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Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Black Children’s Book Authors Who Are Changing Children’s Literature

African American children reading books

Nationwide — Black children’s book authors have paved the way toward a more inclusive literary experience for young readers. This list features four celebrated Black children’s book authors who have dedicated their lives to providing young children of color an outlet for their unique experiences.

  • Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline is a New York Times Best Selling Author and is also the 2018-19 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. She has written dozens of novels, including children’s literature and books for young adults. Among her many distinctions, she is a four-time Newbury Honor Winner, a four-time National Book Award finalist, and was named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. Her books include The Other Side, Brown Girl Dreaming, Each Kindness, Feathers, and Show Way.

  • Walter Dean Myers

Walter Dean Myers grew up with a deep love of literature, but he quickly noticed the disappointing lack of diversity in children’s books. He was deeply concerned about how excluding Black children from literature might make them feel ‘otherized.’ He has written over 110 books in an attempt to legitimize Black identity, and he has also won more awards than any other author for young adults. Some of his most popular children’s books are We are America: A Tribute from the Heart, Looking Like Me, Ida B. Wells: Let the Truth Be Told, and Where Does the Day Go?

  • Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes wrote poetry during the Harlem Renaissance, with his most famous being “Harlem.” Hughes is known most for his colorful and vibrant portrayals of Black life in America, dabbling in all sorts of mediums—including poetry, short stories, novels, and plays. He’s less known for his children’s books, but he wrote plenty for young kids that should be recognized among his other more prolific work. I Too Am America, The Negro Speaks of Rivers, and The Dream Keeper should all make their way onto your little one’s bookcase.

  • Kwame Alexander

Through his involvement with LEAP for Ghana—an educational program that builds libraries—Kwame Alexander trains teachers and instills a love of literature in young children. He focuses on writing and education. Start your child’s literary journey with some of his best works like Indigo Blume and the Garden City and the Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band.