20 Books Bursting With Black Joy

Find your own joy in these books.

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.

Just a heads up, WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. We only recommend items our team loves!

Hey Baby! by Andrea Pippins

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

The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes

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

Bedtime Bonnet by Nancy Redd

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

Saturday by Oge Mora

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

Octopus Stew by Eric Velasquez

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

The Night Is Yours by Abdul-Razak Zachariah

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

Brown Sugar Babe by Charlotte Watson Sherman

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

Freedom Soup by Tami Charles

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

Happy Hair by Mechal Renee Roe

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.

The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson

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

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy by Tony Medina

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

The Sweetest Sound by Sherry Winston

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

As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds

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

My Life As An Ice Cream Sandwich by Ibi Zoboi

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.

Love Double Dutch by Doreen Spicer-Dannelly

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.

The Last Last-Day-of-Summer by Lamar Giles

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

I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest

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

The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert

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

Charming As A Verb by Ben Philippe

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!

20 Books Bursting With Black Joy

Posted by Rachel Werner

Rachel Werner is faculty for Hugo House and The Loft Literary Center; a We Need Diverse Books program volunteer; and a book reviewer for Shelf Awareness. She has contributed print, photography and video content to "Fabulous Wisconsin," "BLK+GRN," "Madison Magazine" and "Entrepreneurial Chef." She is also the founder of The Little BookProject WI, a community arts and nonprofit bi-annual collaboration. A passionate commitment to holistic wellness and sustainable agriculture keeps her a Midwestern girl at heart. Follow her adventures around the country on Instagram '@therealscript.'

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