February is Black History Month, and one of the best ways for students of all races to learn about Black culture is through reading the voices of Black authors. Here are 10 incredible authors who write books for children of all ages, from picture books to chapter books.
Why Black authorship and illustrations matter
Before we hop into the list, we should go ahead and reiterate: authors and illustrators of color are critical for students to read. Books by Black authors show Black students that they’re not alone. It shows students of other races that they can find commonality with people who are different from them. At Lake Forrest Prep, we believe literature unites our students and helps them embrace critical thinking, develop empathy, and create respect for people of all backgrounds, races, and genders.
Christopher Paul Curtis
Christopher Paul Curtis is one of the most awarded children’s authors of all time. Curtis specializes not only in Black literature but historical literature. Books like Bud, Not Buddy and The Watsons Go to Birmingham give children of all backgrounds an understanding of race relations in the US and how those prejudices can still affect us today.
Author and illustrator Sharee Miller is known for her colorful, bright illustrations and stories that are aimed at empowering young Black girls. Miller has often said in interviews that she wants to tell the stories she wishes she’d had as a kid. She is the author of Princess Hair and Don’t Touch My Hair!
Walter Dean Myers
One of America’s most successful children’s book authors, Walter Dean Myers grew up in Harlem. His challenging upbringing inspired many of the gripping stories and honest themes found within his books.
Cartoonist and illustrator Jerry Craft made history as one of the only syndicated African American cartoonists in the US. His books Class Act and New Kid combine his artistic style with signature voice. New Kid won the 2020 Newberry Medal, and Class Act (its sequel) does a great job of expounding on the struggles of middle school.
Carole Boston Weatherford
Weatherford is one of the best children’s writers when it comes to retelling historical events in digestible (yet honest) ways for young people. She’s been awarded the Caldecott Medal twice. Weatherford’s incredible historical retellings have included poetry about Olympian Jesse Ownes, photographer Dorthea Lange, and books about the Tuskegee Airmen.
Lupita Nyong’o and Vashti Harrison
Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o felt inspired to get into children’s literature, and her first book Sulwe is a stunning picture book. Illustrated by Vashti Harrison, Sulwe celebrates darker skin tones, and it exposes children to the concepts of colorism, inner beauty, and loving yourself despite what society assumes about you. Additionally, Vashti Harrison has produced several gorgeous books of her own — infusing her Caribbean heritage with her unique illustrative style. Her books include “Little Legends” and “Dream Big, Little One”; these picture books celebrate the successes of women (particularly women of color).
At Lake Forrest Prep, we support students reading a diverse range of authors. We celebrate diversity because we understand that our differences are ultimately what makes us better people. Our students can’t fully develop integrity and character without learning to respect and appreciate the stories of others. To learn more about what sets us apart, give us a call at 407-331-5144 or schedule a tour online.