It’s no secret that students deserve to read a diverse range of authors from varying backgrounds. For Black History Month and beyond, we’re sharing some of our favorite Black children’s book authors. From picture books to chapter books, there’s something here for every reader.
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Black Authors of Children’s Picture Books
Many believe that picture books are limited to use in early childhood and early elementary school classrooms. However, any age group can benefit from these short stories told using illustrations, especially when the messages center around topics like self-love, imagination, and resilience. Here are our favorite picture books by Black children’s book authors.
1. Matthew A. Cherry, author of Hair Love
Matthew Cherry is a former NFL player and a current filmmaker, director, and author. He’s directed many films and episodes of television shows including Abbott Elementary. In addition, he’s well known for his award-winning animated short based on his New York Times bestseller Hair Love. It’s a story about a Black father and daughter learning how to do her hair.
Learn more: MatthewCherry.com
Buy it: Hair Love on Amazon
2. Ibtihaj Muhammad, author of The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family
Ibtihaj Muhammad is an Olympic medalist, author, entrepreneur, and activist. In September of 2019, Ibtihaj released her first picture book, The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family. This story is about two sisters on their first day of school and one of Asiya’s first days in hijab. Her second text, The Kindest Red: A Story of Hijab and Friendship, was released in January 2023.
Learn more: IbtihajMuhammad.com
Buy it: The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family and The Kindest Red: A Story of Hijab and Friendship on Amazon
3. Nyasha Williams, author of I Affirm Me
Nyasha Williams is a social justice griot whose books include I Affirm Me: The ABCs of Inspiration for Black Kids, What’s the Commotion in the Ocean?, and Ally Baby Can: Be Feminist. In addition to her already published work, she has five books on the horizon. She also offers author visits and mentorship.
Learn more: NyashaWilliams.online
Buy it: I Affirm Me, What’s the Commotion in the Ocean?, and Ally Baby Can: Be Feminist on Amazon
4. Kwame Alexander, author of How To Read a Book
Newbery Medalist and two-time Caldecott Honoree Kwame Alexander has written over 25 books including How To Read a Book, all about the joy and experience of reading, and The Undefeated, which is a triumphant poem, tribute, and truth teller of the Black American experience. Alexander is one of those writers that you’ll wish you knew about sooner. The Undefeated has been a staple in my classroom since I first got my hands on it.
Learn more: KwameAlexander.com
Buy it: How To Read a Book and The Undefeated on Amazon
5. Christian Robinson, illustrator of Milo Imagines the World
Christian Robinson is an illustrator, author, animator, and designer. You may have seen some of his work at Target, on the Today show, and on PBS NewsHour. As a New York Times bestseller and a Caldecott Honor recipient, he has illustrated many texts including Milo Imagines the World, You Matter, and School’s First Day of School.
Learn more: Theartoffun.com
Buy it: Milo Imagines the World on Amazon
6. Melissa Munro Boyd, author of B Is for Breathe
Melissa Munro Boyd is a clinical psychologist and officer in the U.S. Army. Her nine books focus on coping skills and social skills that students need to form meaningful relationships and to begin their journey of self-regulation. My favorite of her texts is B Is for Breathe: The ABCs of Coping With Fussy and Frustrating Feelings.
Learn more: Dr. Melissa Munro Boyd
Buy it: B Is for Breathe on Amazon
7. Vera Ahiyya, author of Rebellious Read Alouds
Vera Ahiyya, also known as the Tutu Teacher, is the children’s book author of Rebellious Read Alouds for educators, KINDergarten: Where Kindness Matters Every Day, and my favorite, You Have a Voice, a story that celebrates the power of our voices to make a positive impact in our communities. This text is empowering for kids and adults alike.
Learn more: thetututeacher.com
Buy it: Rebellious Read Alouds on Amazon
8. Winsome Bingham, author of Soul Food Sunday
Winsome Bingham is an author, soul food lover, skilled cook, and a US Army disabled war veteran. Her book Soul Food Sunday is about a big family gathering that takes place on Sundays and is a celebration of family, culture, and food.
Learn more: binghamwrites.com
Buy it: Soul Food Sunday on Amazon
9. Jacqueline Woodson, author of The Year We Learned to Fly
Jacqueline Woodson is well known for her National Book Award–winning Brown Girl Dreaming and her New York Times bestsellers The Day You Begin and The Year We Learned To Fly. In addition to her books, she served as the Young People’s Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017, and was named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress for 2018–2019.
Learn more: jacquelinewoodson.com
Buy it: The Year We Learned To Fly on Amazon
10. Nikki Grimes, author of Off To See the Sea
New York Times bestselling author and poet Nikki Grimes is the recipient of numerous awards including the Coretta Scott King Award, the Golden Dolphin Award, and the NCTE Award for Poetry. Her texts include Off To See the Sea, a story focused on the imagination and adventure of bath time, Bedtime for Sweet Creatures, a creative way to support the transition to bedtime, and Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice.
