Jerry Craft's Picks: Uplifting Books About Black and Brown Kids

When bestselling author, cartoonist, and father of two Jerry Craft was a kid, he struggled to enjoy reading, in part because, as a young African American boy, he rarely found books that featured characters who looked and lived like him. The books that were written about Black and Brown kids often focused on heavy topics like slavery and the fight for civil rights -- important topics, but somewhat removed from many kids' everyday experiences. Jerry wrote about transitioning to a new, mostly White school in his contemporary graphic novel New Kid, which won the 2020 Coretta Scott King Author Award, the 2019 Kirkus Prize for Young Readers' Literature, and the 2020 John Newbery Medal. It was the first graphic novel to win the top Newbery prize.

Jerry hopes that his book and the ones he selected for this list -- uplifting #OwnVoices books by authors of color about Black and Brown kids being regular kids -- will inspire this generation of readers. "I have always felt as if it is also extremely important for kids of color to see themselves being happy as well. In fact, it's not just important for them -- the world needs to see more Black and Brown kids being surrounded by happy families and loving friends. Our kids need to see stories that show them now, and in the future, instead of always in the past," says Jerry. For more about Jerry Craft and his work, check him out on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or his website.

The King of Kindergarten Poster Image
BOOK

The King of Kindergarten

age 3+

Fun tale pictures a kid's royally good first day of school.

By: Derrick Barnes (2019)
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The Day You Begin Poster Image
BOOK

The Day You Begin

age 4+

Encouraging advice for kids who feel excluded or less than.

By: Jacqueline Woodson (2018)
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Octopus Stew Poster Image
BOOK

Octopus Stew

age 4+

Octopus adventure celebrates imagination, Latino culture.

By: Eric Velásquez (2019)
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Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment Poster Image
BOOK

Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment

age 4+

Girl finds role model who looks like her in inspiring tale.

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Saturday Poster Image
BOOK

Saturday

age 4+

Superb art, lovely story about coping with disappointment.

By: Oge Mora (2019)
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Dragons in a Bag, Book 1 Poster Image
BOOK

Dragons in a Bag, Book 1

age 8+

Exciting tale of New York kid's journey to magical world.

By: Zetta Elliott (2018)
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Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky: Tristan Strong, Book 1 Poster Image
BOOK

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky: Tristan Strong, Book 1

age 8+

Teen connects with African folklore in exciting fantasy.

By: Kwame Mbalia (2019)
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Ways to Make Sunshine: Ryan Hart, Book 1 Poster Image
BOOK

Ways to Make Sunshine: Ryan Hart, Book 1

age 8+

Girl meets challenges with pluck in charming family tale.

By: Renée Watson (2020)
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Booked Poster Image
BOOK

Booked

age 10+

Soccer player faces divorce, bullies in fast-paced novel.

By: Kwame Alexander (2016)
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Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks Poster Image
BOOK

Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks

age 10+

Moving, interwoven stories of Black middle schoolers.

By: Jason Reynolds (2019)
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My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich Poster Image
BOOK

My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich

age 10+

Tween uses vivid imagination to cope in confusing novel.

By: Ibi Zoboi (2019)
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The Last Last-Day-of-Summer: Legendary Alston Boys, Book 1 Poster Image
BOOK

The Last Last-Day-of-Summer: Legendary Alston Boys, Book 1

age 10+

Kid sleuths investigate zany time-travel mystery.

By: Lamar Giles (2019)
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The Lost Tribes, Book 1 Poster Image
BOOK

The Lost Tribes, Book 1

age 10+

Teens must win video game to save parents in clever sci-fi.

By: C. Taylor-Butler (2019)
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What Lane? Poster Image
BOOK

What Lane?

age 10+

Biracial 6th-grader torn between groups in sweet novel.

By: Torrey Maldonado (2020)
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With the Fire on High Poster Image
BOOK

With the Fire on High

age 13+

Teen mom/chef's inspiring tale shows perseverance, teamwork.

By: Elizabeth Acevedo (2019)
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