6 Picture Books To Celebrate International Transgender Day Of Visibility

Today we celebrate International Transgender Day of Visibility, a day dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of the discrimination they face. Sadly, In the United States, we don’t have to look hard to see the discrimination faced by trans people. With multiple anti-trans laws aimed at transgender youth being introduced, it’s hard to ignore the challenges faced by the trans community. This push to remove the healthcare and privacy rights of transgender children is a reminder that we have a long way to go.

As parents, we need to ensure we introduce our children to transgender people positively, and not through a conversation about whether someone deserves to have health care, play on a sports team, or use a specific bathroom. If we want to foster acceptance in the next generation, we must teach our cisgender children to open their hearts and minds and see their transgender friends, classmates, and acquaintances as human beings and not a problem to be solved.

So in honor of International Transgender Day of Visibility, I want to share a few picture books that can help facilitate these conversations with our children. Each of these books provides representation for trans kids to feel visible, while also providing a look into the trans experience for cisgender children.

So without further ado, here they are.

They She He Me: Free to Be! by Maya Christina Gonzalez and Matthew SG (Bookshop | Amazon)

They She He Me: Free to Be! is a fantastic introduction to gender and pronouns for young readers. With pronouns repeated on each page paired with a diverse range of people, this book beautifully illustrates that there is no one way people who use a specific pronoun look. The back matter contains matter-of-fact information about pronouns, as well as a lovely author’s note about Maya and Matthew’s experiences with parenting and pronouns. This is an amazing resource to help young children understand gender expression and encourage them to embrace everyone’s identity.

Ho’onani: Hula Warrior by Heather Gale, Illustrated by Mika Song (Bookshop | Amazon)

Inspired by a true story, Ho’onani: Hula Warrior tells the story of a young girl who doesn’t see herself as a girl or a boy. Ho’onani is just Ho’onani. When her teacher announces that the school will perform a traditional hula chant, Ho’onani knows she wants to take part, though boys traditionally performed hula chants. We follow Ho’onani on her path to becoming a hula warrior, as Ho’onani’s sister struggles to understand and accept Ho’onani’s identity. With its message of understanding and acceptance, Ho’onani: Hula Warrior is a wonderful celebration of both identity and the Hawaiian culture.

When Aiden Became A Brother by Kyle Lukoff, Illustrated by Kaylani Juanita (Bookshop | Amazon)

One of my personal favorites, When Aiden Became A Brother, tells the story of a young transgender boy and his journey toward becoming a big brother. Following along from Aiden’s initial coming out, all the way to the celebration of his younger siblings, this book is all about love and acceptance. When Aiden Became A Brother is perfect for any kid who is expecting a younger sibling, but especially trans kids themselves.

47,000 Beads by Koja Adeyoha and Angel Adeyoha, Illustrated by Holly McGillis (Bookshop | Amazon)

47,000 Beads tells the story of Peyton, who doesn’t want to dance in her jingle dress at Pow Wow. After she talks to her Auntie about her feeling, her Auntie gathers her community, along with a two-spirit mentor to show Peyton the love and support she deserves on her journey to discovering her path. This is an incredibly heartwarming story that teaches us all the importance of embracing our differences and being there for the people we love.

Phoenix Goes to School: A Story to Support Transgender and Gender Diverse Children by Michelle Finch and Pheonix Finch, Illustrated by Shannon Davey (Bookshop | Amazon)

Based on Phoenix Finch’s real life experiences, Phoenix Goes To School follows a young transgender girl as she deals with the anxiety of wearing a dress on the first day of school. This is such an influential book for young readers, because all kids can relate to the anxiety of starting a new school year and meeting new friends. Empowering trans kids and fostering acceptance in cisgender kids, this is a lovely pick for any young reader.

Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution!: The Story of the Trans Women of Color Who Made LGBTQ+ History by Joy Michael Ellison, Illustrated by Tekisha Silver (Bookshop | Amazon)

Perfect for the kids who love picture book biographies, Sylvia and Marsha Start A Revolution is all about Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, trans activists and women of color who played a vital role in sparking the Stonewall Riots. This book by trans and queer creators provides an introduction to LGBTQ+ history and the issues that the trans community faces without erasing the women of color we have to thank for Pride today.

I hope you enjoyed this list and found a few more resources to encourage acceptance and understanding in your little ones.

I also hope that you use today to reflect on the issues faced by the trans community, and educate yourself on any harmful laws in the works in your area, especially if you live in the United States. Trans children of America deserve our love and support, and we can show up for them by fighting against the many anti-trans laws being proposed in our country..

