Black books: Traci Sorell

This year, I’ve invited non Black people who are in someway connected to youth literature to share a list of 5-10 books written or illustrated by Blacks that will appeal to children. I asked for anything from board books and graphic novels to biographies and adult crossover. The authors or illustrators could be living or dead, U.S. residents or not. The results have been quite amazing! Traci curated an eclectic list that focuses on younger readers. 

Cherokee Nation citizen and author Traci Sorell writes fiction and nonfiction books as well as poems for children. Her debut nonfiction picture book We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, illustrated by Frané Lessac, won an Orbis Pictus Honor, a Sibert Honor, and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor along with four starred reviews. Last fall, Traci’s two most recent books came out and both have received multiple starred reviews.

Photo by Kelly Downs Photography

At the 2020 Youth Media Awards, Traci’s We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga narrated by Lauren Hummingbird, Agalisiga (Choogie) Mackey, Ryan Mackey, Traci Sorell and Tonia Weavel (Live Oak Media) was awarded an Odyssey Honor;  At the Mountain’s Base (illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre; Kokila) became an American Indian in Youth Literature honor book and Indian No More co-written with Charlene Willing McManis (Umpqua/Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde)  (Tu Books) was the American Indian in Youth Literature middle grade book winner.

Here are Traci’s faves from the last few years.

Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome (Holiday House, 2018), middle grade fiction novel

Freedom Soup written by Tami Charles and illustrated by Jacqueline Alcantara (Candlewick, 2019), fiction picture book

Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes (Wordsong, 2016), middle grade fiction novel-in-verse

Going Down Home With Daddy written by Kelly Starling Lyons and illustrated by Daniel Minter (Peachtree, 2019), fiction picture book

New Kid by Jerry Craft (HarperAlley, 2019), middle grade fiction graphic novel

No Small Potatoes: Junius G. Groves and His Kingdom in Kansas written by Tonya Bolden and illustrated by Don Tate (Knopf, 2018), nonfiction picture book

Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes (Wordsong, 2019), young adult memoir-in-verse

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Eric Velasquez (Candlewick, 2017), nonfiction picture book

Someday Is Now: Clara Luper and the 1958 Oklahoma City Sit-Ins written by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and illustrated by Jade Johnson (Seagrass Press, 2018), nonfiction picture book

This Promise of Change by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy (Bloomsbury, 2019), middle grade memoir-in-verse

For more about Traci, find her online at or @tracisorell on Twitter and Instagram.