Our Most Cherished Children's Books About FAMILY DIVERSITY!!!

If you’re trying to find great children’s books about family diversity and alternative families, this is YOUR list. Here you’ll find books about blended families, books with same-sex parents, great reads about adoption and more. Come check it out!

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The Ultimate List of the Best Books for Beginning Readers!

The best books for beginning readers have large text, short sentences, lots of repetition and simple structure. Most importantly? They must be fun and engaging! Find out if your kids are ready for easy readers, and check out more than twenty pre reader books we love!

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American Library Association announces its 2019 Youth Media Awards!

Caldecott! Newbery!! Geisel!! OH MY! We are so excited about the 2019 ALA Youth Media Awards that were announced this week! It’s like the Oscars of children’s literature, with incredible books in all genres celebrated. Just like the Academy Awards (and Emmys, and Golden Globes, and Grammys), some years you are thrilled with the awards, and some years you simply are not. But this year? This year was an OUTSTANDING YEAR! I watched the awards from my desk, furiously messaging with my kid lit friends, and I literally screamed with delight at so many of the announcements. Though many, many books that touched our hearts were not award winners, SO MANY BOOKS WE LOVED this year have authors and illustrators who are jumping for joy tonight, their lives changed forever. We are so excited!

Here is an list of some of the major awards (with a link to the complete list on the ALA website at the bottom), together with affiliate links, links to our blog reviews and any Happily Ever Elephants’ Lists on which the award winners may appear!

Without further ado, here are the winners!!!!

ALA Award winners 2019 including the Newbery, Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Winners.jpg

John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:

Mercy Suarez Changes Gears 2019 Newbery Winner Best Novels for Kids.jpg

WINNER: Mercy Suarez Changes Gears, by Meg Medina. I realized this afternoon that this one has been sitting on my desk for months - cannot WAIT to read it!

Night Diary Newbery Honor Best Chapter Books for Kids.jpg

HONOR: The Night Diary, by Veera Hirandandani. The Night Diary was on our Favorite Middle Grade Books of 2018 list!

The Book of Boy Newbery Honor Best Chapter Books for kids

HONOR: The Book of Boy, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. Ordered 2 copies today - one for me and one for our school library!


Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for Children

Hello Lighthouse Caldecott Award Winner Best Picture Books for Kids.jpg


WINNER: Hello Lighthouse, by Sophie Blackall. A stunner!

Alma and How She Got Her Name Caldecott Honor Best Picture Books for Kids

HONOR: Alma and How She Got Her Name, by Juana Martinez-Neal. Check out our review here! This book made our Favorite Picture Books of 2018 list!

A Big Mooncake for Little Star Caldecott Honor Best Picture Books for Kids.jpg

HONOR: A Big Mooncake for Little Star, by Grace Lin. This book made our list of Favorite Bedtime Books!

The Rough Patch Caldecott Honor Best Picture Books for Kids.jpg

HONOR: The Rough Patch, by Brian Lies. We LOVE this one but haven’t yet reviewed it - it will be on an upcoming list for awesome books about life transitions.

Thank You, Omu! Caldecott Honor Best Picture Books for Kids

HONOR: Thank You, Omu!, by Oge Mora. Check out our review here! This book also made our Favorite Picture Books of 2018 list, and our list of Favorite Books About Gratitude!

ALA Award Winning Books including Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta Scott King, Geisel and more

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award

This award is given to the most distinguished beginning reader book.

Fox the Tiger Geisel Award Winner best books for beginning readers

WINNER: Fox the Tiger, by Corey R. Tabor.

The Adventures of Otto: See Pip Flap Geisel Honor best book for beginning reader

HONOR: The Adventures of Otto: See Pip Flap, by David Milgrim.

Fox and Chick Geisel Honor Best book for beginning reader

HONOR: Fox + Chick: The Party and Other Stories, by Sergio Ruzzier.

King and Kayla and the Case of the Lost Tooth Best book for beginning reader

HONOR: King & Kayla and the Case of the Lost Tooth, by Dori Hillestad Butler and illustrated by Nancy Meyers.

TIger vs Nightmare Geisel Honor Best book for beginning reader

HONOR: Tiger vs. Nightmare, by Emily Tetri.

Coretta Scott King Book Awards - Author

This award recognizes African-American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults.

A Few Red Drops Coretta Scott King.jpg

WINNER (AUTHOR): A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919, by Claire Hartfield.

Finding Langston Coretta Scott King Honor

HONOR (AUTHOR): Finding Langston, by Lesa Cline-Ransome.

The Parker Inheritance Coretta Scott King Honor Best Chapter Books for Kids

HONOR (AUTHOR): The Parker Inheritance, by Varian Johnson. This book made our Favorite Middle Grade Novels of 2018 list!

The Season of Styx Malone Coretta Scott King Honor Best Chapter Books for Kids

HONOR (AUTHOR): The Season of Styx Malone, by Kekla Magoon.

