Opening The Road: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book

As we enter the second week of Black History Month, I want to share Opening The Road by Keila Dawson with you all.

This inspiring picture book biography details Victor Hugo Green’s creation and distribution of The Negro Motorist Green Book, or as most people call it today, The Green Book.

In the late 1930’s, Black Americans were not guaranteed safe travel throughout the United States. Segregation barred Black motorist’s access to establishments like gas stations, rest areas, or hotels. The high number of “sundown towns”, all white communities that excluded non-white individuals after dark though intimidating and often violent tactics, made it dangerous for Black Americans to travel long distances.

Inspired by a Jewish newspaper, Victor Hugo Green, a US Postal Service worker in Harlem, decided to write a book to help Black travelers find safe options. The Green Book allowed trips to be planned with hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and many other businesses that welcomed Black customers. This travel guide became an invaluable resource for Black Americans throughout the country, and it flew off shelves, eventually selling over two million copies.

I love that the illustrations by Alleanna Harris bring life not just to Victor’s story, but also to the stories of many Black families who were able to safely enjoy family vacations.

Victor’s story highlights the resilience Black Americans have shown amid the countless obstacles facing them throughout our nation’s history. In the face of enormous challenges like segregation and racism, Victor, Alma, and all of Victor’s Postal service friends found a way to distribute vital information throughout the country, allowing numerous travelers safe passage.

The back of the book contains a fantastic author’s note that includes more historical detail, context around why The Green Book is relevant to conversations about safety in Black communities today, and information on current projects inspired by The Green Book, as well as a timeline.

You can purchase a copy of Opening The Road wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: These are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you. Your support is always appreciated!)

Keila Dawson is an author, editor, and former teacher based in Cincinnati, OH. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at keiladawson.com.

Alleanna Harris is an artist and illustrator based in New Jersey. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at alleannaharris.com.

I would like to thank Beaming Books for sending me a review copy of this amazing book. I am so grateful to be able to share Victor Hugo Green’s story.

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28 Picture Books For Black History Month

Today marks the beginning of Black History Month, and I want to share a list of 28 books to read this month (one for every day) that both celebrate and educate about Black History.

Black History Month has its roots in America all the way back to 1926, when historian Carter G. Woodson created “Negro History Week”. This celebration eventually evolved into Black History Month, a month dedicated to recognizing the historical people and events that were all too often left out of the history books.

I have to be honest with you all, this is one of the hardest lists I’ve ever had to write. I really struggled, not because of the subject matter or the holiday itself, but because 28 books just isn’t enough. Narrowing the entire Black experience down to one list is simply an impossible task.

Though there are obviously many more stories to be heard, I tried to include a variety of books from different periods of history that will speak to a variety of young readers with varied interests. I also tried to include historical figures that many people may not have heard of yet.

So, without further ado, here are my choices for Black History Month.

The ABC’s of Black History by Rio Cortez, Illustrated by Lauren Semmer (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Letter by letter, The ABCs of Black History celebrates a story that spans continents and centuries, triumph and heartbreak, creativity and joy.

It’s a story of big ideas––P is for Power, S is for Science and Soul. Of significant moments––G is for Great Migration. Of iconic figures––H is for Zora Neale Hurston, X is for Malcom X. It’s an ABC book like no other, and a story of hope and love.

In addition to rhyming text, the book includes back matter with information on the events, places, and people mentioned in the poem, from Mae Jemison to W. E. B. Du Bois, Fannie Lou Hamer to Sam Cooke, and the Little Rock Nine to DJ Kool Herc.”

Little Leaders: Bold Women In Black History by Vashti Harrison (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Featuring 40 trailblazing black women in American history, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of breaking boundaries and achieving beyond expectations. Illuminating narration paired with irresistible illustrations bring to life both iconic and lesser-known female figures of Black history such as abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash.

Among these biographies, readers will find heroes, role models, and everyday women who did extraordinary things – bold women whose actions and beliefs contributed to making the world better for generations of girls and women to come. Whether they were putting pen to paper, soaring through the air, or speaking up for the rights of others, the women profiled here were all taking a stand against a world that didn’t always accept them.

The leaders in this book may be little, but they all did something big and amazing, inspiring generations to come.”

Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison (Bookshop | Amazon)

“An important book for readers of all ages, this beautifully illustrated and engagingly written volume brings to life true stories of black men in history. Among these biographies, readers will find aviators and artists, politicians and pop stars, athletes and activists. The exceptional men featured include writer James Baldwin, artist Aaron Douglas, filmmaker Oscar Devereaux Micheaux, lawman Bass Reeves, civil rights leader John Lewis, dancer Alvin Ailey, and musician Prince.

The legends in Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History span centuries and continents, but each one has blazed a trail for generations to come.”

Overground Railroad by Lesa Cline-Ransome, Illustrated by James Ransome (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Climbing aboard the New York bound Silver Meteor train, Ruth Ellen embarks upon a journey toward a new life up North– one she can’t begin to imagine. Stop by stop, the perceptive young narrator tells her journey in poems, leaving behind the cotton fields and distant Blue Ridge mountains.

Each leg of the trip brings new revelations as scenes out the window of folks working in fields give way to the Delaware River, the curtain that separates the colored car is removed, and glimpses of the freedom and opportunity the family hopes to find come into view. As they travel, Ruth Ellen reads from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, reflecting on how her journey mirrors her own– until finally the train arrives at its last stop, New York’s Penn Station, and the family heads out into a night filled with bright lights, glimmering stars, and new possiblity.

James Ransome’s mixed-media illustrations are full of bold color and texture, bringing Ruth Ellen’s journey to life, from sprawling cotton fields to cramped train cars, the wary glances of other passengers and the dark forest through which Frederick Douglass traveled towards freedom. Overground Railroad is, as Lesa notes, a story “of people who were running from and running to at the same time,” and it’s a story that will stay with readers long after the final pages.”

Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968 by Alice Faye Duncan, Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This picture book tells the story of a nine-year-old girl who in 1968 witnessed the Memphis sanitation strike – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s final stand for justice before his assassination – when her father, a sanitation worker, participated in the protest.

In February 1968, two African American sanitation workers were killed by unsafe equipment in Memphis, Tennessee. Outraged at the city’s refusal to recognize a labor union that would fight for higher pay and safer working conditions, sanitation workers went on strike. The strike lasted two months, during which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was called to help with the protests. While his presence was greatly inspiring to the community, this unfortunately would be his last stand for justice. He was assassinated in his Memphis hotel the day after delivering his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” sermon in Mason Temple Church. Inspired by the memories of a teacher who participated in the strike as a child, author Alice Faye Duncan reveals the story of the Memphis sanitation strike from the perspective of a young girl with a riveting combination of poetry and prose.”

What Do You Do with a Voice Like That?: The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan by Chris Barton, Illustrated by Ekua Holmes (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Even as a child growing up in the Fifth Ward of Houston, Texas, Barbara Jordan stood out for her big, bold, booming, crisp, clear, confident voice. It was a voice that made people sit up, stand up, and take notice.

So what do you do with a voice like that?

Barbara took her voice to places few African American women had been in the 1960s: first law school, then the Texas state senate, then up to the United States congress. Throughout her career, she persevered through adversity to give voice to the voiceless and to fight for civil rights, equality, and justice.