Do you have favorite titles featuring transgender characters? Be sure to share them in the comments below!

Please Note: This list originally included the title Who Are You by Brooke Pessin-Whedbee. I removed this title because it was brought to my attention that there are plagiarism issues with this book. For more information, I encourage you to view Maya Gonzalez’s blog post regarding this issue.

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14 Picture Books To Celebrate The Women In Our Lives on International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day, everyone! Officially adopted in 1977 by the United Nations General Assembly, International Women’s Day is all about highlighting the issues faced by women, and celebrating the achievements women have made towards equality.

Because I posted so many picture book biographies last week for my Women’s History Month list, I don’t want to focus on women in history today. Instead, I thought it would be fun to focus on the different women in our lives for International Women’s Day. This list is all about the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and friends who love and support us everyday. Every woman deserves an army of women behind her cheering her on. So let’s celebrate women supporting women today!

Please Note: This post contains affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission from purchases made, with no additional cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you.

Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, Illustrated by Ebony Glenn (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A young Muslim girl spends a busy day wrapped up in her mother’s colorful headscarf in this sweet and fanciful picture book from debut author and illustrator Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and Ebony Glenn.

A khimar is a flowing scarf that my mommy wears.
Before she walks out the door each day, she wraps one around her head.

A young girl plays dress up with her mother’s headscarves, feeling her mother’s love with every one she tries on. Charming and vibrant illustrations showcase the beauty of the diverse and welcoming community in this portrait of a young Muslim American girl’s life.”

Saturday by Oge Mora (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Today would be special. Today would be splendid. It was Saturday! But sometimes, the best plans don’t work out exactly the way you expect….

In this heartfelt and universal story, a mother and daughter look forward to their special Saturday routine together every single week. But this Saturday, one thing after another goes wrong–ruining storytime, salon time, picnic time, and the puppet show they’d been looking forward to going to all week. Mom is nearing a meltdown…until her loving daughter reminds her that being together is the most important thing of all.

Author-artist Oge Mora’s highly anticipated follow up to Caldecott Honor Thank You, Omu! features the same magnificently radiant artwork and celebration of sharing so beloved in her debut picture book.”

A Day With Yayah by Nicola Campbell, Illustrated by Julie Flett (Bookshop | Amazon)


“Set in the Nicola Valley, British Columbia, in Canada’s westernmost province, a First Nations family goes on an outing to forage for herbs and mushrooms. A grandmother passes down her knowledge of plant life and the natural world to her young grandchildren.”

Standing On Her Shoulders by Monica Clark-Robinson, Illustrated by Laura Freeman (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A stunning love letter to the important women who shape us — from our own mothers and grandmothers to the legends who paved the way for girls and women everywhere.


Standing on Her Shoulders is a celebration of the strong women who influence us — from our mothers, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers to the women who fought for equality and acceptance in the United States.

Monica Clark-Robinson’s lyrical text encourages young girls to learn about the powerful and trailblazing women who laid the path for their own lives and empowers them to become role models themselves. Acclaimed illustrator Laura Freeman’s remarkable art showcases a loving intergenerational family and encourages girls to find female heroes in their own lives.

Standing on Her Shoulders will inspire girls of all ages to follow in the footsteps of these amazing women.”

You can also read my full review of Standing On Her Shoulders for more detail.

The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali, Illustrated by Hatem Aly (Bookshop | Amazon)

“With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It’s the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it’s her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab–a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong.

Paired with Hatem Aly’s beautiful, whimsical art, Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad and Morris Award finalist S.K. Ali bring readers an uplifting, universal story of new experiences, the unbreakable bond between siblings, and of being proud of who you are.”

Plenty Of Hugs by Fran Manushkin, Illustrated by Kate Alizadeh (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This cheerful book follows a family from morning to night in lively rhyme that rolls off the tongue. There’s a buzz for each bug, and a breeze for each tree, and plenty of hugs for you and me. The toddler and mommies take a morning bike ride to a farm stand, they visit a zoo in the afternoon, and in the evening there’s the bath and storybook routine before the child is tucked cozily into bed. There are seas for ships and kisses for lips, so we can whisper I love you! This is sure to become a preschool favorite, for bedtime and any time.”

Yaffa and Fatima Shalom, Salaam by Fawzia Gilani-Williams, Illustrated by Chiara Fedele (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Two neighbors―one Jewish, one Muslim―have always been best friends. When they both fall on hard times, can they find a way to help each other? In Fawzia Gilani’s retelling of this folktale―which has both Jewish and Arab origins―differences are not always causes for conflict and friendship can overcome any obstacle.”