Coretta Scott King Book Awards - Illustrator

The Stuff of Stars Coretta Scott King

WINNER (ILLUSTRATOR): The Stuff of Stars, illustrated by Ekua Holmes and written by Marion Dane Bauer.

HIdden Figures Coretta Scott King Honor Book Best Books for Kids

HONOR (ILLUSTRATOR): Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race, illustrated by Laura Freeman and written by Margot Lee Shetterly. This book made our list of Favorite Books for Black History Month!

Let the Children March Coretta Scott King Award Best Picture Books for Kids

HONOR (ILLUSTRATOR): Let the Children March, illustrated by Frank Morrison and written by Monica Clark-Robinson. This book made our list of Favorite Books for Black History Month!

Memphis, Martin and the Mountaintop Coretta Scott King Honor Best Picture Books for Kids.jpg

HONOR (ILLUSTRATOR): Memphis, Martin and the Mountaintop, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie and written by Alice Faye Duncan.

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award

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WINNER (AUTHOR): Monday’s Not Coming, by Tiffany D. Jackson

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WINNER (ILLUSTRATOR): Thank You, Omu!, by Oge Mara. Check out our review here! This book also made our Favorite Picture Books of 2018 list, and our list of Favorite Books About Gratitude!

Pura Belpre Awards

This award honors Latinx writers and illustrators whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience.

Dreamers Yuyi Morales Pura Belpre Award Winner Best Picture Books for Kids

WINNER: Dreamers, by Yuyi Morales. This award made our list of Favorite Picture Books from 2018!

Islandborn Leo Esponosa Pura Belpre Honor Best Picture Books for Kids Latinx

HONOR (ILLUSTRATOR): Islandborn, illustrated by Leo Espinosa and written by Junot Diaz. Check out our review here!

When Angels Sing The Story of Rock Legend Carlos Santana Pura Belpre Honor

HONOR (ILLUSTRATOR): When Angels Sing: The Story of Rock Legend Carlos Santana, illustrated by Jose Ramirez and written by Michael Mahin.

Stonewall Book Award

This award is given annual to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience.

Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love Stonewall Book Award best books about the LGBT experience

WINNER: Julian is a Mermaid, by Jessica Love. This book made our list of Favorite Picture Books for 2018!

Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake Best books honoring LGBT experience Stonewall Honor Award.jpg

HONOR: Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, by Ashley Herring Blake. Check out our review here! This book made our Favorite Middle Grade Books of 2018 list!

Picture Us in the Light

HONOR: Picture Us in the Light, by Kelly Loy Gilbert.

Sydney Taylor Awards

This award is presented annually to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience.

All of a Kind Family Hanukkah Sydney Taylor Award Best Book for Younger Readers about the Jewish Experience

WINNER (YOUNGER READERS): All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah, by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinskey.

Sweep by Jonathan Auxier, Sydney Taylor Award Winner Best Books for kids about the Jewish experience

WINNER (OLDER READERS): Sweep: The Story of a Girl and her Monster, by Jonathan Auxier. Check out our review here! This made our list of Favorite Middle Grade Books of 2018!

What the Night Sings Vesper Stamper Sydney Taylor Award Best Book for Teens Honoring the Jewish Experience

WINNER (TEEN READERS): What the Night Sings, by Vesper Stamper.

Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature

This award promotes Asian/Pacific American culture and heritage and is awarded based on literary and artistic merit.

Drawn Together by Minh Le and Dan Santat best book promoting Asian Pacific American culture and heritage

WINNER (PICTURE BOOK): Drawn Together, written by Minh Le and illustrated by Dan Santat. This book is part of our Favorite Picture Books of 2018 list!

Front Desk Best Books for Kids.jpg

WINNER (CHILDREN’S LITERATURE CATEGORY): Front Desk, by Kelly Yang. Check out our review here! This book made our Favorite Middle Grade Books of 2018 list.



Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award

This award goes to the most distinguished informational book for children.

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Camp Panda Helping Cubs Return to the Wild Sibert Honor Informational Book for Kids nonfiction.jpg

HONOR: Camp Panda: Helping Cubs Return to the Wild, by Catherine Thimmesh.

Spooked! How a Radio Broadcast and The War of Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America Sibert Honor informational book for kids nonfiction.jpg
The Unwanted Stories of the Syrian Refugees Sibert Honor nonfiction for kids.jpg
We are Grateful Otsaliheliga Sibert Honor Informational nonfiction book for kids.jpg

HONOR: We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, by Traci Sorell and illustrated by Frane Lessac. This book made our list of Favorite Books About Gratitude!

When Angels Sing.jpg

HONOR: When Angels Sing: The Story of Rock Legend Carlos Santana, by Michael Mahin and illustrated by Jose Ramirez.


Schneider Family Book Award

This award goes to a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience.

Rescue and Jessica Schenider Family Book Award Disability experience.jpg

WINNER (YOUNG CHILDREN): Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship, by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes and illustrated by Scott Magoon.

