10 African American Read Aloud Books For Kindergarten

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10 Great Books for Black History Month

Hi friend,

 

You don’t have to know me for long, to know that I adore a good theme and a good book. One of the joys of curating the literacy program at Choreography by Rae is that I get to explore culturally diverse books. There are so many wonderful stories for children nowadays, books that I would have loved as a child. Whether you’re a parent, a teacher, a child, or dragon I’m sure you’ll find one of these Black History Month books will brighten up your reading list.

Enjoy,

Ms. Rae

 

Happy Black History Month! At Choreography by Rae we’re big on Literacy and there’s no better way to kick off Black History Month, than by sharing some of the best African American kids books around. Whether you’re looking for fiction, nonfiction, or a combination of both, there’s something here for everyone. These books have been enjoyed by our students and we hope you’ll find a few to add to your library. These stories are all equally great and are listed in alphabetical order.

1)

A Computer called Katherine by Suzanne Slade

Summary: Katherine knew it was wrong that African Americans didn’t have the same rights as others–as wrong as 5+5=12. She knew it was wrong that people thought women could only be teachers or nurses–as wrong as 10-5=3. And she proved everyone wrong by zooming ahead of her classmates, starting college at fifteen, and eventually joining NASA, where her calculations helped pioneer America’s first manned flight into space, its first manned orbit of Earth, and the world’s first trip to the moon!

Why we love it…

This story shows that anything is possible. Katherine’s journey shows how women have played an important part in math and science. This is a great way to show kids that S.T.E.M. is fun.

2)

Grandma Lena's Big Ol'Turnip by Denia Hester

Summary: Grandma Lena believes that something worth doing is worth doing right. So she takes good care of the turnips she plants in her garden. One turnip grows to an enormous size―Baby Pearl thinks it’s a big potato! It is big enough to feed half the town. And it’s so big that Grandma can’t pull it out of the ground! Even when Grandpa, Uncle Izzy, Aunt Netty, and the dog help Grandma yank and tug, the big ol’ turnip doesn’t budge. Still, this African-American family, including Baby Pearl, knows how to pull together.

Why we love it…

Growing up Ms. Rae fondly recalls her older sister being obsessed about a book featuring a Giant Turnip. While kids will get a kick out of the rhyming this modernized version still reminds us of the importance of teamwork and determination.

3)

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry

Hair Love, celebrates the relationship between a father and daughter while also celebrating Black hair. Zuri’s mom has been away, and she wants an extra special hairstyle to welcome her home. With daddy’s help and after a few tries, this daddy daughter duo work to make the special occasion special indeed. 

Why we love it…

Hair is a really big deal in the African American community. Ms. Rae is still probably more lazy than her mom would like when it comes to hair styles, but regardless of whether your family embraces wash and go or opts for intricate designs this book is easy to relate to. Not only do we see numerous hairstyles but we also see a loving family. This book has an awesome dad at the center and invites kids to learning to love themselves regardless of hair or illness. This is also a wonderful way to open up conversations about illness if this is something your family is going through.

4)

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

Summary: Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test so what’s holding Jabari back? Explore a variety of feelings with Jabari as he takes a big leap.

Why we love it…

This book has an understanding dad and opens the door to conversations on feelings. Sometimes kids can feel pressure not to be afraid, and so much of what isn’t said between this father and son speaks volumes. All of our kids loved reading this book and we always read it at least once during the summer.

5)

Mary had a Little Glam by Tami Sauer

Summary: When the very fashionable Mary starts school, she’s eager to share her keen eye for fabulous with her classmates. Mary does not hold back when it comes to glam and encourages everyone she meets to be adventures and try something new.

Why we love it…

Kids who have strict household rules surrounding cleanliness and proper attire may struggle to embrace Mary’s last hurrah, but don’t let that stop you. We used this book as an opportunity to remind kids that there’s a time and place for everything. Given that a lot of our students also love playing dress up, this book has been a hit 3 years running!

6)

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe

Summary: Inspired by a traditional African folktale, this is the story of Mufaro, who is proud of his two beautiful daughters. Nyasha is kind and considerate, but everyone—except Mufaro—knows that Manyara is selfish and bad-tempered. When the Great King decides to take a wife and invites the most worthy and beautiful daughters in the land to appear before him, Mufaro brings both of his daughters—but only one can be queen. Who will the king choose ?

Why we love it…

This is an African Tale can be viewed as a version of Cinderella. No evil stepmother but we get plenty of sibling rivalry. Ms. Rae loves that Nyasha is happy with who she is and doesn’t jump to get married. There’s also a bit of history between Nyasha and her future groom which speaks volumes if you don’t want your kids to say yes to the first marriage proposal that comes their way. Independence, kindness, self-esteem, friendship, and family are all delicious morals in this bite sized tale.

7)

My Camel wants to be an Unicorn by Julia Insetto

Summary: Have you ever had a friend who was mopey and blue? Did you try everything to cheer them up and yet they were still down? Did you ever think to ask, “How can I help?” Come along on this fun and silly adventure and find out just why My Camel Wants To Be a Unicorn. 

Why we love it…

This book will finish with a surprise ending for both adults and kids. If your kid is Unicorn obsessed, then you’ll get a kick out of having a Unicorn book with an African American girl as the main character. Unlike a lot of unicorn books that just talk about rainbows and hugs, this book provides real lessons on being a good friend and team work.

8)

Parker Looks Up by Jessica Curry and Parker Curry

Summary:  Join Parker Curry as she explores the National Portrait Gallery one rainy afternoon on a playdate. This book is inspired by the real life adventures of the authors, a mother and daughter who captured national attention all from a single moment.  

Why we love it…

This story shows that anything is possible. This book opened up the doors to talk about what type of museums our kiddos had been to. It also encourages kids to use their imagination with art. Added bonus? You can also discuss who the current president is, what a “first lady” is, and the role that politicians play shaping our lives. This book invites kids to be curious about the world around them.

9)

The 5 o'clock Band by Troy Andrews

Summary: After letting his band down by missing rehearsal, a boy called Shorty has some serious questions about what it means to be a leader. He hits the streets of New Orleans to find some answers and to soak up some inspiration. Along the way, he’ll meet people who have their own special wisdom to share about being an artist, a leader, and a friend.

Why we love it…

Ms. Rae is a huge fan of Trombone Shorty and the sequel to that award winning book will not disappoint. Instead of shining a spotlight on the pulse of New Orleans, kids learn about responsibility nd what it means to be a good friend. 

10)

The Hula Hooping Queen by Thelma Lynne Godin

Summary: Kameeka is confident that today she will finally beat her rival, Jamara, and become the Hula-Hoopin Queen of 139th Street. But then Mama reminds her that today is their neighbor Miz Adeline’s birthday, and Kameeka embarks on an adventure filled with surprises. Set in Harlem, this intergenerational story shows the importance of staying young at heart.

Why we love it…

As a former Harlem resident, Ms. Rae loves how this book captures the neighborhood. The problem with many New York books is that they rarely translate outside of New York. The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen is spot on when it comes to reminding kids about family, friendship, and responsibility. These lessons are universal and you don’t have to be a New Yorker to enjoy this book.