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Picture Books about the African American Experience

Share the rich culture and heritage of African Americans with your children. From history to everyday, the picture books listed below are some of the best books that will bring the black experience to life. The best news? You can check out 60 books with your Richland Library card and when your family has finished this list, just call your closest Richland Library location and the staff will recommend more titles that will warm your family, heart and soul.


Amazon Says: Every morning, I play a game with my father.He goes knock knock on my doorand I pretend to be asleeptill he gets right next to the bed.And my papa, he tells me, "I love you." more...
Amazon Says: Every morning, I play a game with my father.He goes knock knock on my doorand I pretend to be asleeptill he gets right next to the bed.And my papa, he tells me, "I love you." But what happens when, one day, that "knock knock" doesn't come? This powerful and inspiring book shows the love that an absent parent can leave behind, and the strength that children find in themselves as they grow up and follow their dreams. less...
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Lullaby by Langston Hughes
Amazon Says: “My little dark baby, / My little earth-thing, / My little love-one, / What shall I sing / For your lullaby?" With a few simple words as smooth as a song, the poet Langston more...
Amazon Says: “My little dark baby, / My little earth-thing, / My little love-one, / What shall I sing / For your lullaby?" With a few simple words as smooth as a song, the poet Langston Hughes celebrates the love between an African American mother and her baby. The award-winning illustrator Sean Qualls’s painted and collaged artwork captures universally powerful maternal moments with tenderness and whimsy. In the end, readers will find a rare photo of baby Hughes and his mother, a biographical note, further reading, and the complete lullaby. Like little love-ones, this beautiful book is a treasure. less...
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As Fast As Words Could Fly by Pamela M. Tuck
Amazon Says: Young Mason Steele takes pride in turning his father's excited ramblings about the latest civil rights incidents into handwritten business letters. One day Pa comes home with more...
Amazon Says: Young Mason Steele takes pride in turning his father's excited ramblings about the latest civil rights incidents into handwritten business letters. One day Pa comes home with a gift from his civil rights group: a typewriter. Thrilled with the present, Mason spends all his spare time teaching himself to type. Soon he knows where every letter on the keyboard is located. When the civil rights group wins a school desegregation case, Mason learns that now he will be attending a formerly all-white high school. Despite his fears and injustice from the students and faculty, Mason perseveres. He does well in school—especially in his typing class. And when he competes in the county typing tournament, Mason decides to take a stand, using his skills to triumph over prejudice and break racial barriers.Winner of Lee & Low’s New Voices Award, As Fast As Words Could Fly is an inspiring testament to the power of hard work, determination, and belief in yourself to overcome life’s challenges. less...
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Amazon Says: The story of one family’s journey north during the Great Migration starts with a little girl in South Carolina who finds a rope under a tree one summer. She has no idea the more...
Amazon Says: The story of one family’s journey north during the Great Migration starts with a little girl in South Carolina who finds a rope under a tree one summer. She has no idea the rope will become part of her family’s history. But for three generations, that rope is passed down, used for everything from jump rope games to tying suitcases onto a car for the big move north to New York City, and even for a family reunion where that first little girl is now a grandmother. Newbery Honor–winning author Jacqueline Woodson and Coretta Scott King Award–winning illustrator James Ransome use the rope to frame a thoughtful and moving story as readers follow the little girl’s journey. During the time of the Great Migration, millions of African American families relocated from the South, seeking better opportunities. With grace and poignancy, Woodson’s lilting storytelling and Ransome’s masterful oil paintings of country and city life tell a rich story of a family adapting to change as they hold on to the past and embrace the future. less...
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Amazon Says: The creators of Jazz ABZ are back for an encore! With infectious rhythm and rhyme, musical master Wynton Marsalis opens kids’ ears to the sounds around us. What’s more...
Amazon Says: The creators of Jazz ABZ are back for an encore! With infectious rhythm and rhyme, musical master Wynton Marsalis opens kids’ ears to the sounds around us. What’s that sound? The back door squeeeaks open, sounding like a noisy mouse nearby — eeek, eeeek, eeeek! Big trucks on the highway rrrrrrrumble, just as hunger makes a tummy grrrrumble. Ringing with exuberance and auditory delights, this second collaboration by world-renowned jazz musician and composer Wynton Marsalis and acclaimed illustrator Paul Rogers takes readers (and listeners) on a rollicking, clanging, clapping tour through the many sounds that fill a neighborhood. less...
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Back of the Bus by Aaron Reynolds
Amazon Says: It seems like any other winter day in Montgomery, Alabama. Mama and child are riding where they?re supposed to?way in the back of the bus. The boy passes the time by watching more...
Amazon Says: It seems like any other winter day in Montgomery, Alabama. Mama and child are riding where they?re supposed to?way in the back of the bus. The boy passes the time by watching his marble roll up and down the aisle with the motion of the bus, until from way up front a big commotion breaks out. He can?t see what?s going on, but he can see the policeman arrive outside and he can see Mama?s chin grow strong. ?There you go, Rosa Parks,? she says, ?stirrin? up a nest of hornets. Tomorrow all this?ll be forgot.? But they both know differently. With childlike words and powerful illustrations, Aaron Reynolds and Coretta Scott King medalist Floyd Cooper recount Rosa Parks? act of defiance through the eyes of a child?who will never forget. less...
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Amazon Says: To us it is just dirt, the ground we walk on... But to Dave it was clay, the plain and basic stuff upon which he formed a life as a slave nearly 200 years ago. Dave was an e more...
Amazon Says: To us it is just dirt, the ground we walk on... But to Dave it was clay, the plain and basic stuff upon which he formed a life as a slave nearly 200 years ago. Dave was an extraordinary artist, poet, and potter living in South Carolina in the 1800s. He combined his superb artistry with deeply observant poetry, carved onto his pots, transcending the limitations he faced as a slave. In this inspiring and lyrical portrayal, National Book Award nominee Laban Carrick Hill's elegantly simple text and award-winning artist Bryan Collier's resplendent, earth-toned illustrations tell Dave's story, a story rich in history, hope, and long-lasting beauty. less...
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Black Magic by Dinah Johnson
Amazon Says: Black is a look, a taste, a speed, an emotion. It’s the surprising stripes on a zebra, the taste of dark chocolate, the scary, exciting feeling of going inside a tunnel, and more...
Amazon Says: Black is a look, a taste, a speed, an emotion. It’s the surprising stripes on a zebra, the taste of dark chocolate, the scary, exciting feeling of going inside a tunnel, and a mother’s voice as her daughter falls asleep. In this celebration of the African American spirit, Dinah Johnson and R. Gregory Christie paint a picture of “black” that is vivid, varied, and proud. less...
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These Hands by Margaret H. Mason
Amazon Says: These Hands0 more...
Amazon Says: These Hands0 less...
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I Love My Hair! by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
Amazon Says: Now in a board book format--the bestseller that encourages young black children to not only feel good about their special hair but to also feel proud of their heritage. Full c more...
Amazon Says: Now in a board book format--the bestseller that encourages young black children to not only feel good about their special hair but to also feel proud of their heritage. Full color. 11 spreads. Baby/Preschool. less...
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Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn
Amazon Says: Lola has a big smile on her face. Why? Because it's Tuesday--and on Tuesdays, Lola and her mommy go to the library. Join Lola in this cozy celebration of books and the people more...
Amazon Says: Lola has a big smile on her face. Why? Because it's Tuesday--and on Tuesdays, Lola and her mommy go to the library. Join Lola in this cozy celebration of books and the people who love them. less...
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Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats
Amazon Says: "Mr. Keats's illustrations boldy, colorfully capture the child, his city world, and the shimmering heat of a summer's day".--The New York Times. ALA Notable Children's Book. F more...
Amazon Says: "Mr. Keats's illustrations boldy, colorfully capture the child, his city world, and the shimmering heat of a summer's day".--The New York Times. ALA Notable Children's Book. Full-color illustrations. less...
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Bippity Bop Barbershop by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
Amazon Says: In this companion book to the bestselling "I Love My Hair!, " a young boy, Miles, makes his first trip to the barbershop with his father. With the support of his dad, the barb more...
Amazon Says: In this companion book to the bestselling "I Love My Hair!, " a young boy, Miles, makes his first trip to the barbershop with his father. With the support of his dad, the barber, and the other men in the barbershop, Miles bravely sits through his first haircut. less...
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This Jazz Man by Karen Ehrhardt
Amazon Says: In this toe-tapping jazz tribute, the traditional "This Old Man" gets a swinging makeover, and some of the era's best musicians take center stage. The tuneful text and vibrant more...
Amazon Says: In this toe-tapping jazz tribute, the traditional "This Old Man" gets a swinging makeover, and some of the era's best musicians take center stage. The tuneful text and vibrant illustrations bop, slide, and shimmy across the page as Satchmo plays one, Bojangles plays two . . . right on down the line to Charles Mingus, who plays nine, plucking strings that sound "divine."    Easy on the ear and the eye, this playful introduction to nine jazz giants will teach children to count--and will give them every reason to get up and dance!     Includes a brief biography of each musician. less...
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Amazon Says: Go back to bed, baby, please, baby, please. Not on your HEAD, baby baby baby, please!... From moments fussy to fond, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Spike Lee an more...