The Remember Balloons Schneider Family Book Award for kids disbaility experience.jpg

HONOR (YOUNG CHILDREN): The Remember Balloons, by Jessie Oliveros, illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte.

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle Schneider Family Book Award disability experience.jpg

WINNER (MIDDLE GRADE): The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle, by Leslie Connor.

The Collectors Schneider Family Book Award disability experience books for kids.jpg

HONOR (MIDDLE GRADE): The Collectors, by Jacqueline West.

Anger is a Gift Schneider Family Book Award books for kids about the disability experience.jpg

WINNER (TEENS): Anger is a Gift, by Mark Oshiro.

Dont call me Crazy 33 voices mental health Schneider Family Book Award disability experience books for teens.jpg

HONOR (TEENS): (Don’t) Call me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation About Mental Health, by Kelly Jensen.


Congratulations to all the winners!

For the complete list of awards, including the Michael L. Printz Award, CLICK HERE!

ALA Award winners including Caldecott Newbery Coretta Scott King Pura Belpre Geisel and more




































































Children’s Bedtime Story Books that will Have Your Kids Eager to Get in Bed!

Looking for fantastic children's bedtime story books? We’ve got you covered right here with the very best goodnight stories for kids! Enter and find all kinds of books to bid your little ones goodnight, from funny bedtime stories to happy ones, from books to help kids overcome fears of the dark to dealing with the things that go bump in the night. Come on in!

Looking for fantastic children's bedtime story books? We’ve got you covered right here with the very best goodnight stories for kids! Enter and find all kinds of books to bid your little ones goodnight, from funny bedtime stories for kids to happy bedtime stories, from books to help kids overcome fears of the dark to dealing with the things that go bump in the night. Come on in!

Bedtime. I don’t know an adult that doesn’t love it.  In our exceedingly frenetic and fast paced world, bedtime is so often the only time of the day when I can finally be quiet.  It’s when I can be mindful and present with my breath, when I can think about and reflect upon my day, and when I can surrender to the comfort of my bed and the hush of darkness. I love when the only sound I hear is the ceiling fan whirring above my head!

If only children felt the same way about going to sleep every night! Unfortunately, though, if your house is anything like mine, the sheer call of “bedtime!” inspires nothing but madness.  The word alone can conjure so many frightening emotions for a child. For my boys, it’s loneliness. The idea of being alone, confined to a bed in a dark room, is such an uncomfortable feeling for them, not even all the stuffies, lovies and comfort objects in the world can soothe it.  It’s the reason my boys keep asking for water, for one more hug, for one more trip to the bathroom. They simply don’t want to be by themselves.

For others, its fear. Fear of the dark. Fear of something in the closet. Fear of something under the bed. How many times has your child asked you to turn the light back on? Called you out of your room because they heard a frightening noise in theirs? Asked you to look in their closet, or in their drawers, or in their toy box just one more time to make sure the coast is clear? The fear can be crippling, and it will undoubtedly have your kids dashing from their rooms like marathon runners and catapulting into your bed like pole vaulters.

For a select few, though, bedtime undoubtedly inspires a quiet journey to the depths of the imagination. The call for bedtime means jumping into a safe haven of blankets and pillows and the soft, comforting cadence of a loved one’s voice reading a wondrous story.  There’s nothing better than snuggling under the covers, close to a caregiver, as he or she opens the pages of a crisp picture book and begins to read a story that fills a child with laughter or awe. This is what we want for all of our kids, and this is what we as parents should strive for at bedtime.

But how do we make this happen? It’s easier said than done - trust me, I know.  But bedtime stories can help tackle some of these common childhood anxieties and give kids the courage they need to get to sleep calmly. In addition to the significant developmental benefits that reading aloud with children provides, sharing stories with your little ones at bedtime can help soothe their nerves and reinforce bonds between children and their loved ones, making them feel safer and more secure when going to bed. So what are you waiting for? Grab a hold of these books, snuggle up with your kids, and get reading.

The following stories are ones we love in our home, books that ease my boys’ nerves through thrills, wonder, and good old fashioned laughter. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Children's Bedtime Story Books, including funny bedtime stories!
Children's Bedtime Story Books, including funny bedtime stories!

Sleep Like a Tiger, by Mary Logue and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski: A quietly magical bedtime book about a girl whose parents insist she get ready for bed even though she declares she is wide awake.  Once under her covers, the child asks her parents how particular animals sleep at night. Through gentle prose, her parents describe the animals’ sleeping habits, which the little girl then mimics once she is alone in her bedroom. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the child falls sound asleep. This story speaks perfectly to little ones who want nothing more than to stay awake when it's time for bed. For our full review of Sleep Like a Tiger, click here!

Children's Bedtime Story Books, including funny bedtime stories!

