Find The
Best African-American Children's Books

I want African-American children's books that depict the world my child lives in.

Of course you do. And you know you have to search harder for them when your child is not of the dominant culture.

Page down to The Coretta Scott King Awards.

Check out the NAACP Image Awards.

Visit our African-American children's bookstore.

I will feel better about the book if I know it is written by an African-American author.

Naturally. You don't want a black children's book written by someone imagining what it's like to be black.

I want books that speak to my child about our culture's rich history.

That's right. You don't need a children's book publisher deciding what's fit and what's not fit for your child to know. Those are decisions for you to make.

Children's books are under siege

The time previous generations spent with books is now more likely to be spent text messaging or gaming.

And yet...

And yet reading remains more important than ever. A hunger for knowledge is what separates children with futures from children without them.

So the pressure is on YOU to find the BEST African-American children's books

Fortunately, there's help to be had. Each year the American Library Association chooses winners of the Coretta Scott King Award for the best African-American children's books.

One award is given to the best African-American children's book by an African-American illustrator. And one award is given to the best book by an African-American children's book author.

The books are chosen for their educational AND inspirational qualities. These African-American children's books

Promote understanding and appreciation of the culture of all peoples and their contribution to the realization of the American dream.

I am listing below the winners of the Coretta Scott King Awards for African-American Children's Books dating back to 1990.

I recommend the Illustrator Awards if you're looking for African-American children's books for your children who are at the picture book level. Check the author awards for your older children.

Coretta Scott King Illustrator and Author Winners, 2010-2012

Black Children's Book Illustrator Award

  • 2017 Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, by Javaka Steptoe. The title pretty much sums it up.
  • 2016 - Trombone Shorty, illustrated by Bryan Collier (written by Troy Andrews) The New Orleans musician explains how he got the nickname.
  • 2015 - Firebird, illustrated by Christopher Myers (written by Misty Copeland) The famous ballerina author introduces the world of ballet.
  • 2014 - Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me, by Bryan Collier
    A boy grows up strong despite his father having left.
  • 2013 - I, Too, Am America, illustrated by Bryan Collier (written by Langston Hughes)
  • 2012 - Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom, illustrated by Shane W. Evans (written by Langston Hughes)
  • 2011 - Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave, illustrated by Bryan Collier (written by Laban Carrick Hill)
  • 2010 - My People, illustrated by Charles R. Smith Jr. (written by Langston Hughes)
  • 2009 - We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, illustrated (and written) by Kadir Nelson
  • 2008 - Let it Shine by Ashley Bryan
  • 2007 - Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, Kadir Nelson
  • 2006 - Rosa by Nikki Giovanni, Bryan Collier
  • 2005 - Ellington Was Not a Street, Illustration by Kadir A. Nelson, text by Ntozake Shange
  • 2004 - Beautiful Blackbird, by Ashley Bryan
  • 2003 - Talkin' About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman, illustrated by E. B. Lewis
  • 2002 - Goin' Someplace Special, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney; text by Patricia McKissack
  • 2001 - Uptown, by Bryan Collier
  • 2000 - In the Time of the Drums, ill. by Brian Pinkney; text by Kim L. Siegelson
  • 1999 - i see the rhythm, ill. by Michele Wood; text by Toyomi Igus
  • 1998 - In Daddy's Arms I am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers, ill. by Javaka Steptoe; text by Alan Schroeder
  • 1997 - Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman, ill. by Jerry Pinkney; text by Alan Schroeder
  • 1996 - The Middle Passage: White Ships Black Cargo, by Tom Feelings
  • 1995 - The Creation, ill. by James Ransome; text by James Weldon Johnson
  • 1994 - Soul Looks Back in Wonder, ill. by Tom Feelings; text ed. by Phyllis Fogelman
  • 1993 - The Origin of Life on Earth: an African Creation Myth, ill. by Kathleen Atkins Wilson; retold by David A. Anderson/SANKOFA
  • 1992 - Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
  • 1991 - Aida, ill. by Leo and Diane Dillon; text by Leontyne Price
  • 1990 - Nathaniel Talking, ill. by Jan Spivey Gilchrist; text by Eloise Greenfield

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Black Children's Book Author Award

  • 2017 - March: Book Three, by Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin. The final book in Lewis's trilogy about the civil rights era.
  • 2016 - Gone Crazy in Alabama, by Rita Williams-Garcia. The final book in the author's trilogy. (See 2014 and 2011.)
  • 2015 - brown girl dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson. A novel in poems.
  • 2014 - P.S. Be Eleven, by Rita Williams-Garcia
    A 12-year old deals with self-consciousness and family.
  • 2013 - Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America, by Andrea Davis Pinkney
  • 2012 - Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans, by Kadir Nelson
  • 2011 - One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia
  • 2010 - Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal, by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
  • 2009 - We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, Kadir Nelson
  • 2008 - Elijah of Buxton, Christopher Paul Curtis
  • 2007 - Copper Sun, Sharon Draper
  • 2006 - Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue, Julius Lester
  • 2005 - Remember: The Journey to School Integration, Toni Morrison
  • 2004 - The First Part Last, Angela Johnson
  • 2003 - Bronx Masquerade, Nikki Grimes
  • 2002 - The Land, Mildred Taylor
  • 2001 - Miracle's Boys, Jacqueline Woodson
  • 2000 - Bud, Not Buddy, Christopher Paul Curtis
  • 1999 - Heaven, Angela Johnson
  • 1998 - Forged by Fire, Sharon M. Draper
  • 1997 - Slam, Walter Dean Myers
  • 1996 - Her Stories, Virginia Hamilton
  • 1995 - Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters, Patricia C. & Frederick L. McKissack
  • 1994 - Toning the Sweep, Angela Johnson
  • 1993 - Dark Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural, Patricia A. McKissack
  • 1992 - Now is Your Time: the African American Struggle for Freedom, Walter Dean Myers
  • 1991 - The Road to Memphis, Mildred D. Taylor
  • 1990 - A Long Hard Journey: the Story of the Pullman Porter, Patricia C. & Frederick L. McKissack

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The Coretta Scott King Awards themselves date back to 1970, and most years there are Honorable Mention books as well. If you'd like to see the longer list, visit

Coretta Scott King African-American Children's Book Awards

The American Library Association also presents annually the John Steptoe Award for New Talent in the writing of African-American Children's Books.

The books are judged on the same criteria as the King Awards, but are limited to African-American children's book authors and illustrators who have three or fewer books to their credit.

You can find the Steptoe list at

John Steptoe Awards for New Talent in Black Children's Books

The NAACP Image Awards

The NAACP began their image awards in the late 1960s, but I can't find a list of past winners! So we began charting their children's and teen books winners starting in 2011. (If anyone can find a more complete list, let me know!)

The first book each year is the picture book winner; the 2nd is ya/teen.


  • Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America, by Carole Boston Weatherford
  • A Novel, by Ilyasah Shabazz


  • Dork Diaries 8: Tales From A Note-So-Happily Ever After, by Rachel Renee Russell
  • brown girl dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson


  • Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson
  • Obama Talks Back: Global Lessons A Dialogue With America’s Young Leaders, by Gregory Reed


  • What Color is My World?  by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  • Obama Talks Back: Global Lessons A Dialogue With America’s Young Leaders, by Gregory Reed


  • You Can Be a Friend, by Tony Dungy
  • Jesse Owens: I Always Loved Running, by Jeff Burlingame


  • My Brother Charlie, by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete
  • A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me, by Condoleezza Rice

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