Slide a world of opportunities A Book opens up EXPLORE

Join us virtually to preview the 30th Annual African American Children’s Book Fair on Saturday, February 5, 2022 – 1:00-3:00PM EST – Face book Live. Get an inside look at the stellar line up of some of the best and the brightest from the children’s literary community.

The 30th Annual African American Children's Book Fair – LIVE IN PERSON - will be held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 12th Arch Street on Saturday, February 26, 2022, from 1:00 to 4 p.m. EST. Hosted by the African American Children’s Book Project, the book fair is one of the oldest and largest single-day events for children's books in the country.

Mask are required at all times. There is also a Covid-19 protocol in place.

Support The African American Children's Book Project

Click the button to purchase books of our 2021 participants. Proceed of your purchase supports the activities of The African American Children's Book Project. Our bookseller is the Literary Cafe - Books & Events who specializes in Black children's books - preschool to young adult, hosting and producing literary events.



The titles in The African American Children’s Book Project Best Picture Books of 2021 run the gamut from fiction to non-fiction. The list has books that will make you smile, books that will enlightened you and books that will enrich your life. All of the books have one thing in common they are written and illustrated by Black literary creators. To order copies of the books listed go to:

A Day for Rememberin: Inspired by the True Events of the First
Memorial Day
– Leah Henderson (author), Floyd Cooper (Illustrator) – Harry N. Abrams

The Electric Slide and Kai 
– by Kelly J. Baptist (author), Darnell Johnson (Illustrator) – Lee and Low

Your Legacy: A Bold Reclaiming of Our Enslaved History 
– by Schele Williams (author), Tonya Engel (Illustrator) – Harry N. Abrams 

Alaina and the Great Play
– by Eloise Greenfield  (author), Colin Bootman (Illustrator) – Alazar Press

–  by Tricia Elam Walker (author), Ekua Holmes (Illustrator) – Anne Schwartz Books

Nina: A Story of Nina Simone
– by Traci N. Todd (author), Christian Robinson (Illustrator) – G.P. Putnam’s Sons

The Me I Choose To Be Hardcover
– by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley (author), Regis and Kahran Bethencourt (artist) – Little Brown and Company

When Langston Dances 
– by Kaija Langley  (Author), Keith Mallett (Illustrator) – Denene Milner Books

Soul Food Sunday Hardcover
– Winsome Bingham (author), C. G. Esperanza (Illustrator) – Harry N. Abrams

The People Remember
– by Ibi Zoboi (Author), Loveis Wise (Illustrator)
–  Balzer + Bray

Bright Brown Baby 
– by Andrea Davis Pinkney  (Author), Brian Pinkney (Illustrator)
– Orchard Books

Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre Hardcover
– by Carole Boston Weatherford  (Author), Floyd Cooper (Illustrator)
– Carolrhoda

Pigskins to Paintbrushes: The Story of Football-Playing Artist Ernie Barnes 
– by Don Tate  (Author and Illustrator)

Remember to Dream, Ebere 
– by Cynthia Erivo  (Author), Charnelle Pinkney Barlow (Illustrator)
– Little Brown Books

C Is for Country Hardcover
– by Lil Nas X  (Author), Theodore Taylor III (Illustrator)
– Random House Books

We Shall Overcome 
– by Bryan Collier (Illustrator) – Orchard Books

Shirley Chisholm Is a Verb
– by Veronica Chambers (Author), Rachelle Baker (Illustrator) – Dial

Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston 
– by Alicia D. Williams  (Author), Jacqueline Alcántara (Illustrator)
Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books 

Saving the Day: Garrett Morgan’s Life-Changing Invention of the Traffic Signal (A Sweet Blackberry Book)
by Karyn Parsons (author) ,R. Gregory Christi (Illustrator)
– Little Brown Books

Participants Black Books Are 2021


Judy Allen Dodson


JUDY ALLEN DODSON is a librarian, archivist, and children’s book author. Judy was the winner of the SCBWI On-the-Verge Emerging Voices Award and the recipient of multiple North Carolina Arts Council grants. She’s a member of SCBWI, the regional co-ambassador for the Authors Guild, and a former member of the Coretta Scott King Archives and History Committee. Judy has a passion for celebrating diverse children’s literature and teaching young children about history. Visit her online at


Escape from . . . Hurricane Katrina

In this fictional tale, daring twins Jo Jo and Sophie battle the raging floodwaters in a fight for their lives. For twins Jo Jo and Sophie Dupre, Hurricane Katrina isn’t the most important thing on their minds-not compared to their mother’s cancer treatments, Sophie’s swim meet, and Jo Jo’s upcoming coding competition. But when the storm intensifies and there’s only one seat in their aunt’s car, Mom has to be the one to evacuate. The twins and their father are stuck at home in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. The winds rise-and with them, the waves. The levees break and floodwater rages through the city. During the chaos, Jo Jo and Sophie are swept away. Together, they must find their way to the Superdome, where their father should be waiting-but can they escape the wrath of one of the deadliest storms in history.

Escape from . . . Hurricane Katrina


Tracey Baptiste


TRACEY BAPTISTE is the New York Times best selling author of MINECRAFT: THE CRASH and the popular JUMBIES series including THE JUMBIES, RISE OF THE JUMBIES, and THE JUMBIE GOD’S REVENGE. Upcoming 2021 books include the picture book LOOKING FOR A JUMBIE and the middle grade nonfiction AFRICAN ICONS. I am a former elementary school teacher, I do lots of author visits, and I’m on the faculty at Lesley University Creative Writing MFA program. Find Tracey online at and connect on Twitter @traceybaptiste and on Instagram @traceybaptistewrites.


African Icons: Ten People Who Shaped History

Meet ten real-life kings, queens, inventors, scholars, and visionaries who lived in Africa thousands of years ago and changed the world. Black history began long ago with the many cultures and people of the African continent. Through portraits of ten heroic figures, author Tracey Baptiste takes readers on a journey across Africa to meet some of the great leaders and thinkers whose vision built a continent and shaped the world.

Illustrator Hillary D. Wilson’s brilliant portraits accompany each profile, along with vivid, information-filled landscapes, maps, and graphics for readers to pore over and return to again and again.

African Icons: Ten People Who Shaped History


Winsome Bingham


WINSOME BINGHAM is a soul food connoisseur, master cook (at home, family reunions, and get-togethers), and a US Army war and disabled veteran. She is a teacher by trade and at heart. She received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education with more than 15 years of teaching experience. And an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. You can find her writing on a deck while waiting patiently with a camera to capture a submarine shooting out of the water. She writes about real life experiences in a fictionalized setting. You can find her at


Soul Food Sunday

At Granny’s, Sunday isn’t Sunday without a big family gathering over a lovingly prepared meal. Old enough now, our narrator is finally invited to help cook the dishes for the first time: He joins Granny in grating the cheese, cleaning the greens, and priming the meat for Roscoe Ray’s grill. But just when Granny says they’re finished, her grandson makes his own contribution, sweetening this Sunday gathering—and the many more to come.
Evocatively written and vividly illustrated, this mouthwatering story is a warm celebration of tradition and coming together at a table filled with love and delicious food.

Soul Food Sunday


Paula Chase

Co-founder of the award-winning blog, The Brown Bookshelf, PAULA CHASE is a longtime Inclusion Jedi and advocate for diversifying the type of fiction featuring Black characters that’s highlighted among educators, librarians and parents. She’s presented and blogged about the need to expand the focus beyond children’s literature that centers the pain of the Black experience and is the 2021 recipient of the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) Konigsberg Award for her advocacy.

Chase is the author of nine children’s books. So Done (Greenwillow/HarperCollins), her critically acclaimed middle grade debut, was named a 2018 Kirkus Reviews Best Book. So Done and its companions, Dough Boys and Turning Point are blazing the trail for books that tackle tough and sometimes taboo topics for younger readers. More on Chase can be found at

Keeping It Real
Keeping It Real (Greenwillow/HarperCollins) is a powerful exploration of what happens when parents pick and choose what they shield their children from. Timely and memorable, Paula Chase’s Black character-driven story touches on creativity, art, fashion, and music. A great choice for tween and teen readers stuck between traditional middle grade and young adult novels.

Keeping It Real


Tricia Elam Walker


TRICIA ELAM WALKER is an award-winning author and professor at Howard University. Her first novel, Breathing Room, was published by Simon & Schuster/PocketBooks in 2001. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, Essence and other publications and she has provided commentary for NPR, CNN, the BBC and more. Several of her plays have been produced and her first children’s book, Nana Akua Goes to School, was published by Random House in June


Dream Street

Dream Street: a microcosm of the African Diaspora where relationships matter and dreams thrive. It’s “the best street in the world,” as described by the book’s offstage narrator. To reveal the fabric of this community — based on the childhood of cousins Walker (Nana Akua Goes to School, rev. 5/20) and Holmes (Black Is a Rainbow Color, rev. 1/20) — the author creates descriptive vignettes about individuals and families from many different backgrounds. Children play outside until the streetlights come on; Mr. Sidney, a dapper retired postman, reads the paper on his front stoop and tells all who walk by to make the great day they want to have; a girl named Belle catches butterflies in a jar but then releases them (she aspires to become a lepidopterist). Accompanied by Holmes’s lively and layered collage illustrations, these vignettes emphasize what each person contributes to Dream Street. From the youngest children to Ms. Sarah (a.k.a. the Hat Lady, “who has lived on Dream Street longer than anyone”), everyone has dreams that others honor. The images, created with acrylic paint, found and handmade papers, and fabric, display vibrant colors, intricate ­patterns, and detailed portraits that reveal the beauty of the neighborhood’s ­inhabitants. A stunning work of art that ­dismantles stereotypes about Black communities and portrays a place where love abounds.

Dream Street


Tonya Engel


TONYA ENGEL is a self-taught artist born in Texas and has established studios in New York, Miami, Austin and Houston where she now resides. Heavily influenced by folk artists of the Deep south, Harlem renaissance as well as Mark Chagall, Frida Kahlo and Romare Beardon, Tonya’s illustrations speak to image, identity and relationships. Meshing decorative elements, oils and occasional collage with emotional content, the subjects are mainly women with contemplative faces implying a dream world that invites our interpretations. Engel’s personal, autobiographical work can be found in public and private collections around the world.


Your Legacy: A Bold Reclaiming Of Our Enslaved History

Beginning in Africa before 1619, Your Legacy presents an unprecedentedly accessible, empowering, and proud introduction to African American history for children. While your ancestors’ freedom was taken from them, their spirit was not; this book celebrates their accomplishments, acknowledges their sacrifices, and defines how they are remembered—and how their stories should be taught.