Amazon Says: Go back to bed, baby, please, baby, please. Not on your HEAD, baby baby baby, please!... From moments fussy to fond, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Spike Lee and his wife, producer Tonya Lewis Lee, present a behind-the-scenes look at the chills, spills, and unequivocal thrills of bringing up baby! Vivid illustrations from celebrated artist Kadir Nelson evoke toddlerhood from sandbox to high chair to crib, and families everywhere will delight in sharing these exuberant moments again and again. less...
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Nappy Hair by Carolivia Herron
Amazon Says:   You sure do got some nappy hair on your head, don't you?  Well. It's your hair Brenda, take the cake. Yep. In a unique and vibrant picture book that more...
Amazon Says:   You sure do got some nappy hair on your head, don't you?  Well. It's your hair Brenda, take the cake. Yep. In a unique and vibrant picture book that uses the African-American call-and-response tradition, a family talks back and forth about adorable Brenda's hair--it's the nappiest, the curliest, the twistiest hair in the whole family. The family delights in poking gentle fun with their hilarious descriptions, all the time discovering the beauty and meaning of Brenda's hair. Soulful, funny, full of rhythm, and bursting with family pride, Nappy Hair is accessible to people of all ages. Joe Cepeda's colors are ripe but youthful, sweet but bold--with lots of kid appeal. A must for reading aloud, Nappy Hair is a meaningful and completely captivating reading experience. Nobody who has nappy hair--or know someone with nappy hair--will be able to forget little Brenda!   less...
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Read And Rise: by Sandra Pinkney
Amazon Says: Scholastic and the National Urban League come together with Myles and Sandra Pinkney to inspire African-American children to realize their dreams and achieve their goals throu more...
Amazon Says: Scholastic and the National Urban League come together with Myles and Sandra Pinkney to inspire African-American children to realize their dreams and achieve their goals through reading. In a chair turning pages sitting in the cockpit flying high in the sky READ AND RISE Through reading, children can be inspired to become almost anything: pilot, teacher, firefighter, doctor, chef, astronaut. READ AND RISE relays this message through vivid photographs and poetic words that encourage children to READ AND RISE. less...
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The Granddaughter Necklace by Sharon Dennis Wyeth
Amazon Says: An uplifting tale of love, kinship, and gifts, passed down through generations. There are moments in each person's life that we take great care to remember: the pride of a yo more...
Amazon Says: An uplifting tale of love, kinship, and gifts, passed down through generations. There are moments in each person's life that we take great care to remember: the pride of a young girl standing up for herself for the first time; the heartbreak of leaving one's country and family for a new beginning; the thrill of getting ready for the piano recital of a lifetime. In Sharon Dennis Wyeth's family these moments were marked with the passing on of the Granddaughter Necklace: not a fancy piece of jewelry, but a precious one, worn smooth by the touch of mothers and grandmothers, each with her own story to tell. With a historical sweep that reaches back to Ireland and to Africa, and an intimacy that resides in every family's treasured stories, Wyeth tells the tale of one family's journey from the old world to the new, from the past to the present, and from mother to daughter. Here's a book that we feel will be passed on from generation to generation too, read in laps and in groups, opening conversations about our own necklaces of memory. less...
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Superhero by Marc Tauss
Amazon Says: Every kid wants to be a SUPERHERO! Maleek may be a small boy in a big city, but he's no ordinary kid. He's a scientist and a superhero! So when his beloved city's parks and p more...
Amazon Says: Every kid wants to be a SUPERHERO! Maleek may be a small boy in a big city, but he's no ordinary kid. He's a scientist and a superhero! So when his beloved city's parks and playgrounds mysteriously disappear, it's up to Maleek and his robot Marvyn to save the day. Marc Tauss's mesmerizing black-and-white photo-illustrations bring every young superhero's fantasy to life. less...
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We March by Shane W. Evans
Amazon Says: On August 28, 1963, a remarkable event took place--more than 250,000 people gathered in our nation's capital to participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Th more...
Amazon Says: On August 28, 1963, a remarkable event took place--more than 250,000 people gathered in our nation's capital to participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The march began at the Washington Monument and ended with a rally at the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his  historic “I Have a Dream” speech, advocating racial harmony. Many words have been written about that day, but few so delicate and powerful as those presented here by award-winning author and illustrator Shane W. Evans. When combined with his simple yet compelling illustrations, the thrill of the day is brought to life for even the youngest reader to experience. We March is one of Kirkus Reviews' Best Children's Books of 2012 less...
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Ellen's Broom by Kelly Starling Lyons
Amazon Says: A young girl learns a new meaning for freedom during the time of Reconstruction Ellen always knew the broom resting above the hearth was special. Before it was legal for her more...
