Shared booklist

BKLYN - African American Picture Books - Black Authors or Illustrators

A list of picture books with African American characters, by African American authors or illustrators. While this list is not comprehensive, it is a great snapshot of the books available which feature both African American creators and characters.

26 items

Happy hair

written & illustrated by: Mechal Renee Roe. |

Dancing in the wings

Debbie Allen ; pictures by Kadir Nelson. |

Sassy tries out for a summer dance festival in Washington, D.C., despite the other girls' taunts that she is much too tall.

Girl of mine

by Jabari Asim ; illustrations by LeUyen Pham. |

A toddler girl is whisked away on a fantastic adventure swinging above blossoming gardens in the moonlight. The sweet text, inspired by "Rock-A-Bye Baby," will whisk little ones off to peaceful slumber.

My cold plum lemon pie bluesy mood

by Tameka Fryer Brown ; illustrated by Shane Evans. |

Jamie describes his mood throughout the day, using colors and rhythmic text, as he changes from an "easy green mood" while drawing a picture for his sister to a "brooding black mood" when he is teased for doing so.

Freedom's school

by Lesa Cline-Ransome ; illustrations by James E. Ransome. |

Hungry for learning, Lizzie and her brother Paul attend a new school built for freed slaves.


Misty Copeland ; 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.

Full, full, full of love

by Trish Cooke ; illustrated by Paul Howard. |

For young Jay Jay, Sunday dinner at Gran's house is full of hugs and kisses, tasty dishes, all kinds of fishes, happy faces, and love.

Max and the tag-along moon

Floyd Cooper. |

When Max leaves his grandfather's house, the moon follows him all the way home, just as Grandpa promised it would.


Donald Crews. |

Children taking a shortcut by walking along a railroad track find excitement and danger when a train approaches.

Harvey Moon, museum boy

written and illustrated by Pat Cummings. |

When Harvey and his pet lizard Zippy go on a school field trip, Zippy gets loose in the museum and they have a harrowing adventure.

Chocolate me!

by Taye Diggs ; illustrated by Shane W. Evans. |

Relates the experiences of a dark-skinned, curly-haired child who wishes he could look more like the lighter-skinned children in his community until his mother helps him realize how wonderful he is inside and out.

Yesterday I had the blues

Jeron Ashford Frame ; illustrations by R. Gregory Christie. |

A young boy ponders a variety of emotions and how different members of his family experience them, from his own blues to his father's grays and his grandmother's yellows.

Lottie Paris and the best place

Angela Johnson ; illustrated by Scott M. Fischer. |

Lottie Paris goes to the library, her favorite place in the world, and makes a new friend for whom the library is also a special place.

Wind flyers

by Angela Johnson ; illustrated by Loren Long. |

A boy's love of flight takes him on a journey from the dusty dirt roads of Alabama to the war-torn skies of Europe. Introduces young readers to the contributions of the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II.

Black magic

Dinah Johnson ; illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. |

Presents a poem celebrating the African-American experience and what it means to be part of a strong, proud, and free people.

Hair dance!

words by Dinah Johnson ; photographs by Kelly Johnson. |

A celebration of African-American hair through a review of its different textures, colors, and styles, including cornrows, Afros, and braids, is enhanced with colorful photographs capturing an array of looks and the girls who don them proudly.

Henry's freedom box

by Ellen Levine ; illustrated by Kadir Nelson. |

A fictionalized account of how in 1849 a Virginia slave, Henry "Box" Brown, escapes to freedom by shipping himself in a wooden crate from Richmond to Philadelphia. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson.

Tea cakes for Tosh

Kelly Starling Lyons ; illustrated by E.B. Lewis. |

Tosh has spent many days in the kitchen with his grandmother, Honey, watching her bake cookies and listening to tales of their slave ancestors, so when Honey's memory starts to fail, Tosh is able to help with the cookies and more. Includes a recipe for tea cakes.

Who will I be, Lord?

by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson ; illustrated by Sean Qualls. |

A young girl recalls the stories she has been told about the members of her family and wonders what kind of person she will become.

Little Melba and her big trombone

by Katheryn Russell-Brown ; illustrations by Frank Morrison. |

"From the time she was a little girl, Melba Liston loved music, especially the jazz music that surrounded her while she was growing up, first in Kansas City and then in Los Angeles. Given the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument at age seven, she chose the trombone. It was not a traditional choice for a girl, especially a small girl whose arms weren't even long enough yet to push out the slide. But Melba wasn't a traditional girl. She persisted, and with the support of her family and her teachers, she excelled." [Fictionalized biography of Melba Doretta Liston.] (description from Horn Book)

I love my hair!

by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley ; illustrated by E.B. Lewis. |

A young African American girl describes the different, wonderful ways she can wear her hair.

Joe-Joe's first flight

by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley ; illustrated by E.B. Lewis. |

Forbidden to fly because of their color, Joe-Joe and the men who clean and repair airplanes in the 1920s are so discouraged that the moon cannot even shine, until Joe-Joe's determination lures the moon back. Includes a history of African American pilots.

In the land of milk and honey

by Joyce Carol Thomas ; illustrated by Floyd Cooper. |

A young girl journeys by train from Oklahoma to California in 1948 to begin a new life with her family, and finds there people of all ages and races, new tastes and sounds, and a joyous welcome.

Each kindness

Jacqueline Woodson ; illustrated by E.B. Lewis. |

When Ms. Albert teaches a lesson on kindness, Chloe realizes that she and her friends have been wrong in making fun of new student Maya's shabby clothes and refusing to play with her.

The other side

Jacqueline Woodson ; illustrations by E.B. Lewis. |

Two girls, one white and one African-American, gradually get to know each other as they sit on the fence that divides their town.

Something beautiful

Sharon Dennis Wyeth ; illustrated by Chris K. Soentpiet. |

When she goes looking for "something beautiful" in her city neighborhood, a young girl finds beauty in many different forms.