New York Times bestselling author Chris Barton and Caldecott Honoree Ekua Holmes deliver a remarkable picture book biography about a woman whose struggles and mission continue to inspire today.”

Gordon Parks: How The Photographer Captured Black and White America by Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by Jamey Christoph (Bookshop | Amazon)

“His white teacher tells her all-black class, You’ll all wind up porters and waiters. What did she know? Gordon Parks is most famous for being the first black director in Hollywood. But before he made movies and wrote books, he was a poor African American looking for work. When he bought a camera, his life changed forever. He taught himself how to take pictures and before long, people noticed. His success as a fashion photographer landed him a job working for the government. In Washington DC, Gordon went looking for a subject, but what he found was segregation. He and others were treated differently because of the color of their skin. Gordon wanted to take a stand against the racism he observed. With his camera in hand, he found a way. Told through lyrical verse and atmospheric art, this is the story of how, with a single photograph, a self-taught artist got America to take notice.”

The Power Of Her Pen: The Story Of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne by Lesa Cline-Ransome, Illustrated by John Parra (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Ethel Payne always had an ear for stories. Seeking truth, justice, and equality, Ethel followed stories from her school newspaper in Chicago to Japan during World War II. It even led her to the White House briefing room, where she broke barriers as the only black female journalist. Ethel wasn’t afraid to ask the tough questions of presidents, elected officials, or anyone else in charge, earning her the title, “First Lady of the Black Press.”

Fearless and determined, Ethel Payne shined a light on the darkest moments in history, and her ear for stories sought answers to the questions that mattered most in the fight for Civil Rights.”

One Step Further: My Story of Math, the Moon, and a Lifelong Mission by Katherine Johnson, Joylette Hylick, and Katherine Moore, Illustrated by Charlene Pinkney Barlowe (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This inspirational picture book reveals what is was like for a young black mother of three to navigate the difficult world of the 1950s and 60s and to succeed in an unwelcoming industry to become one of the now legendary “hidden figures” of NASA computing and space research.

Johnson”s own empowering narrative is complemented by the recollections of her two daughters about their mother”s work and insights about how she illuminated their paths, including one daughter”s fight for civil rights and another”s journey to become a NASA mathematician herself. The narrative gracefully weaves together Johnson”s personal story, her influence on her daughters” formative years, her and her daughters” fight for civil rights, and her lasting impact on NASA and space exploration. Filled with personal reflections, exclusive family archival photos, and striking illustrations, readers will be immersed in this deeply personal portrayal of female empowerment, women in STEM, and the breaking down of race barriers across generations. Historical notes, photo/illustration notes, and a time line put the story into historical and modern-day context.

The inspirational tale of Johnson”s perseverance is both intimate and global, showcasing the drive of each generation to push one step further than the last. With its evocative family album-style format and novel approach to storytelling, One Step Further is sure to inspire the next generation of rising stars.”

Let The Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson, Illustrated by Frank Morrison (Bookshop | Amazon)

I couldn’t play on the same playground as the white kids.
I couldn’t go to their schools.
I couldn’t drink from their water fountains.
There were so many things I couldn’t do.


In 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, thousands of African American children volunteered to march for their civil rights after hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak. They protested the laws that kept black people separate from white people. Facing fear, hate, and danger, these children used their voices to change the world. Frank Morrison’s emotive oil-on-canvas paintings bring this historical event to life, while Monica Clark-Robinson’s moving and poetic words document this remarkable time.”

In The Garden With Dr. Carver by Susan Grigsby, Illustrated by Nicole Tagdell (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Sally is a young girl living in rural Alabama in the early 1900s, a time when people were struggling to grow food in soil that had been depleted by years of cotton production. One day, Dr. George Washington Carver shows up to help the grown-ups with their farms and the children with their school garden. He teaches them how to restore the soil and respect the balance of nature. He even prepares a delicious lunch made of plants, including “chicken” made from peanuts. And Sally never forgets the lessons this wise man leaves in her heart and mind. Susan Grigsby’s warm story shines new light on a Black scientist who was ahead of his time.”

Song in a Rainstorm: The Story of Musical Prodigy Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggins by Glenda Armand, Illustrated by Brittany Jackson (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Born blind into a life of slavery, Thomas Wiggins was dismissed as a “useless burden.” But through the loving protection of his family, he went on to become one of the greatest musicians of his time. From Tom’s childhood on a plantation to his performances in the concert halls of Europe, Glenda Armand shares the beautiful and at times heartbreaking story of a long-overlooked musical great, the love that supported him, and the struggle for freedom.”

You can also read my full review of Song In A Rainstorm for more detail.

Harlem’s Little Blackbird by Renee Watson, Illustrated by Christian Robinson (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Born to parents who were both former slaves, Florence Mills knew at an early age that she loved to sing, and that her sweet, bird-like voice, resonated with those who heard her. Performing catapulted her all the way to the stages of 1920s Broadway where she inspired everyone from songwriters to playwrights. Yet with all her success, she knew firsthand how prejudice shaped her world and the world of those around her. As a result, Florence chose to support and promote works by her fellow black performers while heralding a call for their civil rights. Featuring a moving text and colorful illustrations, Harlem’s Little Blackbird is a timeless story about justice, equality, and the importance of following one’s heart and dreams.”

Playing to Win: How Althea Gibson Broke Barriers and Changed Tennis Forever by Karen Deans, Illustrated by Elbrite Brown (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Although stars like Serena Williams cite Althea Gibson as an inspiration, Gibson’s story is not well-known to many young people today. Growing up tough and rebellious in Harlem, Althea took that fighting attitude and used it to go after her goals of being a tennis champion, and a time when tennis was a game played mostly by wealthy white people in country clubs that excluded African Americans.

In 1956, she became the first Black American to win a major championship when she won at The French Open. When she won the celebrated Wimbledon tournament the following year, Gibson shook hands with the Queen of England. Not bad for a kid from the streets of Harlem.

With determination and undeniable skill, Althea Gibson become a barrier-breaking, record-setting, and world-famous sportswoman. This new and updated edition of this inspirational biography contains recent information on the impact of Gibson’s legacy.”

Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome, Illustrated by James Ransome (Bookshop | Amazon)

“We know her today as Harriet Tubman, but in her lifetime she was called by many names. As General Tubman she was a Union spy. As Moses she led hundreds to freedom on the Underground Railroad. As Minty she was a slave whose spirit could not be broken. As Araminta she was a young girl whose father showed her the stars and the first steps on the path to freedom.

This lush, lyrical biography in verse begins with a glimpse of Harriet Tubman as an old woman, and travels back in time through the many roles she played through her life: spy, liberator, suffragist and more. Illustrated by James Ransome, whose paintings for The Creation won a Coretta Scott King medal, this is a riveting introduction to an American hero.”

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, Illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Originally performed for ESPN’s The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present. Robust back matter at the end provides valuable historical context and additional detail for those wishing to learn more.”

We Are The Supremes by Zoë Tucker, Illustrated by Salini Perera (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This inspiring picture book tells the story of the friendship between Flo, Mary, and Diana, and how by supporting each other they overcame hardship to become international superstars.

It’s 1960, and Flo, Mary, and Diana are three friends with big ambitions. They want to be superstars! But 1960s America was not the easiest place for young black girls from the projects to make it big. They audition for the new Motown Records label, but the manager says NO. Not to be put off, the girls try again, and this time, they succeed. They become…The Supremes!