Mom Marries Mum by Ken Setterington and Alice Priestly (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A brother and sister are thrilled that their mom and mum are getting married! After dancing around the living room, they are full of questions. Will Nana and Pop be there? Will they get to dress up? The answer is yes! They celebrate the wedding outdoors with family and friends. And most importantly, they all get to blow bubbles! A beautiful celebration of a loving family celebrating an important day together.”

Stella’s Stellar Hair by Yesenia Moises (Bookshop | Amazon)

“It’s the day of the Big Star Little Gala, and Stella’s hair just isn’t acting right! What’s a girl to do?

Simple! Just hop on her hoverboard, visit each of her fabulous aunties across the solar system, and find the perfect hairdo along the way.

Stella’s Stellar Hair celebrates the joy of self-empowerment, shows off our solar system, and beautifully illustrates a variety of hairstyles from the African diaspora. Backmatter provides more information about each style and each planet.”

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales (Bookshop | Amazon)

Dreamers is a celebration of making your home with the things you always carry: your resilience, your dreams, your hopes and history. It’s the story of finding your way in a new place, of navigating an unfamiliar world and finding the best parts of it. In dark times, it’s a promise that you can make better tomorrows.  

This lovingly-illustrated picture book memoir looks at the myriad gifts migrantes bring with them when they leave their homes. It’s a story about family. And it’s a story to remind us that we are all dreamers, bringing our own strengths wherever we roam. Beautiful and powerful at any time but given particular urgency as the status of our own Dreamers becomes uncertain, this is a story that is both topical and timeless.”

We Wait For The Sun by Dovey Johnson Roundtree and Katie McCabe, Illustrated by Raissa Figueroa (Bookshop | Amazon)

“In the hour before dawn, Dovey Mae and Grandma Rachel step into the cool, damp night on a secret mission: to find the sweetest, ripest blackberries that grow deep in the woods.

But the nighttime holds a thousand sounds―and a thousand shadows―and Dovey Mae is frightened of the dark. But with the fierce and fearless Grandma Rachel at her side, the woods turn magical, and berry picking becomes an enchanting adventure that ends with the beauty and power of the sunrise.”

You can also read my full review of We Wait For The Sun for more detail.

I Dream of Popo by Livia Blackburne, Illustrated by Julia Kuo (Bookshop | Amazon)

“From New York Times bestselling author Livia Blackburne and illustrator Julia Kuo, here is I Dream of Popo. This delicate, emotionally rich picture book celebrates a special connection that crosses time zones and oceans as Popo and her granddaughter hold each other in their hearts forever.

I dream with Popo as she rocks me in her arms.
I wave at Popo before I board my flight.
I talk to Popo from across the sea.
I tell Popo about my adventures.

When a young girl and her family emigrate from Taiwan to America, she leaves behind her beloved popo, her grandmother. She misses her popo every day, but even if their visits are fleeting, their love is ever true and strong.”

A Gift For Amma by Meera Sriram, Illustrated by Mariona Cabassa (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A young girl explores the vibrant rainbow of items for sale in a southern Indian street market as she searches for a gift for her mother. Includes facts about the items mentioned and markets around the world, as well as photographs taken by the author in her hometown of Chennai, India.”

Nana Akua Goes To School by Tricia Elam Walker, Illustrated by April Harrison (Bookshop | Amazon)

“It is Grandparents Day at Zura’s elementary school, and the students are excited to introduce their grandparents and share what makes them special. Aleja’s grandfather is a fisherman. Bisou’s grandmother is a dentist. But Zura’s Nana, who is her favorite person in the world, looks a little different from other grandmas. Nana Akua was raised in Ghana, and, following an old West African tradition, has tribal markings on her face. Worried that her classmates will be scared of Nana–or worse, make fun of her–Zura is hesitant to bring her to school. Nana Akua knows what to do, though. With a quilt of traditional African symbols and a bit of face paint, Nana Akua is able to explain what makes her special, and to make all of Zura’s classmates feel special, too.”

I hope this list provides you with a few titles to read to your little ones today, highlighting the way the women in our lives encourage and support us day in and day out.

What are your favorite books to read for International Women’s Day? Be sure to share them in the comments below!

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Your Life Matters – A Validating Picture Book For Black Children

I am so honored to be able to share Your Life Matters with you all today. This beautiful picture book is an empowering reminder for Black children that their lives matter. No matter what they see on TV or social media, no matter what whispers they overhear, no matter the shouts that may be directed at them, Your Life Matters communicates the message all Black children need to hear. They are seen, and they matter.