Your Legacy: A Bold Reclaiming Of Our Enslaved History


C.J. Farley


C.J. FARLEY was born in Kingston, Jamaica, raised in Brockport, N.Y., and graduated from Harvard University, though not necessarily in that order. He is the author of the novels “Game World,” “Kingston By Starlight,” and “My Favorite War,” and the nonfiction books “Before the Legend: The Rise of Bob Marley” and “Aaliyah: More Than a Woman,” which was the basis for the Lifetime TV movie “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B.” Farley co-wrote and co-edited the book “The Blues” (Harper Collins) the companion volume to Martin Scorsese’s PBS documentary series and his work on that project has allowed him to justifiably drop Scorsese’s name into biographies like this one ever since. Farley’s short fiction has been featured in a number of anthologies including “The Vintage Book of War Fiction,” a survey of the best war stories of the last 100 years, and “Kingston Noir,” a short story collection that came out in 2012. Farley was the consulting producer on the acclaimed HBO documentary “Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown,” but now wishes he had just taken a writing credit because nobody quite understands what a consulting producer does. Farley is a former editor on the staff of the Harvard Lampoon and he deeply regrets any unfunny pranks he may have pulled in his college years.


Zero O’Clock

In early March 2020 in New Rochelle, New York, teenager Geth Montego is fumbling with the present and uncertain about her future. She only has three friends: her best friend Tovah, who’s been acting weird ever since they started applying to college; Diego, who she wants to ask to prom; and the K-pop band BTS, because the group always seems to be there for her when she needs them (at least in her head).

She could use some help now. Geth’s small city becomes one of the first COVID-19 containment zones in the US. As her community is upended by the virus and stirred up by the growing Black Lives Matter protests, Geth faces a choice and a question: Is she willing to risk everything to fight for her beliefs? And if so, what exactly does she believe in? C.J. Farley captures a moment in spring 2020 no teenager will ever forget. It sucks watching the world fall apart. But sometimes you have to start from zero.

Zero O’Clock


R. Gregory Christie


R. GREGORY CHRISTIE is an award-winning children’s book illustrator and lecturer with a long track record of creating inspiring art. He is an NAACP Image award winner and was the artist for the United Postal Service’s “Kwanzaa Stamp” in 2013. He has done everything from designing John Coltrane album covers to animating films on Netflix.

Christie’s lectures on art, diversity and literature are family friendly. His educational programs are fun and engaging, allowing audiences to find a love for books. He has been a guest speaker at conferences and libraries and teaches after school art programs all over the country.


Saving The Day: Garrett Morgan’s Life-Changing Invention Of The Traffic Signal

Before Garrett Morgan became a successful inventor and saved countless lives with his creations, he was a little boy with a head full of ideas on how to make life better for everyone.

At a tumultuous time filled with racism and discrimination, Garrett became a prominent business man and skilled inventor who produced the traffic signal, a gas mask, and others objects still used today.

This second book from the award-winning children’s film series founded by Karyn Parsons, Sweet Blackberry, comes a little-known story about a man whose talent would be a gift to the world.

Saving The Day: Garrett Morgan’s Life-Changing Invention Of The Traffic Signal


Theanne Griffith


THEANNE GRIFFITH can’t get you into the Maker Maze (only Dr. Crisp can do that). But she can tell you a lot of cool science facts. By day, she is a brain scientist at the UC Davis (no, she’s not a zombie). At night, she turns into a storyteller. She loves tinkering in the lab as much as she loves writing children’s books. As a writer, her goal is to spark a love for science and discovery in children. She currently lives in California with her family and three cats. Visit Theanne online at


The Magnificent Makers – The Great Germ Hunt

In class, Violet and Pablo have been learning about the icky world of germs! Violet has been out sick, and is excited she’s feeling better… achoo! Well, she’s mostly feeling better. She and Pablo are paired up with another classmate, Aria, who is a bit nervous that Violet keeps sneezing.

When another riddle appears to transport them back to the Maker Maze–a magical makerspace–to learn all about bacteria, viruses, and fungi, Violet and Pablo find out why Aria is so nervous. Aria’s body has more trouble fighting off illnesses than their bodies do. Together they learn all about good and bad germs, and why staying home until you’re 100% recovered is really important.

The Magnificent Makers – The Great Germ Hunt


Nikki Grimes


New York Times bestselling author NIKKI GRIMES is the recipient of the 2020 ALAN Award for significant contributions to young adult literature, the 2017 Children’s Literature Legacy Medal for substantial and lasting contributions to literature for children, the 2016 Virginia Hamilton Literary Award, and the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. The author of Coretta Scott King Author Award-winner Bronx Masquerade, and recipient of five Coretta Scott King Author Honors, her most recent titles include the YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults title Between the Lines, companion to Bronx Masquerade, NCTE Notable Book Words With Wings, the 2018 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor Book Garvey’s Choice, Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor One Last Word, Printz Honor and Sibert Honor Ordinary Hazards, a memoir in verse, Legacy:Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance, ALA Notable Southwest Sunrise, Kirkus Best Book Bedtime for Sweet Creatures, and IMAGE Award Nominee Kamala Harris:Rooted in Justice. Ms. Grimes lives in Corona, California.


One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance

From the New York Times bestselling and Coretta Scott King award-winning author Nikki Grimes comes an emotional, special new collection of poetry inspired by the Harlem Renaissance–paired with full-color, original art from today’s most exciting African-American illustrators.

Inspired by the writers of the Harlem Renaissance, bestselling author Nikki Grimes uses “The Golden Shovel” poetic method to create wholly original poems based on the works of master poets like Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Jean Toomer, and others who enriched history during this era.

Each poem is paired with one-of-a-kind art from today’s most exciting African American illustrators–including Pat Cummings, Brian Pinkney, Sean Qualls, James Ransome, Javaka Steptoe, and many more–to create an emotional and thought-provoking book with timely themes for today’s readers.

A foreword, an introduction to the history of the Harlem Renaissance, author’s note, poet biographies, and index makes this not only a book to cherish, but a wonderful resource and reference as well.