They travel the world, singing hit after hit. Of course they have falling outs, like all friends do, but with a shared dream to keep their friendship strong, they became the USA’s most successful vocal group ever.”

You can also read my full review of We Are The Supremes for more detail.

The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko, Illustrated by Sean Qualls (Bookshop | Amazon)

“For most children these days it would come as a great shock to know that before 1967, they could not marry a person of a race different from their own. That was the year that the Supreme Court issued its decision in Loving v. Virginia.

This is the story of one brave family: Mildred Loving, Richard Perry Loving, and their three children. It is the story of how Mildred and Richard fell in love, and got married in Washington, D.C. But when they moved back to their hometown in Virginia, they were arrested (in dramatic fashion) for violating that state’s laws against interracial marriage. The Lovings refused to allow their children to get the message that their parents’ love was wrong and so they fought the unfair law, taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court – and won!”

The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (Bookshop | Amazon)

“In the 1930s, Lewis’s dad, Lewis Michaux Sr., had an itch he needed to scratch―a book itch. How to scratch it? He started a bookstore in Harlem and named it the National Memorial African Bookstore.

And as far as Lewis Michaux Jr. could tell, his father’s bookstore was one of a kind. People from all over came to visit the store, even famous people―Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, and Langston Hughes, to name a few. In his father’s bookstore people bought and read books, and they also learned from each other. People swapped and traded ideas and talked about how things could change. They came together here all because of his father’s book itch. Read the story of how Lewis Michaux Sr. and his bookstore fostered new ideas and helped people stand up for what they believed in.”

Patricia’s Vision: The Doctor Who Saved Sight by Michelle Lord, Illustrated by Alleanna Harris (Bookshop | Amazon)

“The inspiring story of Dr. Patricia Bath, a groundbreaking ophthalmologist who pioneered laser surgery—and gave her patients the gift of sight.

Born in the 1940s, Patricia Bath dreamed of being an ophthalmologist at a time when becoming a doctor wasn’t a career option for most women—especially African-American women. This empowering biography follows Dr. Bath in her quest to save and restore sight to the blind, and her decision to “choose miracles” when everyone else had given up hope. Along the way, she cofounded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness, invented a specialized laser for removing cataracts, and became the first African-American woman doctor to receive a medical patent.”

Freedom In Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This poetic, nonfiction story about a little-known piece of African American history captures a human’s capacity to find hope and joy in difficult circumstances and demonstrates how New Orleans’ Congo Square was truly freedom’s heart.

Mondays, there were hogs to slop,

mules to train, and logs to chop.

Slavery was no ways fair.

Six more days to Congo Square.

As slaves relentlessly toiled in an unjust system in 19th century Louisiana, they all counted down the days until Sunday, when at least for half a day they were briefly able to congregate in Congo Square in New Orleans. Here they were free to set up an open market, sing, dance, and play music. They were free to forget their cares, their struggles, and their oppression. This story chronicles slaves’ duties each day, from chopping logs on Mondays to baking bread on Wednesdays to plucking hens on Saturday, and builds to the freedom of Sundays and the special experience of an afternoon spent in Congo Square. This book includes a forward from Freddi Williams Evans (freddievans.com), a historian and Congo Square expert, as well as a glossary of terms with pronunciations and definitions.”

A Ride to Remember: A Civil Rights Story by Sharon Langley and Amy Nathan, Illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A Ride to Remember tells how a community came together—both black and white—to make a change. When Sharon Langley was born in the early 1960s, many amusement parks were segregated, and African-American families were not allowed entry. This book reveals how in the summer of 1963, due to demonstrations and public protests, the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in Maryland became desegregated and opened to all for the first time. Co-author Sharon Langley was the first African-American child to ride the carousel. This was on the same day of Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Langley’s ride to remember demonstrated the possibilities of King’s dream. This book includes photos of Sharon on the carousel, authors’ notes, a timeline, and a bibliography.”

When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill, Illustrated by Theodore Taylor III (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Before there was hip hop, there was DJ Kool Herc.

On a hot day at the end of summer in 1973 Cindy Campbell threw a back-to-school party at a park in the South Bronx. Her brother, Clive Campbell, spun the records. He had a new way of playing the music to make the breaks―the musical interludes between verses―longer for dancing. He called himself DJ Kool Herc and this is When the Beat Was Born. From his childhood in Jamaica to his youth in the Bronx, Laban Carrick Hill’s book tells how Kool Herc came to be a DJ, how kids in gangs stopped fighting in order to breakdance, and how the music he invented went on to define a culture and transform the world.”

Opal’s Greenwood Oasis by Quraysh Ali Lansana and Najah-Amatullah Hylton, Illustrated by Skip Hill (Bookshop | Amazon)

“The year is 1921, and Opal Brown would like to show you around her beautiful neighborhood of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Filled with busy stores and happy families, Opal also wants you to know that “everyone looks like me.”

In both words and illustrations, this carefully researched and historically accurate book allows children to experience the joys and success of Greenwood, one of the most prosperous Black communities of the early 20th Century, an area Booker T. Washington dubbed America’s Black Wall Street.

Soon after the day narrated by Opal, Greenwood would be lost in the Tulsa Race Massacre, the worst act of racial violence in American history. As we approach the centennial of that tragic event, children have the opportunity through this book to learn and celebrate all that was built in Greenwood.”

You can also read my full review of Opal’s Greenwood Oasis for more detail.

Lift as You Climb: The Story of Ella Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell, Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (Bookshop | Amazon)

““What do you hope to accomplish?” asked Ella Baker’s granddaddy when she was still a child.
Her mother provided the answer: “Lift as you climb.”

Long before the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, Ella Baker worked to lift others up by fighting racial injustice and empowering poor African Americans to stand up for their rights. Her dedication and grassroots work in many communities made her a valuable ally for leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and she has been ranked as one of the most influential women in the civil rights movement. In the 1960s she worked to register voters and organize sit-ins, and she became a teacher and mentor to many young activists.

Caldecott Honor winner R. Gregory Christie’s powerful pictures pair with Patricia Hruby Powell’s poignant words to paint a vivid portrait of the fight for the freedom of the human spirit.”

Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade, Illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Gwendolyn Brooks (1917–2000) is known for her poems about “real life.” She wrote about love, loneliness, family, and poverty—showing readers how just about anything could become a beautiful poem. Exquisite follows Gwendolyn from early girlhood into her adult life, showcasing her desire to write poetry from a very young age. This picture-book biography explores the intersections of race, gender, and the ubiquitous poverty of the Great Depression—all with a lyrical touch worthy of the subject. Gwendolyn Brooks was the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize, receiving the award for poetry in 1950. And in 1958, she was named the poet laureate of Illinois. A bold artist who from a very young age dared to dream, Brooks will inspire young readers to create poetry from their own lives.”

