30 Empowering Books For Little Black Girls

Why Do Little Black Girls Need Empowering?

Before I get into this I wanted to give a little back story about why empowering books are so important for little black girls. Although, if you are reading this I am sure you can relate!

Growing up in the west as a little black girl definitely presents its own unique set of challenges. It is fair to say many of these challenges, little black girls are not equipped to deal with… Identity and self-confidence issues tend to develop early on whilst only being discussed and addressed later on in life.

At this point, in some ways, it is too late and the damage is done. When that little black girl grows up and has already had years of propaganda via television and now, in present times, social media constantly thrown at her, her opinion on herself, in her little world, has already been formed.

By this time we are being urged to seek therapy, reminded to love ourselves, and develop a feeling of empowerment from hashtags like #BlackGirlMagic and #BlackExcellence – and while I am in no way knocking those efforts… what if we tackled the root cause a lot earlier on in life?

As the second generation in a majority white country, I cannot sit here and blame my parents for not instilling self-love in me or my siblings – this whole thing was and is brand new territory.

A people that were concerned about fitting in and creating better opportunities for their children were not thinking ‘What if these white barbies and lack of black representation in Eastenders coupled with systemic racism create lifelong identity issues for my child?’ It just wasn’t a thing. But now we have retrospect…we have hindsight.

Sankofa

We have the ability to look back and reflect and be honest with ourselves about what issues we may have and where they stemmed from. We owe it to ourselves and our children.


I am no expert, but I was once a little black girl…

I am speaking as a little black girl (as my inner child is still very present and has shaped my present) and as the mother of a little black girl and thinking ‘I wish I had seen more empowering images geared towards me, growing up and what might have been different?

What can I do to ensure certain things that crossed my mind as a little black girl, never crosses my daughter’s mind?’ And in being open and honest with ourselves we are able to identify the root cause and tackle it before it ever becomes a thing. In 2021, we have the power of choice – know better, do better.

Your child’s diet (what they take in) is a variable that can be controlled, monitored, curated – as much or as little as need be. And when I say diet I say what they watch, the music they hear, what they hear, what words they hear, how we speak to them, what they read, what they see, what they believe.

This is the reason I felt compelled to put together this detailed book review list of empowering books for little black girls,  by authors who were once little black girls ;-). It, of course, is just a starting point but the fact that you are reading this post means you are already aware that an issue does exist and should be tackled sooner rather than later.

I’ve also linked to all of their paperback Amazon pages for your convenience. This is one preemptive strike of many and I look forward to sharing many more!

30 Empowering Books For Little Black Girls By Black Authors

‘I Love My Hair’ by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley

I Love My Hair!

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“Look, mummy!” Those are the first words my excited two-year-old said when she saw the book, pointing at the cover in disbelief. I had just finished doing her hair.

I noticed how intently she stared at the pictures in the book and the little girl’s facial expressions as her mother combed through her hair. She reenacted the part where she squeezed her hands together and gritted her teeth as the comb slid through her hair.

I took that moment to explain to her why Mummy uses the leave-in conditioner in her hair before detangling!

It is a beautiful and relatable book reminding our little girls how amazing their hair is and that whilst it can be styled in so many different ways it is still very beautiful in its natural form, defying gravity and visually emulating the earth, rows of corn and a bird flying off into the sky.

Not to mention a little black girl’s greatest joy – the day she gets beads put into her hair and makes music all day long.


Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky by Faith Ringgold

Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky

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Faith Ringgold is an amazing writer with many quality black children’s books under her belt and Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the sky is no exception to the rule.

This book takes the brave and fearless efforts of Harriet Tubman and turns them into a magical journey that the two children, Cassie and BeBe can venture on together.

An inspirational and gripping way to teach little black girls about this amazing ancestor and her plight for freedom.


Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History (Vashti Harrison)

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This one isn’t so much a storybook but a cute and informative collection celebrating some of the various amazing black women in world history.

The pages feature different women and their achievements. You can use this book to create a cultural and fun lesson. Definitely one recommended for the shelves.

Check this post out to learn ways you can embed black history into day to day lessons and activities.


I Am Enough by Grace Byers

I Am Enough

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This is a beautiful book for little black girls and big black girls alike!
Listen for yourself 🙂


Color My Fro: A Natural Hair Coloring Book for Big Hair Lovers of All Ages
by Crystal Swain-Bates

Did somebody ask “What is the perfect gift for a little black girl?”
A colouring book full of pictures that look like her! 🥰🥰🥰
We LOVE this one, over 60 empowering and beautiful images which are stunning to look at both in black and white and once fully coloured in with love. Teach her to love and embrace her natural hair. I would have been absolutely ecstatic unwrapping this on my birthday.