One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance


Ekua Holmes


EKUA HOLMES’ work is collage based and her subjects, made from cut and torn papers, investigate family histories, relationship dynamics, childhood impressions, the power of hope, faith and self-determination. Recalling a quote from American Artist, Romare Bearden, “I do not need to go looking for ‘happenings,’ the absurd or the surreal, because I have seen things that neither Dalí, Beckett, Ionesco nor any of the others could have thought possible; and to see these things I did not need to do more than look out of my studio window,” Holmes has looked out of her window for the subjects of her collages too. Remembering a Roxbury childhood of wonder and delight she considers herself a part of a long line of Roxbury imagemakers. In this spirit, she supports those who have a calling in the arts as well as keeping her own studio practice ignited. She has created and led workshops, been a visiting artist and lecturer, and held artist residencies in public and private institutions throughout New England. In her first public art initiative, she received a Now + There Public Art Accelerator Fellowship for The Roxbury Sunflower Project (#RoxburySunflowerProject), in which she facilitated the planting of 10,000 sunflower seeds in her native Roxbury, MA.

For her work in illustrating children’s literature, Holmes is the recipient of a Caldecott Honor, Coretta Scott King’s John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator award, Robert Siebert and Horn Book awards for her illustrations in “Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement” by Carole Boston Weatherford, her first illustration project. In 2018, she won the coveted Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration for the book, “Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets.” In 2019 she won the 2019 Coretta Scott King Award again for her illustrations in “Stuff of Stars,” written by Marion Dane Bauer.

Ms. Holmes currently serves as Commissioner and Vice Chair of the Boston Art Commission, which oversees the placement and maintenance of public works of art on and in city of Boston properties. She is also currently Associate Director at the Center for Art and Community Partnerships at MassArt where she manages and coordinates sparc! the ArtMobile, an art-inspiring, art-transforming vehicle retrofitted to contribute to community based, multidisciplinary arts programming currently focused in Mission Hill, Roxbury and Dorchester, MA. Ekua Holmes received her BFA in Photography from MassArt in 1977.

Dream Street

Welcome to Dream Street–the best street in the world! On Dream Street, love between generations rules, everyone is special, and the warmth of the neighborhood shines.  

Meet kids like Azaria, who loves to jump double-Dutch one leg at a time; Zion, whose dream is to become a librarian; and cousins Ede and Tari, who dream of creating a picture book together one day. Meet grown-ups like Mr. Sidney, a retired mail carrier who greets everyone with the words, “Don’t wait to have a great day. Create one!” and Ms. Sarah, whose voice is only a whisper but who has stories between the lines of her face that she’ll share when you come close. 

A magical story from the critically acclaimed author of Nana Akua Goes to School and a Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award winning illustrator. Illuminating this vivid cast of characters are vibrant, joyful illustrations that make this neighborhood–based on the Roxbury neighborhood in Boston where the author and illustrator grew up together as cousins–truly sing. This book is a perfect way for parents to share with their children the importance of community.

Dream Street


Wade Hudson


WADE HUDSON is the author of more than thirty-five books for young readers and is co-founder of Just Us Books, Inc. His most recently published titles include Recognize! An Anthology Honoring and Amplifying Black Life (co-edited with his wife, Cheryl) and the coming-of-age-memoir, Defiant—Growing Up in the Jim Crow South, both published by Crown Books for Young Readers.


Defiant: Growing Up In The Jim Crow South

Born in 1946 in Mansfield, Louisiana, Wade Hudson came of age against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement. From their home on Mary Street, his close-knit family watched as the country grappled with desegregation, as the Klan targeted the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and as systemic racism struck across the nation and in their hometown.

Amidst it all, Wade was growing up. Getting into scuffles, playing baseball, immersing himself in his church community, and starting to write. Most important, Wade learned how to find his voice and use it. From his family, his community, and his college classmates, Wade learned the importance of fighting for change by confronting the laws and customs that marginalized and demeaned people.

This powerful memoir reveals the struggles, joys, love, and ongoing resilience that it took to grow up Black in segregated America, and the lessons that carry over to our fight for a better future.

Defiant: Growing Up in the Jim Crow South


Kaija Langley


As an only child and social introvert, I was raised on a healthy diet of library books, gravitating always to books of poetry and stacks of Judy Blume novels and Nancy Drew mysteries. Writing for young readers is a natural outgrowth of my own love for books as a child.

Sadly, it wasn’t until I was a pre-teen that a family friend gifted me my first YA novel written by a Black author, featuring a Black family: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. That was a true turning point in my evolution as a reader and writer, seeing young characters who looked like me, and families who looked like mine, on the page.

Representation matters as much now as it did when I was a child. I take great pride in being able to carry that torch forward for young readers today and in the future.


When Langston Dances

A young Black boy dreams of dancing in this exuberant, buoyant picture book celebrating the beauty of dance, and the wonder of Black Boy Joy—perfect for fans of Firebird and Crown!

Langston likes basketball okay, but what he loves is to dance—ever since he saw the Alvin Ailey Dance Company perform. He longs to twirl into a pirouette, whirl into a piqué. He wants to arabesque and attitude, grand battement and grand jeté. When he walks, the whole street is his stage.

With his neighborhood cheering him on, will Langston achieve his dream?

When Langston Dances


Varian Johnson


VARIAN JOHNSON’s books for young readers include THE PARKER INHERITANCE, which was named a 2019 Coretta Scott King Honor Book and a 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book; THE GREAT GREENE HEIST, which was named a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2014 among other accolades; and TWINS, his first middle-grade graphic novel.

Varian was born in Florence, South Carolina, and attended the University of Oklahoma, where he received a BS in Civil Engineering. He later received an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is honored to now serve as a member of the faculty. Varian lives outside of Austin, TX with his family.