Sugar Hill: Harlem’s Historic Neighborhood by Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Take a walk through Harlem’s Sugar Hill and meet all the amazing people who made this neighborhood legendary. With upbeat rhyming, read-aloud text, Sugar Hill celebrates the Harlem neighborhood that successful African Americans first called home during the 1920s. Children raised in Sugar Hill not only looked up to these achievers but also experienced art and culture at home, at church, and in the community. Books, music lessons, and art classes expanded their horizons beyond the narrow limits of segregation. Includes brief biographies of jazz greats Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Sonny Rollins, and Miles Davis; artists Aaron Douglas and Faith Ringgold; entertainers Lena Horne and the Nicholas Brothers; writer Zora Neale Hurston; civil rights leader W. E. B. DuBois and lawyer Thurgood Marshall.”

Kamala Harris: Rooted In Justice by Nikki Grimes, Illustrated by Laura Freeman (Bookshop | Amazon)

“When Kamala Harris was young, she often accompanied her parents to civil rights marches—so many, in fact, that when her mother asked a frustrated Kamala what she wanted, the young girl responded with: “Freedom!”

As Kamala grew from a small girl in Oakland to a senator running for president, it was this long-fostered belief in freedom and justice for all people that shaped her into the inspiring figure she is today. From fighting for the use of a soccer field in middle school to fighting for the people of her home state in Congress, Senator Harris used her voice to speak up for what she believed in and for those who were otherwise unheard. And now this dedication has led her all the way to being elected Vice President of the United States.

Told in Nikki Grimes’s stunning verse and featuring gorgeous illustrations by Laura Freeman, this picture book biography brings to life a story that shows all young people that the American dream can belong to all of us if we fight for one another.”

I hope you all enjoyed the list, and maybe even found a few places or people that are new to you or your young readers.

What are your favorite books to read and share for Black History Month? Be sure to share any favorites I missed in the comments below!

If you are someone who only reads books about or by Black folks during Black History Month, I want to encourage you to read like every month is Black History Month. I hope you will use this list as a starting point, because there are thousands of other amazing titles that are not included in this list, but are great books to read in any month.

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Sixteen Children’s Books To Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day

While most of us know Martin Luther King Jr. as a minister, activist, and spokesperson for the Civil Rights Movement, it’s easy to forget that many young readers may not be as familiar with Dr. King, or the Civil Right Movement itself.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, than to share his story with younger readers and encourage the next generation to stand up for equality. So today, I will be sharing a few books about the man himself, as well as a few additional books related to the Civil Rights Movement, to facilitate further conversations of Dr. King’s legacy and the accomplishments of the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement.

Please Note: This article will contain affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing regular content to you.

Board Books

Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.? by Lisbeth Kaiser, Illustrated by Stanley Chow (Bookshop | Amazon)

“The chronology and themes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s meaningful life are presented in a masterfully succinct text, with just a few sentences per page. The fresh, stylized illustrations are sure to captivate young readers and adults alike. With a read-aloud biographical summary in the back, this age-appropriate introduction honors and shares the life and work of one of the most influential civil rights activists of our time.”

No! My First Book Of Protest by Julie Merberg, Illustrated by Molly Egan (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Little ones who love to say “No!” can chime in while they learn about iconic activists from Frederick Douglass and Alice Paul to Martin Luther King Jr. and Malala.

Each spread introduces an iconic figure—such as Gloria Steinem or Cesar Chavez—along with a super simple summary of the actions they took to change the course of history. Activists of all ages will learn about the abolitionist movement, civil rights, women’s rights, and more! Detailed, colorful art will thoroughly engage toddlers and preschoolers. And the chance to join the refrain on every spread “NO, NO!” is sure to please the tiniest protestors. (A mini history of protest movements at the end of the books is a handy cheat sheet for parents!)”

My First Little People Big Dreams: Rosa Parks by Lisbeth Kaiser, Illustrated by Marta Antelo (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Rosa Parks grew up in Alabama, where she learned to stand up for herself at an early age. Rosa went on to become a civil rights activist. In 1955, she refused to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Her courageous decision had a huge impact on civil rights, eventually leading to the end of segregation on public transport. She never stopped working for equal rights. Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this fascinating icon, and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own.”

Picture Books

My Little Golden Book About Martin Luther King Jr. by Bonnie Bader, Illustrated by Sue Cornelison (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with this Little Golden Book biography all about the civil rights leader! The perfect introduction to nonfiction for preschoolers.

This Little Golden Book captures the essence of Martin Luther King, Jr. for the littlest readers. They’ll learn how his childhood in segregated Atlanta—and in his father’s church—shaped the future civil rights leader. And they’ll gain a clear understanding of the way he became an eloquent, powerful voice for African Americans.”

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King by Jean Marzollo, Illustrated by J. Brian Pinkney (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This book is a beautifully-rendered study of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, told in simple, straightforward language for even the youngest of readers to understand. Pinkney’s scratchboard and oil pastel illustrations convey both the strength and gentleness of King’s character. Both text and art carry his central message of peace and brotherhood among all people.”

I Have A Dream by Martin Luther King, Illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Bookshop | Amazon)

“On August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Martin Luther King gave one of the most powerful and memorable speeches in our nation’s history. His words, paired with Caldecott Honor winner Kadir Nelson’s magnificent paintings, make for a picture book certain to be treasured by children and adults alike. The themes of equality and freedom for all are not only relevant today, 50 years later, but also provide young readers with an important introduction to our nation’s past. Included with the book is an audio CD of the speech.”

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson, Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Meet the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963, in this moving picture book that proves you’re never too little to make a difference.

Nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks intended to go places and do things like anybody else.

So when she heard grown-ups talk about wiping out Birmingham’s segregation laws, she spoke up. As she listened to the preacher’s words, smooth as glass, she sat up tall. And when she heard the plan—picket those white stores! March to protest those unfair laws! Fill the jails!—she stepped right up and said, I’ll do it! She was going to j-a-a-il!

Audrey Faye Hendricks was confident and bold and brave as can be, and hers is the remarkable and inspiring story of one child’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.”

The Teachers March!: How Selma’s Teachers Changed History by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace, Illustrated by Charly Palmer (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Demonstrating the power of protest and standing up for a just cause, here is an exciting tribute to the educators who participated in the 1965 Selma Teachers’ March.

Reverend F.D. Reese was a leader of the Voting Rights Movement in Selma, Alabama. As a teacher and principal, he recognized that his colleagues were viewed with great respect in the city. Could he convince them to risk their jobs–and perhaps their lives–by organizing a teachers-only march to the county courthouse to demand their right to vote? On January 22, 1965, the Black teachers left their classrooms and did just that, with Reverend Reese leading the way. Noted nonfiction authors Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace conducted the last interviews with Reverend Reese before his death in 2018 and interviewed several teachers and their family members in order to tell this story, which is especially important today.”

Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Dee Romito, Illustrated by Laura Freeman (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Georgia Gilmore was a cook at the National Lunch Company in Montgomery, Alabama. When the bus boycotts broke out in Montgomery after Rosa Parks was arrested, Georgia knew just what to do. She organized a group of women who cooked and baked to fund-raise for gas and cars to help sustain the boycott. Called the Club from Nowhere, Georgia was the only person who knew who baked and bought the food, and she said the money came from “nowhere” to anyone who asked. When Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested for his role in the boycott, Georgia testified on his behalf, and her home became a meeting place for civil rights leaders. This picture book highlights a hidden figure of the civil rights movement who fueled the bus boycotts and demonstrated that one person can make a real change in her community and beyond. It also includes one of her delicious recipes for kids to try with the help of their parents!”

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Illustrated by Brian Pinkney (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This picture book is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the momentous Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in, when four college students staged a peaceful protest that became a defining moment in the struggle for racial equality and the growing civil rights movement.

Andrea Davis Pinkney uses poetic, powerful prose to tell the story of these four young men, who followed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words of peaceful protest and dared to sit at the “whites only” Woolworth’s lunch counter. Brian Pinkney embraces a new artistic style, creating expressive paintings filled with emotion that mirror the hope, strength, and determination that fueled the dreams of not only these four young men, but also countless others.”

Middle Grade

Trailblazers: Martin Luther King, Jr.: Fighting for Civil Rights by Christine Platt (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Bring history home and meet some of the world’s greatest game changers! Get inspired by the true story of the civil rights leader whose peaceful fight for justice still motivates people today. This biography series is for kids who loved Who Was? and are ready for the next level.

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to more than 250,000 people in Washington, DC about his dream of racial equality. His message of peaceful protest inspired a generation to stand up for their rights. Find out how a boy who was not allowed to go to school or the movies with white people blazed a trail in civil rights.”

Mighty Justice (Young Readers’ Edition): The Untold Story of Civil Rights Trailblazer Dovey Johnson Roundtree by Katie McCabe (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A young reader’s adaptation of Mighty Justice: My Life in Civil Rights, the memoir of activist and trailblazer Dovey Johnson Roundtree, by Katie McCabe.

Raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the height of Jim Crow, Dovey Johnson Roundtree felt the sting of inequality at an early age and made a point to speak up for justice. She was one of the first Black women to break the racial and gender barriers in the US Army; a fierce attorney in the segregated courtrooms of
Washington, DC; and a minister in the AME church, where women had never before been ordained as clergy. In 1955, Roundtree won a landmark bus desegregation case that eventually helped end “separate but equal” and dismantle Jim Crow laws across the South.

Developed with the full support of the Dovey Johnson Roundtree Educational Trust and adapted from her memoir, this book brings her inspiring, important story and voice to life.”

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose (Bookshop | Amazon)

“On March 2, 1955, an impassioned teenager, fed up with the daily injustices of Jim Crow segregation, refused to give her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Instead of being celebrated as Rosa Parks would be just nine months later, fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin found herself shunned by her classmates and dismissed by community leaders. Undaunted, a year later she dared to challenge segregation again as a key plaintiff in Browder v. Gayle, the landmark case that struck down the segregation laws of Montgomery and swept away the legal underpinnings of the Jim Crow South.
Based on extensive interviews with Claudette Colvin and many others, Phillip Hoose presents the first in-depth account of an important yet largely unknown civil rights figure, skillfully weaving her dramatic story into the fabric of the historic Montgomery bus boycott and court case that would change the course of American history.”

Graphic Novels

Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story by Alfred Hassler and Benton Resnik (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Nearly sixty years after its creation, a little-known landmark of comic book history returns! This 16-page comic is a simple but revolutionary account of the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, in which Rosa Parks, Dr. King, and 50,000 others used the power of nonviolence to battle segregation on city buses – and win. First published in December 1957 by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, it went unnoticed by the mainstream comic book industry, but spread like wildfire among civil rights groups, churches, and schools, helping to mobilize a generation to join the global fight for equality – nonviolently. Personally endorsed by Martin Luther King, Jr. himself, over time this comic book has reached beyond his time and place to inspire activists in Latin America, South Africa, Vietnam, Egypt, and beyond… as well as inspiring MARCH, the new graphic novel trilogy by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell.”

March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Bookshop | Amazon)

“March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.

Book One spans John Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall.”

Rosa Parks And The Montgomery Bus Boycott by Connie Rose Miller and Dan Kalal (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This powerful graphic novel follows the courageous life of Rosa Parks, who was arrested in 1955 for not giving up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. With comic book-style illustrations and engaging, easy-to-read text, this biography will inspire, entertain, and inform young readers about an individual who made a significant contribution to society. A must-have in any home, classroom, or library seeking a historical understanding of contemporary racial issues.”

I hope you all enjoyed this collection of books, and maybe found a book or two to add your library. Did I miss any of your favorites? Be sure to share them in the comments below!

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Celebrating New Year’s Day with My 21 Most Anticipated Titles of 2021

It probably doesn’t surprise you to learn that I’m one of those people who love the New Year. I really enjoy the opportunity this holiday gives us to look back at our accomplishments and challenges from last year, while we also look forward and make plans for the year we are moving into.

Like many of you, I’ve been doing a lot of looking forward this year. 2020 has been particularly challenging for so many of us, and I know we are ready to put it behind us, so today I want to look forward. I want to share the 21 titles I am most excited about in 2021!

The best part is you can already preorder these titles, so you don’t have to remember to buy them when they come out later this year. I’m not the only one who preorders books to be “surprised” when the release date sneaks up on me later, am I?

Please note: This list will contain affiliate links. I will receive a small commission from purchases made using these links at no additional cost to you. This commission allows me to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you.

So without further ado, here are my most anticipated titles of 2021, in no particular order!

Rainbow Boy by Taylor Rouanzion, Illustrated by Stacey Chomiak – January 26, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A story about a boy with a heart too big for one color alone.”

“A little boy attempts to answer one of grown-ups’ all-time favorite questions: “What’s your favorite color?” But with so many wonderful colors to choose from, he doesn’t know how to answer. He loves his pink sparkly tutu, bright red roses, soft yellow baby doll pajamas, and big, orange basketball. How will he ever pick?”

Anita and The Dragons by Hannah Carmona, Illustrated by Anna Cunha – April 6, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Anita watches the dragons high above her as she hops from one cement roof to another in her village in the Dominican Republic. But being the valiant princesa she is, she never lets them scare her. Will she be brave enough to enter the belly of the beast and take flight to new adventures?”

The Old Boat by Jarrett Pumphrey and Jerome Pumphrey – March 2, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Off a small island, a boy and his grandmother set sail in their beloved fishing boat. They ride the waves, dreaming, catching fish, and seeing the wonders of the ocean. But soon the boy is sailing the boat himself, venturing further from shore as the waters grow dirty and polluted. When a storm washes him ashore and wrecks the old boat, he sees home in a new light. He decides to turn the tides of his fortune, cleaning the island’s waters and creating a new life with a family to call his own. With an eye-catching design and masterfully detailed illustrations, The Old Boat is an exquisite story about caring for the places we call home.”

Fatima’s Great Outdoors by Ambreen Tariq, Illustrated by Stevie Lewis March 30, 2021 – (Bookshop | Amazon)

“An immigrant family embarks on their first camping trip in the Midwest in this lively picture book by Ambreen Tariq, outdoors activist and founder of @BrownPeopleCamping.

Ambreen Tariq’s picture book debut, with cheerful illustrations by Stevie Lewis, is a rollicking family adventure, a love letter to the outdoors, and a reminder that public land belongs to all of us.”

Kindness Is A Kite String by Michelle Schaub, Illustrated by Claire LaForte – April 1, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Watch empathy ripple through the community… spreading happiness like sunshine, connecting diverse groups like a footbridge, and lifting hope like a kite string. How can YOU lift others with kindness?”

