Loving Our Families & Ourselves

These books focus on families and identity. They show loving black families that support their children, reinforce love, build self-esteem, and celebrate identity. Many books have universal themes that apply to all families.

Years: 0-3

Board Book

Girl of MineGirl of Mine. (Author: Jabari Asim. Illustrator: LeUyen Pham) A father sings his little girl to sleep. EyeSeeMe Link 

I LiI Like Myselfke Myself. (Author: Karen Beaumont. Illustrated by David Catrow) High on energy and imagination, this ode to self-esteem encourages kids to appreciate everything about themselves--inside and out. EyeSeeMe Link  

One LoveOne Love. (Author: Cedella Marley. Illustrator: Vanessa Brantley-Newton) Bob Marley’s lyrics with joyful images of a family working together to improve their community. EyeSeeMe Link 

Hey Black ChildHey Black Child! (Author: Useni Eugene Perkins. Illustrator: Bryan Collier) Beautiful drawings illustrate this classic poem about having self-confidence and perseverance. EyeSeeMe Link 

CurlsCurls. (Author: Ruth Forman. Illustrator: Geneva Bowers) A poetic ode to the beautiful curls of African-American girls. Amazon Link 

Cool CutsCool Cuts. (Author: Mechal Renee Roe) A tribute to cuts for black boys. EyeSeeMe Link  

Years 3 - 7


Welcome to the PartyWelcome to the Party. (Author: Gabrielle Union Illustrator: Ashley Evans. A wonderful welcome of new life and a celebration of life to come. EyeSeeMe Link

The Night is YoursThe Night is Yours. (Author: Abdul-Razak Zachariah) A dad inspired by his daughter playing with her friends underneath the moonlight. EyeSeeMe Link

Watch MeWatch Me. (Author: Doyin Richards. Illustrator: Joe Cepeda) A son shares his father’s story of being an African immigrant in the United States. EyeSeeMe Link

Hair Its a Family AffairHair, It’s a Family Affair. (Author: Mylo Freeman) A child explains how all of the different types and styles of hair unite her family. EyeSeeMe Link    

SaturdaySaturday. (Author: Oge Mora) A mother and daughter spend their favorite day together – Saturday – only to find that all of their plans are ruined. Or, are they? EyeSeeMe Link

The Proudest Blue A Story of Hijab and FamilyThe Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family.
(Author: Ibtihaj Muhammad. Illustrator: S. K. Ali) A little girl admires her sister as she wears her hijab for the first time to school. Plus, the author grew up in Maplewood! EyeSeeMe Link

100 Days Inside100 Days Inside.
(Author: Madison Martin & Fiona Wright. Illustrator: Karan Chhimwal) A child navigates her new reality due to the Coronavirus pandemic and relies on her mother to help her learn how to deal with her emotions. Amazon Link

Hair LoveHair Love. (Author: Matthew A. Cherry. Illustrator: Vashti Harrison) Daddy has to do his daughter’s hair to help her get ready for a very important day. EyeSeeMe Link

PapaPapa, Daddy, & Riley. (Author: Seamus Kirst. Illustrator: Devon Holzwarth) When asked which of her two daddies is her real daddy, a child gets upset because she doesn’t want to choose. Her daddies teach her that all families are different and what unites them is love. Amazon Link

Full, Full, Full of LoveFull, Full, Full of Love. (Author: Trish Cooke. Illustrator: Paul Howard) A child and his grandmother prepare for the family Sunday dinner. EyeSeeMe Link

Best in MeBest in Me. (Author: Natalie McDonald-Perkins. Illustrator: Mary Ibeh) To confront bullying, a school counselor encourages children to write poetry celebrating their differences. A beautiful book showing diverse children including a number of black and brown children who show pride in their differences. Amazon Link  

LullabyLullaby (For a Black Mother). (Author: Langston Hughes. Illustrator: Sean Qualls) Beautiful art illustrates Hughes’s lullaby capturing the love of mothers. EyeSeeMe Link 


I am Perfectly DesignedI am Perfectly Designed. (Author: Karamo Brown. Illustrator: Jason “Rachel” Brown) A boy walks with his father throughout the city and learns to be proud of who he is and that he and his father are perfectly designed for each other. EyeSeeMe Link 

Grandmas purseGrandma’s Purse. (Author: Vanessa Brantley-Newton) While exploring her grandmother’s purse, a little girl’s day goes from ordinary to extraordinary. EyeSeeMe Link   

My Brother CharlieMy Brother Charlie. (Author: Holly Robinson Peete) A sister lovingly describes her brother with autism. EyeSeeMe Link 

I am EnoughI am Enough. (Author: Grace Byers. Illustrator. Keturah A. Bobo) An inspiring and lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another. EyeSeeMe Link 

