Author Favorites | April Ryans’ Must Have Children Books

“If you’re looking for gift ideas this holiday, think of books by Black authors! MahoganyBooks helped me curate this amazing list of Children’s must have books! Take a read!” – April Ryan

April Ryan | Author Favorites: Holiday Edition: Children Books


The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones

The 1619 Project’s lyrical picture book in verse chronicles the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States, thoughtfully rendered by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and Newbery honor-winning author Renée Watson.

A young student receives a family tree assignment in school, but she can only trace back three generations. Grandma gathers the whole family, and the student learns that 400 years ago, in 1619, their ancestors were stolen and brought to America by white slave traders.

But before that, they had a home, a land, a language. She learns how the people said to be born on the water survived.

With powerful verse and striking illustrations by Nikkolas Smith, Born on the Water provides a pathway for readers of all ages to reflect on the origins of American identity.

Nikole Hannah-Jones is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter covering racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine and creator of the landmark 1619 Project. In 2017, she received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, known as the Genius Grant, for her work on educational inequality. She has also won a Peabody Award, two George Polk Awards, three National Magazine Awards, and the 2018 John Chancellor distinguished journalism award from Columbia University. In 2016, Nikole co-founded the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, a training and mentorship organization geared towards increasing the numbers of investigative reporters of color.


Santa in the City by Tiffany D. Jackson

A little girl’s belief in Santa is restored in this ode to the magic of Christmas. This is a holiday gift readers will treasure for years to come!

It’s two weeks before Christmas, and Deja is worried that Santa might not be able to visit her—after all, as a city kid, she doesn’t have a chimney for him to come down and none of the parking spots on her block could fit a sleigh, let alone eight reindeer! But with a little help from her family, community, and Santa himself, Deja discovers that the Christmas spirit is alive and well in her city.
 
With bold, colorful illustrations that capture the joy of the holidays, this picture book from award-winning author Tiffany D. Jackson and illustrator Reggie Brown is not to be missed.

Ages 4-8 years old

Tiffany D. Jackson is the author of the Coretta Scott King – John Steptoe Award winner Monday’s Not Coming, and numerous other YA novels. She lives in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York. This is her first picture book.Reggie Brown is an artist and illustrator with a background in corporate graphic design. He lives in San Diego, California. This is his first picture book.


Dream Street by Tricia Elam Walker

Discover the true meaning of community in this gorgeous picture book about a very special street bursting with joy, hope, and dreams. An award-winning illustrator and critically acclaimed author pay tribute to the neighborhood where they grew up as cousins– “a place where love abounds (The Horn Book, starred review). 

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.

Ages 4-8 years old and grades | PreK-3rd


The Square Root of Possible: A Jingle Jangle Story by Lyn Sisson-Talbert and David E. Talbert

A charming picture book story based on the Netflix holiday film Jingle Jangle, starring Phylicia Rashad, Forrest Whitaker, Anika Noni Rose, Keegan Michael Key, and newcomer Madalen Mills, about an eccentric toymaker, his adventurous granddaughter, and a magical invention, that if they can get it to work in time for the holidays, could change their lives forever.

 A heartwarming picture book story based on the song The Square Root of Possible from the Netflix holiday film Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey! A holiday tale set in the snow-covered town of Cobbleton, Jingle Jangle follows eccentric toymaker Jeronicus Jangle (Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker) whose fanciful inventions burst with whimsy and wonder. But when a betrayal by a former protégé (Keegan-Michael Key) leaves Jeronicus withdrawn and down on his luck, it’s up to his bright and adventurous granddaughter, Journey (newcomer Madalen Mills) — and a singularly magical invention — to save the day. From the imagination of writer/director David E. Talbert and featuring original music by John Legend, Philip Lawrence, and Davy Nathan, Jingle Jangle reminds you that anything is possible…if you believe.


The Perfect Gift: A Jingle Jangle Story by Lyn Sisson-Talbert and David E. Talbert

Inspired by the major Netflix original live action musical, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, this picture book will follow Journey as she shows Buddy 3000 the meaning of Christmas and learns that family is the perfect gift.

Journey, Jessica, and Jeronicus are back again with one of their greatest inventions yet, Buddy 3000.

