The Ultimate List of Louisiana Children’s Books
Louisiana’s history is as rich and spicy as its gumbo and crawfish. From the Jazz music of New Orleans to the alligators of the bayou, from the pelicans of the Gulf of Mexico to the beignets of the French Quarter, from the joys of Mardi Gras to the tragedies of Katrina, here are some of the best Louisiana children’s books.
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Books about Louisiana: The Music of New Orleans
Mahalia Jackson: Walking With Kings and Queens, by Nina Nolan, illustrated by John Holyfield
If you fall in love with her gospel music, Mahalia is also highlighted for Washington D.C. in the book “Mahalia & Martin”, since she sang at the March on Washington, 1963.
The 5 O’Clock Band by Troy Andrews, illustrated by Bryan Collier
Trombone Shorty, by Troy Andrews, illustrated by Bryan Collier
This beautifully illustrated picture book won the Coretta Scott King Award. It tells of Trombone Shorty, a modern musician. After reading this book, children can check out concerts by Trombone Shorty on Youtube or other channels, and see how Louisiana music is still living, breathing, and dancing.
Just a Lucky So and So: The Story of Louis Armstrong, by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James Ransome
Louis Armstrong wasn’t always THE Louis Armstrong, and this picture book tells the origin story of how this Louisiana legend got his start in jazz music.
Books About The History of New Orleans: Hurricane Katrina, and Ruby Bridges
Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans, by Phil Bildner, illustrated by John Parra
Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival by Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery
This is the unlikely story of a cat and dog who become friends during Hurricane Katrina.
The Story of Ruby Bridges, by Robert Coles and George Ford
This picture book about New Orleans legend, Ruby Bridges, tells the historic story of this 1st-grade student who dared to enter an all-white elementary school. On November 14, 1960, Ruby Bridges became the first Black child to attend William Frantz Elementary School. There, she faced discrimination – only one teacher was willing to teach her, and the class Ruby Bridges attended had no white students in it. Ruby Bridges’ story marked change in the South, and she was painted into a Norman Rockwell painting called “The Problem We All Live With” in 1963, a painting which has been exhibited at The White House.
Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My True Story, by Ruby Bridges
This is the autobiography of Ruby Bridges, the first student to integrate the New Orleans schools.
Books about New Orleans and Mardi Gras
On Mardi Gras Day by Fatima Shaik, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
This Mardi Gras picture book opens up with the joy of the celebration. Floyd Cooper’s gorgeous illustrations pair with Fatima Shaik’s writing about a family heading to Mardi Gras.
When the Morning Comes: A Mardi Gras Indian Story, by Juan Pardo, illustrated by Vernon Smith
This Mardi Gras picture book is written by the Golden Comanche chief, Juan Pardo. It highlights the participation of the Golden Comanches in the annual Mardi Gras celebrations. Mardi Gras is closely linked with the group, and the traditions are captured here on the pages of this picture book.
Louisiana Children’s Books about Enslavement and Emancipation
Freedom in Congo Square, by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Sunday was the one day of rest for slaves in New Orleans, Louisiana, and on their day of limited freedom they would go to Congo Square to dance, play music, and find joy. This book discusses the hardships of slavery and the culture of the Black community in the pre-Civil War era, in this picture book that goes through the days of the week, counting down ’til Sunday.
Louisiana Children’s Books about Animals
Down in Louisiana, by Johnette Downing, illustrated by Deborah Kadair
Discusses the pelicans, armadillos, black bears, alligators, Catahoulas, nutria, possums, crawfish, and mosquitoes and the other creatures that can be found in the bayou.
The Crawfish Family Band, by Todd-Michael St. Pierre
Petit Pierre and the Floating Marsh, by Johnette Downing, illustrated by Heather Stanley
This Louisiana picture book shows the wildlife of the marshes, taking you on a journey with Petit Pierre who is a pelican.
Boudreaux the Louisiana Mosquiteaux, by Stacy Beardon
This picture book about Louisiana Mosquiteaux (French for “mosquitos”) gives a humorous look at the pesky insect found near swamp waters. What adventures will Boudreaux be up to?
Why the Crawfish Lives in the Mud, by Johnette Downing
Louisiana Children’s Books: Fairy Tales
Petit Rouge, by Mike Artell, by Jim Harris
Little Red Riding Hood, where the wolf is an alligator
Little Pierre: A Cajun Story from Louisiana, by Robert D. San Souci, illustrated by David Catrow
A fairy tale complete with swamp ogres, this is a fantasy story that makes for a classic Louisiana children’s book.
Cendrillon: A Cajun Cinderella, by Sheila Hebert-Collins, illustrated by Patrick Soper
This telling of Cinderella is complete with many Cajun words, and a glossary, as Cendrillon goes from her home in the bayou to a Mardi Gras ball.
