African American Identity & Everyday Life: Books for Elementary School

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Children in grades K-5 can gain confidence and joy in seeing themselves and those around them represented in books. The following stories present African American children as leading characters. Caregivers and educators can encourage reading books with racially diverse characters by offering these and other titles on class reading lists, in a shared reading space, and through conversations.

Blended

Piano-prodigy Isabella, eleven, whose black father and white mother struggle to share custody, never feels whole, especially as racial tensions affect her school, her parents both become engaged, and she and her stepbrother are stopped by police.

Garvey's Choice

Garvey’s father has always wanted Garvey to be athletic, but Garvey is interested in astronomy, science fiction, reading–anything but sports. Feeling like a failure, he comforts himself with food. Garvey is kind, funny, smart, a loyal friend, and he is also overweight, teased by bullies, and lonely. When his only friend encourages him to join the school chorus, Garvey’s life changes.

Ghost Boys

A heartbreaking and powerful story about a black boy killed by a police officer, drawing connections through history, from award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes.
Only the living can make the world better. Live and make it better.

I Can Write the World

Eight-year-old Ava Murray lives in a Bronx neighborhood filled with music, art, and people from all over the world–which is not the Bronx she sees in the news. When her mother explains that the power of stories lies in the hands of those who write them, Ava decides to become a journalist and show the world as she sees it.

I Got Next

A young basketball player receives inspiration from a surprising place and joins the competition ready to try his best.

Love Like Sky

Eleven-year-old Georgie is still adjusting to leaving Atlanta for a small town, having a stepfather, and being unable to get close to her stepsister when her six-year-old sister, Peaches, suddenly becomes very ill.

New Kid

Instead of sending Jordan to the arts school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics. Jordan turns out to be one of the few kids of color in his entire grade and struggles to find balance between his home life in Washington Heights and his new upscale academy.

Trace

An African-American middle schooler who has recently lost both his parents sees a ghost wearing old-fashioned clothing in the basement of the New York Public Library.

The Ring Bearer

Jackson’s mom is getting married, and Jackson is nervous about his role and his new family.

The Word Collector

Jerome enjoys collecting and using words that he hears, reads, or sees, and then decides to share his collection with others.