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Celebrating Black Joy for Kids and Teens

These books center on portraying Black joy in characters and stories that emphasize everyday living, a wide range of feelings, and positivity through growth in identity and community.

Board Books

Cover of Hey You! An Empowering Cel
Adeola
Dapo
2022

This remarkable picture book is a lyrical, inspirational exploration of growing up Black, written by award-winning illustrator Dapo Adeola, and brought to life by some of the most exciting Black artists of today.

Cover of Me and My Mama
Carole
Weatherford
2022

In rhyming text, a young child reflects on the many reasons they love their mom.

Cover of Your Special Voice
Temi
Adamolekun
Keisha Okafor
2022

This empowering board book inspires young readers to use their own special voice to make a difference in the world.

Cover of Hey, Baby Girl!
Andrea Davis
Pinkney
Brian Pinkney
2023

Brimming with love and affirmation, this sweet board book shows bright brown baby girls and little ones everywhere that they can do anything. With bouncing, rhythmic text from New York Times bestselling author Andrea Davis Pinkney and tender, charming illustrations from Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award-winning illustrator Brian Pinkney, this inspirational ode is the perfect way to offer confidence at the earliest stage and show all little girls that they can change the world!

Cover of Baby Boy, You Are a Star!
Andrea Davis
Pinkney
Brian Pinkney
2023

Rhythmic text and adorable illustrations combine to celebrate all bright brown baby boys!

Cover of My Hair Is Like the Sun
St. Clair.
Detrick-Jules
Tabitha Brown
2023

In rhyming text, celebrates the natural hairstyles of African American children, encouraging them to see themselves relected in the wonders of nature.

Cover of Leo at the Park
Anna
McQuinn
Ruth Hearson
2023

Leo spends the day at the park with his mother and his friend Suki playing on the swings, building a sandcastle, splashing in water, and having a picnic.

 

Picture Books and Early Readers

Cover of My Fade is Fresh
Shauntay
Grant
Kitt Thomas
2022

With so many beautiful hairstyles to choose from like perms and locs, a little girl decides to get the freshest fade on the block.

Cover of There Was a Party for Lang
Jason
Reynolds
Jerome Pumphrey and
Jarrett Pumphrey
2023

A celebration of Langston Hughes and African American authors he inspired, told through the lens of the party held at the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in 1991.

Cover of Between Two Windows
Keisha
Morris
2023

Kayla and Mateo enjoy passing drawings of dinosaurs to each other across the clothesline that runs between their apartment windows, but when the clothesline is taken down, the two children must find a new way to keep their story--and friendship going.

Cover of My Block Looks Like
Janelle
Harper
Frank Morrison
2024

A picture book that recognizes the beauty of the bodegas, subways, and playgrounds that characterize everyday life in the Bronx and pays homage to the ways that its residents have shaped pop culture through music, visual art, and dance.

Cover of I'm Going to be a Princess
Stephanie
Taylor
Jade Orlando
2023

This funny, feminist narrative follows Maya as she learns about the achievements of some amazing Black women while pondering what she wants to be when she grows up and is especially captivated by a brave Nigerian princess.

Cover of I Love Me!
Marvyn
Harrison
Diane Ewen
2023

From Marvyn Harrison, the founder of Dope Black Dads, and illustrator Diane Ewen, comes a joyful first book of positive affirmations. Every week, we choose words to help us feel brave, beautiful, and powerful! I Love Me! celebrates building confidence and self-esteem through uplifting statements that little ones and parents can say each day. The book's days-of-the-week structure provides routine, and the colorful, exuberant illustrations add to the kid appeal. Also included is back matter with tips for caregivers on how to best put these affirmations into practice.

Cover of Zora, the Story Keeper
Ebony
Wilkins
Dare Coulter
2023

A young Black girl and her aunt celebrate the wonder and magic of their family's legacy through storytelling.

Cover of Together We Swim
Valerie
Bolling
Juanita Kaylani
2023

Told in rhyming text, a young boy learns to swim in a pool with the example and encouragement of his family.

