by Kaitlin Kamalei Brandon
(This article was originally published on Colorful Pages and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
Black Lives Matter at School Week is the week of Monday, Feb. 1 to Friday, Feb. 5. It is based on a movement to recognize and honor Black lives. The week is built around the 13 values of the Black Lives Matter movement. Each day covers a few of these values:
- Monday: Restorative Justice, Empathy, and Loving Engagement
- Tuesday: Diversity and Globalism
- Wednesday: Trans-Affirming, Queer Affirming, and Collective Value
- Thursday: Intergenerational, Black Families, and Black Villages
- Friday: Black Women and Unapologetically Black
I am so excited for Black Lives Matter at School Week! It is such a special time where my students, families, school community, and I get to come together to talk about the Black Lives Matter values and how we can uplift and stand up with the Black members of our community. Remember: Every life cannot matter until Black Lives Matter.
The Black Lives Matter at School organization has some absolutely AMAZING (and free) resources to help you enact Black Lives Matter at School Week in your home, classroom, and/or library. There are also other organizations that have created free quality resources. Check out some those resources here:
At Colorful Pages we aim to provide educators, families, and librarians with the resources they need surrounding diverse books. For Black Lives Matter at School Week, I have created a list of picture books related to each day’s values. I encourage you to use these during your lessons, story times, bedtimes, and/or any other time to make sure that Black Lives Matter at School Week is weaved throughout our students’ and children’s days.
There are 27 picture books listed below. The majority were written by Black authors because I believe we need to uplift our Black authors in our spaces (unfortunately, there are not a lot of LGBTQ+ picture books written by Black authors so I had to expand my scope for just that day). The list is sectioned by the day and its values. We hope this resource helps, and you all are able to have a powerful Black Lives Matter at School Week!
MONDAY: Restorative Justice, Empathy, and Loving Engagement
On Monday, Black Lives Matter at School covers Restorative Justice, Empathy, and Loving Engagement. Check out the following picture books to help your kiddos learn more about these values:
by Tami Charles
This picture book is a lyrical love letter to Black and Brown children. It reminds them that they have always mattered and come from a long line of excellence. All Because You Matter is perfect to introduce Black Lives Matter at School in a loving and empathetic way that does not shy away from the obstacles in the way.
Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story about Racial Injustice
by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard
Something Happened in Our Town follows a Black family and a white family as they process through a recent police shooting of a Black man in their community. I have used this book many times to talk about racial injustice, especially around the Black Lives Matter movement. There are also many resources in the back of the book. We also have a lesson plan using this book on our website.
by Kingsley Osei
Young Kap tells the story of Colin Kapernick taking a stand against the injustice happening to the Black community and taking a knee. It explores the sorrow and unfairness of Black youth being murdered that led to his activism. This picture book would be great to talk about ways that we can demand justice (restorative justice) and explain the empathy we need to center.
by Useni Eugene Perkins
This book is a poem to empower Black children. Each section starts with “Hey Black Child” and the end has a great message around turning our nation into what they want it to be. It would be a beautiful way to start Black Lives Matter at School Week in a loving way!
Daddy, There’s A Noise Outside
by Kenneth Braswell
In Daddy, There’s A Noise Outside, two kids are curious about a noise that wakes them up. The parents explain to them that the noise is people protesting. They then talk to the kids more about protesting by showing historic examples and using kid-friendly language. While this book does not directly talk about Black Lives Matter, it does explore Black Lives Matter indirectly and you can tie it back to explain the Black Lives Matter movement in a healthy and positive way.
by Kwame Alexander
Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson are a dream author-illustrator team that produced this picture book. The Undefeated is a poem that acts as a “love letter to Black America”. It references the obstacles and triumphs that have happened in Black history. This picture book would be a great beginning to root your week in because it shares the trauma (which shows the need for justice) and the love and power within the Black community.
TUESDAY: Diversity and Globalism
On Tuesday, Black Lives Matter at School covers Diversity and Globalism. Check out the following picture books to help your kiddos learn more about these values:
by LaTashia M Perry
In this picture book, children explore their different skin and skin colors. They compare each skin color to something fun and beautiful. This would be perfect to talk about diversity where students can do self-portraits and/or color the “Diversity” coloring page in the Black Lives Matter at School Coloring Book!
by LaTashia M Perry
In Hair Like Mine, a little girl tells her mom that she cannot find anyone that has hair like hers. Her mom shares that “no two people are exactly alike.” The little girl then begins to see that everyone looks different, and that is beautiful.
by Mechal Renee Roe
This picture book promotes strong self-esteem while also celebrating the diversity of Black hairstyles. Each couple of pages has a positive self-affirmation and a different hairstyle. I love the illustrations and the positivity beaming on each page!
by Jamilah Thompsons-Bigelow
Your Name is a Song brings up an unfortunately common story. A young girl is frustrated and disheartened because no one was able to say her name at school. Her mama shows her the beauty in names and ties it back to the noises and joy all around them. Together, they disprove all the prejudice, racism, and hurt the young girl encountered at school. And together, they uncover the song and warmth to every name. Use this book to celebrate the diversity in names!
by Lupita Nyong’o
This picture book is about Sulwe, a little girl with skin “the color of midnight.” At first, she is ashamed of her skin color, but then a beautiful nighttime journey teaches her the absolute beauty of her skin color. I have used Sulwe to talk about colorism in my classroom. It would be a great book to talk about diversity and the obstacles (like colorism) that can try to stomp on the beauty of diversity.
Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children
by Sandra L. Pinkney
In this board book, Shades of Black explores the diversity and globalism in the Black community. It shows the beauty of every shade of Black. One of my unofficial mentors showed me this book that she got for her own babies to empower them.
by Faith Ringgold
We Came to America talks about immigration and the different reasons people came to America. It is one of my favorite books to talk about immigration because it shows about how some people did not come here by choice (a reference to slavery), which some immigration books never address.
WEDNESDAY: Trans-Affirming, Queer Affirming, and Collective Value
On Wednesday, Black Lives Matter at School covers Trans-Affirming, Queer-Affirming, and Collective Value. Check out the following picture books to help your kiddos learn more about these values:
by Myles E Johnson
Large Fears is one of the first picture books that I have seen that features a Black LGBTQ+ character — SO EXCITING! Johnson writes about a boy named Jeremiah Nebula, a Black boy who loves pink and wants to travel to Mars. The book is about his quest for acceptance as a Black boy who he sees as “different” than other Black boys.
by Jessica Love
This picture book is about Julián who sees three beautiful women dressed up as mermaids and then wants to dress up too. However, Julián is not sure what his Abuela will think. This book is great for talking about affirming the different identities of people.
by Jessica Walton
(not a multicultural book focused on race)
In Introducing Teddy, Errol and Thomas the Teddy are best friends. One day Thomas tells Errol that she is actually a girl teddy and wants to be called Tilly. This picture book is great for talking about accepting people for who they are and affirming their identities.
by Maya Christina Gonzales
I just found this book recently! They, She, He, Easy as ABC explores the different types of pronouns and shows readers how easy they are to use. It is an ABC book that has a child’s name for every letter and uses their preferred pronouns. You could use this book to explore the different pronouns and have students share their preferred pronouns (make sure you have created an identity safe and brave space before attempting this).
THURSDAY: Intergenerational, Black Families, and Black Villages
On Thursday, Black Lives Matter at School covers Intergenerational, Black Families, and Black Villages. Check out the following picture books to help your kiddos learn more about these values:
by Donald Crews
Crews writes about his childhood family trip to BigMama’s. This loving tale explores family relationships and intergenerational bonds. It is a great book to talk about Black families and celebrate the value of intergenerational.
by Angela Johnson
Daddy Calls Me Man is a collection of mini-stories about a little Black boy’s family. He talks about each member of his family and what he likes to do with them. You can use this book to talk about family roles. For example, with my own class, I use this book to talk about family roles, which I define as both the identifying term (ex. uncle, cousin, dad, aunty) and how that person helps the family (ex. My dad cooks dinner for our family).
by Oge Mora
In this book, Omu cooks a big pot of stew. The smell wafts out and brings many people from the neighborhood. This is a great picture book to talk about community, which can connect to the values of Intergenerational and Black Villages.
by Oge Mora
Saturday is the story about Ava and her mother. They always do the same fun things on Saturday. However, one Saturday everything goes wrong. It is a beautiful book about a family relationship and shows that the most important thing is that family members are together in whatever way possible.
by Faith Ringgold
Tar Beach is narrated by a little girl. She shares about her family and her community. It is a beautiful book that is loaded with historical and cultural references. It is perfect for exploring all three values of Thursday.
FRIDAY: Black Women and Unapologetically Black
On Friday, Black Lives Matter at School covers Black Women and Unapologetically Black. Check out the following picture books to help your kiddos learn more about these values:
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
by Vashti Harrison
Vashiti Harrison is a brilliant artist and writer. Each couple of pages focuses on an important woman in Black history with a breathtaking illustration and short blurb about their life’s work. It would be great to explore so many of the amazing Black women in this book for Friday’s values.
by Matthew A. Cherry
Hair Love is about Zuri and her beautiful hair. Zuri’s daddy tries to help her with her hair to get ready for a special event. It highlights an amazing father-daughter relationship while also showing the empowerment of a Black girl. It is a great book to talk about the values of Black Women and Unapologetically Black.
by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
Tarpley writes a sweet story about a loving interaction between a young Black girl and her mother about how amazing the girl’s hair is. Throughout the book, the girl learns to love her hair more and more. It is a very empowering book that features strong and beautiful Black women protagonists.
Brave. Black. First: 50+ African American Women Who Changed the World
by Cheryl Hudson
This book isn’t really a picture book, but it has some awesome illustrations and some even better information. Brave. Black. First was published by the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It has mini-biographies of over 50 African American women who changed the world.
Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters
by Andrea Davis Pinkney
In this picture book, Andrea Davis Pinkney writes about 10 amazing Black women who fought for freedom and stood up to oppression. It includes biographies of Sojournor Truth, Biddy Mason, Harriet Tubman, Ida B.Wells-Barnett, Mary McLeod Bethune, Ella Josephine Baker, Dorothy Irene Height, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Shirley Chisholm. This book would be great to explore the greatness of Black women and also talk about the oppression that we need to abolish in our nation.
Kaitlin Kamalei Brandon
Kaitlin Kamalei Brandon is a Native Hawaiian, multiracial educator, and 2020 Teaching Tolerance Excellence in Teaching Award winner. At the University of Washington, she completed her Master of Teaching (MIT) degree. She has taught Grades K-3, but she is currently a Grades 2/3 ELA ethnic studies teacher at Leschi Elementary. With the goal of creating an empowering community for every student, Kaitlin Kamalei is an ethnic studies curriculum developer for Seattle Public Schools, coach for the SEA Center for Racial Equity, and founder of Colorful Pages to extend this work beyond her classroom. Her favorite things (besides diverse books and Colorful Pages) are watching and analyzing movies, listening to music, and going for runs with her dog, ‘Īlio.
Featured Image: A collage of book covers represented in this article.
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