BOOKISH: Inspiring a love of language and learning in young children is quite possibly the greatest gift we can give. The following book and game lists have been designed and curated for children and adults of all ages, for a variety of topics and interests.
Board Books by BIPOC Authors
Sweetest Kulu is a beautiful bedtime poem, written by acclaimed Inuit throat singer Celina Kalluk, that describes the gifts given to a newborn baby by all the animals of the Arctic. Lyrically and tenderly told by a mother speaking to her own little Kulu – an Inuktitut term of endearment bestowed upon babies and young children – this visually stunning book is infused with the traditional Inuit values of love and respect for the land and its animal inhabitants.
Brown Sugar Baby is a celebration of the powerful love and protective, comforting instincts of a mother for her child. Its soothing and tender rhymes are highlighted by whimsical and charming illustrations that are perfect for storytime. It is a relatable, lyrical story for parents and their little girls and boys to read together time and again.
Ours is a board book that joyfully celebrates skin tone self-love with a mirror for little ones. Show young readers how to see themselves and others with confidence and love in this beautiful rhyming board book toddlers and parents alike will love.
Little Activists Board Book Bundle encourages children to grow up with confidence in themselves and to be more proactive citizens.
Noodles, Please! An A to Z of foods of the world to set your tastebuds aflame! In this board book shaped to mimic bowls, readers will discover 26 different varieties as they eat their way through the alphabet. Who knew noodles could be served so many ways: long and short, hot and cold, spicy and sweet, in broth and baked, paired with vegetables, meat and fish? It provides a culinary tour of the world, highlighting noodles from 19 countries!
Children’s Books by BIPOC Authors
Nyasha Williams has published three books, with three more available for pre-order. Her philosophy passionately works to change the narrative, and decolonize literature, minds, and spiritual practices one day at a time.
I Affirm Me: An empowering alphabet book of affirmations to inspire and remind black children of their inner power, strength, and worth;
What’s the Commotion in the Ocean?: A mermaid has a message for the earth about our seas and oceans, and she requires your help. A rhyming children’s book reflecting on the current happenings in the ocean and what we can do to help.
Ally Baby Can: Be Feminist: Introduces allyship to tiny change-makers! It models how young children can stand up for women and nonbinary people in the fight against sexism and gender inequality. These three are available for online purchase.
Williams also has three books available for pre-order:
I am Somebody: An empowering picture book about the importance of stepping up (and speaking up) to address injustice and effect change within our daily lives;
Ally Baby Can: Be an Eco-Activist: Readers will learn effective ways to save our best friends: humanity, wildlife, and planet earth;
Ally Baby Can: Be Anti-Racist: Models how young kids can stand up for members of the BIPOC community in the fight against systemic racism.
Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO: she knows practically everything about being a tooth fairy. How to collect teeth. Dispense money. Train other fairies. And it’s all in the Teeth Titans Incorporated Employee Manual. But when something happens, that’s not covered in the manual, what’s a fairy to do? It is a modern take on the classic tooth fairy story that is perfect for powerful little readers ready to take on the world – one tooth at a time.
Playing at the Border tells the inspiring story of Yo-Yo Ma, who challenges conventions, expectations, and beliefs in order to build bridges to unite communities, people, and cultures. Joanno Ho’s lyrical writing and Teresa Martinez’s vibrant art weave together to tell the inspiring story of Yo-Yo Ma, who wanted to play the double bass. It was too big for four-year-old hands, but over time he honed his amazing talent, and his music became a reflection of his own life between borders, cultures, disciplines, and generations. A beautiful picture book biography to enjoy and share in the home and classroom.
We’re off to Find a Fairy is about a curious girl on a hunt to find mythical creatures. Followed by friends and family, the diverse group searches high and low to spot a fabulous, fluttering fairy. Grab your binoculars and imagination as we set off on an adventure, one that teaches us that sometimes the real fun is the journey.