Playing the Cards You’re Dealt

Ten-year-old Anthony Joplin has made it to double digits! Which means he’s finally old enough to play in the spades tournament every Joplin Man before him seems to have won. So while Ant’s friends are stressing about fifth grade homework and girls, Ant only has one thing on his mind: how he’ll measure up to his father’s expectations at the card table.

Then Ant’s best friend gets grounded, and he’s forced to find another spades partner. And Shirley, the new girl in his class, isn’t exactly who he has in mind. She talks a whole lot of trash — way more than his old partner. Plus, he’s not sure that his father wants him playing with a girl. But she’s smart and tough and pretty, and knows every card trick in the book. So Ant decides to join forces with Shirley — and keep his plans a secret.

Only it turns out secrets are another Joplin Man tradition. And his father is hiding one so big it may tear their family apart…

Playing the Cards You’re Dealt


Janae Marks

JANAE MARKS is an author of middle grade novels. Her debut From the Desk of Zoe Washington is an indie bestseller and was named a Best Book of the Year by Parents Magazine, Book Riot, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, Chicago Public Library and the Boston Globe. Her second novel, A Soft Place to Land, released in September 2021. She has an MFA in Writing for Children from The New School, and lives in Connecticut with her family.

A Soft Place to Land
Joy Taylor has always believed home is the house she lived in her entire life. But then her dad lost his job, and suddenly, home became a tiny apartment with thin walls, shared bedrooms, and a place for tense arguments between Mom and Dad.

Hardest of all, Joy doesn’t have her music to escape through anymore. Without enough funds, her dreams of becoming a great pianist—and one day, a film score composer—have been put on hold.

One bright light comes in the form of her friendly new neighbor, Nora. When she learns about Joy’s need to get away sometimes, Nora lets Joy in on the complex’s best-kept secret: the Hideout, a cozy refuge that only the kids know about. And it’s in this little hideaway that Joy starts exchanging messages on the wall with another kid in the building who also seems to be struggling, until—abruptly, they stop writing back. Joy can’t shake the feeling that someone might be in trouble. She has to find out who this mystery writer is, fast, but between managing a new dog-walking business with Nora, keeping on a brave face for her little sister, and worrying about her parents’ marriage, Joy isn’t sure how to keep her own head above water.

From critically acclaimed author of From the Desk of Zoe Washington, Janae Marks, comes the story of a resilient young girl learning to adjust to the unexpected with grace as she reshapes her meaning of home.

A Soft Place to Land


Greg Neri


GREG NERI is the Coretta Scott King honor-winning author of Yummy: the Last Days of a Southside Shorty, and Ghetto Cowboy, which was made into the movie, Concrete Cowboy, starring Idris Elba, which debuted at #1 on Netflix. His books have been translated into multiple languages in over 25 countries. They include Tru & Nelle, Grand Theft Horse, Hello, I’m Johnny Cash, and Chess Rumble. In 2017, he was awarded the first of two National Science Foundation grants that sent him to Antarctica; he is currently co-chair of the Antarctic Artists and Writers Collective. He writes full-time while living on the Gulf Coast of Florida with his wife and daughter. You can find him online at


Polo Cowboy
How does a Black kid from North Philly wind up playing polo? In this much-anticipated sequel to Ghetto Cowboy (now a major motion picture starring Idris Elba and Stranger Things’s Caleb McLaughlin), find out why. School Library journal says, “Polo and cowboys come together, with a main character who will leap off the page and into readers’ hearts, in this moving story of growing up and grit.”(starred)

Polo Cowboy


Jewell Parker Rhodes

DR. JEWELL PARKER RHODES is the award-winning author of several books for youth including the New York Times bestsellers Ghost Boys and Black Brother, Black Brother. She is also the author of Paradise on Fire, Towers Falling, and the celebrated Louisiana Girls’ Trilogy: Ninth Ward, Sugar and Bayou Magic. Rhodes has visited hundreds of schools across the country and is a regular speaker at colleges and conferences. The driving force behind all of Jewell’s work is to inspire social justice, equity, and environmental stewardship.


Paradise on Fire
After losing her parents in a tragic fire, a young girl confronts the realities of how race and class intersect with climate change concerns. Addy spends the summer out west with a group of other Black city kids for a Wilderness Adventures program. Deep in the forest the kids learn new (and to them) strange skills: camping, hiking, rock climbing, and how to start and safely put out campfires. Most important, they learn to depend upon each other for companionship and survival. But then comes a devastating forest fire…

Inspired by one of the largest wildfires in California history, Paradise on Fire is “a brilliant melding of captivating storytelling and crucial teaching moments.” (Shelf Awareness)

Paradise On Fire


Charles R. Smith, Jr.


CHARLES R. SMITH JR. is an award-winning children’s book author, photographer and poet with over thirty books to his credit. His awards include a Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration for his photographs accompanying the Langston Hughes poem, “My People” and a Coretta Scott King Honor Author Award for his biography on Muhammad Ali, “Twelve Rounds to Glory.” Many of his books have also garnered reluctant reader awards, proving that kids that don’t like to read, do like to read his books.

Charles combines his passions of writing and photography with a variety of subjects that spark his interest. Even though his early books such as “Rimshots”, “Hoop Kings” and “Hoop Queens focus on basketball, Charles has shown the ability to apply his talents to a variety of subjects, including diversity with “I Am America” and “I Am the World”, Greek mythology with “The Mighty 12”, how slaves built the White House with “Brick by Brick” and Negro League baseball with “Stars in the Shadows” to name a few. His poetry has also been used to paint unique biographical portraits of personal heroes such as the aforementioned Ali, boxer Jack Johnson and soon, guitarist Jimi Hendrix.

