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Best Children's Books with Black Main Characters

Including books into our children’s lives that are diverse and inclusive needs to be a top priority for all parents. For non-Black children, it’s so important for them to see positive Black role models in the books they read. And for Black children, it’s so important for them to see themselves portrayed as leading positive characters in the books they read. AND, it’s vitally important that we incorporate books with Black main characters that have nothing to do with race, so that we can normalize Black people as heroes in all types of stories. The problem is that only a tiny percentage of children’s books have Black main characters. So when we go to the bookstore and quickly grab a book, the odds are we’re picking out a book with a white hero lead.

At Tiny Revolution we’ve curated a whole library of diverse and inclusive books for your children, and today we’re highlighting some of our favorites that include Black leads.

1. Ruby’s Worry

Ruby’s Worry is a consistent top pick at Tiny Revolution because not only does it have a beautiful Black female lead, but it also teaches amazing lessons about managing stress and showing empathy and kindness to others. Ruby is a young girl who develops a worry, the worry keeps growing and follows her around everywhere. Ruby can’t seem to get rid of the worry, and the more she worries about it, the more it grows. One day Ruby sees another kid with a worry, so she goes and talks to him. Ruby realizes that the more they talk about his worry, the smaller it becomes. She learns that talking about your worries is the best way to resolve them.

2. Your Name is a Song

As someone whose name has gotten butchered all my life, this one really hit home for me. The main characters are a mother and daughter who are Black Muslim. The little girl is upset because no one at school could pronounce her name and the other kids were teasing her. In response, the girl's mother teaches her about the musicality of names from a multitude of cultures on their walk home. The young girl goes back to school the next day empowered to sing her name with pride. We also particularly love that each name in the book comes with a pronunciation, and there is an index at the end of all the names and their origins. It’s such a great way to highlight the beauty of so many different cultures, while also showing our children that their differences are something to be celebrated.

3. Rocket Says

Ok so technically there are two books in this series, but we love them both so much we couldn’t choose between them -- so we’re putting Rocket Says Look Up and Rocket Says Clean Up on the list. Rocket is a young Black girl who is smart, funny, cool, curious, and brilliant. In Look Up, Rocket is trying to get her brother to look up from his phone and get excited about a meteor shower. She gathers people from the neighborhood to watch the meteor shower and ultimately maybe even gets her brother to look up, you’ll have to read it to find out! In Clean Up, Rocket learns about pollution and global warming, so she goes on a mission to clean our beaches. Clean Up gives kids a lot of great information about the environment and being more eco-friendly. Rocket is so knowledgeable and informative and fun and we can’t wait to see what she tackles next!

4. Ada Twist Scientist

Ada Twist is a rock star in the world of children’s literature. Based on Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie, Ada is a precocious little scientist who asks tough questions, works hard, and perseveres through any challenge. This book is a celebration of brilliant Black girl power. You can also find Ada in other books with her fellow Questioneers and her show on Netflix coming in 2021!

5. Be Boy Buzz

Be Boy Buzz is a celebration of the Black young man. We are taken on a journey of all the things this young boy loves about being a boy. It encourages boys to be themselves and to celebrate what they love about themselves. Books like this are so important because research shows that children develop implicit biases against Black males at the highest rate. Highlighting positive Black male characters is imperative to breaking down these biases, as well as showing young Black men positive messages about themselves.

6. I Am Every Good Thing

I Am Every Good Thing is such a beautiful reminder that no matter what others say about you, you can be anything you want. The Black male narrator of this book is proud of everything that makes him who he is. He’s smart, creative, adventurous, and funny. Some people may not want to see that in him, but he will not let anything or anyone get him down and he will always persevere.

7. I Love My Hair

Kenyana is a young Black girl who is struggling to love her hair. When her mom combs her hair it hurts and she feels unlucky to have her hair. But her mom explains to her all the beauty in her hair and all the amazing things she can do with it. In the end, Kenyana finds the beauty in her hair and wears it with pride. In a world where so many people feel like they can comment on and touch Black girls’ hair, stories of self-love and loving our differences are so important. We chose this book to highlight today, but highly recommend Hair Love, Can I Touch Your Hair?, and Don’t Touch My Hair as other important books to read with your children on this topic. 8. Not Quite Snow White

Tameika is a young Black girl who loves to perform, so when her school announces their Snow White musical, Tameika auditions for the lead role. But the other kids tease her and tell her she’s not right for the role. Not Quite Snow White highlights the importance of self-confidence in the face of bullying, while also helping us to address bullying with our children. In the end, Tameika shows everyone what she’s made of -- you’ll have to read it to find out how!

9. Albert Talbot: Master of Disguise

Albert is a young Black boy with an incredible imagination. Albert transforms into all sorts of cool characters throughout this book to help him overcome his fears. This book is witty and full of fun, and a great way to let our kids’ imaginations run wild. They can be anyone they want to be, they can go on amazing adventures, and they can also just be themselves.

10. My Pet Star

This is a heartwarming book about a little Black girl who finds a lost star. She brings the star home to take care of it, but as the star gets stronger she needs to let it go back to where it belongs. It’s a story of caring, compassion, friendship, and helping others. The illustrations are absolutely stunning as well. We highly recommend this one for all kids, it’s a warm and cozy book that holds great lessons for us all.

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