Look Up by Nathan Bryon

So it is a nice turn of events when their mother insists Jamal takes his baby sister to the park to see the ‘Phoenix Meteor Shower’. Rocket was so thrilled to attend this but for a moment it didn’t look like it was going to happen. At this point the siblings have a lovely bonding moment.

This is a beautiful story about a little aspiring astrophysicist, Rocket and her big brother, Jamal. Rocket is obsessed with space and all the amazing things she sees when she looks up through her telescope. Her big brother, Jamal is generally disinterested and spends most of his time looking down at his phone. The two don’t seem to bond much…

 - 30 Empowering Books For Black Girls


Ultimately, “Look-up” is a double entendre; when Rocket looks up, she sees her future and a universe she is dying to explore. When Jamal looks up from his phone he sees the world, his sister and that there is more to life than whats in his handheld device. Inspiring little black girls to aspire to be great scientists with an intelligently embedded reference to a historical figure and a role model for little black girls, Mae Jemison. And, as you know, we love anything that finds a way to include or reference to black history!


Supermommy: A Super Single Mommy Tale

Perfect for little black girls in single-parent homes, this picture book celebrates a single mother’s seemingly supernatural ability to care for her children, at least in her daughter, Miadora’s eyes as she attempts to showcase her Supermommy at her school’s show and tell. This would actually make a great gift for both a super mummy and a super little black girl!


Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o

They are likely to experience it from the people around them, this gets reinforced by media and it makes them feel unworthy. In this book, she expresses being the darkest of her siblings and often wanting to lighten her skin.

Written by the beautiful, Lupita Nyong’o, Sulwe attempts to tackle colourism and remind little black girls who have been made to feel unpretty that they are dark and beautiful. Colourism is a tough subject to deal with little black girls and often goes unchecked.

Buy this book here.

How British Schools Are Teaching Black Children Self-Hate


Just Like Me by Vanessa Newton

An ode to the girl with scrapes on her knees and flowers in her hair, and every girl in between, this exquisite treasury will appeal to readers of Dear Girl and I Am Enough and have kids poring over it to find a poem that’s just for them.

I am a canvas
Being painted on
By the words of my family
Friends
And community


Hair Love: Based on the Oscar-Winning Short Film
by Matthew Cherry

The bond between this father and daughter is extra special. Hair love is such a moving story but luckily I don’t have to rely on my words to do it justice…

They’ve already done an amazing job with this short film and did a lovely job displaying a beautiful black family thriving through their hardship ❤️




I’m a Pretty Princess by Crystal Swain-Bates

Meet Makayla, a pretty black princess who lives in a castle far, far away. Although she has cute dresses, a sparkling tiara, and a shiny wand, she knows that being a princess isn’t just about her fancy things, she has to put in work to be the very best princess she can be! By the end of this rhyming picture book, Makayla realizes that “It’s not my castle, my wand, or the dress that I’m in. What makes me a princess is what lies within!”


Young, Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present

Meet 52 icons of colour from the past and present in this celebration of inspirational achievement – a collection of stories about changemakers to encourage, inspire and empower the next generation of changemakers. Jamia Wilson has carefully curated this range of black icons and the book is stylishly brought together by Andrea Pippins’ colourful and celebratory illustrations.
 
Written in the spirit of Nina Simone’s song “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black,” this vibrant book is a perfect introduction to both historic and present-day icons and heroes. Meet figureheads, leaders and pioneers such as Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Rosa Parks, as well as cultural trailblazers and athletes like Stevie Wonder, Oprah Winfrey and Serena Williams.


Girl of Mine by Jabari Asim

This companion book to BOY OF MINE shows a dazzling little girl enjoying playtime in the moon’s soft glow. As daddy cradles his baby girl, she is suddenly whisked away on a fantastical adventure, swinging above lush floral gardens under the golden moonlight. The text, inspired by ‘Rock-a-Bye Baby’ will whisk little ones off to peaceful slumber.
With Asim’s engaging and adorable rhymes and Pham’s vibrant illustrations, GIRL OF MINE and BOY OF MINE will appeal to many.


Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed

The first African American woman to travel in space, Mae Jemison is definitely a favourite for black history studies. Previously her accomplishments were unrecognised – I can certainly say I did not learn about her growing up. But, as we delve deeper into our black history we find more and more heroes for our children. ‘Mae Among the Stars’ makes for the perfect bedtime story as it shares the story of this little girl who had always wanted to dance among the stars.


Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

In 2016, Margot Lee Shetterly wrote Hidden Figures, the non-fiction story of three amazing black, African-American female mathematicians. At NASA, the three women made world history with their mathematical calculations which transformed the global space industry.

The women were known as “human computers”. This story and movie that followed it was such a success and the author made a young-reader friendly version. Only 40 pages long, ‘Hidden Figures’ is guaranteed to spark something in little black girl aspiring mathematicians.