My Nana and MeMy Nana and Me.
(Author: Irene Smalls. Illustrator: Cathy Ann Johnson) A child shares a fun day with her grandmother and describes the different ways in which she loves her nana. EyeSeeMe Link   

Lorettas GiftLoretta’s Gift. (Author: Pat Zietlow Miller. Illustrator: Alea Marley) While searching for the right gift for the new baby in her family, a little girl learns that she had the perfect gift all along.  Amazon Link  

Early Sunday MorningEarly Sunday Morning. (Author: Denene Millner. Illustrator: Vanessa Brantley-Newton) A little girl is nervous before she has to sing her big solo in the church choir. Will she have the courage to sing in time? EyeSeeMe Link  

Ezras Big Shabbat QuestionEzra’s Big Shabbat Question. (Author: Aviva Brown. Illustrator: Anastasia Kanavaliuk) While celebrating Shabbat, a young boy asks everyone in his family and even his rabbi if they can answer his really big question. Will he finally get the answer? Amazon Link

CrownCrown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut. This book pays tribute to the role and importance of the barbershop in the black community. The barbershop is where the magic happens. EyeSeeMe Link

When Aidan Became a BrotherWhen Aidan Became a Brother. (Author: Kyle Lukoff. Illustrator: Kaylani Juanita) A transgender child excitedly prepares for the new baby and works hard to make sure that the baby feels loved and accepted from the very beginning. EyeSeeMe Link  

Im Gonna Push ThroughI’m Gonna Push Through. (Author: Jasmyn Wright. Illustrator: Shannon Wright) Third-grade teacher Jasmyn Wright encourages children to push through obstacles and recognize their own power. Amazon Link

The Message in the MirrorThe Message in the Mirror. (Author: Katrina Denise. Illustrator: Fanny Liem) A smart and talented child confronts daily bullying, struggles with self-esteem, and learns how remarkable she is and to believe in herself. Amazon Link 

Whos Got the EtrogWho’s Got the Etrog? (Author: Jane Kohuth. Illustrator: Elissambura) Auntie Sanyu celebrates the harvest holiday of Sukkot with animal friends and family in Uganda. Amazon Link   

Shopping with DadShopping with Dad. (Author: Matt Harvey. Illustrator: Miriam Lattimer) A child shops with dad until a simple mistake leads to a bigger accident. Amazon Link  

Dont Touch My HairDon’t Touch My Hair. (Author: Sharee Miller) A child who is proud of her travels all over to try to get away from hands that always want to touch her hair without asking for her permission. EyeSeeMe Link  

In the Small Small NightIn the Small, Small Night. (Author: Jane Kurtz. Illustrator: Rachel Isadora) New to the United States, a child tells her brother stories of Ghana, their home country, to help him feel less homesick. Amazon Link 

The Lords PrayerThe Lord’s Prayer. (Author: Tim Ladwig) Beautiful images illustrate the Lord’s Prayer and show a father and child helping a senior neighbor. EyeSeeMe Link 

Santas HusbandSanta’s Husband. (Author: Daniel Kibblesmith. Illustrator: A P Quach) Santa (black) and his husband (white) keep everything running smoothly in the North Pole to bring happiness to children all over the world. Amazon Link

Jabari JumpsJabari Jumps (Author: Gaia Cornwall) In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fears, Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for. If you like this book, see Jabari Tries by the same author. With the endearing father-child dynamic of Jabari Jumps and engaging mixed-media illustrations, Gaia Cornwall’s tale shows that through perseverance and flexibility, an inventive thought can become a brilliant reality. EyeSeeMe Link  

Julian is a MermaidJulián is a Mermaid. (Author: Jessica Love) A wonderful story about a little boy who is true to himself and his Abuela who loves him. Like this book? Please read Julián at the Wedding, too. Julián goes to a wedding with his Abuela and makes a new friend. See the beautiful and joyful illustrations for this party for love! Amazon Link 

A Chair for My MotherA Chair for My Mother. (Author: Vera B. Williams) After their home is destroyed by a fire, Rosa, her mother, and grandmother save their coins to buy a really comfortable chair for all to enjoy. EyeSeeMe Link  

I Like MyselfI Like Myself. (Author: Karen Beaumont. Illustrated by David Catrow) High on energy and imagination, this ode to self-esteem encourages kids to appreciate everything about themselves--inside and out. EyeSeeMe Link   

Hiking DayHiking Day. (Author: Anne Rockwell. Illustrator. Lizzy Rockwell) A family goes hiking up a nearby mountain to discover what nature offers. EyeSeeMe Link  

