Teaching Babies and Toddlers Black History

Teaching children from an early age about Black history is as simple and significant as teaching their ABC’s. Today, parents and educators have access to so many different tools, strategies, and resources to learn more about this subject that has, in the past, often been overlooked in early childhood education. We hope to point you toward a few tools you can use to teach and celebrate Black history not only during Black history month in February, but all year long!

One of the best tools to teach Black history is children’s books. Through their combination of brilliant words and beautiful illustrations, children’s picture books are a powerful tool to affirm, inspire, and celebrate how the experience of Black people has shaped American history to the present day. 

How can young children benefit from learning about Black history? Here is an easy way to remember how books that reflect the Black experience benefit ALL young children:

A – they Affirm the experiences of Black people and the value of diversity

B – they inspire all children to Become changemakers for a better, fairer world

C – they Celebrate the achievements that Black people have made in all areas of American life

Here is our list of 5 children’s book recommendations for learning about and celebrating Black History!

  1. The ABC’s of Black History by Rio Cortez, illustrated by Lauren Semmer

Through its clever use of the alphabet and rhyme, this book shares big ideas, events, movements, and people in Black history for each letter A to Z. While this book touches on the broadest range of subjects, it is almost like a teaser – it gives you a taste of lots of interesting information and leaves you wanting to know more. 

  1. Woke Baby by Mahogany L Browne, illustrated by Theodore Taylor III

Read this board book with babies to speak about the power of their newly awakened energy. The book points to how a baby’s early skills are the foundation for growing up to change the world. It connects each of their body parts – fingers, toes, knees, voice, hands, eyes – to reaching dreams of justice one day in the future.

  1. Antiracist Baby by Ibram X Kendi, illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky

This is another board book for babies that rhymes and counts 9 action steps on becoming antiracist. It teaches children to acknowledge and appreciate differences in race and culture, and it gives language to both explain the problems of racism and work toward the solutions. The visual illustrations and simple reminders show that being antiracist is teachable even to the youngest readers and taking action can transform the world.

  1. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History written and illustrated by Vashti Harrison

This is a true storybook of bold and brave women in Black history. The author celebrates the accomplishments of Black women through stunning written and visual portraits of 40 leaders. Each page is the story of one woman’s childhood, life, obstacles, and incredible achievements, so you can easily read one profile a day. However, your child will probably want to continue reading ahead to learn more about more inspiring women who broke barriers and changed history. 

  1. I am Brave: A Little Book about Martin Luther King, Jr. (Ordinary People Change the World) by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos

This board book encourages young children to dream like Martin Luther King, Jr. The story shares the inspiring ideas of Martin Luther King, Jr and teaches children to be brave, to do what is right, to take a stand, and treat others with love as sisters and brothers. It is part of a series of I am Brave books that share biographies of ordinary people who do extraordinary things.

First Chance for Children believes in the power of these books so much, we want to give one to your family! All of our 150 February activity kits have a copy of I Am Brave: A Little Book about Martin Luther King, Jr. The activity kits are free to local families with children ages 0-5. Sign up for a kit by filling out a simple online enrollment form here.

First Chance is also giving away copies of each of the other 4 books to all participants in our virtual events this month. We invite you to join us on Wednesday, February 24 from 7-8pm on Zoom for our virtual event – Using Play to Teach Diversity & Celebrate Black History! The event is free and open to parents, caregivers, and educators. You will learn ideas and tips on how to play and talk with your child from an early age about race and diversity. Email quinnc@fc4c.org to register!