It is essential that our students feel loved and welcomed in our classrooms. It’s one of our most important jobs as an educator. If a child doesn’t feel included and welcomed and part of our classroom and school community, they won’t be able to learn. One simple way we can do that is to ensure there is a wide variety of books in our classrooms with characters that look like them.
And I have to admit, in my classroom, I often only pulled out all my books with African-Americans and Black Americans during Black History Month. But when we do that, we’re doing all of our students a disservice. Yes, of course, we need to celebrate Black Americans during February.
But we can, and should, also be reading books to our students featuring characters with different ethnicities and all shades of brown skin tones year-round.
If you’d like to increase the diversity in your classroom library bookshelf, these 12 books that feature Black characters are a great way to start.
12 Books that Feature Black Characters for Little Learners
This classic and award-winning book shares the story of a family coming together in a way only family can.
Go to the library with Lola and learn all the reasons why we love the library. What does the library offer? How do you check out books? Before your next visit to the library, get this book and go with Lola.
This African Cinderella story shares the familiar fairy tale using African culture, art, and themes. Read the book with your students and see if the story sounds familiar to them. How does it compare and contrast with the more mainstream Cinderella story they know?
Like most kiddos, Jerome loves to collect things. But he’s not collecting rocks or baseball cards or shells. Jerome collects words because he finds the magic in words around us. Some of the vocabulary words introduced in the story are far above a kindergarten’s vocabulary but it won’t matter. You can choose a word a day and learn about it.
This sweet Ezra Jack Keats story about a shy boy who insists on having his friend Amy comes to his party is a sweet story about friendship.
Share the heartwarming and inspirational story (written by his mama) of a young Michael Jordan as he figures out how to make his dreams come true.
This book celebrates the strength and love and bond between a mother and daughter but of course applies to mothers and sons as well.
This diverse poetry book showcases the intricacy of childhood and girlhood while celebrating our differences and all the ways girls can be girls.
Gary is curious about inventors and inventions and introduces us to Thomas Jennings, the first African American to receive a patent. What in the world is a patent? It’ll be a great way to talk about what inventors have to do to protect their inventions.
This is a true story of a boy who saw a huge problem, the destruction of the forest he lived in. So seed by seed, he began planting trees and ended up growing an entire forest.
Starting Kindergarten can feel scary. But to help him, this little boy’s mom helps him to imagine himself to be a king. How would a king act? With dignity and kindness and confidence.
Reading these books to our students and having them available on our bookshelves for our students to grab is just one small thing we can do to celebrate the diversity of our students, our school, our community, and our world.
You can also provide craft supplies that allow our students to create and draw people of all shades of brown like skin color paint, skin color crayons, skin color markers, and skin color construction paper.
For more resources to help you celebrate diversity in your classroom, click here.
For more book lists to celebrate Black Americans, you’ll also love our 12 Books about Martin Luther King, Jr. for Little Learners.
To see all booklists featured on A Dab of Glue Will Do, click here. Do you have any favorite book not on the list? If so, please share in the comments below.