Written by Alia Jones, Senior Library Services Assistant, Downtown Main Library 

Hey Black Child
Do you know who you are
Who you really are
Do you know you can be
What you want to be
If you try to be
What you can be

-- “Hey Black Child” by Useni Eugene Perkins

In the midst of a global pandemic, Black people are experiencing fatigue, stress, grief, and anger at more loss of Black life. Coronavirus is hitting Black, Brown, and Native communities at devastating rates while Black and non-Black allies are protesting to remind the world that Black. Lives. Matter.

So how do we nourish Black joy? How can books be a safe space? One thing we can do during this time is to remind Black children that we see them, that we support them, and that they are loved. 

Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop speaks of “windows, mirrors & sliding glass doors” in children’s literature; it’s critical that children grow up seeing themselves reflected in the books they read, starting in infancy. I've highlighted some books in our Library collection that affirm Black childhood and encourage Black youth to dream, speak up, and get started on the path towards liberation. 

These books are available free at the Library. Physical materials can now be reserved then picked up at our drive-thrus and curbside locations

Young Children 

Hey Black Child by Useni Eugene Perkins; illustrated by Bryan Collier

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander; illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Going Down Home With Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons; illustrated by Daniel Minter

City Shapes by Dianna Murray; illustrated by Bryan Collier

Black Is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy; illustrated by Ekua Holmes

When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff; illustrated by Kaylani Juania

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes; illustrated by Gordon C. James

Full, Full, Full of Love by Trish Cooke; illustrated by Paul Howard

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown; illustrated by Frank Morrison

We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe

Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children by Sandra L. Pinkney & photographs by Myles C. Pinkney

Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow; illustrated by Ebony Glenn

Honey, I Love and Other Love Poems by Eloise Greenfield; illustrated by Diane and Leo Dillon

Double Bass Blues by Andrea J. Loney; illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez

13 Ways of Looking at a Black Boy by Tony Medina & 13 Artists

My Hair is a Garden by Cozbi A. Cabrera 

Middle Grade

Ghost (Track Book 1) by Jason Reynolds

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

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

Piecing Me Together by Reneé Watson

So Done by Paula Chase

Jada Jones series by Kelly Starling Lyons; illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

New Kid by Jerry Craft

Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender

Young Adult

Say Her Name by Zetta Elliott; illustrated by Loveis Wise

Not So Pure & Simple by Lamar Giles

Stamped by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi

A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell

Pride by Ibi Zoboi 

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