Picture Books with African-American Protagonists

shelved under Children's Books


The Snowy Day

by Ezra Jack Keats

Heather Lawrence says:

A little boy has a fun day playing in the snow, and even tries to keep a snowball in his coat pocket inside! A strikingly beautiful 1963 Caldecott Medal winner.


Peter's Chair

by Ezra Jack Keats

Susan Smith from South Dakota says:

I loved anything by Ezra Jack Keats when I was a kid — the illustrations were so rich and the city settings were such a departure from my rural childhood. He had an equally rich and warm tone to his writing. Reading his books was a feast for the senses.



by Don Freeman

In this simple story, an engaging teddy bear in the toy department of a department store wishes for a home, has adventures wandering the store at night, and finally gets what he was wishing for. There's something about this story — I think it's the toys coming to life at night — that makes kids want to hear it over and over.


Tar Beach

by Faith Ringgold

Leah Smith from Burtonsville, MD says:

It's 1930 and 8 year old Cassie Louise Lightfoot has a dream: to be able to go anywhere she wants. One night up on her family's Harlem brownstone rooftop (a.k.a. "tar beach") her dream comes true. The stars lift her up and take her on a magical journey across the city. Faith Ringgold wrote this book to accompany her story quilt of the same name. This multi-award-winning book is simply magic — fiction, African American history and a wish that we all have of liberation and the freedom to be who we really are.


A Letter to Amy

by Ezra Jack Keats

Kristen Stewart from Birmingham, AL says:

Ezra Jack Keats broke the color barrier in the early 1960s and brought urban, black children to homes throughout America with his simple, sweet stories that made their lives seem as ordinary as any child's anywhere. This story is a little more complex than Snowy Day, and centers on the main character perplexed about inviting one friend to his birthday party because she is a girl. It's very appropriate for children starting at around 3 1/2 or 4 years old, and my girls really enjoy it.