Orion and the Dark, by Emma Yarlett: Darkness personified- it's a brilliant concept.  Yarlett takes darkness, something many kids are terrified of, and gives him a cuddly frame, a timid but warm smile, and a gentle hand to hold. She shows our little ones that the dark can wrap you up and squeeze you in the most perfect hug, and that the unknown and scary expanse of the night isn't so frightening after all once you explore it with a friend. To simply say this book is "special" doesn't do it justice; it leads the pack when it comes to stories for kids afraid of the dark. For our full review of Orion and the Dark, click here!

Children's Bedtime Story Books, including funny bedtime stories!

It Is Not Time for Sleeping, by Lisa Graff and illustrated by Lauren Castillo: The premise of the story is simple- a little boy is staunchly resisting his bedtime. Yet even though he becomes more stubborn in his convictions as he moves through each part of his habitual bedtime routine he eventually - finally!- succumbs to his fatigue. Children will feel an immediate connection to the child in the book as well as his familiar routine, both of which create a sense of comfort for little ones as they snuggle under their covers. For our full review of It is Not Time for Sleeping, click here!

Children's Bedtime Story Books, including funny bedtime stories!

Shhh! This Book is Sleeping, by Cedric Ramadier and Vincent Bourgeau:  It is a rare child that likes to be told to brush his teeth, go to the bathroom one last time, and get into bed.  But this interactive bedtime book allows the kids to be the "boss." It enables the reader to make sure the book has completed its bedtime routine, that it is warm enough, and that it gets a good hug and kiss before turning out the light. What I love most about this simple and quick read is that it gives little ones power in a situation where they often feel totally powerless. For our full review of Shhh! This Book is Sleeping, click here!

Children's Bedtime Story Books, including funny bedtime stories!

A Big Mooncake for Little Star, by Grace Lin: In this whimsical book, a 2019 Caldecott Honor, Little Star cannot resist the great Mooncake her mama bakes her - but she simply cannot resist a nibble! This wonderful book, a modern day myth, tells an enchanting -- and totally delightful -- story about the different phases of the moon.

Children's Bedtime Story Books, including funny bedtime stories!

Please Bring Balloons, by Lindsey Ward: A note, a carousel and a polar bear. Is it a dream? A fantastical adventure? We are still wondering—and that’s so much a part of why we love it. Both artistically beautifully and perfectly fanciful, we adore this captivating story! For our full review of Please Bring Balloons, click here!

Children's Bedtime Story Books, including funny bedtime stories!

Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey,  by Emily Winfield Martin: A lyrical tale with one of those perfectly rhythmic cadences that will gently lull little ones to sleep.  This book invites kids to close their eyes so they can discover their own dream animals -- and find out what adventures their animals will take them on as they soar through the stars.  

Children's Bedtime Story Books, including funny bedtime stories!

Don’t Blink!, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and David Roberts: Oh, how I love this ingenious bedtime book, and I have no doubt your kids will too! Can your little ones rise to the challenge and refrain from blinking as they turn these pages? I guarantee they will do everything in their power to pass the test however they can, because if they can get to the end of the book without blinking, they win a very coveted prize— they can avoid bedtime! This one is a must.

Children's Bedtime Story Books, including funny bedtime stories!

I Need My Monster, by Amanda Noll and illustrated by Howard McWilliam: This book is guaranteed to get your kids laughing about ogres and beasts, rather than fearing them. When Ethan looks under his bed to check on his monster, Gabe, Ethan finds a note from Gabe instead.  What does it say? Gabe has gone fishing and will be back in a week! How on earth will Ethan get to bed without his monster’s heavy breathing lulling him to sleep? This book is a hoot and will help your kids turn the tables on their monster woes.

Children's Bedtime Story Books, including funny bedtime stories!

The Goodnight Train, by June Sobel and illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith: All aboard for dreamland! If your kids love trains or cookies, or trains and cookies, then they want to make sure to climb aboard the Goodnight Train, one that soars past mermaids and ice cream clouds and has heaps and heaps of cookies on board.  This was on reread in our house for a good year, as my children loved being rocked and rolled to bed.

Children's Bedtime Story Books, including funny bedtime stories!

The Big Bed, by Bunmi Laditan and illustrated by Tom Knight: A young girl has no interest in sleeping in her own bed in her own room (*ahem* nope, can't relate to that one at all!) So what does she do? She comes up with the perfect solution to her problem: she sleeps in her parents’ bed and gifts her dad a camping cot, attempting to convince him why he should no longer be sleeping in his own big bed where he belongs. From the girl's well thought out arguments to the hilarious illustrations, The Big Bed will have your kids laughing from start to finish. For our full review of The Big Bed, click here!

Children's Bedtime Story Books, including funny bedtime stories!

Night Out, by Daniel Miyares: This book is exquisite! The words are sparse, but the illustrations are rich with detail and emotion, telling stories upon stories in and of themselves. A young boy at a boarding school finds himself friendless and alone, but when he gets ready for bed one night, he finds a mysterious invitation. The boy then departs on a magical, mystical journey where he befriends dancing animals and attends a glorious celebration.  He returns to his room with the perfect story to tell to a new friend.