Of the distinctive niche Charles fills with his books, he notes, “I want to show students, particularly boys, that there are many ways to pursue their interests, no matter what they may be.”

To hear excerpts from his books and learn more about Charles R. Smith Jr, visit his website at


Hoop Kings 2: New Royalty

What’s your game? Can you fly like Blake Griffin? Are you a lightning-fast force of nature like Russell Westbrook? Or are you a chameleon on the court, racking up nicknames like Steph Curry? From James Harden with his shimmy-shake-spin to “Lord of the Leap, Sir Alley of the Oop” Lebron James, here are a dozen profiles honoring the superb talents and skills of some of the best players in NBA basketball. With bold, graphic photographs and fun, accessible poems infused with his indomitable wordplay, Charles R. Smith Jr. captures the agility and finesse that each of these professionals brings to the game. Poem notes about each featured player offer further inspiration at the end.

Hoop Kings 2: New Royalty


Natasha Tarpley

NATASHA TARPLEY is a bestselling children’s book author with over 20-years’ publishing experience. Her classic picture book, I Love My Hair!, an ode to Black childhood and natural beauty, is a staple on national school and library reading lists, and a favorite among readers around the world. Her new picture book, The Me I Choose To Be, affirms the power of Black children to choose who and what they want to be. Natasha has also written for children’s television and is the writer and Co-Creator of the award-winning children’s narrative podcast, Opal Watson: Private Eye ( Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Essence Magazine among other publications.


The Me I Choose To Be
What will you choose to be?
A free spirit?
A weaver of words?
A star dancing across the night sky?
A limitless galaxy?

The possibilities are endless in this uplifting ode to the power of potential. With lyrical text by bestselling author Natasha Anastasia Tarpley and images by Regis and Kahran Bethencourt—the team behind CreativeSoul Photography—each page of The Me I Choose To Be is an immersive call for self-love that highlights the inherent beauty of all Black and brown children.

The Me I Choose To Be


Don Tate


DON TATE is an award-winning illustrator of books for children, including Swish! The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters(Little Brown, 2020), Carter Reads The Newspaper (Peachtree Publishing, 2019), No Small Potatoes: Junius G. Groves and His Kingdome in Kansas (Knopf, 2018), Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions (Charlesbridge, 2016); and a contributor to the anthology The Talk: Conversations About Race, Love, & Truth (Crown, 2020).

He is also the author of Pigskins to Paintbrushes: The Story of Football-Playing Artist Ernie Barnes (Abrams, 2021), William Still and His Freedom Stories: Father of the Underground Railraod (Peachtree Publishing Company,2020) Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton (Peachtree,2015); It Jes Happened: When Bill Traylor Started To Draw (Lee & Low Books, 2102), both books are Ezra Jack Keats award winners.
Don is a founding host of the The Brown Bookshelf –a blog dedicated to promoting books created by African American authors and illustrators and a member of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks, an organization created by children’s book lovers who advocate for essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his family.


Pigskins to Paintbrushes: The Story of Football-Playing Artist Ernie Barnes

From award-winning author and illustrator Don Tate, Pigskins to Paintbrushes is the inspiring story of Ernie Barnes, who defined himself on his own terms and pushed the boundaries of “possible,” from the field to the canvas.

Pigskins to Paintbrushes:
The Story of Football-Playing Artist Ernie Barnes


Traci N. Todd


TRACI N. TODD is an award-winning children’s book author and the editor of many successful books, including the New York Times bestselling The ABCs of Black History. She is especially interested in amplifying the experiences of Black and brown folks and in inspiring inquisitiveness, compassion, and hope in all children. She believes the truth is powerful. And she loves a beautiful picture book.


Nina: A Story of Nina Simone

This illuminating and defining picture book biography illustrated by Caldecott Honoree Christian Robinson, tells the story of little Eunice who grew up to become the acclaimed singer Nina Simone and her bold, defiant, and exultant legacy.

Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in small town North Carolina, Nina Simone was a musical child. She sang before she talked and learned to play piano at a very young age. With the support of her family and community, she received music lessons that introduced her to classical composers like Bach who remained with her and influenced her music throughout her life. She loved the way his music began softly and then tumbled to thunder, like her mother’s preaching, and in much the same way as her career. During her first performances under the name of Nina Simone her voice was rich and sweet but as the Civil Rights Movement gained steam, Nina’s voice soon became a thunderous roar as she raised her voice in powerful protest in the fight against racial inequality and discrimination.

Nina: A Story of Nina Simone


Schele Williams


Recently profiled as “Variety’s 2020 Top 10 Broadway to Watch” SCHELE WILLIAMS is a director committed to cultivating new musicals and devised work with authentic representation on stage and off. She will be helming Hidden Figures currently in development ( Disney Theatrical Group). She is currently directing the upcoming Broadway revivals of Aida (Disney Theatrical Group) and the Wiz as well as the premieres of Mandela the Musical and co-directing The Notebook the Musical which will debut at Chicago Shakespeare in 2022. Schele has directed at regional theaters and festivals across the country and has a long history of work on Broadway in Rent, Aida, and Motown: The Musical. Passionate about pairing social justice with the arts, Schele is a founding member of Black Theatre United, an organization committed to dismantling systemic racism on our streets and stages. She has been a member of Broadway Inspirational Voices for over two decades and serves as Chairperson of the Board and serves on the board of Broadway Care Equity Fights AIDS. Schele is the author of the critically acclaimed children’s book Your Legacy: A Bold Reclaiming of Our Enslaved History, published by Abrams Books for young readers released in 2021.

