After searching three continents for bilingual books with Black children in the lead, I teamed up with an illustrator to self-publish my own early reader series that began with, Xavier, the Superhero: A Bilingual Adventure Book About a Boy, a Bear, and Bravery, on Amazon and KDP. My author journey is similar to that of many Black self-pub authors who started writing because our experiences, both individual and familial, were simply not available in traditional bookstores. Thanks to Black authors channeling that frustration into creativity, today’s children’s books by Black authors showcase a more comprehensive representation of childhood in modern Black families.
Still, there are so many new titles released daily that it can be hard to determine which to purchase for your home library. Read on for our seven favorite self-published children’s books by Black authors that break stereotypes and share the true beauty of Black childhood.
Doc Like Mommy by Dr. Crystal Bowe
In this self-published picture book, a healthy mother-daughter relationship is the baseline narrative. A young girl looks up to her hardworking mother, who happens to be a doctor. With over 300 reviews on Amazon.com, Doc Like Mommy is kid-tested and parent-approved. The book iswritten with early readers in mind, and leaves a positive early impression that little girls of color can grow up to be successful women in STEM and medicine. This self-published book by Dr. Crystal Bowe also has a companion book for little boys entitled Doc Like Daddy.
Curious Michael and His Little Baby Sister by Mosina Jordan
What eldest child hasn’t been curious about what makes their wailing sibling suddenly quiet down? In this heartwarming story, one-year-old Michael shares a room with his noisy baby sister. She only stops screaming her heart out after his mother grabs her from the crib and takes her away. Night after night, he fights his sleep to set out on an adventure to figure out how his mom does it. Caught by his dad and challenged to use non-verbal cues, Michael eventually gets the answer he’s been searching for.
The Adventures of the DeMelans: Carnival Catastrophe by Aminat Bashorun and Caris Greyson
Any book that successfully uses the line “What ah gwan?” is definitely a keeper. This book is the tale of a family of four fighting a villain who threatens to ruin carnival, a colorful pre-Lenten festival celebrated around the world in February and March. One sibling has sickle cell disease, a type of anemia predominantly found among people of African descent. But the book doesn’t center on illness.Instead, The Adventures of the DeMelans: Carnival Catastrophe focuses on the individual powers of each family member and the ways they come together in the face of every challenge. The writers were both born in England, but Caris has Caribbean heritage, and Aminat has Nigerian roots.
When Daddy Comes Home by Britney Harris
This book tells the story of a father and his four doting daughters. When Daddy Comes Home portrays a positive and heartwarming relationship to show appreciation for hardworking dads as strong role models for their children. While contrasting negative stereotypes of absenteeism among Black dads, this book shows kids that parents can balance a strong work ethic with a healthy home life.
Who’s Jerry? The Seen and Not Heard by T.M. Jackson
Focused on parental mental illness, Who’s Jerry? is an important and profound self-published children’s book that shares the challenges of being a child of someone living with schizophrenia. The book is a loving and empathetic narrative. It is rare to find books about Black people addressing mental and behavioral health, so this service-oriented book is meaningful in many ways. This book is full of resources that help adults explain to children the behaviors associated with mental illness. And it shares some coping mechanisms that everyone can use. The author, Tess, drew from her own experience having grown up with a schizophrenic mother.
A Girl and Her Dad by Crystal Harrell
In keeping with the daddy-daughter dyad, this book shows a girl in a trusting and loving relationship with her father. Families reading this book will find pictures of a dad giving his undivided attention to the small milestones in his child’s life. He focuses on boosting her confidence and self-esteem, investments that will shape the person she will become. While other books show busy dads wedging fatherhood in after work, A Girl and Her Dad highlights the value of a man being fully present with his child. This short storybook is simple to read and beautifully illustrated.
A Boy, a Budget, and a Dream by Jasmine Paul
Financial literacy is an area of growing interest in Black families. On the surface, this book teaches kids about money – how it works, what saving means, and how our own actions control spending. However, the storyline also shows us how siblings – rather than parents and other adults – can be the best teachers. Kass is the saver, and Joey is a spender. Kass successfully teaches her brother that a budget can help him reach his dreams.