Written by Chris Singleton, who lost his mother in the 2015 Charleston church shooting, this book encourages young readers to persevere through racial adversity by validating their very existence. Each page features a famous Black hero mentoring a child and encouraging them use their heart, voice, courage, and strength to follow their dreams.

As well as uplifting Black children, Your Life Matters is a great resource to discuss race with non-Black children. The honest depiction of Black children’s experiences provide an age-appropriate example to use in conversations about race, highlighting the way their experiences may differ from that of their Black friends or classmates..

I loved the illustrations by Taylor Barron and the way they bring a bright atmosphere to such a serious topic.

The back matter also contains short biographies for young readers who would like to learn more about the Black heroes listed, such as Maya Angelou, Barack Obama, and Katherine Johnson.

Your Life Matters is published by Bushel & Peck Books, who has an amazing “book-for-book promise”. Bushel & Peck Books donates one book to a child in need for every book they sell. You can even nominate a school or organization to receive donations at their website bushelandpeckbooks.com.

Your Life Matters officially releases next week (March 9, 2021), but you can preorder it today on Bookshop and Amazon. You can also purchase your copy directly from Bushel & Peck Books. (Please note: Some links provided 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!)

Chris Singleton is a former professional baseball player and inspirational speaker who travels the country speaking to students. You can learn more about him and his work at his website chrissingleton.com.

Taylor Barron is an artist based in Paris, France. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at taylorbarron.com.

I would like to thank Bushel & Peck Books for kindly providing a review copy of Your Life Matters. I am truly honored to be able to share this beautiful book with such an important message.

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31 Picture Books To Celebrate Women’s History Month

Today marks the beginning of Women’s History Month, and I would like to celebrate with a list of picture book biographies highlighting some amazing women who made their mark on history.

Despite the fact that doors were not always open for them, women have contributed in countless ways throughout history. Far too often their accomplishments have been dismissed, overlooked, or in some cases, claimed by men in their fields. Though we have come a long way in recognizing the accomplishments of women, there is still a need for awareness around women’s prominence in history.

If you ask your friends or family who their favorite women from history are, you may find that many people can only list a handful of women who changed the world. Even in 2021, many people still don’t know that women invented circular saws, life rafts, central heating, and bullet proof fiber.

I hope that this list can provide a small history lesson about a remarkable woman for each day of Women’s History Month. By introducing young readers to books like these, we can share the stories of women and ensure the next generation is aware of their place in history.

So without further ado, here is my list of 31 books to read with your children for Women’s History Month.

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.

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell, Illustrated by Christian Robinson (Bookshop | Amazon)

“In exuberant verse and stirring pictures, Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson create an extraordinary portrait for young people of the passionate performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker, the woman who worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. Meticulously researched by both author and artist, Josephine’s powerful story of struggle and triumph is an inspiration and a spectacle, just like the legend herself.”

Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found The Faces Of Depression by Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by Sarah Green (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Before she raised her lens to take her most iconic photo, Dorothea Lange took photos of the downtrodden, from bankers in once-fine suits waiting in breadlines, to former slaves, to the homeless sleeping on sidewalks. A case of polio had left her with a limp and sympathetic to those less fortunate. Traveling across the United States, documenting with her camera and her fieldbook those most affected by the stock market crash, she found the face of the Great Depression. In this picture book biography, Carole Boston Weatherford’s lyrical prose captures the spirit of the influential photographer.”

The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid by Jeanette Winter (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Get to know Zaha Hadid in this nonfiction picture book about the famed architect’s life and her triumph over adversity from celebrated author-illustrator Jeanette Winter.

Zaha Hadid grew up in Baghdad, Iraq, and dreamed of designing her own cities. After studying architecture in London, she opened her own studio and started designing buildings. But as a Muslim woman, Hadid faced many obstacles. Determined to succeed, she worked hard for many years, and achieved her goals—and now you can see the buildings Hadid has designed all over the world.”

The Fearless Flights Of Hazel Ying Lee by Julie Leung, Illustrated by Julie Kwon (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Hazel Ying Lee was born fearless—she was not afraid of anything, and the moment she took her first airplane ride, she knew where she belonged. When people scoffed at her dreams of becoming a pilot, Hazel wouldn’t take no for an answer. She joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II. It was a dangerous job, but Hazel flew with joy and boldness.

This moving, true story about a groundbreaking figure will inspire young readers to challenge barriers and reach for the sky.”

You can also read my full review of The Fearless Flights Of Hazel Ying Lee for more detail.