Your Legacy: A Bold Reclaiming Of Our Enslaved History

Beginning in Africa before 1619, Your Legacy presents an unprecedentedly accessible, empowering, and proud introduction to African American history for children. While your ancestors’ freedom was taken from them, their spirit was not; this book celebrates their accomplishments, acknowledges their sacrifices, and defines how they are remembered—and how their stories should be taught.

Your Legacy: A Bold Reclaiming Of Our Enslaved History


Ibi Zoboi


IBI ZOBOI was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and holds an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her YA novel American Street was a National Book Award finalist and and her debut middle grade novel, My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich, was a New York Times bestseller. She is the author of Pride, a contemporary YA remix of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and editor of the anthology, Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America.


The People Remember

The People Remember tells the journey of African descendants in America by connecting their history to the seven principles of Kwanzaa. It begins in Africa, where people were taken from their homes and families. They spoke different languages and had different customs.

Yet they were bound and chained together and forced onto ships sailing into an unknown future. Ultimately, all these people had to learn one common language and create a culture that combined their memories of home with new traditions that enabled them to thrive in this new land.

Sumptuously illustrated, this is an important book to read as a family—a story young readers can visit over and over again to deepen their understanding of African American history in relation to their own lives and current social justice movements. By turns powerful and revealing, this is a lyrical narrative that tells the story of survival, as well as the many moments of joy, celebration, and innovation of Black people in America.

The People Remember


Elizabeth Zunon


Drawing and painting have always been among the most important things to illustrator ELIZABETH ZUNON. Born in Albany, NY and raised in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), West Africa, she cultivated a love of color and pattern, which are fixtures in her works today. After returning to the United States, Elizabeth earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2006 from the Rhode Island School of Design. She is the illustrator of sixteen books, including, among others, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, A President from Hawai’i, The Legendary Miss Lena Horne, One Plastic Bag, Bedtime for Sweet Creatures and Grandpa Cacao: a Tale of Chocolate, from Farm to Family, which she also wrote. Elizabeth’s art style employs drawing, oil paint, collage, screen-printing and embroidery.


Stitch By Stitch: Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly Sews Her Way To Freedom

An awe-inspiring African American woman! A talented seamstress, born a slave, bought freedom for herself and her son. Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born in 1818, enslaved to a Virginian plantation owner. As a teenager, Lizzy was sent to work as the only slave on a small plantation, where the work was endless, and the masters treated her with unspeakable cruelty. A new master, learning Lizzy could sew, sent her to work for a tailor, who paid the master, not Lizzy, for Lizzy’s work.

The beautiful gowns that Lizzy created were displayed in the tailor’s window and soon attracted the attention of the wealthiest women in Virginia. Among them was Mrs. Jefferson Davis who also introduced Lizzy to Mary Todd Lincoln. Though Lizzy first had to borrow money from her wealthy patrons to buy her freedom, once she was free, she was able to earn money of her own and pay them all back.

Connie Morrison writes with straightforward honesty and clarity. This inspiring story about an unsung hero is beautifully illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon with mixed media including oil paint, paper, fabric, ribbon, embroidery, lace, and appliqué.

A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection.

Stitch By Stitch: Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly Sews Her Way To Freedom



Susan Browne


SUSAN BROWNE, Ed.D. is an associate professor in the Department of Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Education at Rowan University. Dr. Browne teaches undergraduate and graduate reading courses. She serves as a research advisor to Master’s and Ed.D. candidates and teaches in the College of Education Center for Access, Equity and Success (CASE) Ph.D. Program. Dr. Browne’s research interests and publications are in the areas of critical pedagogy, urban education, multicultural literature and reader response. She is a reviewer for Children’s Literature in Education and Multicultural Perspectives.


Dr. Jacqueline Dougé


DR. JACQUELINE DOUGÉ is a pediatrician, writer and speaker. She’s a child health expert on the issues of the impact of racism on children’s health and helping parents talk to children about race and racism. She’s been featured on Today, CNN, NY Times, Washington Post and NPR. In addition, she’s the co-author of the American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement, The Impact of Racism on Child and Adolescent Health. When she’s not writing, she hosts What is Black? a parenting podcast that addresses issues important to raising healthy and thriving Black children and teens. Learning To Love All of Me is her first middle grade novel.


Dinah Johnson


I love the fact that I was born in the historic city of Charleston, South Carolina. Along with my parents (Douglas and Beatrice) and my siblings, I have lived in ten different states of the US and in Iran and Germany. There I met my favorite teacher ever. In her 6th grade class I began writing poetry and I’ve been writing ever since.

I graduated from Spring Valley High School in Columbia, S.C., went to college at Princeton University, and earned my Ph.D. at Yale University. I’ve been teaching English at the University of South Carolina since 1990.

The most important thing about my life is being the mother of Niani Feelings, now performing in the national tour of Mean Girls. She is loving and joyful and smart and bold, like the young people I love meeting on school visits!


Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati


VANESSE LlLOYD-SGAMBATI is the founder of The African American Children’s Book Project (AACBP), which was formed to promote and preserve Children’s literature written by or about African Americans. For over 29 years the organization has used books as tools to help empower, enrich and enlighten readers of all ages. Our mantra is “A BOOK OPENS UP A WORLD OF OPPORTUNITIES.” The AACBP annual event now in its 28th year host the largest and oldest gathering of African American Book buyers in the country. Lloyd-Sgambati is also the CEO of The Literary Media and Publishing Consultants, a marketing/public relation’s firm that specializes in publishing. For over two decades the firm has served as literary consultant, to authors, illustrators, publishers and corporate entities interested in literacy. The firm is known for its knowledge of the book business landing a number of its clients on national bestsellers list.


