20 Books Bursting With Black Joy


Our classroom libraries need to be as authentic and versatile as humanity’s existence at large. Books that feature marginalized groups shouldn’t just be focused on the trauma or pain these groups have faced. Fortunately, hashtags like #BlackGirlMagic; #BlackBoyJoy and #ForTheCulture can help us to find resources for our classroom that center joy and everyday experiences. This reading list of books to celebrate Black joy is the perfect opportunity to help kids (from toddlers through teens) take a deeper dive into these concepts. Use the list in your summer school programming and the upcoming academic year.

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Vivid drawings and photographs are an ideal combo in this picture book about an infant’s daily routine.

A kindergartner has BIG dreams for what he will accomplish on his first day of school.

A lost nightcap must be recovered before a little girl can finally say goodnight to her family.

Mom’s day off is always special, even when a full day of fun doesn’t quite go as planned.

One boy must embark on an unusual quest to save his grandmother from a mischievous octopus.

Living in an apartment building has its perks—like being able to play a rambunctious round of hide-and-seek just before bedtime.

A little girl learns to embrace the beauty of her skin color.

Cooking Haitian food becomes a storytelling feast in this delightful narrative based on familial traditions native to the island.

A whimsical homage to the pleasure of natural Afro-Caribbean hairstyles.

Parker Looks Up by Parker Curry & Jessica Curry

A visit to a museum expands a child’s perspective on what she has the capacity to do and become as she grows up thanks to seeing a stunning portrait of (former) First Lady Michelle Obama.

A crew of tweens set out to rig the next student council president election.

13 poems are illustrated by different artists in this ode to the positive moments a Black youth’s experiences in his usual schedule.

A shy girl decides to let her musical talents change in this heartwarming read.

Spending the summer with their grandparents turns into an effective learning curve for two brothers’ beginning to explore—and define—masculinity.

An extended visit with her father in Harlem turns out to be as captivating as the space and sci-fi adventures that Ebony-Grace adores.

Being shipped off to live with her cousin for the summer is not about to stop MaKayla from making it into a national double dutch competition.

Two kids must figure out how to prevent their town from being frozen in time on the last day of summer vacation.

One girl’s secret trip to a prestigious dance school audition turns into a wacky road trip with an attractive neighbor.

Helping another teen gain access to the voting booth was one challenge this clever protagonist did not see coming on election day.

Blackmailed into helping a classmate shed her awkward image, a popular Haitian teenager begins to accept it’s okay (and even fun) to be less than perfect.

Are we missing any of your favorite books that celebrate Black joy? Share in the comments below. 

Plus 50 Kidlit books with Black protagonists!

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