Black Gold tells the story of when the Universe decides to create a child, she draws from the earth – rich, dark, and full of everything that gives life, including eyes like black star sapphires and full lips to speak the truth. A lyrical picture book that is a joyous and poetic celebration of Black children and a reminder of the Universe’s unconditional love in stunning verse and captivating collage.
Treat yourself to the Complete Formy Bundle, featuring Later: Mum has gone to work, leaving the boys home alone with Dad, waiting for her to return; A Grand Place: While Zora waits for Grandma to return, she explores what it means to have a home away from home; Lines, Lines, Lines!: Amari is excited about his audition for the school play, but first he must learn his lines, lines, lines! Who can he find to help him?; The Calicolour Cat: When the Calicolour Cat’s emotions play a rascally trick on them, two siblings embark on a colorful adventure full of imagination and collaboration. Can they work together to put the Calicolour Cat back together?; and Zazi Finds Plantain!: Zazi heads out to the market with dad in search of plantain. Will they find it before dinner?
Sharks (A Day in the Life) dives under the sea to follow the lives of individual sharks as they hunt, hide, and play their way through their day. Marine biologist and shark conservationist Carlee Jackson cleverly weaves the story from gargantuan whale sharks to tiny epaulette sharks (who hunt in rock pools!) in the style of a nature documentary. She also includes gentle, scientific explanations perfect for future biologists.
Middle-Grade Books by BIPOC Authors
Dragons in a Bag travels through an adventure of helping his grandmother deliver baby dragons to a magical world where they’ll be safe. There are two rules when it comes to dragons: don’t let them out of the bag, and don’t feed them anything sweet. But things in the magical realm are more complicated than they seem in the fourth book of the critically acclaimed series.
The STEAM Chasers: We Made That is a life-changing adventure for six friends as they take a scavenger hunt through town to find the contributions Black Americans have had to our everyday lives in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. Things are moving well until one phone call sends a cascade of things in motion that results in the frightening wail of sirens screaming down the street. How will the STEAM Chasers get out of this mess?
Swim Team is a splashy, contemporary middle-grade graphic novel where Bree can’t wait for her first day at her middle school, Enith Brigitha, home to the mighty Manatees – until she’s stuck with the only elective that fits her schedule, the dreaded Swim 101. Through the support of an elderly occupant of her apartment building and a lot of hard work, Bree suddenly finds her swim-crazed community counting on her to turn the school’s failing team around.
Artie and the Wolf Moon showcases Artie, who is thrilled to discover that she comes from a long line of werewolves. Artie asks her mom to share everything, including the story of Artie’s late father. Artie’s mom recruits some old family friends, and Artie thrives in her new community.
When Life Gives You Mangoes offers a diverse celebration of island life, as well as a rich, lyrical mystery. A small village on a Jamaican Island. A girl who doesn’t remember the previous summer. A best friend who is no longer acting like one; a new girl who fills that hole in her heart. A summer of finding fallen mangoes, creating made up games and dancing in the rain. Secrets she keeps from others…and herself. The courage to face the truth even in the toughest of storms.
The Magic in Changing Your Stars takes a journey back to 1939 Harlem in a time-traveling adventure with an empowering message about believing in yourself and persevering. Eleven-year-old Ailey, a gifted dancer, is certain that he’ll land the role of the Scarecrow in his school’s production of The Wiz. But when a classmate overshadows him at auditions, a deflated Ailey confides in his Grampa that he is going to give up dancing. Featuring an all-Black cast of characters and many moments infused with Black culture and history, Grampa faces his fears and encourages Ailey to continue his passion in dance.
A Soft Place to Land is a compelling and heartfelt mystery story following a young girl reshaping her meaning of home. Joy Taylor has always believed home is the house she lived in her entire life. But when her dad lost his job and suddenly home becomes a tiny apartment with thin walls, shared bedrooms and a place for tense arguments between Mom and Dad. When a friendly new neighbor lets her in on the complex’s best kept secret Joy starts exchanging secret messages with another kid in the building who also seems to be struggling.
