  6. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia

Nonfiction Picture Books

  1. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison
  2. Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe
  3. By and By: Charles Tindley, the Father of Gospel Music by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Bryan Collier
  4. Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed, illustrated by Stasia Burrington
  5. Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop by Alice Faye Duncan, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
  6. Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
  7. Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shutterly, illustrated by Laura Freeman
  8. The Oldest Student by Oge Mora
  9. Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney
  10. Harlem’s Little Blackbird by Renee Watson, illustrated by Christian Robinson
  11. Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
  12. Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate
  13. Before There Was Mozart: The Story of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome
  14. Someday is Now: Clara Luper and the 1958 Oklahoma City Sit-Ins by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, illustrated by Jade Johnson

Non-Fiction for Middle Grade Readers

  1. Black Women in Science by Kimberly Brown Pellum
  2. We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson
  3. This Promise of Change by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy
  4. Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African-Americans by Kadir Nelson
  5. Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace by Ashley Bryan
  6. Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
  7. You Can Fly by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Jeffrey Boston Weatherford


  1. Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice by Mahoghany L. Browne, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
  2. One Last Word by Nikki Grimes
  3. Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Ekua Holmes
  4. I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Bryan Collier


I am thinking of all of you during this time. Thank you for being willing to read and learn and listen with me.

Find me on Twitter at @KarinaYanGlaser, on Instagram at @KarinaIsReadingAndWriting, or email me at KarinaBookRiot@gmail.com.


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