15 Must-Have Children’s Books

It isn’t always easy finding diverse representation in children’s books. Here are 15 of our favorite picks for the little boy or girl in your life!

It isn’t always easy finding diverse representation in children’s books. Here are 15 of our favorite picks for the little boy or girl in your life!

1. Snowy Day by Ezra Keats

From the publisher: Universal in its appeal, the story has become a favorite of millions, as it reveals a child’s wonder at a new world, and the hope of capturing and keeping that wonder forever. The adventures of a little boy in the city on a very snowy day.

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2. The Zero Degree Zombie Zone by Patrik Henry Bass

From the School Library Journal: Bakari and his easy-going best friend, Wardell, must save the world from the evil ice king, Zenon, who has lost his ring and is looking for revenge. It seems that popular but cocky Tariq and Keisha may have the ring. How will the two boys solve the problem of returning the ring and standing up to the pushy pair all in one day? Refreshingly, this tale stars an African American cast. This colorful, well-illustrated story contains friendship, magic, zombies, and plenty of adventure. Readers will surely clamor for further installments from this talented duo.

3. Ellray Jakes is Not a Chicken by Sally Warner

From the publisher: EllRay Jakes is tired of being bullied by fellow classmate Jared Matthews. But when EllRay tries to defend himself, he winds up in trouble. Then his dad offers him a deal: If he stays out of trouble for one week, they’ll go to Disneyland! EllRay says he can do it. But saying it and doing it are two very different things.

4. Bippity Bop Barbershop by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley

From the publisher: In this companion book to the bestselling I Love My Hair, a young boy, Miles, makes his first trip to the barbershop with his father. Like most little boys, he is afraid of the sharp scissors, the buzzing razor, and the prospect of picking a new hairstyle. But with the support of his dad, the barber, and the other men in the barbershop, Miles bravely sits through his first haircut. Written in a reassuring tone with a jazzy beat and illustrated with graceful, realistic watercolors, this book captures an important rite of passage for boys and celebrates African-American identity.

5. Whose Knees Are These? by Jabari Asim

From the publisher: Takes a loving look at knees from the vantage point of a mother’s lap.

6. Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee

From the publisher: Academy-Award nominated filmmaker Spike Lee and his wife, producer Tonya Lewis Lee, preset a behind-the-scenes look at the chills, spills, and unequivocal thrills of bringing up baby!

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7. Big Hair, Don’t Care by Crystal Swain-Bates

From the publisher: Lola has really really REALLY big hair, much bigger than the other kids at her school. Despite her hair blocking the view of anyone that dares sit behind her and causing her to lose at hide and seek, she sings the praises of her big hair throughout this rhyming picture book. Designed to boost self-esteem and build confidence, this beautifully illustrated book is perfect for any girl or boy who has ever felt a bit self-conscious about their hair and may need a reminder from time to time that it’s okay to look different from the other kids at their school.

8. Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora

From the publisher: A toddler plays a game of peekaboo, and you’re invited to play too. First there’s Mommy to find, with Daddy not far behind. Then Puppy comes peeking around the corner, and a favorite toy train brings the toddler to Grandma and Grandpa. Isadora’s brilliant, joyful pastel illustrations capture the familiar and cozy people, toys and animals that will delight babies.

9. Daddy Calls Me Man by Richard Jackson

From the publisher: Inspired by his family experiences and his parents’ paintings, a young boy creates four poems.

10. I Love My Hair! by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley

From the publisher: This whimsical, evocative story about a girl named Keyana encourages African-American children to feel good about their special hair and be proud of their heritage. A BlackBoard Children’s Book of the Year. Full-color illustrations.

11. Not Norman: A Goldfish Story by Kelly Bennett

From the publisher: Norman the goldfish isn’t what this little boy had in mind. He wanted a different kind of pet — one that could run and catch, or chase string and climb trees, a soft furry pet to sleep on his bed at night. Definitely not Norman. But when he tries to trade Norman for a “good pet,” things don’t go as he planned. Could it be that Norman is a better pet than he thought? With wry humor and lighthearted affection, author Kelly Bennett and illustrator Noah Z. Jones tell an unexpected — and positively fishy — tale about finding the good in something you didn’t know
you wanted.

12. If I Ran For President by Catherine Stier

From the publisher: If you ran for president, you would have to do a lot of hard work. You would study the nation’s problems, tell the American people about your platform, select a running mate, and debate your opponents on live television.

13. You Can Do It! by Tony Dungy

From the publisher: Tony Dungy’s little brother, Linden, is a third grader who is having a bad day at school. Linden is the youngest of the Dungy family and the least motivated because he hasn’t found “it.” In a family where everyone seems to have found their special talent, all Linden knows is that he wants to make people happy.

With encouragement from his parents, a helping hand from his older brother Tony, and inspiration from God, Linden learns that if he dreams big and has faith, he can do anything!

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14. Little Shaq by Shaquille O’Neal

From the publisher: The start of a brand new series by Shaquille O’Neal and illustrated by 2014 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent award winner Theodore Taylor III, Little Shaq is sure to be a hit with young readers.

When Little Shaq and his cousin Barry accidentally break their favorite video game, they need to find a way to replace it. That’s when Little Shaq’s science project inspires a solution: a gardening business. They can water their neighbors’ gardens to raise money for a new game! Little Shaq and Barry make a great team both on and off the basketball court, but will their business be as successful as they hoped?

Showing kids that anything is possible with the support of friends and family, Little Shaq will inspire them to love reading, play fair, and have fun!

15. Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen

From the publisher: Sassy is a long-legged girl who always has something to say. She wants to be a ballerina more than anything, but she worries that her too-large feet, too-long legs, and even her big mouth will keep her from her dream. When a famous director comes to visit her class, Sassy does her best to get his attention with her high jumps and bright leotard. Her first attempts are definitely not appreciated, but with Sassy’s persistence, she just might be able to win him over. Dancing in the Wings is loosely based on actress/choreographer Debbie Allen’s own experiences as a young dancer.

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About The Author

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising. You can find Faye on Twitter @fayewrites and on the web at fayemccray.com.

 

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