Journey is prepared to have a magical Christmas with Buddy. But while she is introducing him to the small wonders of the world, she panics and realizes she forgot to get him a gift. Journey scours the town looking for the perfect thing until she learns she may have had it all along . . .

In this sequel to The Square Root of Possible, we follow Journey as she shows Buddy the true meaning of Christmas, doing it with her family by her side. A delightfully illustrated holiday picture book story brought to you by Lyn Sisson-Talbert and David E. Talbert, inspired by the Netflix original holiday film starring Forest Whitaker, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose, Keegan-Michael Key, Ricky Martin, and introducing Madalen Mills.


Black Ballerinas: My Journey to Our Legacy by Misty Copeland

From New York Times bestselling and award-winning author and American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Misty Copeland comes an illustrated nonfiction collection celebrating dancers of color who have influenced her on and off the stage.

As a young girl living in a motel with her mother and her five siblings, Misty Copeland didn’t have a lot of exposure to ballet or prominent dancers. She was sixteen when she saw a black ballerina on a magazine cover for the first time. The experience emboldened Misty and told her that she wasn’t alone–and her dream wasn’t impossible.

In the years since, Misty has only learned more about the trailblazing women who made her own success possible by pushing back against repression and racism with their talent and tenacity. Misty brings these women’s stories to a new generation of readers and gives them the recognition they deserve.

With an introduction from Misty about the legacy these women have had on dance and on her career itself, this book delves into the lives and careers of women of color who fundamentally changed the landscape of American ballet from the early 20th century to today.


Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o

From Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o comes a powerful, moving picture book about colorism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within.

Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.

In this stunning debut picture book, actress Lupita Nyong’o creates a whimsical and heartwarming story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty.

Ages 4-8

Lupita Nyong’o is a Kenyan actress and producer. Her first feature film role was in the film 12 Years a Slave, for which she received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as well as multiple accolades, including the Screen Actors Guild Award, the Critics’ Choice Award, the Independent Spirit Award, and the NAACP Award. She has since starred in Mira Nair’s Queen of KatweStar Wars: The Force Awakens, Ryan Coogler’s record-breaking box office hit Black Panther, and most recently in Jordan’s Peele’s critically acclaimed horror film Us. Nyong’o earned a Tony nomination for her Broadway debut in Danai Gurira’s play Eclipsed. She lives in Brooklyn.


Remember to Dream, Ebere by Cynthia Erivo

“Perfect for parents and caregivers to read aloud to their children. A note from the author concludes Erivo’s debut picture book, counseling young readers to dream ‘Big, Big Gargantuan dreams in the brightest colors.’ VERDICT This inspirational bedtime story, with appeal for fans of Kobi Yamada and Andrea Beaty, would be a welcome addition to every collection.”– School Library Journal

“Barlow does a lovely job of capturing the sweetness of the story and Ebere’s big imagination…. Erivo’s message to dream big comes through loud and clear in this simple but tender bedtime story.”– Booklist

From a Tony, Emmy, and Grammy Award winner comes an inspirational and heartwarming tale of a mother and child, and the dreams they build together.

When Ebere’s mother puts her to bed at night, she always says, “Remember to dream, Ebere.” And dream, Ebere does! Encouraged by her mother to make her dreams as big as possible, Ebere imagines herself as the captain of a rocket ship with the ability to go anywhere in the universe.

A message of hope and possibility, award-winning star of stage and screen Cynthia Erivo’s debut picture book is an ode to a child’s imagination, a parent’s love, and the big dreams shared by both.


White House Correspondent April Ryan has a unique vantage point as the only black female reporter covering urban issues from the White House – a position she has held since the Clinton era. Her position as a White House Correspondent has afforded her unusual insight into the racial sensitivities, issues, and attendant political struggles of our nation’s past presidents.  

April Ryan is the author of the award-winning book, The Presidency in Black and White, and At Mama’s Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White (December 2016), where she looks at race relations through the lessons and wisdom that mothers have given their children. Her latest book is Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House.

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MahoganyBooks is an online bookstore that believes in social entrepreneurship. We take a leadership role in the African American community promoting reading, writing, and cultural awareness as tools to improve communities as well as enrich the lives of motivated individuals.

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