We Are Still Here by Traci Sorell, Illustrated by Frane Lessac – April 20, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Twelve Native American kids present historical and contemporary laws, policies, struggles, and victories in Native life, each with a powerful refrain: We are still here!

Too often, Native American history is treated as a finished chapter instead of relevant and ongoing. This companion book to the award-winning We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga offers readers everything they never learned in school about Native American people’s past, present, and future.”

My Two Border Towns by David Bowles, Illustrated by Erika Meza – August 24, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A picture book debut by an award-winning author about a boy’s life on the U.S.-Mexico border, visiting his favorite places on The Other Side with his father, spending time with family and friends, and sharing in the responsibility of community care.

My Two Border Towns by David Bowles, with illustrations by Erika Meza, is the loving story of a father and son’s weekend ritual, a demonstration of community care, and a tribute to the fluidity, complexity, and vibrancy of life on the U.S.-Mexico border.”

Hear My Voice/Escucha mi voz: The Testimonies of Children Detained at the Southern Border of the United States – April 13, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A moving picture book for older children and families that introduces a difficult topic, amplifying the voices and experiences of immigrant children detained at the border between Mexico and the US. The children’s actual words (from publicly available court documents) are assembled to tell one heartbreaking story, in both English and Spanish (back to back). Each spread is illustrated in striking full-color by a different Latinx artist. A portion of sales will be donated to human rights organizations that work with children on the border.”

The Tea Dragon Tapestry by K. O’Neill – June 1, 2021 (Amazon)

“Join Greta and Minette once more for the heartwarming conclusion of the award-winning Tea Dragon series!

Told with the same care and charm as the previous installments of the Tea Dragon series, The Tea Dragon Tapestry welcomes old friends and new into a heartfelt story of purpose, love, and growth.”

In My Mosque by M. O. Yuksel, Illustrated by Hatem Aly – March 23, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)

“No matter who you are or where you’re from, everyone is welcome here. From grandmothers reading lines of the Qur’an and the imam telling stories of living as one, to meeting new friends and learning to help others, mosques are centers for friendship, community, and love.”

Send a Girl!: The True Story of How Women Joined the FDNY by Jessica M. Rinker, Illustrated by Meg Hunt – March 9, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Brenda Berkman was often told that she couldn’t do certain things because she was a girl. When she grew up, she longed for a job that was challenging, different every day, and required physical and mental strength. In 1977 when the New York City Fire Department finally complied with the Civil Rights Act (from 1964) by allowing women to take the FDNY exam, Brenda jumped at the chance.

But the FDNY changed the rules of the exam so women wouldn’t be able to pass it. Even a lot of men couldn’t pass this new exam.

So Brenda Berkman took the FDNY to court. “

When Lola Visits by Michelle Sterling, Illustrated by Aaron Asis – May 18, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)

“In an evocative picture book brimming with the scents, tastes, and traditions that define summer for one young girl, debut author Michelle Sterling and illustrator Aaron Asis come together to celebrate the gentle bonds of familial love that span oceans and generations.”

Bodies Are Cool by Tyler Feder – June 1, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)

“From the way a body jiggles to the scars a body bears, this picture book is a pure celebration of all the different human bodies that exist in the world. Highlighting the various skin tones, body shapes, and hair types is just the beginning in this truly inclusive book. With its cheerful illustrations and exuberant refrain, this book will instill body positivity and confidence in the youngest of readers.”

Bindu’s Bindis by Supriya Kelkar, Illustrated by Parvati Pillai – March 2, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This charming picture book is about a little girl who loves her bindis (and the many creative shapes they come in!). The bindis are also a connection to her Nani who lives in India. When Nani comes to visit Bindu and brings the bindis to her, it is just in time to wear something new to the school talent show. Bindu and Nani work together to shine their brightest and embrace their sparkle, even when they stand out from the crowd.”

Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race by Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli, Illustrated by Isabel Roxas – March 16, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Based on the research that race, gender, consent, and body positivity should be discussed with toddlers on up, this read-aloud board book series offers adults the opportunity to begin important conversations with young children in an informed, safe, and supported way.

Developed by experts in the fields of early childhood and activism against injustice, this topic-driven board book offers clear, concrete language and beautiful imagery that young children can grasp and adults can leverage for further discussion.”

All of Us by Kathryn Erskine, Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger – May 18, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)

ME can be WE. YOU can come, too. In a lyrical text that travels the globe, National Book Award winner Kathryn Erskine shows young readers how the whole world is a community made up of people who are more similar than we are different. With stunning, cinematic art by Alexandra Boiger, the illustrator of the She Persisted series, this is the perfect read-aloud at bedtime or for story time. Perfect for fans of All Are Welcome and Be Kind.”

Families Grow by Dan Saks, Illustrated by Brooke Smart – August 3, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This warm appreciation of love invites the youngest readers to share in the joy and excitement of expecting families. The lyrical, rhyming text subtly references pregnancy, surrogacy, and adoption, gently touching on the different ways a family can grow. The book’s celebratory yet comforting tone incites both appreciation and understanding, leaving readers with a lasting message of unconditional familial love. Includes a simple glossary at the end.”

I Am The Subway by Kim Hyo-eun, Translated by Deborah Smith – August 3, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A cinematic journey through the Seoul subway that masterfully portrays the many unique lives we travel alongside whenever we take the train. A poetic translation of the bestselling Korean picture book.

Originally published in Korean and brought to English-speaking audiences with the help of renowned translator Deborah Smith (The Vegetarian), I Am the Subway vividly reflects the shared humanity that can be found in crowded metropolitan cities.”

We All Play by Julie Flett – May 25, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This wonderful book celebrates diversity and the interconnectedness of nature through an Indigenous perspective, complete with a glossary of Cree words for wild animals at the back of the book, and children repeating a Cree phrase throughout the book. Readers will encounter birds who chase and chirp, bears who wiggle and wobble, whales who swim and squirt, owls who peek and peep, and a diverse group of kids who love to do the same, shouting:

We play too! / kimêtawânaw mîna

A beautiful ode to the animals and humans we share our world with, We All Play belongs on every bookshelf.”

Kiyoshi’s Walk by Mark Karlins, Illustrated by Nicole Wong – March 9, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Where do poems come from? This beautiful picture book about a young aspiring poet and his grandfather shows that the answer lies all around us–if we take the time to look.”

Prince & Knight: Tale of the Shadow King by Daniel Haack, Illustrated by Stevie Lewis – April 27, 2021 (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Our brave and dashing heroes, the prince and the knight, are happily married and their kingdom is prospering, but soon, a fog of darkness that blocks the sun spreads across their land. They get word that the cause of this is a dark and mysterious Shadow King, and they rush off to find and stop him, but encounter many obstacles along the way. Will they be able to restore the light to their kingdom?”

I hope you all enjoyed this list and found a book (or a few, if you lack self control like me) to add to your little one’s shelves in the next year.

What books do you have your eye on in 2021? Make sure to share in the comments below!

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Four Picture Books To Celebrate World Arabic Language Day

Tomorrow, December 18th, is World Arabic Language Day. Established in 2010 by the United Nations, this holiday is intended to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity.

Living in a world where people are ridiculed for their differences, and more specifically a country where languages other than English are often dismissed, I feel it is incredibly important to embrace and celebrate languages other than English. This is especially true for those who, like me, only speak one language.