You have probably seen the movie – but if not, take a look at the trailer:


Niyah Moon Travels The World by Dernel Tainer Gabriel

 - 30 Empowering Books For Black Girls
Buy this book here

We love this story! In fact, at a book reading early this year my very own little black girl, Imani, sat on Dernel’s lap as she read to her and all of the other children. I think she really liked the book!

This little girl, Niyah Moon, goes to bed at night and travels the world. She tells us about all of the things she sees on her adventures and the beautiful monuments on the way. Not all children will get to physically travel the world but showing them that there are all kinds of sights to see and various works of life may ignite a brand new love of Geography for them.

Imani sat on Dernel's lap for reading of Nyah Moon - 30 Empowering Books For Black Girls

Curiosity is the tool that sparks creativity. Curiosity is the technique that gets to innovation.”


The Big Bed by Bunmi Laditan

From the creator of the Honest Toddler blog, The Big Bed is a humorous picture book about a girl who doesn’t want to sleep in her little bed, so she presents her dad with his own bed – a camping cot! – in order to move herself into her parents big bed in his place. A twist on the classic parental struggle of not letting kids sleep in their bed, this book features an African-American family, and was written by an African-American author.


I Can Write the World by Joshunda Sanders

Eight-year-old Ava Murray wants to know why there’s a difference between the warm, friendly Bronx neighborhood filled with music and art in which she lives and the Bronx she sees in news stories on TV and on the Internet. When her mother explains that the power of stories lies in the hands of those who write them, Ava decides to become a journalist.


I Need You to Know: The ABC’s of Black Girl Magic

A children’s coloring book filled with all things Black Girl Magic from A to Z! The “I Need You To Know…” series depicts our children beautifully from their skin complexion to their hair type. The book is educational and have encouraging words from A-Z. These coloring books have proven to speak to diversity through coloring when shared with children of all backgrounds!


Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker

In this moving story that celebrates cultural diversity, a shy girl brings her West African grandmother–whose face bears traditional tribal markings–to meet her classmates. This is a perfect read for back to school–no matter what that looks like!


A Story About Afiya by James Berry

A Story About Afiya

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Some people have dresses for every occasion but Afiya needs only one. Her dress records the memories of her childhood, from roses in bloom to pigeons in flight, from tigers at the zoo to October leaves falling.

A joyful celebration of a young girl’s childhood, written by the late Coretta Scott King Book Award-winning Jamaican poet James Berry.


Malaika’s Costume by Nadia L. Hohn

Malaika’s Costume (The Malaika Series, 1)

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Le Costume de Malaika (French Edition)

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It’s Carnival time. The first Carnival since Malaika’s mother moved away to find a good job and provide for Malaika and her grandmother. Her mother promised she would send money for a costume, but when the money doesn’t arrive, will Malaika still be able to dance in the parade?

Disappointed and upset at her grandmother’s hand-me-down costume, Malaika leaves the house, running into Ms. Chin, the tailor, who offers Malaika a bag of scrap fabric. With her grandmother’s help, Malaika creates a patchwork rainbow peacock costume, and dances proudly in the parade.

A heartwarming story about family, community and the celebration of Carnival, Nadia Hohn’s warm and colloquial language and Irene Luxbacher’s vibrant collage-style illustrations make this a strikingly original picture book.


A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverley Found Her Voice
by Nadia L. Hohn

A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverley Found Her Voice

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Louise Bennett Coverley, better known as Miss Lou, was an iconic poet and entertainer known for popularizing the use of patois in music and poetry internationally–helping to pave the way for artists like Harry Belafonte and Bob Marley to use patois in their work.

This picture book tells the story of Miss Lou’s early years, as a little black girl growing up in Jamaica.


Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter (I Can Read Level 2)
by Nadia L. Hohn

Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter (I Can Read Level 2)

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An inspiring story of a brave and relentless black woman. Harriet Tubman was a brave woman who was born enslaved in Maryland in the 1800s. After risking everything to escape from her slave master and be free, Harriet went on to lead many people to freedom on a journey known today as the Underground Railroad.


Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country

Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country

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Beautiful and bursting with colour, this will go well in every black home.

For some reason when I grew up, being of Caribbean descent, I noticed a disconnect with Africans and Afro-Caribbeans. Despite the name is a dead giveaway…Afro-Caribbean, I did not know I, too was an African.

I thought I was different and I never had any sense of African pride. My children do not share this issue – they know who they are and where they come from. And of course, if you don’t know where you come from you don’t know where you are going!


We don’t yet own all of these books but they certainly are all in our “Save For Later” Basket – I’m sure you know all too well about how addictive online shopping can be… take your time, choose ones which resonate the most for now and you can always come back later – that would be nice 🙂

See you then!

Ps. Do check out the post below for empowering books for little black boys!

30 Empowering Books For Little Black Boys

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