Children's Bedtime Story Books, including funny bedtime stories!

The House in the Night, by Susan Marie Swanson and illustrated by Beth Krommes: If you love Goodnight Moon (or, perhaps, if you are in the camp of people who do not like it at all!) then you must check out this elegant book immediately. Gentle and lyrical prose inspired by cumulative poetry combines with exquisite scratchboard illustrations to make this story an absolute winner. This book is bedtime perfection, a quiet good night book sure to lull your child to sleep with its dreamlike narrative and pictures.

Children's Bedtime Story Books, including funny bedtime stories!

Llama Llama Red Pajama, by Anna Dewdney: This is one we recite by heart in our house, a classic story about a little llama who gets himself in a tizzy at bedtime. When baby Llama settles into bed, he begins to worry as soon as his beloved Mama leaves his room. How will he handle the dark on his own? Before long, Llama’s whimpers and worry turn into hollers, and soon it escalates into an all out Llama Drama!

Stop that Yawn! Children's Bedtime Story Books, including funny bedtime stories!

Stop That Yawn!, by Caron Levis and illustrated by LeUyen Pham: Gaby is over bedtime. Yawns and snores are such big bores! So she decides to take some action and leave bedtime behind, setting out with her bewildered granny to find a place where beds are for bouncing, ice cream is available round the clock, and there is no more hushing and shushing. But despite her best efforts, even poor Gaby realizes that sometimes, it is just a bit to difficult to stop that yawn!

Children's Bedtime Story Books, including funny bedtime stories!

The Night Box, by Louise Greig and illustrated by Ashling Lindsay: When a child opens the Night Box, day slips into evening as darkness unfurls and stars light up the sky. He is the holder of the key that opens this wondrous box, the one that breathes out night and breathes in the day. What a wonderfully imaginative and unexpected story about one child who holds the key (literally) to our world’s most natural cycle. For our full review of The Night Box, click here!


Which of the above stories are your favorite bedtime books? What would you add to the list? Let us know on our Facebook page! And make sure you are following us on Instagram and Twitter, too!

Did you like this post? Yay! We think you will love these as well - make sure to check them out! Favorite Books to Spark Your Child’s Imagination, Picture Books to Help You Raise Kind Kids and Favorite Picture Books of 2018.

Children's Bedtime Story Books, including funny bedtime stories!

Amazing Picture Books for Black History Month

Looking for fabulous children’s books to celebrate Black History Month? Look no further, because Happily Ever Elephants has got you covered!

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Black History Month. It’s a celebration engrained in the fabric of our society, a month of learning and healing and remembering in our homes and schools. The national celebration was established around 1976, when President Gerald Ford decreed it an annual American observance. His goal? To honor the frequently overlooked or neglected accomplishments of Black women and men across America.

Throughout our lives, and most notably during our grade school years, many of us studied the groundbreaking — even radical —accomplishments of important social justice advocates such as Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. But African-Americans were not only leading the fight for civil rights. They were doing so much more to leave lasting and vital impacts on our world! Contributions by Black Americans on our society were - and continue to be - nothing short of phenomenal. Yet, they are so frequently ignored. From artists to engineers, dancers to doctors, the stories of Black Americans who tenaciously broke boundaries and challenged societal norms are not just inspiring, but necessary to our country’s beautiful, multi-layered tapestry. I am absolutely delighted that we are finally beginning to see these thrilling stories come to life through picture books.

While the children’s publishing industry has made progress over the last couple of years, it continues its tremendous push to bring diverse books of superior quality to the market. There is a concentrated effort to publish more representative stories, including more biographies of Black men and women highlighting their remarkable achievements. Though we still have significant work to do, the results are tangible. As our homes, schools, libraries and bookstores continually showcase these beautiful new books, the smiles that light up children’s faces when they find themselves in stories for the first time is nothing short of magical.

As we lead into Black History Month, Happily Ever Elephants is thrilled to share some of our favorite picture books. Below you’ll find several outstanding picture books on Martin Luther King, Jr, as well as numerous biographies about Black men and women whose determination and accomplishments have left indelible contributions on our country. And that’s not all. You’ll also find a moments and movements section, which contains numerous breathtaking stories about slavery, the fight for civil rights , and even music and space. Happy reading!

Commemorate Black History Month with this fabulous list of more than thirty picutre books about famous people, movements and moments.jpg

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

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I Have a Dream, by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and illustrated by Kadir Nelson: On August 28, 1963, MLK stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. during the March on Washington. It was there he delivered one of the most powerful speeches our nation has ever witnessed. His words from this monumental speech are paired with Nelson’s exquisite paintings, making this a magnificent book to be treasured, memorized and honored for generations to come.