Root Magic is a poignant, necessary entry into the children’s literary canon, bringing to life the history and culture of Gullah people while highlighting the timeless plight of Black Americans. This is a wondrous story of love, bravery, friendship, and family, filled to the brim with magic great and small.
Graphic Novels by BIPOC Authors
Trickster: Native American Tales is a graphic collection that brings together Native American folklore and the world of comics. Twenty-four Native storytellers were paired with 24 comic artists, telling cultural stories from across America. Ranging from serious and dramatic to funny and sometimes downright fiendish, these tales bring tricksters back into popular culture.
Redbone is the true story of a Native American rock band. Experience the riveting, powerful story of the Native American civil rights movement and the resulting struggle for identity told through the high-flying career of West Coast rock ‘n’ roll pioneers Redbone. Created in cooperation of the Vegas family, authors Christian Staebler and Sonia Paoloni with artist Thibault Balahy take painstaking steps to ensure the historical accuracy of this important and often overlooked story of America’s past.
Bitter Root: once known as the greatest monster hunters of all time, the Sangerye family specialized in curing the souls of those infected by hate, but those days are fading. A terrible tragedy has claimed most of the family, leaving the surviving cousins split between curing monsters and killing them.
Strange Fruit showcases uncelebrated narratives from Black history, collecting stories from early African American history, this comic shows how people succeeded in the face of slavery and racism, from Henry “Box” Brown’s escape from slavery to Theophilus Thompson, former slave who became the first black chess master.
Kindred continues to draw in new readers with its deep exploration of the violence and loss of humanity caused by slavery in the United States, and its complex and lasting impact on the present day. Adapted by celebrated academics and comic artists Damian Duffy and John Jennings, this graphic novel powerfully renders Butler’s mysterious and moving story, which spans racial gender divides in the antebellum South through the 20th century.
Parable of the Sower is a graphic novel adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s; portrays a searing vision of America’s future. In the year 2024, the country is marred by unattended environmental and economic crises that lead to social chaos. A preacher’s daughter living in Los Angeles, is protected from danger by the walls of her gated community. However, in a night of fire and death, what begins as a fight for survival soon leads to something much more: a startling vision of human destiny…and the birth of a new faith.
Excellence: Kill the Past Trade Paperback tells the story of Spencer Dales was born into a world of magic. His father belongs to the Aegis, a secret society of black magicians tasked with bettering the lives of others – with higher potential – but never themselves. Now it’s time for Spencer to follow in his father’s footsteps, but all he sees is a broken system in need of someone with the wand and the will to change it.
Adult Books by BIPOC Authors
Black Sci-fi Short Stories is a deluxe edition of new writing and neglected perspectives. Includes topics ranging from slavery to space travel, the impressive breadth of this anthology makes for a well-rounded survey. Dystopia, apocalypse, gene-splicing, cloning and colonization are explored here by new authors and combined with proto-sci-fi and speculative writing of an older tradition whose first-hand experience of slavery and denial created their living dystopia.
The Silence that Binds Us tells the story of Maybelline Chen, who isn’t the Chinese Taiwanese American daughter her mother expects her to be. May prefers hoodies over dresses and wants to become a writer. When her brother is accepted to Princeton, but secretly struggles with depression. Racist accusations are hurled against May’s parents for putting too much “pressure” on him. It is an exquisite, heart-rending debut young adult novel that will inspire all to speak to power.
Braiding Sweetgrass draws on the life of Robin Wall Kimmerer who spent her life as an indigenous scientist, and as a woman, shows how other living beings – asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass – offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices. The awakening of ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgement and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world.
The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is a story of the Montoya’s who are used to life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers – not for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. But when Orquídea Diving invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secretes she has held onto so tightly all their lives.
