We’ve previously discussed the importance of creating an inclusive classroom library year-round. Now, we want to share recommendations from our Culturally Responsive Learning Advisory Board to add to your classroom library. Check out this list of age-appropriate books spotlighting the Black experience to keep in your classroom library all year.
1) Octopus Stew by Eric Velasquez
This creative and funny children’s book tells the story of how an octopus captures the narrator’s grandma. Great for ages 4-8, Velasquez, an Afro-Latinx artist and storyteller, draws inspiration from his own childhood in this entertaining bilingual book.
2) Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation by Edwidge Danticat
This story is one that will touch hearts and open eyes. Mama’s Nightingale tells the story of a young girl named Saya as she navigates the absence of her mother, who’s been placed in an immigration detention center. To stay connected, Saya’s mother records bedtime stories for Saya on a cassette tape.
“Each of these books — Octopus Stew and Mama’s Nightingale — is beautifully (and bilingually) written and can communicate to students that there are multitudes of Black, bilingual, and bicultural experiences. And because they focus not on ‘heroes’ but on young people’s nuanced, relatable, and complex experiences, these books communicate that Black lives should be centered in our libraries all year long.” – Kate Seltzer, Savvas Culturally Responsive Learning Advisory Board.
3) The Story of John Lewis by Tonya Leslie, PhD
This biography for new readers highlights civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis, making his story and his legacy more accessible to young children.
4) I Am Enough by Grace Byers
A picture book for children ages 4-8, I Am Enough seeks to empower young girls of all cultures and backgrounds with a focus on self-love, respecting others, and being kind to all.
5) Skin Like Mine by LaTashia M. Perry
Part of a series, Skin Like Mine is preceded by Hair Like Mine and is a fun book for beginner to advanced readers that celebrates diversity among children in your classroom.
6) Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry
Adapted from the Academy Award-winning short film of the same name, this heartwarming children’s book highlights a unique aspect of the Black experience. It is a story of the love between a father and daughter, as well as a narrative about self-love, self-expression, and identity.