My family plays musicMy Family Plays Music. (Author: Judy Cox. Illustrator: Elbrite Brown) A young child’s family is filled with musicians who celebrate playing different instruments and genres of music. Amazon Link   

All Because You MatterAll Because You Matter. (Author: Tami Charles. Illustrator: Bryan Collier) A poetic tribute to black and brown children reminding them how much they matter not only to people in their lives today but also to their ancestors who dreamed of what they could become. EyeSeeMe Link 

Red ShoesRed Shoes. (Author: Karen English. Illustrator: Ebony Glenn) Nana surprises her granddaughter with a new pair of red shoes. The girl loves and wears the red shoes to various special family events until she outgrows them and they go to a second-hand shop. An auntie visiting the United States sees the shoes and brings them to a little girl in Africa who deserves a treat for fasting during Ramadan and the shoes have another life. EyeSeeMe Link

Years 7 - 12

I am LovedI am Loved. (Author: Nikki Giovanni. Illustrator: Ashley Bryan) A collection of poetry celebrating black family and identity. EyeSeeMe Link  

Nana Akua Goes to SchoolNana Akua Goes to School. (Author: Tricia Elam Walker. Illustrator: Elam Walker) A child is excited and worried about bringing her West African grandmother to her school for Grandparents day. Amazon Link  

SulweSulwe. (Author: Lupita Nyong’o. Illustrator: Vashti Harrison) Through a heartwarming and enchanting tale, a child learns to appreciate her own beauty. EyeSeeMe Link

Breaking NewsBreaking News. (Author: Sarah Lynne Reul)  When devastating news rattles a young girl's community, everyone is suddenly exhausted and distracted. Her teacher tells the class to look for the helpers―the good people working to make things better in big and small ways. She wants more than anything to help in a BIG way, but maybe she can start with one small act of kindness instead. Small things can compound, after all, to make a world of difference. Amazon Link

Meet Danitra BrownMeet Danitra Brown. (Author: Nikki Grimes.  Illustrated by Floyd Cooper) This spirited collection of poems introduces young readers to Danitra Brown, the most splendiferous girl in town, and her best friend, Zuri Jackson.  Also: Danitra Brown Class Clown EyeSeeMe Link  

One Crazy SummerOne Crazy Summer Series  (Author: Rita Williams-Garcia)  This moving, funny novel won the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction and the Coretta Scott King Award and was a National Book Award Finalist. Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern's story continues in P.S. Be Eleven and Gone Crazy in Alabama.  (For 11+) EyeSeeMe Link  

Brown Girl DreamingBrown Girl Dreaming. (Author: Jacqueline Woodson) Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. EyeSeeMe Link

Last Stop on Market StreetLast Stop on Market Street. (Author: Matt de la Pena) This award-winning modern classic—a must-have for every child’s home library—is an inclusive ode to kindness, empathy, gratitude, and finding joy in unexpected places, and celebrates the special bond between a curious young boy and his loving grandmother.  Winner of the Caldecott and Newbery Awards as well as many others. EyeSeeMe Link  

Tristan StrongTristan Strong
Series.   (Author: Kwame Mbalia)  In this epic fantasy, of middle-grade American Gods set in a richly-imagined world populated with African American folk heroes and West African gods.  In the same vein as Percy Jackson. EyeSeeMe Link   

Common ThreadsCommon Threads: Adam’s Day at the Market. (Author: Huda Essa. Illustrator: Mercè Tous) While in the farmer’s market, young Adam gets separated from his mom and dad. When he searches for his parents who are dressed in traditional Muslim clothing, he mistakenly approaches a diverse cast of characters --and shows that we all have more in common than we think. EyeSeeMe Link

Sing a songSing a Song: How Lift Every Voice and Sing Inspired Generations. (Author: Kelly Starling Lyons. Illustrator: Keith Mallett) A black family shows how the song Lift Every Voice and Sing has inspired black families for generations. Amazon Link   

Grades 6-8

Piecing Me TogetherPiecing Me Together (Author: Renée Watson) A timely and powerful story about a teen girl from a poor neighborhood striving for success, from acclaimed author Renée Watson. EyeSeeMe Link  

The Voice in My HeadThe Voice in My Head
(Author: Dana L. Davis) Grade 8 and Up: From the author of Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now comes an unforgettable novel about facing the impossible, dealing with family chaos—and making sense of everything you are. Amazon Link

Grade 8-12

Red At the BoneRed at the Bone (Author: Jacqueline Woodson) Moving forward and backward in time, Jacqueline Woodson's taut and powerful new novel uncovers the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of these families, and in the life of the new child. EyeSeeMe Link

American StreetAmerican Street (Author: Ibi Zoboi) On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration. EyeSeeMe Link