Children’s books I read with my son that reaffirm the beauty of black people

children's books about diversity

I’ve always been an avid reader. When people ask me when did my love for reading begin, I let them know from the moment I could hold a book.

As a child, “Reading Rainbow” was one of my favorite television shows. I used to pretend that I was one of the young children giving book reviews, even mimicking the “dun dun dun” sound effect to signal the next segment of my fake moment on the small screen.

I read every book in my childhood home, including the ugly burnt orange and brown encyclopedia set that my teacher mother order from some company.

So when I learned that I was pregnant with my first child, I’d hope that they would have my same love for the written word. Reading to my little one while still in the womb clearly had a significant impact, as my sonshine prefers the touch, feel and smell of children’s books over screen time. No complaints from this mama!

My hope for my son is that he loves all of himself — from his curly hair to his brown skin. Photo: Beauty for Breakfast

Since his birth, we’ve amassed quite a collection of children’s books and his personal library is rivaling my very own.

As a Black mother of a Black son, it is very important that I expose him to children’s books about diversity with illustrations that reaffirm his beauty. And thankfully, there is a plethora of titles that are filled with beautiful, brilliant, curious, wide-eyed, brown beings.

With the holiday season fast approaching, it’s only right to kick off gift guides on Beauty for Breakfast with a list of children’s books about diversity that are perfect Christmas gift ideas. Happy reading and shopping!

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Self-Love

I Love My Hair by Natasha Tarpley

Cornrows, Afros and braids with beads take center stage in this children’s book that celebrate the diversity of natural hair.

I Love All of Me by Lori Ann Grover

Not only does this playful title celebrate physical features, but it also highlights a child’s brilliant brain. Powerful!

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry is a children’s book that the entire family can enjoy. Photo: Beauty for Breakfast

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry

I could not wait to order this book penned by the former NFL wide receiver turned author/filmmaker. My sonshine sat down immediately and was enthralled by the cheerful, candid storyline. And I’m excited to see it come to life on the big screen.

Full, Full, Full of Love by Trish Cooke

At the heart of this book is a grandmother’s love for her grandchild — and it’s a bond that I know very well. Couple with good home cooking, family values and lots of loved ones, this children’s book is a special one.

Educational

Trace & Learn A to Z Alphaletters

You’ll never get tired of reciting the A, B, Cs with your little one thanks to this colorful read along book that incorporates a diverse range of characters.

Yoga Bear by Sarah Jane Hinder

My sonshine took his first yoga class when he was just 5 months old, and he’s become quite the young yogi. Seeing him mimic the animal-inspired poses found in this book makes me beam with pride.

My son “seeing” himself in Woke Baby nearly brings me to tears. Photo: Beauty for Breakfast

Woke Baby by Mahogany L. Browne

“The revolution may not be televised”… but it certainly will be passed on to my child. What I love most about this book is that it empowers your child’s “wails” and resistance.

Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee

If you’re a fan of classic Spike Lee joints, then you’ll love reading this book again and again with your baby. Plus, it helps teach them kindness.

Music

Every Little Thing by Bob Marley and Cedella Marley

No need for rhythm to rock it out to this reggae-influenced read. This book is currently in heavy rotation in our household, and it’s no surprise, as the main character bears a striking resemblance to my son’s father and the words are really catchy.

This Jazz Man by Karen Ehrhardt

As a huge Miles Davis fan, it was only right that I picked up this book from our neighborhood kid’s reading center. Set to the melody of “This Old Man,” I like to snap my fingers, count out loud and scat while reading this before bedtime.

Folklore

The Princess and the Pea by Rachel Isadora

This classic title Hans Christian Andersen has a twist, thanks to Rachel Isadora setting the story in Africa. Vibrant prints, radiant brown skin and kinky hair textures bring it all to life.

Rapunzel by Rachel Isadora

Isadora does it again, reimagining this traditional book and centering Black folk. It’s a must-read for all kids!

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe

Growing up in South Carolina, the Pan-Africanism ideology permeated through every aspect of life — from food to religion to literature. And this book was one of my earliest introductions to “my roots.”

Icons

Malcom Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Be Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz

When we think of the late great Malcolm X, his childhood isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind. However, this book reminds us that the human rights activist was indeed once a child with a mother who instilled in him great values.

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe

My son’s father and I both share a love for the man and artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. So it’s no surprise that one of my best friend’s gifted our child this book at our baby shower.

Exposing my son to phenomenal women leaders like Michelle Obama is very important. Photo: Beauty for Breakfast

Be Bold, Baby: Michelle Obama by Alison Oliver

During one of our many trips to the bookstore, I discovered this affirmation-filled text when ironically purchasing the former First Lady’s book Becoming. This set in motion our first mother-and-son bookclub read.

Hey Beauties: Is there a children’s book that you love to read with your kids that reaffirms their beauty and self-worth? Let’s discuss. Tell me more in the comments section!

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