Cover of I Absolutely, Positively L
Lid'ya C
Rivera
Nina Mata
2023

A young girl celebrates her skin and what makes her unique.

Cover of What My Daddy Loves
Raissa
Figueroa
2023

Capturing a child's perspective and infused with gentle humor, Raissa Figueroa's tender, insightful look at fathers is an irresistible ode to the bond between daddies and the children they love. Whether it's exploring, learning, dreaming--or anything in between--all daddies love doing things with their kids. In fact, the only thing they love more than spending time with their kids is the kids themselves!

Cover of I Am Born to be Awesome
Mechal Renee
Roe
2023

Kids will love seeing strong, happy reflections of themselves in this vibrant, rhyming reader about the joy of being a boy--listening to music, swimming, exploring nature, being on a sports team, baking, doing math, and more. Full of easy-to-read fun on each page, this easy reader promotes boys' self-esteem, smarts, and strength.

Cover of Makeda Makes a Birthday Tr
Olugbemisola
Rhuday-Perkovich
Lydia Mba
2023

It's Makeda's birthday! To celebrate, she is excited to make her marvelous coconut drops to share with the class.

Cover of Maxie Wiz and Her Dragon
Michelle
Meadows
Sawyer Cloud
2023

Maxie Wiz wants a pal. HOCUS-POCUS--a dragon egg appears! Soon, he almost grows too large for the castle! What spells will Maxie come up with to help with her new pet?

 

School Age

Cover of Black Boy Joy
Kwame
Mbalia
2021

From seventeen acclaimed Black male and nonbinary authors comes a vibrant collection of stories, comics, and poems about the power of joy and the wonders of Black boyhood.

Cover of Control Freaks
J.E.
Thomas
2023

Doug gets paired with four middle school misfits no one else wants on a competition team. If Doug doesn't win, he has to forget about becoming The World's Greatest Inventor and spend the summer in sports camp, with his scary stepbrother. With only a week to go, Doug launches a quest to turn his team of outcasts into winners... and maybe even friends.

Cover of Curlfriends: New in Town
Sharee
Miller
2023

Eager to make a good first impression at her new middle school, thirteen-year-old Charlie does her best to fit in until she meets a group of diverse Black girls who show her the importance of authenticity.

Cover of Link + Hud: Heroes by a Ha
Jarrett Pumphrey and
Jerome Pumphrey
2023

Lincoln and Hudson Dupré are brothers with what grown-ups call "active imaginations." Unfortunately, their imaginary adventures wreak havoc in their real world. Dr. and Mrs. Dupré have tried every babysitter in the neighborhood and are at their wits' end. Enter Ms. Joyce. Strict and old-fashioned, she proves to be a formidable adversary. The brothers conspire to undermine Ms. Joyce and get her fired. When they go so big that even Ms. Joyce can't fix it, suddenly she's out. Finally, success! Or is it?

Cover of Remember Us
Jacqueline
Woodson
2023

It seems like Sage's whole world is on fire the summer before she starts seventh grade. While Sage prefers to spend her time shooting hoops with the guys, she's also still trying to figure out her place inside the circle of girls she's known since childhood. But it's also the summer of Freddy, a new kid who truly gets Sage. Together, they reckon with the pain of missing the things that get left behind as time moves on, savor what's good in the present, and buoy each other up in the face of destruction.

Cover of School Trip: A Graphic Nov
Jerry
Craft
2023

Jordan, Drew, Liam, Maury, and their friends from Riverdale Academy Day School are heading out on a school trip to Paris. As an aspiring artist himself, Jordan can't wait to see all the amazing art in the famous City of Lights. But when their trusted faculty guides are replaced at the last minute, the school trip takes an unexpected-and hilarious-turn.

Cover of Sparkle
Lakita
Wilson
2023

After twelve-year-old aspiring superstar, Sparkle Moore, is diagnosed with alopecia, she must navigate family, friends, and her own self-esteem with the added challenge of losing her hair.