A mother and daughter with a shared talent for healing – and for the conjuring of curses – are at the heart of Conjure Woman. It is a sweeping story that brings the world of the South before and after the Civil War vividly to life. Spanning eras and generations, it tells of the lives of three unforgettable women: Miss May Belle, a wise healing woman; her precocious daughter and observant daughter Rue, who is reluctant to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a midwife; and their master’s daughter Varina.
Just as I Am shares the story of one of the most important actors of our time – Cicely Tyson. “Just as I Am is my truth. It is me, plain and unvarnished, with the glitter and garland set aside. In these pages, I am indeed Cicely, the actress who has been blessed the grace the stage and screen for six decades. Yet I am also the church girl who once rarely spoke a word.” She describes her amazing life with emotion and transparency not often found in celebrity memoirs.
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies explores the raw and tender places where Black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good. The nine stories in this collection feature four generations of characters grappling with who they want to be in the world, caught as they are between the church’s double standards and their own needs and passions.
Firekeeper’s Daughter: as a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal, Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in – both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. When her family is struck by tragedy, Daunis puts her dreams on hold to care for her fragile mother. The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother’s hockey team.
Jambalaya: The Natural Woman’s Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals is a book of startling remembrances, revelations, directives, and imperatives, filled with the mysticism, wisdom and common sense of the African religion of the Mother. It should be read with the same open-minded love with which it was written. Jambalaya reconnects us to the natural and spiritual world, and the centuries-old traditions of African ancestors, whose voices echo through time, guiding us and blending with our own.
Cook Books by BIPOC Authors
Bress 'n' Nyam Gullah Geechee Recipes showcases essential cuisine of American history. It is the culinary representation of the ocean, rivers, and rich fertile loam in and around the coastal South. From the Carolinas to Georgia and Florida, this is where descendants of enslaved Africans came together to make extraordinary food, speaking the African Creole language called Gullah Geechee. From Hot Buttermilk Biscuits and Sweet Potato Pie to Salmon Cakes on Pepper Rice and Gullah Fish Stew, these recipes trace a history of community and family brought together by food.
The Cooking Gene, a 2018 James Beard Foundation Book of the Year, through Michael W. Twitty takes you on his own personal ancestral culinary journey. This illuminating memoir of Southern cuisine and food culture traces his ancestry – both black and white – through food, from Africa to America and slavery to freedom. Along the way, he reveals a truth that is more than skin deep – the power that food has to bring the kin of the enslaved and their former slaveholders to the table, where they can discover the real America together.
Decolonize Your Diet redefines what is meant by “traditional” Mexican food by reaching back hundreds of years of history to reclaim heritage crops as a source of protection from modern diseases of development. The authors promote a diet that is rich in plants indigenous to the Americas (corn, beans, squash, greens, herbs, and seeds), and are passionate about the idea that Latinos in America, specifically Mexicans, need to ditch the fast food and return to their culture’s food roots for both physical health and spiritual fulfillment.
Jubilee is a celebration of African American cuisine right now, in all of its abundance and variety. Through recipes and stories, you’ll cook along with pioneering figures, from enslaved chefs to middle- and upper-class writers and entrepreneurs. With more than 100 recipes, Jubilee presents techniques, ingredients, and dishes that show the roots of African American cooking – deeply beautiful, culturally diverse, fit for celebration.
New World Sourdough showcases artisan techniques for creative homemade fermented breads, and is your go-to guide to baking delicious, inventive sourdough breads at home. Learn how to make sourdough starter, basic breads, as well as other innovative baked goods from start to finish. Inspired by Honduran roots and a New Orleans upbringing, Bryan Ford ensures your success and a delicious return on your time and effort.
Rachel Ama’s Vegan Eats brings tasty plant-based recipes for every day. No bland or boring dishes, and forget spending the whole day cooking. Rachel takes inspiration from naturally vegan dishes and cuisines as well as her Caribbean and West African roots to create full-flavor recipes that are easy to make and will inspire you to make vegan food part of your daily life. Ingredient lists are short and supermarket friendly; dishes can be made ahead. And each recipes includes a song so you have a banging playlist to go alongside every plate.