Mother Jones And Her Army Of Mill Children by Jonah Winter, Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Here’s the inspiring story of the woman who raised her voice and fist to protect kids’ childhoods and futures– and changed America forever. Mother Jones is MAD, and she wants you to be MAD TOO, and stand up for what’s right! Told in first-person, New York Times bestselling author, Jonah Winter, and acclaimed illustrator, Nancy Carpenter, share the incredible story of Mother Jones, an Irish immigrant who was essential in the fight to create child labor laws. Well into her sixties, Mother Jones had finally had enough of children working long hours in dangerous factory jobs, and decided she was going to do something about it. The powerful protests she organized earned her the name “the most dangerous woman in America.” And in the Children’s Crusade of 1903, she lead one hundred boys and girls on a glorious march from Philadelphia right to the front door of President Theodore Roosevelt’s Long Island home.”

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai, Illustrated by Kerascoët (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Malala’s first picture book will inspire young readers everywhere to find the magic all around them.

As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy, to erase the smell of garbage from her city, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true.

This beautifully illustrated volume tells Malala’s story for a younger audience and shows them the worldview that allowed Malala to hold on to hope.”

Counting the Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician by Lesa Cline-Ransome, Illustrated by Raúl Colón (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or astronauts walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used their knowledge, pencils, adding machines, and writing paper to calculate the orbital mechanics needed to launch spacecraft. Katherine Johnson was one of these mathematicians who used trajectories and complex equations to chart the space program. Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws were in place in the early 1950s, Katherine worked analyzing data at the NACA (later NASA) Langley laboratory.

In 1962, as NASA prepared for the orbital mission of John Glenn, Katherine Johnson was called upon and John Glenn said “get the girl” (Katherine Johnson) to run the numbers by hand to chart the complexity of the orbital flight. He knew that his flight couldn’t work without her unique skills.”

Portrait of An Artist: Frida Khalo by Lucy Brownridge, Illustrated by Sandra Dieckmann (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter and today is one of the world’s favourite artists. As a child, she was badly affected by polio, and later suffered a terrible accident that left her disabled and in pain. Shortly after this accident, Kahlo took up painting, and through her surreal, symbolic self portraits described the pain she suffered, as well as the treatment of women, and her sadness at not being able to have a child. This book tells the story of Frida Kahlo’s life through her own artworks, and shows how she came to create some of the most famous paintings in the world. Learn about her difficult childhood, her love affair with fellow painter Diego Rivera, and the lasting impact her surreal work had on the history of art in this book that brings her life to work.”

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating, Illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Eugenie Clark fell in love with sharks from the first moment she saw them at the aquarium. She couldn’t imagine anything more exciting than studying these graceful creatures. But Eugenie quickly discovered that many people believed sharks to be ugly and scary―and they didn’t think women should be scientists.

Determined to prove them wrong, Eugenie devoted her life to learning about sharks. After earning several college degrees and making countless discoveries, Eugenie wrote herself into the history of science, earning the nickname “Shark Lady.” Through her accomplishments, she taught the world that sharks were to be admired rather than feared and that women can do anything they set their minds to.

An inspiring story by critically acclaimed zoologist Jess Keating about finding the strength to discover truths that others aren’t daring enough to see. Includes a timeline of Eugenie’s life and many fin-tastic shark facts!”

A Girl Called Genghis Khan: How Maria Toorpakai Wazir Pretended to Be a Boy, Defied the Taliban, and Became a World Famous Squash Player by Michelle Lord, Illustrated by Shehzil Malik (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Meet Maria Toorpakai Wazir, a Pakistani girl who loved sports and longed for the freedom that boys in her culture enjoyed. She joined a squash club to pursue her dream, and was taunted, teased, and beaten—but still continued playing. Then, when Maria received an award from the President of Pakistan for outstanding achievement, the Taliban threatened her squash club, her family, and her life. Although forced to quit the team, she refused to give up. Maria kept practicing the game in her bedroom every day for three years! Her hard work and perseverance in the face of overwhelming obstacles will inspire all children.”

Billie Jean!: How Tennis Star Billie Jean King Changed Women’s Sports by Mara Rockliff, Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley (Bookshop | Amazon)

“From award-winning author Mara Rockliff and New York Times-bestselling illustrator Elizabeth Baddeley comes this extraordinary picture book about one little girl who loved sports and grew up to be one of the greatest and best-known tennis players of all time.

Anything Billie Jean did, she did it ALL THE WAY. When she ran, she ran fast. When she played, she played hard. As a top women’s tennis player, Billie Jean fought for fairness in women’s sports, and when she faced off against Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes, the most famous tennis match in history, she showed the world that men and women–and boys and girls–are equal on and off the court.”

Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer by Traci Sorell, Illustrated by Natasha Donovan (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Mary Golda Ross designed classified airplanes and spacecraft as Lockheed Aircraft Corporation’s first female engineer. Find out how her passion for math and the Cherokee values she was raised with shaped her life and work.

Cherokee author Traci Sorell and Métis illustrator Natasha Donovan trace Ross’s journey from being the only girl in a high school math class to becoming a teacher to pursuing an engineering degree, joining the top-secret Skunk Works division of Lockheed, and being a mentor for Native Americans and young women interested in engineering. In addition, the narrative highlights Cherokee values including education, working cooperatively, remaining humble, and helping ensure equal opportunity and education for all.”

Yursa Swims by Julie Abery, Illustrated by Sally Deng (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A biography in rhyme relates the story of Olympic swimmer and Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini.”

Dolores Huerta: A Hero To Migrant Workers by Sarah Warren, Illustrated by Robert Casilla (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Dolores is a teacher, a mother, and a friend. She wants to know why her students are too hungry to listen, why they don’t have shoes to wear to school. Dolores is a warrior, an organizer, and a peacemaker. When she finds out that the farm workers in her community are poorly paid and working under dangerous conditions, she stands up for their rights.

This is the story of Dolores Huerta and the extraordinary battle she waged to ensure fair and safe work places for migrant workers. The powerful text, paired with Robert Casilla’s vibrant watercolor-and-pastel illustrations, brings Dolores’s amazing journey to life. A timeline, additional reading, articles, websites, and resources for teachers are included.”

Pirate Queen: A Story Of Zheng Yi Sao by Helaine Becker, Illustrated by Liz Wong (Bookshop | Amazon)

“The most powerful pirate in history was a woman who was born into poverty in Guangzhou, China, in the late 1700s. When pirates attacked her town and the captain took a liking to her, she saw a way out. Zheng Yi Sao agreed to marry him only if she got an equal share of his business. When her husband died six years later, she took command of the fleet.

Over the next decade, the pirate queen built a fleet of over 1,800 ships and 70,000 men. On land and sea, Zheng Yi Sao’s power rivaled the emperor himself. Time and again, her ships triumphed over the emperor’s ships.”

Wilma’s Way Home by Doreen Rappaport, Illustrated by Linda Kukuk (Bookshop | Amazon)

“As a child in Oklahoma, Wilma Mankiller experienced the Cherokee practice of Gadugi, helping each other, even when times were hard for everyone. But in 1956, the federal government uprooted her family and moved them to California, wrenching them from their home, friends, and traditions. Separated from her community and everything she knew, Wilma felt utterly lost until she found refuge in the Indian Center in San Francisco. There, she worked to build and develop the local Native community and championed Native political activists. She took her two children to visit tribal communities in the state, and as she introduced them to the traditions of their heritage, she felt a longing for home.

Returning to Oklahoma with her daughters, Wilma took part in Cherokee government. Despite many obstacles, from resistance to female leadership to a life-threatening accident, Wilma’s courageous dedication to serving her people led to her election as the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation. As leader and advocate, she reinvigorated her constituency by empowering them to identify and solve community problems.”

Queen Of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom by Teresa Robeson, Illustrated by Rebecca Huang (Bookshop | Amazon)

“When Wu Chien Shiung was born in China 100 years ago, most girls did not attend school; no one considered them as smart as boys. But her parents felt differently. Giving her a name meaning “Courageous Hero,” they encouraged her love of learning and science. This engaging biography follows Wu Chien Shiung as she battles sexism and racism to become what Newsweek magazine called the “Queen of Physics” for her work on beta decay. Along the way, she earned the admiration of famous scientists like Enrico Fermi and Robert Oppenheimer and became the first woman hired as an instructor by Princeton University, the first woman elected President of the American Physical Society, the first scientist to have an asteroid named after her when she was still alive, and many other honors.”

Mae Among The Stars by Roda Ahmed, Illustrated by Stasia Burrington (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A great classroom and bedtime read-aloud, Mae Among the Stars is the perfect book for young readers who have big dreams and even bigger hearts.

When Little Mae was a child, she dreamed of dancing in space. She imagined herself surrounded by billions of stars, floating, gliding, and discovering.

She wanted to be an astronaut.

Her mom told her, “If you believe it, and work hard for it, anything is possible.”

Little Mae’s curiosity, intelligence, and determination, matched with her parents’ encouraging words, paved the way for her incredible success at NASA as the first African American woman to travel in space.

This book will inspire other young girls to reach for the stars, to aspire for the impossible, and to persist with childlike imagination.”

