As a mom raising two black kids in 2019 in America, I cannot stress enough how important it is to raise my kids to be proud of who they are. We are teaching them to recognize that while they may look different than other kids in their class, we celebrate those differences. I believe this has always been a difficult balance for mothers of black babies, and unfortunately it hasn’t gotten much easier in my lifetime.
I hope when my kids are older, these conversations will be all but unnecessary and the world will be more tolerant and accepting… but until then, we teach our babies how to be strong, proud, caring members of society – no matter what they or someone else looks like.
Without a question, education and tolerance begins in the home. And Rodger and I are doing everything we know how to show our son and daughter what it means to be a good member of society first and foremost. We also know it’s our duty to teach them about the world, to not pretend that people don’t see color – because they do. But to show them that their skin, their hair, their everything is beautiful, valuable, and worth celebrating!
One of the best ways we’ve found to address any of these topics is through a book. By talking about characters in a story, we’re allowed to address things in a way we couldn’t quite do without the book. The book and its characters allow us to take the pressure off and talk about them, their experiences, what they’re feeling. Ultimately, this opens up dialogue about what our kids are feeling and seeing, and we can share our own experiences, too.
It’s crucial to note that these are conversations that must be had in every household: black, white, yellow, purple, brown, or in-between. Tolerance, acceptance, and the foundations to be a good person in society is all taught at home, and we need more homes of all colors teaching it. We owe it to our children.
In honor of Black History Month, I wanted to share some incredible children’s books about the black experience in America. Some of these are tried and true Saffold family favorites, and some are new-to-me books that are award winners or have come highly recommended by librarians, and will soon be on the Saffold kid’s bookshelves. When referening the “black experience” I think Amanda Seales summed it up well in her new hit stand- up “I Be Knowin” which debuted on HBO. She said:
“I just had to figure some s— out just by being around other Black folks. But what I did learn is that no matter what type of Black person you are, every Black experience is a Black experience unless it is anti-Black.”-Amanda Seales in “I Be Knowin’,”
Keep reading to learn which of these books I’m giving away to one of you lucky readers, and how to enter! Also note that I linked each book to the purchase destination, all you have to do is click the title and it will take to right to the check out!
I absolutely love this book. It’s a favorite at our house for showing my daughter that her natural hair is beautiful, and so is everything about her. All too often kids are teased for being different – which is why this needs to be read in white homes, too! – and I want Aaliyah to know her hair might be different than some other girls’ hair at school, but it’s an awesome part of her!
Another message about embracing black girl beauty and reinforcing that she’s beautiful, even if she doesn’t have the same hair (or skin, or whatever else) as her classmates. It boosts self-esteem because this little girl looks like us, does hair combing rituals like we do, and is proud of herself. What more could you want!?
This book is near and dear to my heart, as it was written by a fellow football wife that I know and love to follow’s husband and it really speaks to me as a mom to a little boy who loves sports and has a dad who is a professional athlete. It discusses that there are more options than being an athlete – that black boys can be anything they want to be! I find it so uplifting and it’s a story that’s rarely heard. In fact, I love it so much that I want to share a copy with one of you! Keep reading for details on how to enter to win!
This book is just about perfect for my daughter’s age, or a little older. It’s definitely a good “read aloud” book if you pick just a few women to learn about each night. The book hits on the usual suspects like Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman, but also exposes young readers (and their parents!) to other incredible black women throughout history. I hadn’t ever heard of Phillis Wheatley, but sure enjoyed learning about her. And there are about a dozen other examples of women I learned about for the first time in this one! That’s because there are FORTY history-making black women in this one book. So inspiring and such a great way to expose our kids to the fact that they can do anything they want.
This is the board book version of “Little Leaders,” and is perfect for exposing little ones to all the amazing black women throughout our history. From Bessie Coleman to Ella Fitzgerald to Oprah Winfrey and more, this is an incredible way to show our children incredible, powerful women who look like them changing history. And it’s safe for little hands – no ripping possible, which is always a win if I recall!
This is a beautiful picture book that I’m just hearing about as I make this list, and you better believe I’m buying it after seeing the preview images and reading the reviews. I love seeing that it is written and illustrated by black women, since black authors and illustrators are such a small percentage of the market. It’s also incredible to see that the illustrations are of all different types of girls. Black, white, brown. Natural hair, braids. Love it! Ordered it!
This book (finally) features a male protagonist, Henry, who is born into slavery and is upset that he doesn’t know his own birthday. The story follows him throughout his incredible life and into freedom. It’s such a great story on its own – only improved by the fact that it’s based on a true story. I’ve been told librarians read it to first grade classes and the kids and adults in the room are equally enthralled. Price is a tad young for it, but I know he’ll love to listen and be fascinated by the story—even at just four.
Of course, no list would be complete without a book about Dr. King. This book has beautiful paintings as its illustrations and its text is Dr. King’s speech from the March on Washington. Beautiful, powerful. The boo concludes with a transcript of the entire speech and the CD allows you to actually listen to him deliver the famous address. To call it chill inducing is an understatement. It’s also a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book, so that tells you how beautiful and powerful the imagery is.
This one is brand new to me, but it’s on its way to my house right now. Written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, it tells the untold stories of black inventors and how they’ve changed America and the world, but with little to no credit. From the ice-cream scoop to open-heart surgery – and more! How cool is this?! The perfect story to share with my kids about how they can truly do anything they dream of doing! It’s definitely going to be a read aloud book, but we love those for bedtime.
Another new addition to the Saffold family library, this is book is a stunner. It’s also won a ton of awards – Coretta Scott King Honor Award for Illustration 2019, Kirkus’ Best Picture Books of 2018, Chicago Public Library’s Bst of 2018, The Children’s Book Review Best of Nonfiction 2018. So it’s got a lot of hype to live up to but I’m sure it will. This is a fairly unknown story about the kids in Birmingham who marched after hearing Dr. King’s speech, and it promises to inspire children (and adults) to be the change they wish to see.
Finally, a whole bunch of Little People, BIG DREAMS books. If you haven’t heard of this series, stop everything and grab some. These are beautiful, simplified stories of incredible figures in history. There are dozens of featured historical figures, but these are the featured picks for Black History Month.
I know that they’re releasing a Ghandi one in April, too, so I’m going to be snagging that ASAP, too! This series is a little heavy on the female figures,` and I’m not complaining!
I’m so excited to share our current favorite reads for black history month and beyond, and the soon-to-be faves. One I know you’re sure to love is our new favorite, Dear Black Boy by Martellus Bennett. I know it’s not currently available on Amazon, and it’s a must-have, so I want to get it into your hands and onto your shelves. I’ve got a copy with one of your names on it – all you have to do is comment below and share your favorite book representing diversity. A bonus entry if you join The Balanced Mom tribe by subscribing to the newsletter.
I’ll pick a winner on March 15th, so you’ve got a couple weeks to enter! Good luck!