Learn more: nikkigrimes.com
Buy it: Off To See the Sea on Amazon
11. Rita Lorraine Hubbard, author of The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read
Former special education teacher turned full-time children’s book writer, Rita Lorraine Hubbard is the author of The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read, the story of a woman who was certified as the nation’s oldest student in 1964. As a teenager, Mary Walker was freed from enslavement and learned to read at the age of 116.
Learn more: ritahubbard.com
Buy it: The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read on Amazon
12. Derrick Barnes, author of I Am Every Good Thing
Derrick Barnes is an acclaimed author who wrote the book Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, which received a Newbery Honor, a Coretta Scott King Honor, the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award, and the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers. In addition to this gorgeous text, he is also the author of some of my favorites: I Am Every Good Thing, The King of Kindergarten, and The Queen of Kindergarten. He also authors graphic novels, which you can learn more about at the link below.
Learn more: derrickdbarnes.com
Buy it: I Am Every Good Thing on Amazon
13. Carole Boston Weatherford, author of Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America
Carole Boston Weatherford has published over 50 books for which she has received accolades such as the NAACP Image Award (twice!), Caldecott Honor, and New York Times bestselling author status. Her texts illustrate the history of individuals and movements that have impacted so much of what we know today. Her work includes Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America, Schomberg: The Man Who Built the Library, and one of my all-time favorite picture books, The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop.
Learn more: cbweatherford.com
Buy it: Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America
14. Tami Charles, author of All Because You Matter
Tami Charles is the author of All Because You Matter, a New York Times bestselling book that is a stunning book to read multiple times throughout the school year. She has also penned Freedom Soup, a picture book about the Haitian tradition of eating a special soup to celebrate the new year. She has also written several YA novels.
Learn more: tamiwrites.com/books
Buy it: All Because You Matter on Amazon
15. Dwayne Reed, author of All Good in the Hood
Reed is our favorite rapping and singing educator and has been featured on Good Morning America, World News Tonight, BBC News, Jimmy Kimmel Live, the Washington Post, and Time magazine. His debut picture book, All Good in the Hood, is a “tribute to the sights and sounds of a city neighborhood” that takes place during Juneteenth. You can find more information about his original songs and how to preorder his text by visiting his Instagram @teachmrreed or by heading to his website.
Learn more: tmreed.com
Buy it: All Good in the Hood on Amazon
16. Ty Allan Jackson, author of Danny Dollar Millionaire
If financial literacy is your thing, you absolutely must check out the work of Ty Allan Jackson. A self-published author and founder of Big Head Books, Ty’s Danny Dollar Millionaire novel was a huge part of how I taught financial literacy to my students, and he even came to do a virtual visit to my classroom during the first year of the pandemic. In fact, his work as a literacy advocate earned him an honorary doctorate!
Learn more: tyallanjackson.com
Buy it: Danny Dollar Millionaire Extraordinaire – The Lemonade Escapade on Amazon
Black Authors of YA and Children’s Chapter Books
These Black children’s book authors are the kind who write titles that you get sucked into instantly. You know the kind where suddenly you look up from the book, hours have passed, and it is now dark outside—that is what I love so much about them! Authors who tell stories who can make our students fall in love with reading and imagination are my favorite kind. Enjoy this list and remember YA books can be for us adults too!
17. Ibram X. Kendi, author of Stamped (for Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You
Ibram X. Kendi is a leading historian and anti-racist scholar. He has written picture books, YA texts, and books that are adult facing. He is a National Book Award–winning author, a New York Times bestselling author, and a CBS News Racial Justice Contributor, and Time magazine named him one of the most influential people in the world. His texts include Stamped (for Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You, and his upcoming book How To Be a (Young) Anti-racist.
Learn more: ibramxkendi.com
Buy it: Stamped (for Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You on Amazon
18. Kacen Callender, author of Felix Ever After
A Los Angeles resident, gamer, and award-winning author, Kacen Callender’s writing ranges from young children all the way to adulthood. Their work has received a National Book Award for their highly recommended YA text Felix Ever After.
Learn more: kacencallender.com
Buy it: Felix Ever After on Amazon
19. Akwaeke Emezi, author of Pet
Featured as Time magazine’s 2021 Next Generation Leader, Akwaeke Emezi is a multidisciplinary artist, writer, and recipient of many awards worldwide. Their work has received glowing reviews from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, and the Guardian. Born in Umuahia and raised in Aba, Nigeria, their young adult debut novel Pet is a “can’t put it down” story about the power and impact of the choices we make. This novel is both a National Book Award Finalist and a Stonewall Honor Book.