Joan Proctor Dragon Doctor by Patricia Valdez, Illustrated by Felicita Sala (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Back in the days of long skirts and afternoon teas, young Joan Procter entertained the most unusual party guests: slithery and scaly ones, who turned over teacups and crawled past the crumpets…. While other girls played with dolls, Joan preferred the company of reptiles. She carried her favorite lizard with her everywhere–she even brought a crocodile to school!”

Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions Of Trees by Franck Prevot, Illustrated by Aurélia Fronty (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Wangari Maathai changed the way the world thinks about nature, ecology, freedom, and democracy, inspiring radical efforts that continue to this day. This simply told story begins with Green Belt Movement founder Wangari Maathai’s childhood at the foot of Mount Kenya where, as the oldest child in her family, her responsibility was to stay home and help her mother. When the chance to go to school presented itself, she seized it with both hands. She traveled to the US to study, where she saw that even in the land of the free, black people were not welcome.

Returning home, Wangari was determined to help her people and her country. She recognized that deforestation and urbanization was at the root of her country’s troubles. Her courage and confidence carried her through adversity to found a movement for peace, reconciliation, and healing.”

Queen of Tejano Music: Selena by Silvia López, Illustrated by Paola Escobar (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Selena Quintanilla’s music career began at the age of nine when she started singing in her family’s band. She went from using a hairbrush as a microphone to traveling from town to town to play gigs. But Selena faced a challenge: People said that she would never make it in Tejano music, which was dominated by male performers. Selena was determined to prove them wrong.

Born and raised in Texas, Selena didn’t know how to speak Spanish, but with the help of her dad, she learned to sing it. With songs written and composed by her older brother and the fun dance steps Selena created, her band, Selena Y Los Dinos, rose to stardom! A true trailblazer, her success in Tejano music and her crossover into mainstream American music opened the door for other Latinx entertainers, and she became an inspiration for Latina girls everywhere.”

Flying High: The Story of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles by Michelle Meadows, Illustrated by Ebony Glenn (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Before she was a record-breaking gymnast competing on the world stage, Simone Biles spent time in foster care as a young child. Nimble and boundlessly energetic, she cherished every playground and each new backyard.

When she was six years old, Simone’s family took shape in a different way. Her grandparents Ron and Nellie Biles adopted Simone and her sister Adria. Ron and Nellie became their parents. Simone was also introduced to gymnastics that same year, launching a lifelong passion fueled by remarkable talent, sacrifice, and the undying support of her family.

From her athletic early childhood to the height of her success as an Olympic champion, Flying High is the story of the world’s greatest gymnast from author Michelle Meadows and illustrator Ebony Glenn.”

Grace Hopper: Queen Of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark, Illustrated by Katy Wu (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Who was Grace Hopper? A software tester, workplace jester, cherished mentor, ace inventor, avid reader, naval leader—AND rule breaker, chance taker, and troublemaker. Acclaimed picture book author Laurie Wallmark (Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine) once again tells the riveting story of a trailblazing woman. Grace Hopper coined the term “computer bug” and taught computers to “speak English.” Throughout her life, Hopper succeeded in doing what no one had ever done before. Delighting in difficult ideas and in defying expectations, the insatiably curious Hopper truly was “Amazing Grace” . . . and a role model for science- and math-minded girls and boys. With a wealth of witty quotes, and richly detailed illustrations, this book brings Hopper’s incredible accomplishments to life.”

Girl On A Motorcycle by Amy Novesky, Illustrated by Julie Morstad (Bookshop | Amazon)

“One day, a girl gets on her motorcycle and rides away. She wants to wander the world. To go . . . Elsewhere. This is the true story of the first woman to ride a motorcycle around the world alone. Each place has something to teach her. Each place is beautiful. And despite many flat tires and falls, she learns to always get back up and keep riding.

Award-winning author Amy Novesky and Governor General’s Award-winning illustrator Julie Morstad have teamed up for a spectacular celebration of girl power and resilience.”

Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor by Laurie Wallmark, Illustrated by Katy Wu (Bookshop | Amazon)

“To her adoring public, Hedy Lamarr was a glamorous movie star, widely considered the most beautiful woman in the world. But in private, she was something more: a brilliant inventor. And for many years only her closest friends knew her secret. Now Laurie Wallmark and Katy Wu, who collaborated on Sterling’s critically acclaimed picture-book biography Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code, tell the inspiring story of how, during World War Two, Lamarr developed a groundbreaking communications system that still remains essential to the security of today’s technology.”

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul, Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon (Bookshop | Amazon)

“The inspiring true story of how one African woman began a movement to recycle the plastic bags that were polluting her community.

Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred.

