Black Voices for Kids

Black Voices for Kids

February 2023

Black Voices for Kids

Biography, Nonfiction and Poetry | Fiction | Graphic Novels | Picture Books

Biography, Nonfiction and Poetry

Mass Incarceration, Black Men, and the Fight for Justice Mass Incarceration, Black Men, and the Fight for Justice by Cicely Lewis

Ages 9-14

Short, informative chapters, illustrated with graphs, charts, and photographs, trace the origins of America’s racist prison system from the establishment of the 13th Amendment to the present day. Author Cicely Lewis, whose own father was once incarcerated, helped to create this and other Read Woke™ titles as an educational resource and a call to action for young readers.

Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968 Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968 by Alice Faye Duncan; illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

Ages 7-10

Through the eyes of a nine-year-old narrator, Duncan and Christie tell the true story of Black sanitation workers who protested for fair labor conditions in 1968, as the Civil Rights movement marched toward one of its most tragic turning points.

Only The Best: The Exceptional Life and Fashion of Ann Lowe Only The Best: The Exceptional Life and Fashion of Ann Lowe by Kate Messner and Margaret E. Powell; illustrated by Erin K. Robinson

Ages 6-9

Ann Lowe was the first nationally known African American fashion designer, and made the dresses for Jackie and John F. Kennedy's wedding! This gorgeously illustrated and well documented picture book biography addresses race and class in a straightforward manner, and will surely inspire future designers.

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrated by Eric Velasquez

Ages 9-12

As an Afro-Puerto Rican child, Arturo Schomburg was told his people had no history worth exploring or learning. As an immigrant living and working in New York, he made it his goal to research and collect materials that recorded that history. Carole Boston Weatherford’s narrative in verse recounts the origin of what became the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and will interest any young reader who wants to know how history is preserved.

The Talk: Conversations about Race, Love, and Truth The Talk: Conversations about Race, Love, and Truth edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson

Ages 10 and up

The Hudsons, longtime publishers of inclusive children’s books, have collected poems, essays, letters, art, and other short works from creators of color that deliver messages about racism, identity, and empowerment for younger generations.

The Undefeated The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander; illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Ages 4-7

Kadir Nelson’s rich, expressive, and often heartbreaking illustrations, which won the distinguished Caldecott medal, accompany Kwame Alexander’s poem about the traumas and triumphs woven into Black history and culture. The endnotes include plenty of historical context for curious readers.

Return to Top


Betty Before X Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Renee Watson

Ages 10-14

The daughter of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz draws upon her own family history to tell this fictionalized story of her mother’s formative years in 1940s Detroit.

Let The Monster Out Let The Monster Out by Chad Lucas

Ages 10 and up

When Bones Malone moves to a new town with his single mother and younger siblings, he’s hoping to play baseball and escape his troubled past. Instead, he and his new friend Kyle find themselves up against a technological menace that is slowly taking over the community, and that they can only defeat by facing their deepest fears. Lucas mixes elements of science fiction, horror, mystery, social commentary, and family drama in this engaging and unique story.

The Marvellers The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton

Ages 8-12

Ella is excited to begin her magical education at the Arcanum Training Institute, even if her family’s traditions have an uneasy reputation in the Marveller community. As she navigates their prejudice along with her schoolwork, and bonds with sympathetic classmates and teachers, the disappearance of her mentor and the escape of a magical criminal lead Ella and her new friends into danger. Dhonielle Clayton’s first book for middle-grade readers is an imaginative, diversely populated take on the magical boarding school adventure.

The Parker Inheritance The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

Ages 8-12

Candice is expecting a dull summer in her late grandmother’s old house in Lambert, Alabama, but the discovery of a mysterious, unsigned letter leads her to uncover a puzzle linking her family to the bigotry and vengeance in the town’s past.

When the World Turned Upside Down When the World Turned Upside Down by K. Ibura

Ages 8-12

As COVID-19 and racial justice protests transform the world, four young people, who have an apartment building but little else in common, learn new ways to support each other and their neighbors.

Return to Top

Graphic Novels

Frizzy Frizzy written by Claribel Ortega; art by Rose Bousamra

Ages 8-12

Despite her mother’s pressure to straighten her curly hair, Marlene takes steps toward self-acceptance and a look that she can wear proudly.

New Kid New Kid by Jerry Craft

Ages 8-12

As he travels between his familiar urban neighborhood and the prestigious private school where he’s one of the few students of color, aspiring artist Jordan Banks struggles to balance his two worlds and figure out who he truly is. Craft’s graphic novel won both the Coretta Scott King Award and the Newbery Medal in 2020.

Stuntboy, in the Meantime Stuntboy, in the Meantime by Jason Reynolds; art by Raul the Third

Ages 7-12

Jason Reynolds’ energetic narration, and Raul the Third’s quirky art, combine to depict the inner life of young Portico Reeves, who imagines himself as Stuntboy, “the greatest superhero you’ve never heard of.” As Stuntboy, Portico faces such adversaries as the school bully, the anxiety that he calls “the frets,” the changes in his family life, and the challenges of being a good son, neighbor, and friend.

Return to Top

Picture Books

All Different Now: Juneteenth, The First Day of Freedom All Different Now: Juneteenth, The First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson; illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Ages 5-9

Through her own optimistic, poetic text and E.B. Lewis’s sunlit illustrations, Angela Johnson tells the story of an enslaved family learning about, and rejoicing in, the news of their emancipation. “I’d love to know how my great-grandparents celebrated when told they were free,” she writes in her afterword. “But that tale has been lost to time, so this one will have to do.”

Another Another by Jennifer Rosner; illustrated by Kristina Swarner

Ages 4-8

In this wordless picture book, Christian Robinson’s signature collaged illustrations follow a young Black girl and her cat through a portal from her bedroom into a fantastical dreamland.

M is for Melanin: A Celebration of the Black Child M is for Melanin: A Celebration of the Black Child by Tiffany Rose

Ages 3-6

From “A is for Afro” to “K is for King,” to “W is for Worthy,” author-illustrator Tiffany Rose uses each letter of the alphabet to deliver messages of confidence and joy to young Black readers.

Parker Looks Up Parker Looks Up by Parker Curry & Jessica Curry; illustrated by Brittany Jackson

Ages 4-8

The fabulous story of Parker, a young girl who goes to see the Michelle Obama portrait at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.

Biography, Nonfiction and Poetry | Fiction | Graphic Novels | Picture Books | Return to Top