In Pursuit of Flavor is the beloved classic cookbook from the acclaimed author of the taste of country cooking. Decades before cornbread, shrimp and grits, and peach cobbler were mainstays on menus everywhere, Edna Lewis was pioneering the celebration of seasonal food as a distinctly American cuisine. She shares recipes of her childhood, spent in a Virginia farming community founded by her grandfather and his friends after emancipation, as well as those that made her one of the most revered American chefs of all time.
Vegetable Kingdom transforms the kitchen into a site for creating global culinary encounters, this time inviting us to savor Afro-Asian vegan creations. Food justice activist and author Bryant Terry breaks down the fundamentals of plant-based cooking, showing you how to make delicious meals from popular vegetables, grains and legumes. The book is organized by ingredient, making it easy to create simple dishes or show-stopping meals based on what’s fresh at the market.
Spiritual Decks by BIPOC Authors
Black Tarot is an Ancestral Awakening Deck and Guidebook. Let your guiding spirits and ancestral figures come through with this stunningly illustrated tarot deck and guidebook. Complete with 78 tarot cards featuring all Black representations of classic tarot figures and iconography. The accompanying illustrated guidebook with information on each card including traits, descriptions, action steps, flower, element, chakra, affirmations, and more. Throughout, find lessons on how the moon’s cycle and the element of water influence your life, your readings, and your connections with the divine.
Let this guided journal, a stunning companion to Black Tarot: An Ancestral Awakening Deck and Guidebook, help you connect with the divine. Dive into this beautifully designed journal, filled with prompts, questions, tarot advice, plenty of writing space, and more to help you record and reflect on your tarot journey. This journal is a companion to Black Tarot, a tarot deck and guidebook that draws influence from the moon and the water and features exclusively Black figures.
Tazama African Tarot will allow your ancestors to help you see what your eyes have yet to see. Tazama means “to see” in Swahili. This is an original, modern African collage to connect with real African ancestors from African history. It includes a full color guidebook explaining the meaning, reverse meaning and affirmations of each card. It is great for beginners including basic spreads to start out with.
Dust II Onyx: A Melanated Tarot is a rich, complex, multi-layered deck exploring cultural myths, symbolism, history, and icons within the Black Diaspora. The cards feature 78 mixed media collage paintings accented with metallic and holographic foils. The guidebook features multiple keyword lists (numerological, elemental, and astrological) and full-color images of the artwork with unique titles and descriptions.
The Gentle Tarot is an indigenous-made, hand-drawn tarot deck filled with imagery influenced by life in remote Alaska. Colorful, compassionate and drawing on Mari’s heritage, this deck is a labor of love for self-care, healing, and nature connection. Some of the cards are lightly based on the Rider-Waite deck, however many of the illustrations are the result of complete surrender to the creative and spiritual process.
Tarot of the Cosmic Seed uses the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition as its foundation and is a vibrant collage deck, rich in dreamlike imagery, cultural diversity, and mystical symbolism. In this deck, the Fool card is renamed “Wanderer”, and the Empress and Emperor are the “Sacred Feminine” and “Sacred Masculine”.
BIPOC Owned Bookstores:
Black Baby Books highlights and showcases in the most beautiful ways stories told and books written by and for black children. For children to see themselves in the stories being read to them helps children feel they belong so deep down in their being. Black Baby Books sources children’s books with Black characters, to affirm Black children and improve the world as a whole.
Satisfiction is a bi-monthly subscription service that believes self-care is crucial for everyday living. Their subscription box features science fiction and fantasy novels written by authors of color, paired skincare and bath products curated with self-care in mind. A portion of proceeds is donated to literacy programs that help inspire future generations and their educational needs.
My Lit Box features a carefully selected and newly released book from authors of color plus a couple of goodies. The benefit of this box is it only ships four times a year.