35 Great Children’s Books About Louisiana: New Orleans, Cajun Culture, and Mardi Gras

Children's Books about Louisiana - Louisiana Children's Books - Louisiana children's books

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

Ninth Ward, by Jewell Parker Rhodes

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, by Jewell Parker Rhodes

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.

Bayou Magic, by Jewell Parker Rhodes

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:

French-Cajun

Louisiana Territory

Louisiana Purchase

Confederacy – Civil War

Jim Crow era

Louis Armstrong

Ruby Bridges

New Orleans

Jazz Music

Mahalia Jackson

Hurricane Katrina

Mardi Gras

 

Louisiana Geography:

bayou

Mississippi River

New Orleans

French Quarter

levy system

Parishes (instead of counties)

 

Children’s books about Louisiana and all 50 states. Which state will you read about next!

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(districts, territories)

Washington, D.C.  Puerto Rico

 

Louisiana children’s books and books about all 50 states