10 Award-Winning Books with Strong African-American Protagonists


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By Common Sense Media

All the excellent, award-winning books on this list celebrate African-American people and culture — and all are great picks for your kids.

Last Stop on Market Street  By Matt de la Pena Tender story of Nana showing grandson city beauty via bus. Recommended for ages 3 and older (G.P.  Putnam’s Sons, 2015) Jazz on a Saturday Night  By Leo Dillon and Diane Dillon Kids will groove to this toe-tapping treasure. Recommended for ages 4 and older (Blue Sky Press, 2008)

Trombone Shorty

By Troy Andrews

Fun, upbeat story of a boy, a trombone, and jazz. Recommended for ages 4 and older

(Harry N Abrams, 2016)


By Misty Copeland

Soaring, rhythmic story for dancers with big dreams. Recommended for ages 5 and older

(Putnam Juvenile, 2014)

Henry’s Freedom Box

By Ellen Levine

Heartrending but hopeful, true story of slave boy’s escape.

Recommended for ages 5 and older

(Scholastic Press, 2008)

When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop

By Laban Carrick Hill

Insightful, kid-friendly intro to the history of hip-hop.

Recommended for ages 6 and older

(Roaring Brook Press, 2013)

Gone Crazy in Alabama

By Rita Williams-Garcia

Harrowing tale of Gaither girls’ summer in the South.

Recommended for ages 8 and older

(Amistad, 2015)

Bud, Not Buddy

By Christopher Paul Curtis

Well-crafted tale of an orphan’s search for home.

Recommended for ages 9 and older

(Random House, 1999)

Elijah of Buxton

By Christopher Paul Curtis

Humorous, powerful, masterful escaped-slave tale.

Recommended for ages 9 and older

(Scholastic Inc., 2007)

P.S. Be Eleven

B y Rita Williams-Garcia

Tween coming-of-age set amid shifting family, ’60s dynamics.

Recommended for ages 9 and older

(Amistad, 2013)

Common Sense Media
Tinybeans Voices Contributor

Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsense.org.

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