Black Joy

Self-love books for Black children

15 Books That Help Create A Foundation Of Self-Love For Black Children

“Black children need to see their lives reflected in the books they read. If they don’t, they won’t feel welcome in the world of literature.”

Black children are intelligent, kind, beautiful, curious, ambitious, and full of joy. The adjectives are pretty much endless, but as a Black mother, I can sum it up by saying they are amazing! But the scale is totally unbalanced in how the world shows them how wonderful they are, especially when it comes to Black representation in children’s books.

Black children not only need to see themselves reflected in books about Black history, but they also need positive affirming images. While they aren’t oblivious to how their blackness is viewed in the world, books that promote self-love, confidence, and self-awareness further equip them to be strong in knowing their worth as they navigate it. When a Black child knows what they’re capable of and believes in themselves, their potential is endless.

Famous Black author Valerie Wilson Wesley said, “Black children need to see their lives reflected in the books they read. If they don’t, they won’t feel welcome in the world of literature. The lives of African-Americans are rich and diverse, and the books our children read should reflect that.”

Black authors, like Wesley, have become a link in our community as elders to help guide and shape young Black minds by writing books to reinforce the beauty and power of our dark skin. These books show our children where they can claim space in the world and that it starts with loving who they are.

“Self-love is all about looking in the mirror and loving who you are and being excited about your future,” Valerie Thompkins, author of Girls Like Me, tells Romper. Thompkins believes that building confidence “starts when you’re little.” As an author, she says books can provide exposure to the world, allowing children to know what’s possible and to also realize, after seeing what others have accomplished, that it could be them, too.

“There’s so much out there in the world, but not enough examples of positivity. Like to see Black characters in that main character role, in the leading role as the star of the show. It’s even more important because there aren’t as many examples of brown characters on TV in our classrooms. We don’t have as many role models, and we need that representation,” Thompkins says.

These books create a sound foundation for Black children. Loving themselves means enjoying who they are. In the pages of this lineup is a mix of Black children loving gardening, having fun while dancing, realizing all they can be, overcoming self-doubt, and growing from the love of their family and community.

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An Activity Book Of Affirmations For Black Girls

This empowering activity book helps build self-esteem and confidence for Black and Brown girls. It encourages them to embrace the beauty of their natural hair while celebrating their strength and intelligence. One customer writes, “Even flipping through the pages leaves a person feeling good. Single-sided pages for coloring; pages are removable if desired. Bonus activity pages (double-sided) in the back!” The I Am coloring book has 107 pages, including five bonus self-esteem building worksheets and 14 fun activities like mazes and connecting the dots. One of the most significant parts of this book is that each page has a positive affirmation for little girls to hold on to and love who they are.


A Story Of Diverse Boys Enjoying Life Fully

Brown Boy Joy is listed as essential for any classroom, and I agree! It’s about how these boys experience the full spectrum of enjoyment in who they are and doing the things that they love like gardening and playing with dinosaurs. “In a world where little Black boys grow up to be feared as men, this book is needed to shift narratives.” This book is intentional in showing how Black boys live a happy life (which they deserve) despite how society may portray them. A book review reads, “The pride on my 3 yo's face when he pointed at various characters in this book and said ‘look mommy, its me’ made this book worth every penny.”


A Musical Story About The Magic Of Unique Names

Names in our culture are often unique and creative while connecting us to our history. But many young children don’t feel they happily love their given name, especially when they get to school and non-Black teachers turn their nose up or continuously stammer to get the name out while calling roll. Your Name Is A Song takes readers on a day in a little girl's experience at school. After never wanting to go back, her mother teaches her more about “the musicality of African, Asian, Black-American, Latinx, and Middle Eastern names on their lyrical walk home through the city.” This review reads, “Every educator should share this book especially in the beginning of the school year. It’s a wonderful message about the importance of our names and that every name should be pronounced proudly and sand like a song!”


A Black Boy’s Story Of Love Through Community

I Am Smart, I Am Blessed, I Can Do Anything is 32 pages of pure inspiration, and the bright colors make it hard to look away. The main character, Ayaan, is a little Black boy who starts the day doubting himself and his abilities. But the encouragement from all the people who love him pushes him to see the potential of the brand new day and believe in himself. It not only promotes self-love, but shows the bonds in our community. A review reads, “This is truly a unique and important book for young children. I love that it shows diversity as well as developing self-esteem and self-confidence. It even helps to lift up adult readers on difficult days.”


A Book About Kinky Haired Girls Accomplishing Anything

“I’ve heard moms say their little girls didn’t love their curly hair. They didn’t see role models that looked like them as lawyers and engineers and in a lot of STEM roles. They’ve gone to bookstores and couldn’t find books with brown girls on the cover. So I wanted to create a book that not only encourages girls to explore careers, but to do so with their naturally curly hair,” says Valerie Thompkins, author of Girls Like Me. The representation in her book gives Black girls the freedom to know they can reach for the stars, and their natural hair doesn’t limit them in accomplishing anything.


