I grew up in an era in which children's literature lacked diversity. I read Shel Silverstein, Dr. Seuss and E.B. White before I graduated to teen tomes like the Sweet Valley High series and all things written by Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume. A voracious reader, I read anything I could get my hands on, but I couldn't help but feel woefully underrepresented. The way black children move through the world differs from the way other children do. Further it's important that, at an impressionable age, young children of color see that they are being represented, that their concerns, curiosities and culture are worth both examination and celebration.
The following books do just that. They tackle everything from loving the texture of one's hair to the importance of following one's dream, even if that dream is to become president of the United States. They are instructive, empowering and capable of priming young black readers for great success.
· LITTLE LEADERS, BOLD WOMEN IN BLACK HISTORY by Vashti Harrison
· FIREBIRD by Misty Copeland
· PLEASE, BABY PLEASE by Tonya Lee Lewis
· BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson
· HAPPY TO BE NAPPY by bell hooks
· HARLEM'S LITTLE BLACKBIRD by Renne Watson
· IF I RAN FOR PRESIDENT by Catherine Stier
· DIZZY By Jonah Winter Illustrated by Sean Qualls
· HENRY'S FREEDOM BOX by Ellen Levine
· OF THEE I SING: A LETTER TO MY DAUGHTERS by Barack Obama
What books are you reading to your children? What books helped to define your youth? Add your comments below!