The bags accumulated in ugly heaps alongside roads. Water pooled in them, bringing mosquitoes and disease. Some bags were burned, leaving behind a terrible smell. Some were buried, but they strangled gardens. They killed livestock that tried to eat them. Something had to change.

Isatou Ceesay was that change. She found a way to recycle the bags and transform her community. This inspirational true story shows how one person’s actions really can make a difference in our world.”

Cubs in the Tub: The True Story of the Bronx Zoo’s First Woman Zookeeper by Candace Fleming, Illustrated by Julie Downing (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Fred and Helen Martini longed for a baby, and they ended up with dozens of lion and tiger cubs! Snuggle up to this purr-fect read aloud about the Bronx Zoo’s first female zoo-keeper.

When Bronx Zoo-keeper Fred brought home a lion cub, Helen Martini instantly embraced it. The cub’s mother lost the instinct to care for him. “Just do for him what you would do with a human baby,” Fred suggested…and she did. Helen named him MacArthur, and fed him milk from a bottle and cooed him to sleep in a crib.

Soon enough, MacArthur was not the only cub bathed in the tub! The couple continues to raise lion and tiger cubs as their own, until they are old enough to return them to zoos. Helen becomes the first female zookeeper at the Bronx zoo, the keeper of the nursery.

This is a terrific non-fiction book to read aloud while snuggling up with your cubs! Filled with adorable baby cats, this is a story about love, dedication, and a new kind of family.

Gorgeously patterned illustrations by Julie Downing detail the in-home nursery and a warm pallet creates a cozy pairing with Candace Fleming’s lovely language.”

Shadow Warrior: Based on the True Story of a Fearless Ninja and Her Network of Female Spies by by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Illustrated by Celia Krampien (Bookshop | Amazon)

“It’s 1558, and warlords across Japan are battling for territory and control. Into this setting, award-winning author Tanya Lloyd Kyi weaves the stories of three people: Mochizuki Chiyome, a young woman determined to become a ninja whose plans are thwarted by an arranged marriage; Takeda Shingen (The Tiger), a fierce warlord seeking a new weapon to outsmart his enemies; and Aki, an orphaned tavern girl whose destiny is changed by a mysterious woman. As their stories intersect, the three characters become key players in an elaborate network of undercover female ninjas who will eventually shift the balance of power in Japan. Based on the true story of Mochizuki Chiyome and her all-female spy network, Shadow Warrior takes readers on a journey through feudal Japan, from villages to castles to battlefields. Stunning illustrations by Celia Krampien, interspersed with archival Japanese art, vividly depict the rigors of ninja training, the struggles of village life, the intensity of battle, and the thrill of accomplishing a secret mission.”

Grace Banker And Her Hello Girls Answer the Call by Claudia Friddell, Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Follow Grace Banker’s journey from her busy life as a telephone switchboard trainer in New York to her pioneering role as the Chief Operator of the 1st Unit of World War I telephone operators in the battlefields of France. With expert skill, steady nerves, and steadfast loyalty, the Signal Corps operators transferred orders from commanders to battlefields and communicated top-secret messages between American and French headquarters. After faithfully serving her country —undaunted by freezing weather and fires; long hours and little sleep, and nearby shellings and far off explosions — Grace was the first and only woman operator in the Signal Corps to be awarded the Army’s Distinguished Service Medal.”

You can also read my full review of Grace Banker and Her Hello Girls Answer the Call for more detail.

Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins by Michelle Meadows, Illustrated by Ebony Glenn (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Janet Collins wanted to be a ballerina in the 1930s and 40s, a time when racial segregation was widespread in the United States. Janet pursued dance with a passion, despite being rejected from discriminatory dance schools. When she was accepted into the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as a teenager on the condition that she paint her skin white for performances, Janet refused. She continued to go after her dreams, never compromising her values along the way. From her early childhood lessons to the height of her success as the first African American prima ballerina in the Metropolitan Opera, Brave Ballerina is the story of a remarkable pioneer as told by Michelle Meadows, with fantastic illustrations from Ebony Glenn.”

Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride by Andrea Pinkney, Illustrated by Brian Pinkney (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Born into slavery, Belle had to endure the cruelty of several masters before she escaped to freedom. But she knew she wouldn’t really be free unless she was helping to end injustice. That’s when she changed her name to Sojourner and began traveling across the country, demanding equal rights for black people and for women. Many people weren’t ready for her message, but Sojourner was brave, and her truth was powerful. And slowly, but surely as Sojourner’s step-stomp stride, America began to change.”

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 Women’s History Month? Be sure to share any favorites I missed in the comments below!

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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!

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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

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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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