Play Ideas

Picture Books About Black History

February 1, 2023
Preschool kids play with building bricks in while sitting on floor in daycare

February is Black History Month; a month dedicated to learning about and reflecting on Black history. For children, picture books are a great way to start learning about Black leaders, activists, athletes, scientists, and more, who have shaped the world we know today. Picture books give babies, toddlers, and children of all ages the opportunity to connect with the stories through the illustrations. Plus, books are available any time so you can celebrate Black history all year round! Here are some picture books about Black history for children 0 to 6 years, as well as some simple ways to help your child further engage with the books.

You can read along or learn more about the books through the videos on this page. You may also be able to find these books at your local library or you can purchase many of them at Knowledge Bookstore in Brampton. We also have some of these books at our centres, be sure to ask a staff what’s available to read while you’re there!

Trailblazers: The Black Pioneers Who Have Shaped Canada

Written by Tiyahna Ridley-Padmore, Illustrated by Merryl-Royce Ndema-Moussa

Trailblazers is a picture book of short biographies and poems celebrating Black pioneers who shaped Canada into the country it is today! This book has lots of words and it can be hard for children to engage with long stories. Instead of reading all the words, start with reading the person’s name and one section of the poem. You can also pick one or two pages to focus on at a time.

Baby Young, Gifted and Black

Written by Jamia Wilson, Illustrated by Andrea Pippins

With just a few words on each page, Baby Young, Gifted and Black celebrates Black artists, scientists, activists and more. Every page has an affirmation that you and your child can say together! This is a great way to engage your child in the story, while building confidence and self-esteem.

Dream Big Little One

Written and Illustrated by Vashti Harrison

Dream Big Little One is a board book of one-line biographies of Black women leaders! Before you read each page, engage your child in the story by talking about the illustrations. Ask questions like “what do you see?” and “can you guess what we might learn about her?”

Woke Baby

Written by Mahogany L. Browne, Illustrated by Theodore Taylor III

 

Woke Baby by Mahagony L. Browne shares the powerful message of how baby behaviours and behaviours of progressivism, activism, and justice look similar. You and your little ones can mimic the poses that are seen in the pictures while introducing words such as freedom and justice.

All Because You Matter

Written by Tami Charles, Illustrated by Bryan Collier

Tami Charles wrote All Because Your Matter for her son when he started to ask some really difficult questions about the world. This book is filled with emotions, extremely hard moments, and moments of joy. Try taking time to look at the different expressions on the characters’ faces, ask your child how they think the people in the book might be feeling.

B is for Baby

Written by Atinuke, Illustrated by Angela Brooksbank

B is for baby, beads, baba and beautiful! This story is about love, family and connection as two children set off to visit their baba (grandfather). Each page highlights different words that start with the letter B.

While reading this story, engage your child by making a scavenger hunt using the words that start with B. Look outside, can you spot a bird? Can you find a basket in this room? Where is your brother right now? Your child will build connections between the story and their own world.

Follow Your Dreams Little One

Written and Illustrated by Vashti Harrison

Follow Your Dreams Little One is a board book of one-line biographies of Black male legends! To engage with the story, spend some time talking about the pictures. You can point at and narrate the illustrations, “he’s wearing glasses and holding a tennis racket!” or ask questions like, “what colours do you see?” and “what objects do you see on this page?”

Mae Among the Stars

Written by Roda Ahmed, Illustrated by Stasia Burrington

When Mae decides she wants to see earth from outer space, she works hard to make that dream come true. In 1992 Mae Jemison became the first Black woman to travel into space. This book shows children the impacts that patience, resilience and hard work can have.

Songs can be a fun way to engage with books. Sing some songs about space that might connect with the illustrations in Mae Among the Stars, such as, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Zoom Zoom Zoom. You can also make up your own songs or change up the lyrics of ones you know, like, “Zoom Zoom Zoom, we’re going up to Mars!”

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