Celebrating ‘Us’ With Some Great Children’s Books  

By AC Workman, Group Facilitator 

 At Black Infant Health, our participants are our most cherished and highly respected experts.  After all, who knows more about mommy-ing than, well, mommies! Recently, we asked some of our moms for suggestions on books that feel affirming and reflective of our beautiful baby community.  Here are a few of our favorites: 

 Please, baby please by Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee. Illustrations by Kadir Nelson 

Spike Lee has a children’s book?  He sure does. Along with his wife, Tonya Lewis Lee, an attorney who has also been a longtime advocate around Black maternal health issues, Lee penned this relatable tale of an adorable (if slightly mischievous) toddler.  And, if you like this book, check out the sequel too – please, puppy please, for canine and sibling antics. Gorgeous illustrations by Kadir Nelson make these a BIH baby favorites.’ 

One Love by Cedella Marley. Ilustrations by Vanessa Brantley-Newton  

 “Feel the rhythm of change as one girl transforms her neighborhood for the better.” ~Cedella Marley 

Yeah mon. “Let’s get together an’ feeeeeeel alriiiiiight.”  This book, from the daughter of the one-and-only Robert Nesta Marley (aka “Bob”) is exactly what you would think it is about.  Nuff nuff positive vibes for the lickle chil’ren to feel. And, when you are done reading, you can use the magic of song and teach baby the lyrics of Bob Marley’s classic tune, One Love,  to reinforce the dream of a more loving and equitable world. 

 Happy Hair written and illustrated by Mechal Renee Roe.  

 Keeping it cute and carefree in the sandbox!  Baby hairs poppin’…literally. Many of our moms (and dads) love to share their natural styling tips with us and each other.  It is heart-warming to see images that reflect styles that are both gentle on our little ones’ hair, celebrate our culture(s) and are mini-fashionista approved.  Happy Hair by Mechal Renee Roe is a great place to start. But, never fear, the author did not forget about the boys. There is also a companion book called Cool Cuts, featuring some great ‘lewks’ to inspire our dapper little guys. 

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad, by Ellen Levine. Illustrations by Kadir Nelson 

 Go back and get it! “Sankofa” is a word from the Twi language of Ghana which means “to retrieve.” So, when we see the powerful symbol of the sankofa bird looking backwards, it is a reminder that there is so much in our history that can nourish our dreams of today.   Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad, tells the inspirational history of Henry “Box” Brown, an abolitionist, former slave and hero who literally “mailed” himself to freedom. While the complete historical account of his life is and escape is vast and sometimes harrowing, this children’s version gives young ones access to this important history in an age-appropriate and sensitive format.  Replete with dreamy, inspiring images from the renowned artist, Kadir Nelson, Henry’s Freedom Box is not only educational, it is also beautiful. 

We hope this list gives you some ideas for your next story time, but it is just a beginning. There are so many wonderful children’s books celebrating and centering children of color to choose from. Tell us – what are your favorites? We would love to hear.  

For more book recommendations you can browse this list of 13 wonderful children’s books by Black authors and illustrators from Penguin as well as the following 6 books available on Amazon below: