For Black History Month (and all year long) we've created a book list to highlight the voices of Black creators. Our curated selection features Canadian books for all ages. Perfect for school, library and home use.
Because You Are
Written by Jael Richardson Illustrated by Nneka Myers HarperCollins Publisher, 2022 978-1-4434-6480-2 IL: Ages 4-7 RL: Grades 1-2
Conceived of as a letter to her younger self, this picture book captures Jael Richardson’s insightful lessons about growing up, being joyful and loving yourself as a young Black girl. By exploring what inner beauty means, this story inspires children to recognize and build their self-worth, dream big, and make a difference in the world.
A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverley Found Her Voice
Written by Nadia L. Hohn Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes Owlkids Books, 2019 978-1-77147-350-7 IL: Ages 7-10 Grades 2-3
Iconic poet Louise Bennett Coverley, or Miss Lou, popularized the use of patois and helped pave the way for artists like Harry Belafonte and Bob Marley. This picture book tells the story of Miss Lou as a young girl who loved poetry but felt caught between writing "lines of words like tight cornrows" or words that beat "in time with her heart."
A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart
Written by Zetta Elliott Illustrated by Noa Denmon Farrar, Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2020 978-0-374-30741-7 IL: Ages 6-12 RL: Grades 2-3
In this powerful poem by award-winning author Zetta Elliott, a Black child explores his shifting emotions throughout the year. Summertime is filled with joy, skateboarding and basketball until his community is deeply wounded by the death of a girl in a police shooting. As fall turns to winter and then spring, fear grows into anger, then pride and peace.
When I Wrap My Hair
Written by Shauntay Grant Illustrated by Jenin Mohammed Quill Tree Books, 2024 978-0-06-309391-1 IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades 2-3
When I wrap, / my roots run deep. / As deep as an African marketplace / or a city sidewalk / or the stories between them. With lyrical text by acclaimed author Shauntay Grant and vibrant illustrations by Jenin Mohammed, this picture book is both an act of joyful recognition and a demonstration of how knowledge is passed through generations.
Junior & Intermediate Fiction
Beatrice and Croc
Written by Lawrence Hill HarperCollins Publishers, 2022 978-1-4434-6336-2 IL: Ages 9-13 RL: Grades 4-5
Beatrice wakes up all alone in a tree house in the magical forest of Argilia, where all the animals can speak. Outside, Beatrice meets the most unlikely ally, King Crocodile Croc Harry. Forming an unusual alliance and working together, Beatrice and Croc Harry learn more about their forest home—and about themselves—than they ever could have imagined.
The Grover School Pledge
Written by Wanda Taylor Illustrated by Nneka Myers HarperCollins Publishers, 2023 978-1-4434-6725-4 IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grades 3-4
Arlaina’s teacher has been bringing her down all year, making her feel singled out. Is it because she’s Black? After he makes an inappropriate remark about a classmate’s headscarf, Arliana’s had enough. She realizes he’s part of a bigger problem plaguing her school. Together with a host of Grover School students, Arlaina teams up to right a systemic wrong.
Written and illustrated by Johnnie Christmas HarperAlley, 2022 978-0-06-305677-0 IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grades 3-7
Bree can’t wait for her first day at her Florida middle school until she’s faced with the dreaded Swim 101… Bree can’t swim. Luckily, Etta, an elderly neighbour and former swim team captain, is willing to help. With Etta’s training and a lot of hard work, Bree finds her swim-crazed community counting on her to guide her team to a state championship.
Thanks a Lot, Universe
Written by Chad Lucas Amulet Books, 2021 978-1-4197-5102-8 IL: Ages 10-14 RL: Grades 5-6
When Brian finds himself in foster care, his anxiety becomes overwhelming. Ezra wants to help but worries his friends will realize that he has a crush on Brian. When Brian runs away, Ezra has no choice but to take the leap and reach out. If they can be brave, the two might just find the best in themselves—and each other.
Young Adult Fiction
Written by Deborah Falaye HarperTeen, 2022 978-0-06-295404-6 IL: Ages 15 and up RL: Grades 10-11
Fifteen-year-old Sloane can incinerate an enemy at will—she is a Scion, a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods. Under the Lucis’ brutal rule, her identity means her death if her powers are discovered. But when she is conscripted into the Lucis army, Sloane sees an opportunity—overcome the bloody challenges of Lucis training and destroy them from within.
Boys and Girls Screaming
Written by Kern Carter DCB Young Readers, 2022 978-1-77086-645-4 IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 9-10
Devastated by family tragedy, siblings Ever and Jericho decide to start a high school support group with their best friend, Candace. Although the other teens find solace in the group, Ever tumbles further into depression until she reaches a breaking point. As the group learns the true source of Ever’s pain, they work to help her find a way out.
Charming As a Verb
Written by Ben Philippe Balzer & Bray, 2020 978-0-06-282414-1 IL: Ages 13 and up RL: Grades 8-9
Henri “Halti” Haltiwanger can charm just about anyone. But his easy smiles mask a burning ambition to attend his dream college, Columbia University. His neighbour Corinne uncovers Henri’s less-than-honest dog-walking scheme and blackmails him into helping her change her image at school. What starts as a mutual hustle becomes something more surprising than either of them ever bargained for.
Facing the Sun
Written by Janice Lynn Mather Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020 978-1-5344-0604-9 IL: Ages 15 and up RL: Grades 10-11
Change is coming to Pindar Street. This story, set in the Bahamas, revolves around four friends experiencing unexpected changes in their lives when a hotel developer purchases their community’s beloved beach. Saving their beach is complicated, and each of the girls faces personal challenges. Confronted with the loss of their communal refuge, the girls must navigate their friendship in a shifting world.
Africville: An African Nova Scotian Community Is Demolished—and Fights Back
(Righting Canada's Wrongs) Written by Gloria Ann Wesley Lorimer, 2019 978-1-4594-1358-0 IL: Ages 13 and up RL: Grades 8-9
In the late 1800s, Africville was founded on the northern edge of Halifax. The close-knit community was vibrant, with a strong sense of culture and tradition. But in the 1960s, the city demolished Africville, appropriating the land for industrial development. Through historical photographs, documents and first-person narratives, this book tells the story of Africville — and how the spirit of the community lives on.
Say Her Name
Written by Zetta Elliott Illustrated by Loveis Wise Disney Book Group, 2020 978-1-3680-4524-7 IL: Ages 15 and up RL: Grades 8-9
Inspired by the #SayHerName campaign launched by the African American Policy Forum, these inspirational poems pay tribute to victims of police brutality and the activists insisting that Black Lives Matter. Elliott engages poets from the past two centuries to create a chorus of voices celebrating Black women and girls' creativity, resilience, and courage.
Stay Up: Racism, Resistence, and Reclaiming Black Freedom
Written by Khodi Dill Illustrated by Stylo Starr Annick Press, 2023 978-1-77321-807-6 IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 8-9
An incisive, innovative and inviting take on fighting oppression and fighting for racial justice. Using a compelling mix of memoir, cultural criticism and anti-oppressive theory, Khodi Dill breaks down how white supremacy functions in North America and gives readers tools to understand how racism impacts their lives.
The Underground Railroad: Next Stop, Toronto!
Written by Adrienne Shadd, Afua Cooper and Karolyn Smardz Frost Dundurn, 2022 978-1-4597-4896-5 IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 7-8
This book explores Toronto’s role as a destination for thousands of freedom seekers before the American Civil War. This new edition traces pathways taken by people, enslaved and free, who courageously made the trip north in search of liberty and offers new biographies, images and information, some of which is augmented by a 2015 archaeological dig in downtown Toronto.