This is the introduction to a series of posts on our favorite chapter books for young (age 10 and under) black boys. Please share, link, and re-post anywhere and everywhere! Every school and town library in our country needs to have these books on their shelves!
Over the years I’ve posted about some of our favorite books for black kids (click on links to go to those posts):
- great board books for black kids
- great picture books for black kids
- great (adult) books for white adoptive parents of black kids
Kyle and Owen are now at an age where they are loving chapter books. As with the other phases of their book-reading-development, I have been seriously challenged to find great books for them with strong black characters. I am a real stickler about this: I am an adamant and firm believer that it is imperative for black kids to have lots of books with black characters. It is my own opinion that it is absolutely critical to provide black kids with a plethora of such books so that they are immersed in a world of reading that does not marginalize them, especially at younger ages. Our book shelves are filled with all sorts of books (and yes, we have Harry Potter and Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Magic Treehouse, etc. etc. etc.), but I am vigilant about making sure there is a solid core base of books with black representation.*
So, over the past nine years I’ve spent an enormous amount of time and energy researching and seeking out books which reflect black culture, possess rich black imagery, and highlight strong black characters, while at the same time being good, plain-and-straight-up, awesome books. Luckily, we are living at a time in history when such books do, in fact exist. Unfortunately, these books are not always so easy to find.
In the past couple of years, Kyle and Owen have been gradually making the shift from picture books to chapter books. Now, at age 9, they have sincere appreciation for a good chapter book with black main characters. It has been very clear to me that they prefer (greatly prefer) chapter books with black male characters. This is no surprise, of course. But an interesting twist is this: there are many, many more chapter books targeted for black girls than for black boys. I’ve had to do some pretty deep digging to come up with really good chapter books with black main characters.
In this series of posts I’m going to list our Top Five Favorite Chapter Books for Black Boys. I’m focusing specifically on chapter book series here. These will be posted in order, from Kyle and Owen’s favorite (#1), to their 5th favorite (#5). Bear in mind, all five of these sets of books are superb! I am simply listing them in rank order of my own boys’ favorites. Also, note: I have personally read every single one of these books right along with Kyle and Owen (we are big believers in reading aloud as long as our kids will let us). I can personally vouch that they are excellent chapter books!
I hope these posts will be useful for black boys, their parents, their extended family and friends, their teachers, their librarians, and their communities. If you’re looking for great chapter books for the black boys in your life, I’ve got you covered! Enjoy!
*This is a subject that I have thought about a lot, and on which I have done a lot of research, so please (please!) don’t leave mean and nasty comments about how uptight I am about this. As far as I am concerned, this is a topic that is not up for discussion. If you don’t want to know about great books for black boys, then simply skip these posts. Please (please!) don’t waste your time or mine by telling me that I’m wrong for being so adamant on this subject, or by telling me what a hypersensitive person I am for taking the stance that I do on this. I am a sociologist and a mom, and I’ll tell you this: it is what it is folks, and whether you want to believe it or not, things like this (providing books with black characters for your black children/students) do, indeed, make a difference… a big, big difference.
~ ~ ~
Links to the Great Chapter Books for Black Boys posts: