In Canada and the United States, February is Black History Month (or African-American History Month) – a time to honor and celebrate the legacy of Black people throughout history and today. As we continue to listen, learn, and uplift Black voices now and always, I would like to introduce you to some amazing books by Black authors that are great for all ages. I also want to highlight some that have just been released or will be out later this year.
Kindergarten to Grade 3
Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry
Based on the Academy-Award Winning short film, New York Times Bestseller Hair Love was written by former NFL wide receiver Matthew A. Cherry for fathers and the selfless love they have for their daughters. The book follows Zuri, her beautiful hair, and her father’s willingness to style her hair and make her happy.
One Love by Cedella Marley
Written by Bob Marley’s daughter Cedella Marley, One Love is based on his beloved song, bringing the unforgettable lyrics to life for a new generation. The book follows a young girl who brings her community together and transforms her neighborhood for the better. It’s a testament to all that when you have love in your heart, anything can happen.
Our Skin: A First Conversation about Race by Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli
Many adults have a hard time talking about issues like race, gender, consent, and body positivity, but Our Skin provides them the opportunity to begin important conversations with young children in an informed and safe way. Children are always observing and forever asking questions, and with the help of this book and its beautiful imagery and clear language, they will be able to do so.
The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson
Written by critically-acclaimed author Jacqueline Woodson, The Year We Learned to Fly is a companion to the #1 New York Times bestseller The Day You Begin. It’s an inspiring story that gives us the power to face daily challenges with confidence and strength, as it shows us the imaginations and experiences of two Black siblings who learn to soar “from the people who came before.” It’s a must read to uplift ourselves and imagine a better world.
Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams
Genesis Begins Again follows a thirteen year-old girl who hates everything about herself, especially the color of her skin since her family members and classmates make fun of her for it. She also goes through family struggles and internalized racism that she needs to overcome so she can learn to love herself.
Layla, the Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish & Jerdine Nolen
Layla, the Last Black Unicorn is a story about a lovable but awkward unicorn who learns why her uniqueness is her biggest strength. Written by actress, comedian, and New York Times bestselling author Tiffany Haddish, this story depicts self-acceptance, self-esteem, and standing up for standing out, which are struggles many young children face everyday.
Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson
Another book by Jacqueline Woodson, Feathers follows a 6th grader named Frannie, who grows up in the 70s and experiences unexpected chaos with the arrival of a white boy in her school. The book highlights the hard topics of racism, faith, and disabilities, while showing us that everyone is equal and hope is everywhere.
The Work: Searching for a Life That Matters by Wes Moore
Acclaimed author of The Other Wes Moore, Wes Moore shares powerful lessons from his own life as well as other twenty-first century changemakers who have inspired him in his search to find his life’s purpose. In The Work: Searching for a Life That Matters, he not only highlights their accomplishments and successes but also the misadventures that make them who they are today, ultimately revealing that our truest work happens when we serve others.
The Skin We’re In: A year of Black Resistance and Power by Desmond Cole
A national bestseller by Canada’s most celebrated and uncompromising writer Desmond Cole, The Skin We’re In chronicles the year 2017, a year of struggle against racism in Canada. Cole’s unwavering demand to combat injustice is shown throughout the book as he paints a month-by-month detailed picture of systemic inequality in Canada.
Founder and activist behind “Me Too”, Tarana Burke debuts her powerful memoir about her journey to saying those preeminent words—me too—to launching one of the largest cultural events in American history. Her story unfolds through perseverance, strength, and the ability to heal herself, her community, and the world around her. In doing so, she uncovers the possibility of power, empathy, and leadership within us, through which we can begin our own journey to healing and saying “me too”.
I hope these books expand your knowledge and inspire conversations surrounding Black History. This is by no means an extensive list; nonetheless, all are powerful voices that awaken and urge us to honor and celebrate Black History today and every day.