A Catfish Tale: A Bayou Story of the Fisherman and His Wife, by Whitney Stewart, illustrated by Gerald Guerlais
A Louisiana telling of The Fisherman and His Wife, a story where a fish is caught and grants magic wishes. This book has a glossary of Louisiana vocabulary, it shows the Mississippi bayou and New Orleans, and comes with a recipe for gumbo. Oh, and an alligator narrates the story.
Gumbo: A Magical Bayou Tale, by Alexis Braud
This book focuses on the magical power of a good gumbo recipe. Nanny shows George how to make gumbo out in the bayou, explaining each ingredient. This Louisiana children’s book feels like a successor to Stone Soup, and has life lessons and Cajun heritage.
Louisiana Children’s Books about Christmas
The Legend of Papa Noel: A Cajun Christmas Story by Terri Hoover Dunham, illustrated by Laura Knorr
Santa Claus is called Papa Noel in the the Louisiana bayous. But he can’t be wearing a warm weather suit and sliding down chimneys, not where the heat will melt your skin to your clothes. So Papa Noel does his annual ride out to the bayous on a river boat pulled by eight friendly alligators. Nicollette serves as the lead reindeer – I mean, alligator – as she brings the team from house to house to deliver presents on la veille de Noël (Christmas Eve)
Cajun Night Before Christmas, by J.B. Kling, Jr. (Trosclair)
This book is a beloved Cajun Louisiana classic.
Books about New Orleans: Louisiana Children’s Books about Beignets
Beignets for Breakfast, by Jeanette Weiland, illustrated by Allison Lemon
Nothing says New Orleans like beignets for breakfast.
The Runaway Beignet, by Connie Morgan, illustrated by Herb Leonhard
The Gingerbread Man gets a new flavor with this Runaway Beignet.
The Beignet That Almost Got Away, by Joanne Mehrtens and Pat Roig
Two bugs live in a bakery and go for the beignet.
Fry ‘Em Up, Fry ‘Em Up, Beignet Man, by Brittany Muller, illustrated by Megan Jensen
A book about the French Quarter and the beignets served up there.
Louisiana Children’s Books about Food
Gator Gumbo, by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Sally Anne Lambert
Mumbo Jumbo, Stay out of the Gumbo, by Johnette Downing, illustrated by Jennifer Lindsley (includes Cajun words and glossary)
Red Beans & Rice, by Jeanette Weiland, illustrated by Van Zandt Roberta Loflin
This book follows the food from our plates to the farm it came from. Young Magnolia Rose takes a look at her meal, to find out how it is connected to Grandma Bee and Grandpa Pepper’s rural Louisiana farm.
Mr. Okra Sells Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, by Lashon Daily
Children’s Books about Louisiana State University
The ABCs of LSU, by Linda Colquitt Taylor, illustrated by Erin Casteel
This book about Louisiana State University (LSU) will have your child saying Geaux Tigers!
Louisiana Children’s Books for Chapter-Book Readers
Who Was Louis Armstrong?, by Yona Zeldis McDonough, illustrated by Jack O’Brien
What Was Hurricane Katrina? by Robin Koontz, illustrated by John Hinderliter
Young readers will learn a lot in this non-fiction book about Hurricane Katrina, discussing why the levies failed, and how the hurricane displaced thousands of residents in the New Orleans, Louisiana area.
I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005, by Lauren Tarshis, illustrated by Scott Dawson
The Smuggler’s Treasure (American Girl Mystery) by Sarah Masters Buckey
This New Orleans book is set in 1814, in a bakery that serves French pastries, as 11-year-old Elizabet tracks down her father who was captured and imprisoned during the War of 1812. The plot is a bit as far-fetched as a children’s detective novel would be – but Elizabet works hard to track down her dad as she adjusts to the Louisiana heat (her family is from Boston.) Student readers will learn about the War of 1812, pick up a smattering of French words, and learn about the Pirate Smugglers of Louisiana.
Louisiana Children’s Books: Novels about Louisiana
A novel where the main character is in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana during and after Hurricane Katrina. What happens to her as the floods come?
Sugar is a 10-year-old girl living on a Louisiana plantation on the Mississippi River right after Emancipation, dreaming of leaving and seeing the larger world. Written by Jewell Parker Rhodes, an award-winning author who captures the essence of Louisiana life.
A suspenseful book of two girls, ages 8 and 9, as they live in the Louisiana bayou, and explore a mystery. This book captures bayou folklore, and covers environmentalism with the oil spill that threatens the waters of their grandmother’s home. Travel from New Orleans to the bayou with this charming book that 9 to 12 year olds just can’t put down even when dinner is served.
Louisiana Vocabulary to Highlight:
Confederacy – Civil War
Jim Crow era
Parishes (instead of counties)
Children’s books about Louisiana and all 50 states. Which state will you read about next!
Louisiana children’s books and books about all 50 states