Black History Month Recommended Reading: Classic Picture Books, New and Old

List curated by Cheryl

In honor of Black History Month, we're sharing book recommendations for all ages! This list highlights some of our favorite classic picture books, both new and old. Be sure to check out these books, and to read Black authors all year long, not just in February. 

New Classics (2010-present)
Sulwe (2019)  written by Lupita Nyong'o  and illustrated by Vashti Harrison
A dark-skinned little girl yearns to be beautiful like her lighter sisters. One night she takes a magical journey into the night sky. This helps her to see that she is also beautiful, in a different way. 
Crown: Ode to the Fresh Cut (2017) written and illustrated by Derrick Barnes
A boy goes into a barbershop to get a haircut and leaves with a new level of confidence and excitement about the possibilities a new look might bring. He wonders if his fresh new ‘do will give him attention from the girl he likes, help him get great test scores, and more!
Firebird (2014)  written by Misty Copeland  and illustrated by Christopher Myers
American Ballet Theater soloist Misty Copeland encourages a young ballet student, with brown skin like her own, by telling her that she, too, had to learn basic steps and how to be graceful when she was starting out, and that some day, with practice and dedication, the little girl will become a firebird, too. Includes author's note about dancers who led her to find her voice.
Me & Mama (2020) written and illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera
With lyrical prose and a tender touch, Mama and Me is an ode to the strength of the bond between a mother and a daughter as they spend a rainy day together.
Saturday (2019) written and illustrated by Oge Mora
In this warm and tender story by the Caldecott Honor-winning creator of Thank You, Omu!, join a mother and daughter on an up-and-down journey that reminds them of what's best about Saturdays: precious time together.
Old Classics (pre-2010)
Shortcut (1996) written and illustrated by Donald Crews
A group of children decide to take a shortcut home, using the train tracks as their pathway. As they trek along the tracks, the kids have fun playing but realize that they should have walked their normal route.
Max Found Two Sticks  (1997) written and illustrated by Brian Pinkney
The story of a young boy who turns around his bad day by using his imagination and the joy of music.  
Tar Beach (1996) written and illustrated by Faith Ringold
A Harlem family has a picnic lunch on the tar roof of their building. As they enjoy the breeze and the sights and sounds of the city bustling below, the girl dreams of flying over the George Washington Bridge that her father helped to build.
Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters (1987) written and illustrated by John Steptoe
This beautifully illustrated telling of an African tale has the theme of selfishness vs. altruism. Two sisters, Nyasha and Manyara, who learn that the king of their land is looking for a wife and calling all eligible women to come before him so that he may choose one. Along their journeys, each of the girls encounters various obstacles and handles them differently.
Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom (2006) written by Carol Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Kadir Nelson
The book is the story of Tubman's spiritual journey as she hears the voice of God guiding her north to freedom on that very first trip to escape the brutal practice of forced servitude. Tubman would make nineteen subsequent trips back south, never being caught, but none as profound as this first one.
Visit the library's online catalog to request a book for HPL to Go (curbside pick-up), or check out our online resources to learn more about ebooks or audiobooks!