Amazon Says: A young girl learns a new meaning for freedom during the time of Reconstruction Ellen always knew the broom resting above the hearth was special. Before it was legal for her mother and father to officially be married, the broom was what made them a family anyway. But now all former slaves who had already been married in their hearts could register as lawful husband and wife. When Ellen and her family make the long trip to the courthouse dressed in their best, she brings the broom her parents had jumped so many years before. Even though freedom has come, Ellen knows the old traditions are important too. After Mama and Papa's names are recorded in the register, Ellen nearly bursts with pride as her parents jump the broom once again. Ellen is a wonderfully endearing character whose love for her family is brought to life in Daniel Minter's rich and eye-catching block print illustrations. less...
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Uptown by Bryan Collier
Amazon Says: Discover the vibrant world of Harlem, New York, as seen through the eyes of one little boy who lives there. "Uptown . . . Harlem, New York. Chicken and waffles. Jazz. Home." more...
Amazon Says: Discover the vibrant world of Harlem, New York, as seen through the eyes of one little boy who lives there. "Uptown . . . Harlem, New York. Chicken and waffles. Jazz. Home." Uptown is a rich mix of flavors, colors, sounds, and cultures that come together to create a vibrant community like no other in the world. Seen through the eyes of one little boy who lives there, the details of life in Harlem are as joyous as a game of basketball on a summer's afternoon and as personal as a trip to the barbershop where old-timers reminisce. Bryan Collier's spare, poetic text and beautiful, intricate illustrations evoke every aspect of Harlem, from the legendary Apollo Theater to chocolate-colored brownstones, weekend shopping on 125th Street, and the music of Duke Ellington. Uptown is the winner of the 2001 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award. less...
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Amazon Says: In this tender, beautiful letter to his daughters, President Barack Obama has written a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our more...
Amazon Says: In this tender, beautiful letter to his daughters, President Barack Obama has written a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation. From the artistry of Georgia O'Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson, to the patriotism of George Washington, President Obama sees the traits of these heroes within his own children, and within all of America's children.Breathtaking, evocative illustrations by award-winning artist Loren Long at once capture the personalities and achievements of these great Americans and the innocence and promise of childhood.This beautiful book celebrates the characteristics that unite all Americans, from our nation's founders to generations to come. It is about the potential within each of us to pursue our dreams and forge our own paths. It is a treasure to cherish with your family forever. less...
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Amazon Says: Presents a word, with English translation, for each of the twenty-four letters in the Swahili alphabet. Brief explanation of each word introduces an East African custom. more...
Amazon Says: Presents a word, with English translation, for each of the twenty-four letters in the Swahili alphabet. Brief explanation of each word introduces an East African custom. less...
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Amazon Says: As a seamstress in the Big House, Clara is luckier than the slaves who work the fields. Still, she dreams of a reunion with her Momma, who lives on another plantation–and ev more...
Amazon Says: As a seamstress in the Big House, Clara is luckier than the slaves who work the fields. Still, she dreams of a reunion with her Momma, who lives on another plantation–and even of running away to freedom. Then she hears two slaves talking about how they could find the Underground Railroad if only they had a map. In a flash of inspiration, Clara sees how she can use the cloth in her scrap bag to make a map of the land–a freedom quilt–that no master will ever suspect. Drawn from true incidents in African-American history, this is a compelling and emotionally charged picture book. less...
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Precious and the Boo Hag by Patricia C. McKissack
Amazon Says: When Precious is left home alone with a stomachache, she's got nothing but a warning from Mama -- "Don't let nothing or nobody into this house" -- to keep her company. You see more...
Amazon Says: When Precious is left home alone with a stomachache, she's got nothing but a warning from Mama -- "Don't let nothing or nobody into this house" -- to keep her company. You see, "nothing or nobody" could turn out to be something awful: the Boo Hag! The Boo Hag's got a voice that rumbles like thunder and hair that shoots out like lightning. And she can disguise herself to look like anything. So when the Boo Hag comes calling, will Precious be clever enough to outwit even the trickiest trickster? Here's an oh-so-funny -- and not-too-scary -- story from Newbery Honor-winning author Patricia C. McKissack and Onawumi Jean Moss that's paired with spirited, folksy illustrations by Kyrsten Brooker. less...
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Lottie Paris Lives Here by Angela Johnson
Amazon Says: Lottie Paris may be precocious, but she still knows how to act like a kid. She dresses up, she plays on the slide, she eats cookies instead of vegetables. She has a great imag more...
Amazon Says: Lottie Paris may be precocious, but she still knows how to act like a kid. She dresses up, she plays on the slide, she eats cookies instead of vegetables. She has a great imagination and sees the possibilities in the simplest pleasures. Plus, she's sassy, so there's no chance of getting bored. Join Lottie Paris in her world and you'll never look at yours the same again! less...
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