Lani on Life

Why Black Kids Need Books With Black Characters

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As a kid, I loved opening up a good book and getting lost in the tangled web of the characters. I definitely was a well-read black girl. My mother did a good job of making a point to ensure I had books with characters from all walks of life. Fortunately for me, I was a black child reading books with black characters. One of my favorite childhood books was “Amazing Grace” by Mary Hoffman.  I loved how Grace was faced with a challenge and chose that others’ doubts were none of her business. She would do what she had set her mind to, regardless of naysayers. That speaks to so many of our lives, doesn’t it?

As a mama of three little black children, it is important that I help them paint the same positive narratives that I had dancing in my head as a child.  In today’s society, it’s easy to get caught up in the negative imagines and the loud “whisper” of what you are and are not supposed to be.

Black children need books with Black characters because…

  1. It helps them develop a positive self-image
  2. It makes them more aware of the difficulties they will face in a child-friendly way
  3. It helps them to learn about the awesome Black people who have impacted this world
  4. It gives them hope
  5. It helps them build self-confidence

Here are some of the books with black characters that are currently in heavy rotation with my crew:



My children are in love with these books. Allowing them to see and hear from characters that look like them has increased their reading engagement, opened up some candid conversations, and makes doing homework easier.

No matter your family’s background, you have to help your children to understand the diversity of our world through reading and experience. Wethers its books, television, or urban cosplay, we have to find ways to expose our children to things that represent their culture. I love to read and hope my children develop and keep the same love of reading I have carried throughout my life.

What are the “must reads” on your mama reading list and your kids’ reading list?

Keep doing (the best) you boo!

xoxo Lani

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7 thoughts on “Why Black Kids Need Books With Black Characters

  1. My son is currently reading the Jaden Toussaint series. We have the Zoey and Sassafras series and the Sophia Washington series. I’m always looking for more books with black characters for our bookshelf. I’ll have to check out President of the Whole 5th Grade and Skin Like Mine.

    Great post!

  2. I don’t have any children yet however, this is so important! As a little girl I loved books and still do however, I can only recall Addie(American Doll) books as the only ones I can remember that was African American. I love that their are so many options for children these days and can’t wait to build a collection for my future children lol.

  3. Okay, this right here sis is EVERYTHING! While my mom instilled in me, the love of reading, she did not encourage me to get books that have black characters in it. I definitely do this with my son and daughter. It took me along time to feel that my black is beautiful. Wonderful article!!

  4. Great Post! Yes, absolutely it’s important for our black children to read books with characters that look like them. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful post.

  5. All of this!!…That’s the reason I like what is going on at there are a lot of black geeks out there but there is very little coverage or exposure. Having an outlet like that shows kids its ok to be yourself. Representation matters….in all aspects of life.

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