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Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You, by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by James E. Ransome: I love reading this beautiful book with my youngest students, for it imparts all of the values MLK stood for, without going into the more painful details of his journey. This book encourages a new generation of young people to be kings by emulating MLK’s remarkable character traits and actions. The lovely illustrations show kids how they can reenact his teachings in their own lives by always standing up for peace, breaking the chains of ignorance, and stamping out hatred by putting a foot down and standing tall.

As Good as Anyone Best Picture books for black history month.jpg

As Good As Anybody: Martin Luther King and Abraham Joshua Herschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom, by Richard Michelson and illustrated by Raul Colon: We all know the story of Martin Luther King, Jr., a Black boy who grew up to witness horrifying racial discrimination in America. He became a minister like his father before him, and subsequently rose to become one of the most visible and vital voices of the Civil Rights Movement. Abraham grew up years earlier in Europe, and as a Jewish man, he too, faced atrocious persecution. Abraham fled to America where he became a rabbi, and like MLK, he became a voice for equality. This is the story of how these two remarkable men came together as victims of discrimination, formed an unbreakable friendship, and used their voices to fight for peace and social justice. An extraordinary story, and a favorite to read to tweens.

Martins Big Words Best Picture Books for Black History Month.jpg

Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier: Through his own famous quotes, this beautiful picture book brings MLK to life. Beginning with his life as a young boy and his vow to one day get “big words” like his father, to his death at a garbage worker’s strike, this biography is a fabulous introduction to one of the most prominent voices of the Civil Rights Movement. This is one of my favorite books to read with early elementary students, for its simple narrative that doesn’t stray from the gritty facts but hits all the right notes for younger readers. Age appropriate, powerful, and elegant.

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I am Martin Luther King, Jr., by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulous: We absolutely love the Ordinary People Change the World series for the way it tackles big stories and remarkable heroes in a kid-friendly, accessible manner. Through comic illustrations and word bubbles, this story gives voice to MLK as a child, then subsequently showcases his journey to changing the American landscape through peaceful protests and powerful words. This series is a favorite of my students.

PICTURE BOOK BIOGRAPHIES

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Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad, by Ellen Levine and illustrated by Kadir Nelson: Henry Brown was born into slavery, never even knowing his own birthday. Torn from his family at a young age, he is put to work at a warehouse. And though he grows up, marries, and has a family of his own, he is once again devastated when his own family is sold at a slave market. Henry longs to be a free man, and upon lifting a crate at his warehouse one day, he knows just what he must do: he will mail himself to freedom. Teach children about the Underground Railroad with this gripping true story.

preaching to the chickens best picture books for black history month.jpg

Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis, by Jabari Asim and illustrated by E.B. White: Provide kids with background on the Civil Rights movement and the childhood story of one of its most important heroes. John wants to be a preacher when he grows up - but he doesn’t want to wait! Upon being put in charge of the family’s farm, John discovers his chickens make an amazing congregation, and he begins preaching to them. John’s journey — from addressing his farm animals to becoming one of the most vital voices of the Civil Rights Movement, to his stint as a Georgia Congressman to his continued contributions as a significant activist in America — is simply remarkable.

rosa best kids books for black history month.jpg

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni and illustrated by Bryan Collier: Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat to a white man on the city bus in Montgomery, Alabama, remains one of the most pivotal moments - and remarkable actions - in American history. The stunning prose and cut paper illustrations are a winning combo here, bringing new life to Parks’s perseverance, courageous story and steadfast commitment to the civil rights movement.

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Through My Eyes, by Ruby Bridges: At just six years old, Bridges became a focal point of the Civil Rights Movement when she walked, surrounded by federal marshals, through a mob of angry segregationists and became the first Black student at an all white school in New Orleans, Louisiana. This stunning memoir describes Bridge’s courageous- and at times harrowing - journey, in her own words. It is a testament to hope, courage, and the lengths one innocent child went to be afforded an equal education to her white peers.

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Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Ekua Holmes: This gorgeous biography highlights the life and achievements of Fannie Lou Hamer, particularly her stunning accomplishments in connection with the Civil Rights Movement. Fannie, the youngest of twenty children, grew up in a family of sharecroppers. She endured hardship after hardship at her home in Mississippi but never gave up, eventually making it to the stage at the Democratic National Convention in 1964, giving a speech that roused support for the Freedom Democrats and was integral to civil rights for black Americans.

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The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist, by Cynthia Levinson and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton: Inspire child activists with the true story of a little girl who fought for freedom despite her young age. At nine years old, Audrey wanted to go places. So when she heard grownups speaking about doing away with Birmingham's horrible segregation laws, she knew she wanted to be a part of it. Audrey stepped up with confidence, used her voice, and marched for freedom alongside thousands of children and teens. The youngest person to be arrested for protesting in Birmingham, Audrey’s story shows that you are never too young to make a difference.

