Representation is an important element for a healthy childhood. Children who see people who are similar to themselves succeeding are more likely to believe that they, too, can be successful. Representation in children’s books and literature — both of the authors and of the characters featured in stories — provides a sense of inclusion and belonging. Diversity is an accurate reflection of reality, which is why the children’s books at Green Bamboo Publishing feature stories about many different types of animals. The books we publish also feature a diverse range of authors and illustrators. In honor of Black History Month, we are recognizing five children’s books by black authors and illustrators, including one of our own, the Canadian author Candace Amarante.

5 Inspiring Children’s Books About Animals by Black Authors & Illustrators

The Pheasant’s Tale… or was it its Tail?
Candace Amarante/Veronika Gruntovskaya
A young pheasant explores the themes of self-expression when she desires something more for herself… a tail as beautiful and vibrant as a peacock’s. She gets by with a little help from some unexpected friends and lets her true colors fly. We love the quirky humor and comedy in the book — qualities that often pop up during journeys of self-discovery.

Rice & Rocks
Sandra L. Richards/Megan Kayleigh Sullivan
A little boy named Giovanni goes and a world-wide adventure with his aunt and pet parrot, Jasper, to discover the many places that serve the traditional dish of his country. He soon learns that rice and beans is a dish to be celebrated and that he can be proud of his heritage. We love the diversity, and positive message of self-love that permeates the book.

Anna Carries Water
Olive Senior/Laura James
The character Anna struggles with sibling rivalry, the struggle to be more grown up than she is, and a unique phobia of cows. She is tasked with fetching water every day, but is unable to carry it on her head like her older siblings. As Anna overcomes her fear and learns how to persevere, young readers are taught the lesson of determination and trusting in one’s self. We love the creative characters and the sense of empowerment this book instills in its readers.

How the Leopard Got His Claws
Chinua Achebe
Told in the tradition of fables, this story examines the potency and dangers of power taken by force. The theme of justice is seen in the journey the leopard king takes to become a leader, gain his claws, and restore harmony to the jungle. We love the concepts of friendship that appear between the animal characters and in the message that we can all live together in harmony and peace.

Whose Knees Are These?
Jabari Asim
The cast of cute animals in this book entertain and delight as young readers discover the silliness of knees. The text is designed to be playful and simple, but the message of body positivity is strong. We love the easy flow of the book and nurturing quality of love that is present throughout.

Themes of Love in Children’s Books

At their core, what all these children’s books by black authors and illustrators share is a unifying theme of love. Whether it is love for oneself, love for animals, love for your family, love for the world, or love for friends, the reminder to be loving is always a good one to embrace.

Browse through our collection and choose a book that supports making the world a better place.