An American Brown Girls Booklist

Our world needs to sit up and take notice.

Once ignored and criticized, our nation’s Brown and Black girls are making waves, making changes, and making their voices heard.  2020 and 2021 were filled with amazing and powerful Brown and Black women like Kamela Harris, Amanda Gorman, Lizzo, Stacey Abrams, and so many more.

It’s with this spirit that we take the time to honor trailblazing Black women, many of whom embody Lady O’s words every day by serving as role models to us all. We’ve got quite the inspiring list, with actors, artists, activists, athletes, and even a poet. These women represent all shades of brown. They are not only A-listers but also leaders we look to in all facets of society. In the past 20 years, they’ve been responsible for trendsetting firsts and impressive cultural shifts that changed our world for the better—yes, even though the struggle that was 2020. As famous African American women (like former first lady Michelle ObamaSerena WilliamsTracee Ellis Ross, Tamron Hall, and Gabrielle Union, to mention a few), they have made a name for themselves while simultaneously creating a platform for so many more to follow in their footsteps. ~O Magazine

So, to inspire the next generation of movers, shakers, and change-makers, here is an American Brown Girl Booklist!

American Brown Girls Booklist

Brand New School, Brave New Ruby (Ruby Brooker and the Boys series) by Derrick Barnes

Eight-year-old Ruby Booker is the baby sis of Marcellus (11), Roosevelt (10), and Tyner (9), the most popular boys on Chill Brook Ave. When Ruby isn’t hanging with her friend, Theresa Petticoat, she’s finding out what kind of mischief her brothers are getting into. She’s sweet and sassy and every bit as tough as her older siblings. She sings like nobody’s business; she has a pet iguana named Lady Love; her favorite color is grape-jelly purple; and when she grows up, she’s going to be the most famous woman animal doctor on the planet. She’s the fabulous, oh-so-spectacular Ruby Marigold Booker!

Bessie: Queen of the Sky by Andrea Doshi

This fairy tale is inspired by the story of Bessie Coleman, the first black woman to hold a pilot’s license in the world.
When Bessie was growing up, no one could have imagined that a girl from a humble family would get out of the cotton fields and become a pilot. But with the help of her best friend Bloony, Bessie used her courage and determination to make her dream come true!

 Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess:

Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess is a heartwarming story about family, role models, dreams, and discovering a determination for growth. This five-part diverse picture book series shines the spotlight on a little brown girl who loves musical theatre and never lets anything get in the way of her dreams. It seems that everyone else has an idea for who she should be, but in the end, she discovers that she is the one who gets to decide.

The story also reveals the very special family dynamic that Kayla shares with her mom- a hard-working woman who struggles with the guilt of not being as available for her young daughter as she would like. But as the story progresses, Kayla and her mom realize the impact of valuing the time they have together as well as the importance of seeing each other acknowledge (and pursue) their individual dreams. {ages 4 to 8}

GO HERE to order your copy of Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess by veteran author, Deedee Cummings, the Kayla: Modern-Day Princess series is inspired by her own real-life princess and Broadway actress, Kayla Pecchioni.

Meet Danitra Brown by Nikki Grimes

“This powerfully poignant book elicited dialogue from my students as well as written responses that I didn’t know was possible. What a motivator! Just because I taught third graders, please do not doubt the power of the text to transcend any age. The older a person the more they will be able to bring to the text. I would love to use this book with a group of inner-city high school students. The rhythm and punch of the poetry(no turn-off to boys or girls at all)pulls the listener/reader in. The illustrations are icing on the (tough) cake of life. The lessons and morals within Nikki Grimes’ language are unforgettable. I cannot say enough about the quality of this book except this: Fabulous!”

Amazing Grace and Bravo Gracie by Mary Hoffman

To mark the 20th anniversary of the publication of Amazing Grace, the spirited little girl with a big imagination is coming back to Puffin in two fun chapter books! In Encore, Grace!, when Grace’s family and a group of friends change, Grace turns to her imagination to cope with things like a new girl in school and the death of a family friend. In Bravo, Grace!, Grace deals with more change. This time her mother is remarrying and they are moving to a new house, there’s a bully in school, and there’s a new baby on the way! But despite all the changes, Grace always has her family and friends to support her, and she always finds a way to handle new situations in positive ways.

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

There will be times when you walk into a room
and no one there is quite like you.

There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it. Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art remind us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway. (This book is also available in Spanish, as El Día En Que Descubres Quién Eres!)

The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller

It’s the day before the big parade. Alta can only think about one thing: Wilma Rudolph, a three-time Olympic gold medalist. She’ll be riding on a float tomorrow. See, Alta is the quickest kid in Clarksville, Tennessee, just like Wilma once was. It doesn’t matter that Alta’s shoes have holes because Wilma came from hard times, too. But what happens when a new girl with shiny new shoes comes along and challenges Alta to a race? Will she still be the quickest kid? The Quickest Kid in Clarksville is a timeless story of dreams, determination, and the power of friendship.

I am Enough and I Believe I Can by Grace Byers

I Am Enough is a gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another comes from Empire actor and activist Grace Byers and talented newcomer artist Keturah A. Bobo.

I Believe I Can is an affirmation for boys and girls of every background to love and believe in themselves.

Actress and activist Grace Byers and artist Keturah A. Bobo return with another gorgeously illustrated new classic that’s the perfect gift for baby showers, birthdays, or just for reading at home again and again.

My presence matters in this world. I know I can do anything, if only I believe I can.

What books do YOU recommend?

American Brown Girl Booklist


Celebrate with Make A Way Media!

My diverse picture book, This is the Earth has been winning awards!

This is the Earth, a diverse picture book that shares a message of peace, love, respect, compassion, and inclusion. Published in early 2019, the book’s core message is this: peace is meant for all of us and it is everyone’s responsibility to care for each other like the family that we are. AND it has won TWO notable awards! Read more about this timely (and much-needed) picture book HERE.

This is the Earth by Deedee Cummings

This message bears repeating: peace is meant for all of us. Kids and adults will love the lyrical message and thoughtful artwork all about this planet as our home and every human being as our neighbor and family.

Excerpt from This is the Earth
Excerpt from This is the Earth

Help us spread the message of peace far and wide!


About Deedee Cummings

As a therapist, attorney, author, and CEO of Make A Way Media, Deedee Cummings has a passion for making the world a better place. All ten of Cummings’ diverse picture, poetry, and workbooks for kids reflect her professional knowledge and love of life. Colorful and vibrant, her children’s books are not only fun for kids and adults to read, they also work to teach coping skills, reinforce the universal message of love, encourage mindfulness, and facilitate inclusion for all. Cummings has spent more than two decades working within the family therapy and support field and much of her writing shares her experiences of working with kids in therapeutic foster care. As a result, her catalogs of published books for kids are filled with positive, hopeful messages. Using therapeutic techniques in her stories to teach coping skills, Cummings also strives to lessen the stigma that some people feel when it comes to receiving mental health assistance.
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