Cover of Stunt-Boy, In-Between Time
Jason
Reynolds
2023

Portico Reeves-or Stuntboy, the greatest superhero people have never heard of-tries to manage his frets and navigate his new normal with divorced parents, bullies in his building, and a newfound friend.

Cover of History Comics: Hip-Hop: T
Jarrett
Williams
2024

How did a bunch of young people from the inner city create a genre of music that became a global phenomenon? From its humble origins at house parties in the Bronx, where DJs mixed old records to create new sounds, charismatic MCs let their clever lyrics flow, and B-boys and B-girls pioneered inventive dance moves, hip-hop quickly became a musical and cultural revolution.

Cover of A Year of Black Joy
Jamia
Wilson
Jade Orlando
2023

An uplifting and empowering illustrated anthology of joyful contributions from 52 contemporary Black voices, including chess grandmaster Maurice Ashley, scientist Dr. Raven the Science Maven, and award-winning author Patrice Lawrence.

 

Teens and YA

Cover of The Blackwoods
Brandy
Colbert
2023

Told from multiple points of view, Ardith and Hollis Blackwood's lives are upended when their great-grandmother, legendary actress Blossom Blackwood, passes away, and family secrets emerge.

Cover of Blood Debts
Terry J.
Benton-Walker
2023

Sixteen-year-old twins Clement and Cristina feel lost after their father's death, but find a new sense of purpose as they work to quell the rising tensions between New Orleans's magic and non-magic communities and find out who cursed their mother.

Cover of Charisma's Turn: A Graphic
Monique
Couvson
Amanda Jones
2023

This follows the story of Charisma, a Black high school student grappling with mounting pressures from home and school, and when frustrations with her family intersect with a conflict at school, she reaches a crossroads, facing a choice that could change her future.
 

Cover of Colin Kaepernick: Change t
Colin Kaepernik and
Eve L. Ewing
Orlando Caicedo
2023

This graphic novel memoir explores the story of how a young change-maker learned to find himself and never compromise. How the right decision is very rarely the easy one, but taking the road less traveled can make all the difference in the world.

Cover of Cool. Awkward. Black.
Karen
Strong (Editor)
2023

Featuring exclusively Black characters, this multi-genre story collection-drawing from contemporary, historical, fantasy, sci-fi, magical and realistic-celebrates and redefines the many facets of Blackness and geekiness, both in the real world and those imagined.

Cover of The Davenports
Krystal
Marquis
2023

The Davenports are one of the few Black families of immense wealth and status in a changing United States, their fortune made through the entrepreneurship of William Davenport, a formerly enslaved man who founded the Davenport Carriage Company years ago. Now it's 1910, and the Davenports live surrounded by servants, crystal chandeliers, and endless parties, finding their way and finding love--even where they're not supposed to.

Cover of Fatima Tate Takes the Cake
Khadijah
Vanbrakle
2023

Aspiring baker seventeen-year-old Fatima navigates the challenges of parental and communal expectations in her strict Muslim community while staying true to her dreams.

Cover of Friday I'm in Love
Camryn
Garrett
2023

After not being able to have a sweet sixteen party, Mahalia decides to throw a coming out party to celebrate love and herself.

Cover of Salt the Water
Candice
Iloh
2023

A confrontation with a teacher and a family crisis force high school senior Cerulean Gene to drop out of twelfth grade and derails their dreams of moving cross-country and living off the grid. Salt the Water is a book about dreaming in a world that has other plans for your time, your youth, and your future. It asks, what does it look like when a bunch of queer Black kids are allowed to dream? And what does it look like for them to confront the present circumstances of the people they love while still pursuing a wildly different future of their own?

Cover of True True
Don P.
Hooper
2023

When Gil, a Black teen from Brooklyn, struggles to fit in at his primarily white Manhattan prep school, he wages a clandestine war against the racist administration, parents, and students, while working with other Black students to ensure their voices are finally heard.