Though I am not bilingual, I have always been thrilled to pick up words from other languages throughout my life. From my “adopted” babushka and dedushka who tried to teach me Russian in my 20’s, to members of my childhood church who gave me Vietnamese lessons, I have always been amazed at the joy of being able to speak to someone in their native tongue. Even if it’s a simple “xin chào” or “spasiba”, I could let the people I loved know they were seen and appreciated by using these words.

I want to encourage my son to have this same respect for all languages, even if he is only ever fluent in English. Because of this, I am always on the lookout for picture books that introduce young readers to new languages. Some of my favorites highlight the Arabic language, and I thought they would be the perfect books to share today!

Please note: This article contains affiliate links, from which I will receive a small commission. This commission allows me to maintain this website and continue to bring new content to you.

Deep In The Sahara by Kelly Cunnane, Illustrated by Hoda Hadadi

In Deep In The Sahara we meet a young Arabic girl named Lalla who wants to wear a malafa (the colorful cloth worn by Muslim women in Mauritania) just like all the other women in her family. She talks to the women around her about how their malafa makes them beautiful, mysterious, traditional, or royal, but eventually learns the true reason they wear the malafa. This is a beautiful story of a young girl embracing the faith and traditions of her family. This book has a few Hassaniya (an Arabic dialect) words peppered throughout, which are a great way to teach young readers a new word or two!

Like The Moon Loves The Sky by Hena Khan, Illustrated by Saffa Khan

This beautifully illustrated book is a tender celebration of the unconditional love parents have for their children. Like The Moon Loves The Sky is inspired by the Quran, making it a great book for teaching religious acceptance while celebrating Arabic. The only Arabic word found in the book is “Inshallah” (translated to “if Allah wills” or “God willing”), but it is a beautiful introduction to the Arabic language none-the-less. This heartwarming book makes the perfect bedtime read, and a great gift for new parents.

The Arabic Quilt by Aya Khalil, Illustrated by Anait Semirdzhyan

In The Arabic Quilt we meet Kanzi, who’s family has immigrated from Egypt. When Kanzi’s mom shows up at school one day to bring her kofta sandwich, Kanzi’s classmates don’t understand why her mother calls her habibti, and begin to tease Kanzi. That night she wraps up in her quilt from her teita (grandma) in Cairo and writes a poem. Her teacher finds the poem and allows Kanzi to bring the quilt in, inspiring the classroom to make an Arabic quilt of their own. This is a great story to encourage young readers to be curious about languages they don’t speak, and respectful of those who speak those languages.

Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad by James Rumford

Silent Music is the story of a young boy named Ali who lives in Baghdad. Ali loves calligraphy and looks up to Yaqut al-Musta’simi, a famous calligrapher who is also from Baghdad. With illustrations depicting Ali’s beautiful Arabic calligraphy strung together like musical notes, this book is a stunning celebration of the written Arabic language.

I hope you enjoyed this list! If you would like to learn more about World Arabic Language Day, be sure to visit the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s website for more information!

What are your some of you favorite children’s books highlighting Arabic or other languages foreign to you? Be sure to share them in the comments below!

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Eight Children’s Books For The Eight Nights of Hanukkah

As families across the world prepare to begin their Hanukkah celebrations tonight, I have to be honest with you all: I didn’t know actually the meaning behind Hanukkah until recently. I realized this when someone I know told me they thought Hanukkah had something to do with Hitler, and though I was 99.9% sure they were wrong, I hadn’t educated myself enough to explain their error. Obviously, I realized I had a problem, and so I began to educate myself. As I learned of the history of the Maccabean Revolt and the traditions surrounding this holiday, I realized how important it is to expose our children to holidays that we don’t celebrate.

Though I am not Jewish, I believe it’s important to give our children an understanding of holidays and celebrations that other children in their lives may be taking part in. They will be better equipped to understand and accept classmates, cousins, and playdate partners with different religious upbringings when they have been exposed to these holidays and celebrations in their own homes. They will also be better equipped to correct misinformation than I was in my situation.

These eight books all offer great explanations behind Hanukkah traditions and history, giving young readers an understanding of what the holidays might look like in other homes. Any one of them would be great for any family celebrating Hanukkah, or for families who want to introduce their children to The Festival of Lights.

Antlers With Candles by Chris Barash, Illustrated by Melissa Iwai

In Antlers With Candles we follow a little boy on his first Hanukkah. He doesn’t quite understand all the curious objects he discovers around his home. His dad discovers the mess he has made and cleans up while explaining what the menorah, latkes, and dreidels are all for. This is the perfect introduction to Hanukkah for babies and toddlers!

Queen of The Hanukkah Dosas by Pamela Ehrenberg, Illustrated by Anjan Sarkar

Told from the perspective of the older brother in a multi-cultural family, Queen of The Hanukkah Dosas is a charming tale of one family’s Hanukkah celebration. Because their mom is Indian and their father is Jewish, this family eats dosas (rice pancakes) every year instead of latkes. The little sister Sadie won’t stop climbing up on everything as the family prepares to celebrate, but her antics might just save the day when the family finds themselves in an unexpected situation. I also love that this book has a recipe for both latkes and dosas in the back. Who doesn’t love learning about different cultures through foods?

How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah by Jane Yolen, Illustrated by Mark Teague

Bookshop | Amazon

How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah is a fantastic book for children who are curious about the holiday. Following the format of this familiar series, we see all the wrong ways to say “Happy Chanukah” (followed by the right ways, of course) demonstrated by all kinds of dinosaurs. I love this series for discussing acceptable behavior with little ones, because we have examples of dinosaurs behaving badly. Those dinosaurs always come around and behave themselves in the end though. A great introduction to the activities and traditions of Chanukah for any little one, but especially those that love Dinosaurs.

Little Red Ruthie: A Hanukkah Tale by Gloria Koster, Illustrated by Sue Eastland

Little Red Ruthie is an adorable retelling of Little Red Riding Hood with a Hanukkah twist. Little Red Ruthie is headed to Bubbe Basha’s house to make latkes, but she gets lost in the snowfall on her way. A wolf finds Ruthie and wants to eat her for dinner. Ruthie thinks fast and explains that it’s the first day of Hanukkah, and she will make a much better meal if the wolf just waits eight days. The wolf agrees, but changes his mind and decides to eat both Ruthie and her grandma. Ruthie outsmarts him again while teaching him a bit about Hanukkah along the way. There is a recipe for Ruthie’s Potato Latkes included at the end!

Hanukkah Hamster by Michelle Markel, Illustrated by Andre Ceolin

Hanukkah Hamster is a heartwarming picture book about Edgar, a cab driver who has recently moved away from his home in Israel, leaving his family behind. Edgar finds a hamster in his cab and can’t seem to find its owner. He takes the hamster home and feeds it, eventually naming him Chickpea. Edgar and Chickpea celebrate several night of Hanukkah together until Edgar recognizes the customer who lost Chickpea. I won’t spoil it, but I will just say this one has a happy ending. I love that this book reminds us that we can find companionship in the most unexpected places.

Jeremy’s Dreidel by Ellie Gellman, Illustrated by Maria Mola

In Jeremy’s Dreidel, we meet Jeremy and his friends who are building dreidels at their local JCC (Jewish Community Center). Jeremy wants to build a Braille dreidel for his father, who is blind. Jeremy educates the children about his fathers disability and provides great examples of what a blind person’s everyday life looks like. A Hanukkah lesson is also woven into the children’s narrative. There are also instructions to build some of the dreidels mentioned in the story included in the back of the book. This is a sweet book with great disabled and Jewish representation.

