Black Experiences

This booklist features titles written about and by the Black community. Stories of the Black community's experiences are important because they allow children to see themselves in stories and know the person behind the words are similar to them. It means that not only is the story important, but also who tells that story.

Compiled by:
Ginny H.
Picture Books and Younger Elementary
All Because You Matter

Tami Charles
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Cha)

A lyrical, heart-lifting love letter to Black and Brown children everywhere reminds them how much they matter, that they have always mattered, and that they always will. 

Black is a Rainbow Color

Angela Joy
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Joy)

A child reflects on the meaning of being Black in this anthem about a people, a culture, a history, and a legacy that lives on.

Cool Cuts

Mechal Renee Roe
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Roe)

This affirming, joyful celebration of the diversity of Black self-expression is told through illustrations of hairstyles and an empowering refrain. 

Get on the Ice, Mo!

David A. Adler
(Juvenile Early Readers - J-ER Adl)

Mo is new to ice hockey and is having trouble staying upright on the ice, but his desire to help the team motivates him to keep getting better.

Hey Black Child

Useni Eugene Perkins
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 811.54 Per)

A lyrical, empowering poem that celebrates Black children and seeks to inspire all young ones to dream big and achieve their goals. 

King of Kindergarten

Derrick D. Barnes
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Bar)

Instilled with confidence by his parents, a young boy has a great first day of kindergarten. 

Nana Akua Goes to School

Tricia Elam Walker
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Wal)

Zura is worried about how her classmates will react to her Ghanaian Nana's tattoos on Grandparents Day, but Nana finds a way to show how special and meaningful they are. 

The Nature Journal: A Backyard Adventure

Savannah Allen
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej All)

Connecting with his busy dad over their love of nature, Tim goes through his dad's old nature journals, which inspire him to go on adventures of his own and record all the things he finds to share with his dad.

Parker Grows a Garden

Parker Curry
(Juvenile Early Readers - J-ER Par)

Parker grows a backyard garden with her two grandmothers, Nana and Mom.

The Year We Learned to Fly

Jacqueline Woodson
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Woo)

By heeding their wise grandmother's advice, a brother and sister discover the ability to lift themselves up and imagine a better world.

Older Elementary
Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood

Kwame Mbalia
(Juvenile Fiction - J Blackbo)

From 17 acclaimed Black male and non-binary authors comes a vibrant collection of stories, comics, and poems about the power of joy and the wonders of Black boyhood. 

Ellie Engle Saves Herself

Leah Johnson
(Juvenile Fiction - J Johnson)

Ellie is fine with the simplicity of her life, and in fact, she prefers it. When an earthquake shakes her town for the first time in decades, it also shakes up Ellie's life: she's surprised to find that she wakes up with the power to bring dead things back to life. Ellie is immediately overwhelmed with her new powers. Now, she finds herself having to come to terms with the reality of being a bona fide superhero—and the spotlight, which she never wanted, that comes with it.

Ellis Johnson Might Be Famous

Shawn Amos
(Juvenile Fiction - J Amos)

After 12-year-old Ellis's big break turns into his most embarrassing moment ever and his relationship with his dad and their cookie store starts to change, Ellis hatches plans to get his life back on track.

Finding Langston

Lesa Cline-Ransome
(Juvenile Fiction - J Clinera)

Discovering a book of Langston Hughes' poetry in the library helps Langston cope with the loss of his mother, relocating from Alabama to Chicago as part of the Great Migration, and being bullied. 

From the Desk of Zoe Washington

Janae Marks
(Juvenile Fiction - J Marks)

Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime? A crime he says he never committed. Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Everyone else thinks Zoe’s worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship and proving to her parents that she’s worthy of auditioning for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge. But with bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus’s conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn’t know how to balance.

Indigo and Ida

Heather Murphy Capps
(Juvenile Fiction - J Capps)

Indigo, an 8th grade investigative reporter, is torn between fighting a racist school policy and keeping her friends—until she discovers a series of letters written by Black journalist and activist Ida B. Wells.

Lifting As We Climb: Black Women's Battle for the Ballot Box

Evette Dionne
(Juvenile nonfiction - J 323.34 Dio)

For African American women, the fight for the right to vote was only one battle. An eye-opening book that tells the important, overlooked story of Black women as a force in the suffrage movement—when fellow suffragists did not accept them as equal partners in the struggle. 

Swim Team

Johnnie Christmas
(Juvenile Graphic Novels- J-GN Christm Swim Team)

Bree can't wait for her first day at her new middle school, home to the Mighty Manatees—until she's stuck with the only elective that fits her schedule, the dreaded Swim 101. The thought of swimming makes Bree more than a little queasy, yet she's forced to dive headfirst into one of her greatest fears. Lucky for her, Etta, an elderly occupant of her apartment building and former swim team captain, is willing to help.

We Were the Fire: Birmingham 1963

Shelia P. Moses
(Juvenile Fiction - J Moses)

Determined to stand up for their rights, 11-year-old Rufus and his friends participate in the 1963 civil rights protests in Birmingham, Alabama.