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Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library, by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Eric Velasquez: This book absolutely blew me away. Schomburg tells the story of Arturo Schomburg, an Afro-Puerto Rican man who was astonished that people of African descent had no historians to bring their stories to life. Schomburg became determined to correct history, and his quest led him to curate a remarkable collection at the New York Public Library that became the cornerstone of the new Negro Division. I can’t rave enough about this fascinating story – this was my favorite picture book biography of 2017.

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Take a Picture of Me James VanDerZee, by Andrea Loney and illustrated by Keith Mallett: James VanDerZee fell in love with the camera when he was just a young boy. He moved to the bustling world of New York City after school and got a job, only to be told by his boss that no white person would want their photographs to be taken by a black man. VanDerZee was undeterred and opened his own studio in Harlem where he took portraits of not just the ordinary neighborhood folk but prominent Harlem Renaissance figures as well, including Marcus Garvey, Florence Mills, and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. His portraits were eventually displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

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Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe, by Deborah Blumenthal and illustrated by Laura Freeman: Ann Cole Lowe, great grand-daughter of slaves, learned to use a needle and thread as soon as she could walk! She worked with her mother in their dress shop, sewing dresses for fancy ladies who had fancy parties to attend. Ann’s mother died when Ann was only 16, and Ann eventually left home for New York City to pursue her dreams. She went to design school, but due to segregation Ann was forced to study on her own. Through it all, Ann never gave up. She studied, designed and sewed, working her way towards becoming society’s “best kept secret” and designing dresses for Oscar winners and even Jackie Kennedy.

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Mae Among the Stars, by Roda Ahmed and illustrated by Stasia Barrington: This beauty of a book tells the story of Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to travel to space! With her mother’s words of encouragement continually whispered in her ears, Mae’s intelligence and drive led her to conquer insurmountable odds until she found herself at NASA. “If you believe it, and work hard for it, anything is possible.” You can even touch the stars.

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The Doctor With an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath, by Julia Finley Mosca and illustrated by Daniel Rieley: From toy chemistry sets to laser probes, this engaging, rhyming book tells the story of Dr. Patricia Bath, a woman born in Harlem with big dreams of becoming a doctor. Undeterred by the evils of sexism and racism, Dr. Bath persevered, eventually becoming an ophthalmologist and subsequently co-founding the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting, preserving and restoring the gift of sight. Another win for STEM!

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Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery, by Sandra Neil Wallace and illustrated by Bryan Collier: My students fell hard for this fascinating story of Ernie Barnes, a young black man who loved art but took to playing football in order to make a living. After all, the south was segregated when Barnes grew up, and he knew there was no future in painting - there were no black artists in the museums! Nonetheless, despite his career as a professional football player, Barnes never stopped yearning to be an artist. He eventually conquered his dreams, painting for the NFL and influencing a generation of artists and illustrators.

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Champion: The Story of Muhammad Ali, by Jim Haskins and illustrated by Eric Velasquez: Sure there have been books about the great Muhammad Ali, but this one is a gem. With beautiful illustrations that at times are so real they look like photographs, this stunning biography of the great boxer and his commitment to social justice touches upon the struggles, successes and set backs of Muhammad Ali. It truly shines a light on his great legacy and will be a treasure for fans new and old

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Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson, by Leda Schubert and illustrated by Theodore Taylor III: Today’s generation of ballerinas admire and hope to emulate the great Misty Copeland. But do these young ladies know about the famous ballerina who inspired Misty herself? Raven Wilkinson was the first African-American woman to dance for a major classical ballet company, never letting racism and mockery hold her back from her dreams. Raven’s persistence led her to dance for royalty in Holland and at the New York City Opera after that— until she was fifty years old. A must have for your little dancers.

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Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams, by Lesa Cline-Ransom and illustrated by James E. Ransome: If you know kids who can’t stop, won’t stop when it comes to tennis or any sport,  they will absolutely love this beautifully illustrated story of tennis stars and sisters Venus and Serena Williams. The dynamic sisters are two of the greatest athletes of all time, but they didn’t become champions without dedication, talent, and a whole lot of heart. A wonderful story of perseverance and a testament to their tenacity and love for their sport. 

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Dream Big Dreams: Photographs from Barack Obama’s Inspiring and Historic Pregnancy, by Pete Souza: Souza was President Obama’s Official White House Photographer for two years and was with him during more critical moments of his presidency than anyone else. In this stunning book of approximately seventy-five photographs, Souza captures photos of Obama that showcase him as both an extraordinary leader and man, one who frequently engaged with America’s youngest citizens and continually encouraged them to “dream big dreams.”

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Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, by Vashti Harrison: This stunning anthology features snippets of 49 black women who, in their own various ways, helped change the world. From poets to pilots to politicians, the fascinating stories combined with stunning illustrations make this book a winner, conveying to our children how people can break barriers when they dream, persevere and never stop believing in themselves.