Hanukkah in Alaska by Barbara Brown, Illustrated by Stacey Schuett

Hannukah in Alaska is a funny Hanukkah story about how different things can look in Alaska sometimes. Our main character is not feeling excited about celebrating Hanukkah this year. It might just be because there is a moose in her backyard, and she’s worried he will break her swing. One night, things turn around when her mom and dad wake her up in the middle of the night for a beautiful surprise. She is so inspired that she comes up with a clever solution to their big moose problem. This is a perfect winter read, but especially fitting for Hanukkah of course.

The Eight Knights of Hanukkah by Leslie Kimmelman Illustrated by Galia Bernstein

We all know about the eight nights of Hanukkah, but have you heard about the Eight Knights of Hanukkah? In this adorable picture book a dragon named Dreadful is ruining the Hanukkah festivities! Lady Sadie ask the Eight Knights of Hanukkah to stop the dragon with “deeds of awesome kindness and stupendous bravery”. There is also instructions on how to play the dreidel game in the back.

I hope these titles help you and your family learn a little more about Hanukkah celebrations, and have a little fun along the way!

Has your family read any of these titles? What books do you read to celebrate or educate your family about Hanukkah? Don’t forget to comment below and share!

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Five Books to Celebrate National Adoption Month

Did you know that November is National Adoption Month here in the US? I thought it would only be right to celebrate with a few books about adoption. (Please note: this post will contain affiliate links, from which I receive a small commission. This commission allows me to maintain this website, and continue to put out regular content.)

While I am personally not a part of the adoption community (i.e. I am not adopted, nor is my son), I believe it is important that we teach all children about diverse family structures, including foster and adoptive families. Giving our children this knowledge not only allows them to understand that their family structure is not the only one, but it can also prepare them to respond appropriately when they meet someone with a different family structure than theirs. I can’t think of a better way to share knowledge than reading, so I would like to recommend these books to start conversations about adoption.

Pablo’s Tree

Pablo’s Tree by Pat Mora, Illustrated by Cecily Lang

This is a precious story about a boy named Pablo, and his tradition of visiting his grandfather every year on the day after his birthday. Throughout the story we learn that Pablo was adopted, and his grandfather has been celebrating his adoption day in a unique way every year since he was born. This book doesn’t explain adoption in an in-depth way, and there is not conflict. It’s just a sweet story of a cute little family and their love for each other.

A Crazy Much Love

A Crazy-Much Love by Joy Jordan-Lake, Illustrated by Sonia Sanchez

This little book has so much love in it. Told from the adoptive parent’s perspective, this story recounts a family’s experience adopting their daughter from China. A Crazy-Much Love follows this family from the anticipation of “the” phone call, all the way up to their daughters first day of school, This is a “warm hug” kind of book. Though there isn’t a lot of explanation about the adoption process, this is the perfect book to show children unfamiliar with adoption how parents love their adopted children the same way their parents love them.

The Story I’ll Tell

The Story I’ll Tell by Nancy Tupper Ling, Illustrated by Jessica Lanan

In this book, a mother wonders what she will tell her son when he asks where he came from. She makes up all kinds of fantastic stories about her son’s past. From hot air balloons, to angels, to dragons, each story has a tiny hint of truth, letting the reader piece together their family’s adoption experience.

Just Right Family

Just Right Family by Sylvia Lopez, Illustrated by Ziyue Chen

This is a sweet story about Meili, an adopted child whose family is adopting a baby from Haiti. Meili isn’t thrilled about the idea of messing up their “just right family”, but she warms to the idea and realizes her family is still just right, even with a sister. I love that we are seeing the adoption process through the eyes of an older sibling in this book. Definitely a great read for families adopting a second child.

When The Babies Came To Stay

When The Babies Came to Stay By Christine McDonnell, Illustrated by Jeanette Bradley

In this book, we meet four babies who arrive on an island on the same day. They are taken in by the town’s librarian,, and they become the sweetest little family. While the word “adoption” is never used, I feel like this is a great read for children who have unanswered questions about their past.

I hope you all enjoy these books as much as I did!.What are your favorite books about adoption to read to your little ones? Be sure to comment below!

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5 Picture Books for World Kindness Day

I think we can all agree that the world could always use a little more kindness. In 1998, World Kindness Day was established as part of the World Kindness Movement. This is an international holiday dedicated to spreading kindness. We all know there are TONS of children’s books on the subject, but I thought I would take a moment today to share a few of my favorites. Please note: This article contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission from purchases made using these links. This commission allows me to maintain this website and continue posting reviews.

A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story about Knitting and Love by Michelle Edwards, Illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Those of you who know me well know that when I’m not hoarding books, I’m hoarding yarn. This sweet picture book brings those two loves together for me. (Though technically, I crochet, because I’m not a skilled knitter at all.) In this book, we follow Sophia and her neighbor, Mrs. Goldman, who teaches her about mitzvahs when she is knitting hats for others. Sophia takes the lesson to heart and decides to make a hat for Mrs. Goldman. The illustrations are as warm as the story. Altogether, a cute read reminding us how rewarding it is to be generous.

Thank You Omu by Oge Mora

Thank You Omu was a fast favorite for me. The illustrations drew me in and the story got me, hook, line, and sinker. In this book we meet Omu, an older lady who is cooking a big pot of red stew. Her stew smells so good that everyone in the neighborhood comes by to ask her for a bowl. Omu is kind and gives them all stew until she has none left for her own dinner. Of course, that’s not where our story ends, but I don’t want to give it away. This one is a great story about gratitude and the rewards we reap when we are kind and generous.

I Walk with Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness by Kerascoët

I Walk With Vanessa is a wordless picture book. My favorite thing about this book is that children are able to narrate the story themselves. This format is perfect for those little readers just learning to read, because it encourages reading without the pressure of all those tricky words. In this book, the illustrations show Vanessa, a young girl who is moving to a new neighborhood. We see a boy who isn’t nice to Vanessa. Another girl notices this interaction and decides to do something about it. This is a sweet book about standing up for others and the power of kindness in communities.

Kindness Makes Us Strong is the perfect board book for introducing little ones to the concept of kindness. Sophie Beer is one of my favorite illustrators because her work is always absolutely adorable AND incredibly inclusive. In this book, there are children with lots of different skin tones and abilities, all providing examples of what it means to be kind. A favorite in our family, I recommend this one to anyone looking for board books.

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts Illustrated by Noah Z. Jones

This picture book handles many themes, including teasing, embarrassment, poverty, and (of course) kindness. This may seem like a lot for one picture book, but Boelts manages to blend these themes seamlessly. In this story, we meet Jeremy, a boy who wants the shoes everyone else is wearing, but his family cannot afford them. He is so determined that he finds a pair at a thrift store and buys them even though they don’t fit. This gives Jeremy the opportunity to do something nice for someone less fortunate than him.

I hope you all enjoyed my top five picks for World Kindess Day this year. Have you read any of them? What are some of your favorite books about kindness to read to your little ones? Leave a comment and let me know!

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