A picture of a selection of books by black authors on a bright orange background with pink squiggles

Image: Ryan MacEachern/Penguin

We’re Going to Find the Monster by Malorie Blackman & Dapo Adeola (2021)

Bestselling author Malorie Blackman has teamed up with award-winning illustrator Dapo Adeola to breathe new life into her original story Marty Monster. Intrepid adventurers Charlie and Eddie are off to hunt down the mighty monster aka their big brother! But to find him they’ll have to travel over shimmering oceans, up high mountains, and through deep, dark jungles, as well as encounter other wild creatures. This fun tale is perfect for reading together at storytime.

Recommended reading age: 2-5 years old

Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o & Vashti Harrison (2019)

Written by Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o, this story of Sulwe gently introduces children to the concepts of colourism, self-confidence, and inner beauty. Stunningly illustrated by Vashti Harrison, Sulwe is the tale of a little girl who has a darker skin tone than her family and school friends. All she wants is to be lighter, until one night she goes on a magical adventure, and her mind opens up to her natural beauty.

Recommended reading age: 3-7 years old

The Dream Team: Jaz Santos vs. the World by Priscilla Mante (2021)

Jasmina Santos-Campbell is part of the Bramrock Stars. You’ve heard of them, right? Even if you haven’t you will soon – they're the football stars of tomorrow! And Jaz is determined to help the team achieve fame and fortune, despite their differences. And if she can do that, then Jaz is sure her mum Mãe will come back home... Priscilla Mante’s debut novel Jaz Santos vs. The World is an uplifting tale about unlikely friendships, family, and proving to the world that girls can play football!

Recommended reading age: 8-12 years old

Look Up! By Nathan Bryon & Dapo Adeola (2019)

Rocket loves to look up at the stars. She wants to be an astronaut after all, just like her hero Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space. Packed with fun facts about meteors and space to satisfy those curious minds, this charming picture book is laden with gorgeous illustrations that will convince the most phone-mad kids to get excited about the natural world, just like Rocket. Challenging traditional gender norms, Look Up! will show space-mad readers that the sky really is the limit.

Recommended reading age: 3-7 years old

Change Sings by Amanda Gorman & Loren Long (2021)

Poet and activist Amanda Gorman wowed the world when she delivered an inspiring poetry reading at the inauguration of US President Joe Biden in January 2021. And now Gorman, alongside illustrator Loren Long, has written a picture book that reiterates the hope and progress she spoke about that day. Change Sings tells the story of a young girl as she leads a cast of characters on a musical journey and teaches them that they all have the power to make changes. This is a must-have for everyone’s bookshelves.

Recommended reading age: 4-8 years old

Becoming: Adapted for Younger Readers by Michelle Obama (2021)

Michelle Obama released her bestselling memoir Becoming back in 2018, and it’s now been adapted for younger readers to enjoy. Before she became a top attorney and the first African-American First Lady, Michelle Robinson came from humble beginnings in Chicago. In her inspiring memoir, you’ll learn all about her childhood and family, her time at university, and how through hard work and determination, Obama was able to build a remarkable life for herself.

Recommended reading age: 10-14 years old

Hair Love by Matthew Cherry & Vashti Harrison (2019)

Based on the Oscar-winning short film, this is the story of Zuri, her dad, and her hair. Zuri's hair is beautiful, but it can have a mind of its own. For a special occasion, Zuri and her daddy need to work together to style her hair, and show that natural is brilliant! A wonderful book that celebrates the love of fathers and daughters, as well as putting black hair front and centre.

Recommended reading age: 5-7 years

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (2014)

In Brown Girl Dreaming, award-winning writer Jacqueline Woodson recalls what it was like growing up between New York and South Carolina as an African-American girl in the 1960s and 1970s. Told through emotive poetry, Woodson reflects on the segregation in the South, her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement, and the joy of finding her voice through writing. This touching autobiography is a must-read for everyone.

Recommended reading age: 10-13 years old

Listen, Layla by Yassmin Abdel-Magied (2021)

Layla Kareem Abdel-Hafiz Hussein is the greatest Sudanese Australian inventor the world has ever seen. She’s planning on spending the summer getting her inventions ready for the grand design competition. But then her grandmother in Sudan falls ill, so Layla and her family rush to be with her. Although Layla is glad to be there for her grandmother, she can’t help but feel a bit conflicted. Protests are beginning to emerge in Sudan too and Layla wants to get involved. Could her ideas help make a change?

Recommended reading age: 9-12 years old

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña & Christian Robinson (2017)

CJ and his grandma have just left church and are about to board the bus for their weekly journey across town. CJ doesn’t want to get the bus though; he wants to go in a car like his friend Colby and can’t hide his disappointment. But CJ’s grandma helps remind him of the beauty and fun in their routine and daily life. Beautifully illustrated by award-winning illustrator Christian Robinson, Matt de la Peña’s touching tale highlights the importance of being thankful for what you have.

Recommended reading age: 3-5 years old

Pig-Heart Boy by Malorie Blackman (2004)

When you’re 13, you just want a normal life. To be like all the other teenagers, doing normal things. But most teenagers don’t need heart transplants. You’re the unlucky one. You think there’s no chance to live an ordinary life… but what if you’re wrong? What if there’s a doctor who says there might be a chance for you – though it’s risky. It’s experimental and controversial – and it’s never been done before… A powerful, thought-provoking story from the brilliant, award-winning Malorie Blackman, shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal.

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison (2018)

From singer Ella Fitzgerald to abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman to poet Maya Angelou and so many more, this educational and inspirational book features biographies of forty trailblazing black women in history. They may not have always been accepted, but with their powerful voices, extraordinary actions, and unswayable beliefs, each one has made the world a better place for generations to come. These brave, bold black women broke boundaries and exceeded all expectations – their stories demand to be told. 

Recommended reading age: 5-7 years old

How High the Moon by Karyn Parsons (2019)

Bullied for her light skin tone and missing her absent mother, life isn’t always sunny for 12-year-old Ella, growing up in segregated Alcolu in 1944. So, she’s ecstatic when her mother – pursuing her jazz singer dreams in Boston – invites her for Christmas. But whilst there, Ella discovers the secrets of her mother and the father she never knew – and her most unexpected family history. And upon her return to the South a month later, life changes even more with the news that her classmate has been arrested for the murder of two local white girls. Nothing will ever be the same…

Recommended reading age: 9-12 years old

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