Kelly Starling Lyons


KELLY STARLING LYONS is an award-winning children’s book author, teaching artist and one of the founding members of The Brown Bookshelf. Many of her books have won accolades including a Caldecott Honor for Going Down Home with Daddy, illustrated by Daniel Minter; Christopher Award for Tiara’s Hat Parade, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell; a Geisel Honor for Ty’s Travels: Zip, Zoom, illustrated by Nina Mata and Junior Library Guild selection for Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon, illustrated by Laura Freeman. Her latest book is Jada Jones: Sky Watcher, the fifth installment of her popular chapter book series. She lives in North Carolina with her family. Learn more at Follow her on Twitter @kelstarly


Jada Jones: Sky Watcher

Jada is excited to do a school project about her hero Dr. Mae Jemison, a former NASA astronaut and the first Black woman to travel to outer space. She even gets to pretend to be her for the presentation in front of her teacher, parents, and friends! But when Jada’s research reminds her how accomplished her hero truly is, she suddenly feels like she’s made a mistake. How can she portray someone who seems to have everything together when she feels like she’s falling apart?

Jada Jones: Sky Watcher


Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich


OLUGBEMISOLA RHUDAY-PERKOVICH is the author of several children’s books, including Operation Sisterhood, It Doesn’t Take A Genius, 8th Grade Superzero, Two Naomis, co-authored with Audrey Vernick, which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award, Above and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow, Saving Earth: Climate Change and the Fight For Our Future, as well as the picture books Someday Is Now, and Mae Makes A Way. She is a member of the Brown Bookshelf, editor of the anthology The Hero Next Door, and has contributed to several collections, including We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices. Olugbemisola lives with her family in New York City where she writes, makes things, and needs to get more sleep.

Find her on IG @olugbemisolarhudayperkovich.
Web site:


Operation Sisterhood

Bo and her mom always had their own rhythm. But ever since they moved to Harlem, Bo’s world has fallen out of sync. She and Mum are now living with Mum’s boyfriend Bill, his daughter Sunday, the twins, Lili and Lee, the twins’ parents…along with a dog, two cats, a bearded dragon, a turtle, and chickens. All in one brownstone! With so many people squished together, Bo isn’t so sure there is room for her. 
Set against the bursting energy of a New York City summer, award-winning author Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich delivers a joyful novel about a new family that hits all the right notes!

Operation Sisterhood


Carole Boston Weatherford


CAROLE BOSTON WEATHERFORD’s 60-plus books have won a Newbery Honor, NAACP Image Awards, Caldecott, Coretta Scott King and Boston Globe/Horn Book Honors. A poet and biographer, she has been hailed by the Huffington Post as “a master of picture book nonfiction.” Among her recent titles is UNSPEAKABLE: THE TULSA RACE MASSACRE. She is a professor at Fayetteville State University.


Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre

Celebrated author Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrator Floyd Cooper provide a powerful look at the Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in our nation’s history. The book traces the history of African Americans in Tulsa’s Greenwood district and chronicles the devastation that occurred in 1921 when a white mob attacked the Black community.

News of what happened was largely suppressed, and no official investigation occurred for seventy-five years. This picture book sensitively introduces young readers to this tragedy and concludes with a call for a better future.



Support The African American Children's Book Project

Click the button to purchase books of all of the book fair authors and illustrators. Proceed of your purchase supports the activities of The African American Children's Book Project. Our bookseller is the Literary Cafe - Books & Events who specializes in Black children's books - preschool to young adult, hosting and producing literary events.



We celebrate our sponsors of Black Books Are!!!. To learn more about their activities click on the logo. If you would like to be a sponsor for our upcoming events contact:
The Literary Media and Publishing Consultants – or call (215) 878-BOOK.


The African American Children’s Book Project was created in 1992 to promote and preserve children’s literature written by or about African Americans.


The African American Children’s Book Project was created in 1992 to promote and preserve children’s literature written by or about African Americans.

I read to see me
Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati

Founder, The African American Children’s Book Project

The African American Children’s Book Project (AACBP) has supported the literary needs of children since 1992. The non-profit was created to promote and preserve children’s literature written by or about African Americans. The AACBP believes A BOOK OPENS UP A WORLD OF OPPORTUNITIES.

At AACBP, we know that early access to books plays an important role in building lifelong readers. We collaborate with authors, illustrators, publishers, booksellers, educators, consumers, libraries, non-profits and corporations to promote literacy programs across the country.

Our stellar programs include:

  • Book fairs
  • Book signings
  • Workshops
  • I Read To See Me program (author/illustrator virtual/in-school visits)
  • Educating consumers on trends/resources in youth literature
  • Guidance on establishing home libraries
  • Advocacy initiatives to promote Black literature around the world

On Saturday February 5 , 2022, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., we will host the 30th Annual African American Children’s Book Fair — one of the oldest and largest single-day events for diverse children’s books in the country. The featured authors and illustrators have produced some of the best books of our generation that celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black Americans in this country.

Parents who attended the book fair as youth now bring their children because they know the power of reading books that reflect their culture and heritage.

During 2020, many parents called the African American Children’s Book Fair “a lifesaver” for their children who turned to home libraries, curated over the years from attending the African American Children’s Book Fair, to get a reprieve from electronics — while still learning. Parents and teachers also reached out to the AACBP for recommendations on age-appropriate books to teach children about race and social justice issues.


BLACK BOOKS ARE – COMING December 4, 2021
11:00-3:00 pm EST

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Write to us:

BLACK BOOKS ARE – COMING December 4, 2021
11:00-3:00 pm EST

Black Books Are Event Flyer

Black Books Are Event Jpg

Write to us:

Let's Talk

(215) 878-2665


For more information, contact:

The Literary Media & Publishing Consultants

(215) 878-2665

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