Learn more: akwaeke.com
Buy it: Pet on Amazon
20. Leah Johnson, author of You Should See Me in a Crown
Time magazine named Leah Johnson’s debut novel You Should See Me in a Crown one of the Best Young Adult Books of All Time. In addition, this novel was a Stonewall Honor Book and named best book of the year by Amazon, Kirkus, Marie Claire, Publishers Weekly, and the New York Public Library. Need I say more?
Learn more: byleahjohnson.com
Buy it: You Should See Me in a Crown on Amazon
21. Amber McBride, author of Me (Moth)
Describing herself as a “lover of words,” Amber McBride is an author, poet, and a professor of English at the University of Virginia, where her students call her “Ms. Mermaid.” Her debut novel, Me (Moth), is all about love, identity, and surviving after tragedy. Her latest novel, We Are All So Good at Smiling, was released in 2023. Check out her website for educator resources.
Learn more: amber-mcbride.com
Buy it: Me (Moth) on Amazon
22. Sharon M. Draper, author of Out of My Mind
A National Teacher of the Year award winner, Sharon M. Draper takes the marriage of education and creativity to new heights with her work as an author. As a five-time recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award, she has a plethora of texts that are appropriate for a wide range of ages and interests. Her book Out of My Mind is still on the New York Times bestsellers list 10 years after it was published, and it was named one of Time magazine’s Most Influential Books of All Time. One of her more recent books, Blended, is about 11-year-old pianist Isabella and her experience as a biracial child stuck navigating adolescence with parents who are divorced. She also offers author visits.
Learn more: sharondraper.com
Buy it: Out of My Mind on Amazon
23. Lamar Giles, author of Fake ID
As his website mentions, Lamar Giles has been “trapping people in stories since 1987.” Also from his website: “Lamar Giles writes for teens and adults across multiple genres, with work appearing on numerous Best Of lists each and every year. He is the author of the acclaimed novels Fake ID, Endangered, Overturned, Spin, The Last Last-Day-of-Summer, Not So Pure and Simple, The Last Mirror on the Left, The Last Chance for Logan County, and The Getaway as well as numerous pieces of short fiction. He is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books and resides in Virginia with his family.”
Learn more: lamargiles.com
Buy it: Fake ID on Amazon
24. Nic Stone, author of Dear Martin
If you were to ask me which author is the most frequent on my bookshelf, it would be Nic Stone. Her work was originally recommended to me by a close friend who is a middle school teacher, and I haven’t looked back since. Nic is a Spelman College alum and has written some stunning books including Dear Martin, which has been adapted into a feature film—to say it is life-changing is an understatement. It was a 2018 finalist for the William C. Morris debut YA Award and the 2018 American Library Association’s Top Ten Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults. Some other standout novels of hers include Odd One Out, Jackpot, and Clean Getaway.
Learn more: nicstone.info
Buy it: Dear Martin on Amazon
25. Kwame Mbalia, editor of Black Boy Joy: An Anthology
Kwame Mbalia, Howard University graduate and former pharmaceutical meteorologist turned bestselling author, has graced bookshelves with stunning fantasy series that celebrate the superhero in us. In addition, his work Black Boy Joy is a fiction text that explores black boy joy by a number of Black children’s book authors, both male and nonbinary.
Learn more: kwamembalia.com
Buy it: Black Boy Joy: An Anthology on Amazon
26. Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give
This list would be incomplete without Angie Thomas. Thomas is an author, producer, speaker, and activist. Her award-winning book The Hate U Give is a breathtaking novel turned movie in which the characters are confronted by privilege, racism, and gun violence.
Learn more: angiethomas.com
Buy it: The Hate U Give on Amazon
27. Julian Winters, author of Right Where I Left You
Award-winning author Julian Winters writes LGBTQ+ novels for young adults. His book Right Where I Left You is a “deliciously geek” friends-to-lovers high school romance novel.
Learn more: julianwinters.com
Buy it: Right Where I Left You on Amazon
28. Nicola Yoon, author of The Sun Is Also a Star
Now, I know we say “save the best for last,” but that means all of these Black children’s book authors would have to be last on this list! But I’ll leave you with Nicola Yoon. The first Black woman to hit #1 on the New York Times YA bestsellers list, Yoon is a multi-award-winning author. You may have heard of her before because two of her novels are now movies. The book that I keep coming back to is The Sun Is Also a Star for its themes of family, love, and believing in the extraordinary.
Learn more: nicolayoon.com
Buy it: The Sun Is Also a Star on Amazon
If you like this list of our favorite Black children’s book authors, be sure to check out our roundup of kid lit and YA books with Black protagonists.
Also, remember you don’t need to save Black children’s book authors for Black history month. Sign up for our newsletters to be the first to find out about new content you can use to celebrate and share Black history with your students all year long.