Whether you're trying to start new traditions or break a kid's fixation on the latest and greatest toys, books are an excellent gift for youngsters this holiday season. Blavity has rounded up some classic oldies and groundbreaking newbies to wrap and place under the tree this Christmas or exchange during Kwanzaa. Have your warm cider or hot cocoa ready and add these books to your kid's wish list for the holidays.
1. I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo and Jason Brown Illustrated by Anoosha Syed
I Am Perfectly Designed is written by the co-star of Netflix's Queer Eye Karamo and his son Jason Brown. Coming from the gaze of a queer father, the story takes place when a dad and his son walk through their downtown neighborhood, retelling what makes them awesomely different, yet brilliantly unique. Anoosha Syed beautifully illustrates the strong bond between a father and his son through bright-eyed characters and vivid colors.
2. I Got The Christmas Spirit by Connie Schofield-Morrison
I Got The Christmas Spirit is an enjoyable holiday tale to read with the entire family. A joyful brown-skinned mother and her curly puffs wearing daughter are ready for Christmas cheer in this vibrant children's book. They stroll around their neighborhood, taking in all the lights, carolers and smells that come with the holiday season.
3. An Island Christmas by Lynn Joseph
An Island Christmas takes place on the charming island of Trinidad. Joseph takes readers into the home of a Trini family, as Rosie helps her mother make traditional holiday drinks like sorrel and authentic Trini holiday pies. Rosie makes friends with the sugarcane man and various people on the island, who all make the holidays about love and community.
4. Heart Picked: Elizabeth’s Adoption Tale by Sara Crutcher
Detroit native, Sara Crutcher touches on the sensitive topic of adoption in Heart Picked: Elizabeth’s Adoption Tale. Family week is starting and six-year-old Elizabeth is excited but hesitant because she doesn't look like her parents. What will her playmates say about their apparent differences? Heart Picked is an inspiring book that examines various family dynamics and praises our differences.
5. Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen
Dancing in the Wings will have readers dancing around their Christmas trees this holiday. Created from the mind of the dance icon Debbie Allen, Dancing in the Wings follows a lanky wannabe ballerina by the name of Sassy. Sassy overcomes self-doubt and insecurity over her long legs and big feet, and ultimately proves that ballerinas don't have to look a certain way to shine. Her persistence and determination have her "dancing to her own music."
6. The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes
Similar to his previous children’s book Crown: An Ode to a Fresh Cut, Barnes graces the children's book world with another bright and confident kids‘ tale. The King of Kindergarten follows a charismatic toddler's first day of kindergarten. Not only does he wash his face and brush his teeth, but he also picks out his own clothes. A confidence booster encouraging independence, this book will surely bring out smiles this holiday season and show the little ones that growing up can be fun.
7. Viva Durant and the Secret of the Silver Buttons by Ashli St. Armant
While you’re opening gifts or sitting at the table to eat, this holiday, Viva Durant and The Secret of The Silver Buttons is worth the listen. Based in one of the original blues capitals of the world, Viva Durant and The Secret of The Silver Buttons explores hidden treasures and intriguing mysteries in New Orleans. In the story, Viva visits her grandmother for the summer and sets out to find a missing treasure that’s been headlining all the NOLA newspapers.The culture of New Orleans pours through this audiobook, as listeners are enriched with jazz, blues and all things Creole.
8. Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o
Sulwe follows a beautiful dark-skinned toddler who is teased at school because of her darker complexion. Her family has lighter skin tones and seems to fit in with their peers, whereas Sulwe stands out. Nyong'o takes readers on a journey of self-acceptance and loving the skin they’re in. It is a perfect uplifting read for the entire family.
9. Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin, Illustrated by Ebony Glenn
Not Quite Snow White is an excellent gift for the young shining star in the family, as the story teaches children they can be whoever they want to be. Tameika is a lively child and a star in the making. When she sees that her class is having a musical play of Snow White, she wants to audition even though her peers don't think she's a good fit. Amid the laughs and points, she is still determined to put on a show.
10. Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky is a chapter book that mashes up superheroes and African gods. A tragedy has Tristan's parents wanting to uproot him from his Chicago home to live with his grandparents in country rural Alabama. Once a strange creature tries to steal his friend's notebook, he tussles with the monster and as a result, punches a hole in the sky. The story highlights a battle between old-time heroes and evil that Tristan is sucked into.
11. Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest Episode 1: The Quest for Screen Time by Marti Dumas
Jaden — a five-year-old, afro-sporting kid — has a mission is to convince his parents that he deserves more time watching television. The collection of Jaden Toussant, The Greatest chapter books are read-out-loud fun for the entire family. Dumas incorporates humor with the dilemmas youngsters face as it relates to negotiating more time for fun with grown-ups.
12. Far Sector by N.K. Jemisin, Illustrated by Jamal Campbell
*preferred ages 17+
For the older book-lover, consider Far Sector, an Afrofuturism comic that's a great take on the original Green Lantern, except in this creative adaptation, a Black woman is set to defend the galaxy. Lead detective Sojourner "Jo” Mullein takes a case to solve the first murder in centuries on a planet that wiped its citizens of every emotion. Though Far Sector is one of many DC spin-offs, the heroine of this comic is unlike any other Green Lantern in the comic book realm. It's a great read for your comic-loving kids.
Pull out the fuzzy blankets, put on the matching PJs and gift your young loved ones some great reads. These titles will bring the entire family together and fill the house with laughter and holiday cheer.