A Book Full Of Black Boy Confidence

I Am Every Good Thing is perfect for boys between the ages of 3 to 7 years old. Dripping from these pages are the confidence, ambition, and pride of a young Black boy who loves everything about himself and knows what he is capable of. He says, “I am a nonstop ball of energy. Powerful and full of light. I am a go-getter. A difference maker. A leader.” He finds a way to navigate through the tough times when people label him with mean things that don’t match his character and strength. Each illustration overtakes the pages, and readers will feel the pull to stretch out in their personal power of self-love.


A Black Girl’s Story About Self-Love

Little Sasha finally learns to love everything different about herself after feeling down because she didn’t have as much as other people and didn’t look like them. Books like this normalize Black children seeing themselves in a simple everyday practice like reading. And that isn’t a small thing. In The Day I Learned To Love Myself, Sasha finds out just how wonderful every part of how she looks is. From her dark skin to her strong hair and full lips. “Our lips are larger and wider so that we may speak clearly and be a voice for the ones who cannot.”


A Sweet Story About A Black Family’s Cultural Recipe

There are so many intricate parts of our culture that run so deep, it would take a lifetime to know them all. As this Black family in Five Black-Eyed Peas shares secrets on their “special gift that has been passed down through generations,” they gain a new love for their history and culture. One five-star review reads, “My 3-year-old loves this book! It's colorful and full of great pictures. I'm ordering another one for my niece.” It is perfect for elementary-aged children, and they’ll love seeing the brown-skinned faces whose eyes are illuminated with a gentle glow. The creativity in this art is a subtle reveal to the magic in exploring the love of a Black family and the ties we share.


A Book For Black Girls To Embrace Their Beauty

Author Lora McClain-Muhammad is not only a Black mother; she’s a grandmother. The birth of her first grandchild inspired her to write the “I Need You To Know” series because little Black girls have to be reminded of their beauty and excellence. McClain-Muhammad put that permanent reminder and representation in the world for every girl to see in her interactive coloring book I Need You To Know: The ABC’s of Black Girl Magic. “I created this coloring book so Black and Brown girls can see beautiful and positive images that look like them! Every page has encouraging words to intrigue young minds!”


A Book About Knowing Your Worth

Knowing that you are worthy of a big bright future and have what it takes is another level of loving yourself. This vital message — that children value themselves — is front and center in the book What Will I Be? A parent writes, “The illustrations are adorable and my boys could see themselves in the characters. It was also a great chance for me to tell them more about the different careers. this book pointed out a lot of professional careers that go beyond just the regular civil service jobs that little kids hear about.” The author also stresses the importance of non-Black readers having this book because “differences should be celebrated from a young age.”


A Conversation-Starting Book On Loving Your Brown Skin

Conversations that Black parents have are worlds apart from that of non-Black parents. We have to teach our children that their skin is beautiful, although they don’t see themselves represented enough in mainstream media and societal beauty norms. My Brown Skin is a great way of opening the door to reinforcing that your child loves the skin God masterfully made them with, and the main character is even encouraged to point out his favorite things that are the same color. Dr. Thomaishia Booker created this series (Hey Carter!) to affirm Black children and build their confidence. A review says, “My son loved to see a character that resembles him. It helps to reinforce what we are teaching him to be sure with the skin he’s in!”


A Book With A Positive Message About Aspirations

You can literally be anything from A-Z! That’s the message that Girls Can Dream has for little Black girls. The book covers a career for every letter in the alphabet while encouraging readers to reach for their highest potential. This is so great because children often don’t know their choices outside of doctor, lawyer, astronaut, etc. So while it fills in all those gaps, it celebrates diversity as well. One customer praises their purchase, “This is a beautiful book! I absolutely love the illustrations of various African American women in different career fields from A-Z! Some of the careers described in the book I wasn’t even aware of, so this book is also very educating!”


A Coloring Book Of Empowering Affirmations

At such an affordable price of $6.95, The I LOVE ME Affirmations Coloring Book For Girls passes on a big bundle of positivity and self-love. The book cover has a little girl with two afro puff ponytails, one girl with braids and beads, and another girl with an afro accessorized with a headband. And your kids get to color them in. Included are 52 pages of activities and images of Black, Brown and biracial girls having pure fun while they are going about their day dancing, learning, and playing. The pages also include affirmations that strengthen self-confidence. A five-star review says, “A must buy for your baby girl to teach her about loving herself.”


A Cute Story Of A Little Girl Loving Herself

In I Love All Of Me, the main character, Star, is a shining representation of her name. She brightly and vividly loves every part of who she is. But there are people in her life that try and make her feel different by saying mean things. Star’s confidence only grows as she learns more about how beautiful and important her hair and skin are. And as long as she loves herself, no one else’s opinion matters. This is a valuable lesson for any child to read, especially for Black children. The author, Tania Lovinska, is a Black educator who passionately believes in children knowing their worth.


A Story Of A Bad School Day Turned Exciting

In My Future Is Bright, Rhylee is a little Black girl who learns to look forward to her future and be excited about it. But this comes after some pressure from a school assignment to know what she wants to be when she grows up. Her parents lovingly show her that the options are endless and her potential is immeasurable, leaving Rhylee full of hope and confidence in herself! The beauty of this character’s brown skin and puffy ponytail are only second to her glowing smile, giving a perfect depiction of the joy that exudes from our Black children when their self-awareness is nurtured and encouraged.