MOMENTS AND MOVEMENTS

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Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Dreams and Their Lives Brought to Life, by Ashley Bryan: This stunning book of poetry incorporates actual documents from an estate appraisal on July 5, 1828, valuing the will and worth of eleven slaves who live and work on the plantation. The only thing that can not be valued? The dreams of these men and women. On stunning collaged spreads, each slave is given a voice, with one page describing the “worth” and skills he or she brings to the plantation, while the other page explores the dreams that each slave wishes he could achieve with those skills. Powerful, astonishing, and incredibly emotional, this is a stunning achievement and an important, unique look at this stain on American history. 

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Freedom in Congo Square, by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie: In this poetic work of nonfiction, readers learn about a little-known piece of Black history. Though slaves toiled during the week in nineteenth century Louisiana, they counted down to Sunday afternoons - a time when they congregated at Congo Square in New Orleans. Here they could temporarily forget about their oppression and, for several hours, sing, dance, play, and even open up a market. Congo Square was a place of celebration, freedom, hope and resilience, and it helped black men and women maintain some of their significant cultural traditions.

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Let the Children March, by Monica Clark-Robinson and illustrated by Frank Morrison: After hearing the powerful words of Martin Luther King, Jr., many Black children volunteered to march for their civil rights in protest of the laws that forbid them from attending the same schools, playing on the same playgrounds, and drinking from the same water fountains, as white children. Despite their fears, these children faced hatred and danger to march in The Children’s Crusade, using their voices to change the world.

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Freedom Summer, by Deborah Wiles and illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue: This remarkable story describes what happened after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, forbidding segregation. When two best friends, one white and one black, discovered the town pool would now be open to everyone, the two boys raced each other there, only to be in for a very rude awakening. Use this story as a springboard to discuss segregation and the unfortunate reality that it takes more than new laws to eclipse hate. One of my very, very favorite stories - incredibly powerful and thought-provoking.

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Sit In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down, by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney: This wonderful book celebrates the Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in, when four college students, following Martin Luther King’s example of peaceful protest, sat down at the “white’s only” counter at Woolworths and placed a simple order for a doughnut and coffee with cream. This sit-in became a defining moment in the struggle for civil rights and racial equality in America.

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Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Shane W. Evans: This is a powerful historical picture book about a 100 year old African-American woman who makes a long trek up a steep hill to vote for the very first time. As she walks, she remembers her family history — from the passage of the fifteenth amendment to her parents registering to vote, from the impossible tests given to prevent Black men and women from voting to marching in the civil rights protest from Selma to Montgomery.  Moving, lyrical and tremendously important, this is a fabulous glimpse at American history.  

The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage, by Selina Alko and illustrated by Sean Qualls: I love this beautiful, non-fiction book about the Lovings and their fight to make interracial marriage legal in every state across America.  Richard (a white man) and Mildred (a Black woman) fell in love and got married - yet,  marriage between people of different races was illegal in Virginia and they were thus forced to marry legally in Washington D.C.. After their marriage, the police barged into their Virginia home and jailed the couple, prompting a fight against the unfair law that ended up before the Supreme Court -- where the Lovings won. A fabulous intro to the Lovings and the fight for marriage equality. 

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Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race, by Margot Lee Shetterly and illustrated by Laura Freeman: Did you love this movie? Well now you can share the inspiring story of these four brilliant women with your kids and students. Hidden Figures is the captivating true story of four Black women who lived at a time when being Black— and being women — limited their abilities to do what they wanted to do: math. And they were really good at math. Did they let societal and gender norms stand in their way? Absolutely not… and so they broke boundaries. This book is outstanding.

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Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph, by Roxanne Orgill and illustrated by Francis Vallejo: We are in love with this beautiful tribute to jazz musicians in the fifties! In 1958, Esquire Magazine planned to salute the American jazz scene in one of its issues. One graphic designer had a crazy idea to gather and photograph a group of beloved Black musicians on a Harlem stoop. The photograph became iconic, and this fascinating collection of poetry celebrates the lives — and even quirks — of some of America’s most beloved musicians.

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Roots of Rap: 16 Bars and the 4 Pillars of Hip Hop, by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Frank Morrison: Did you know that hip hop has its roots in folktales and poetry? That rap music long preceded DJ Cool Herc and Grandmaster Flash? With a forward by Swiss Beatz, this vibrant book uses the four pillars (graffiti, break dancing, rapping/MCing and DJing) to illustrate how hip hop is a language spoken around the globe, including nods to some of the music’s most prominent artists today.

We hope you commemorate Black History Month in your homes and schools with these outstanding works of children’s literature. Enjoy!

Which of these books are your favorite? Make sure to let us know on our Facebook page (and don’t forget to “like” us there, too!)

Did you like this post? We think you will love these too! Kind Hands, Kind Words, Kind Hearts: 21 Books to Promote Kindness, Inclusiveness and Equality, Ten Favorite Books to Evoke Change, Twenty Picture Books About Amazing Women, and Favorite Nonfiction Picture Books of 2018.

PIN 2 Amazing Picture Books for Black History Month including biographies on Martin Luther King Jr, other famous figures an books on significant movements and moments  .jpg









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