My Books



I hope you'll borrow or buy copies of my books and enjoy the words and the art.

You can see some of the inside pages and book reviews if you go to


Educators may also want to look at my books for adults:

The Collected Works of Langston Hughes, Vol.11: works for Children and Young Adults

Presenting Laurence Yep 

African American Review, Vol. 32, Number  1--Children's Literature Issue (Spring 1998)



Black Magic

ISBN 0805078339

Black is the color of all things magical, fascinating, and fun like zebra kisses, dark chocolate, and twisty braids. Black is a look, a taste, a speed, an emotion. It's the surprising stripes on a zebra, the taste of dark chocolate, the scare, exciting feeling of going inside a tunnel, and a mother's voice as her daughter falls asleep.


In this celebration of the African American spirit, Dinah Johnson and artist R. Gregory Christie paint a picture of black that is vivid, varied, and proud.

Hair Dance!

ISBN 080065237

Hair comes in all colors, textures, and styles. Whether it is cut long or short, in braids or cornrows, or left natural, it plays a big part in who we are and how we feel about ourselves.


Kelly Johnson's stunning photogrphs of girls wearing a rnge of hairstyles, together with the lyrical words of Dinah Johnson's poem, celebrate African American hair in all its radiant variety.

All Around Town: The Photographs of Richard Samuel Roberts

ISBN 0805054561

These sepia-tone photos of women, children, and men in the African American community of Columbia, SC in the 1920s and 1930s make you wonder about their daily lives and their dreams.


There are pictures of baseball teams and fancy cars, of weddings and and graduations, but mostly Roberts photographed people in his studio ("That's where people posed, most times in their Sunday-go-to-meetin' clothes"). Some of the commentary seems aimed at very young children, but even older kids and adults will pore over the eloquent pictures. Many may go from here to find the stories in their own family albums. -Booklist-

Quinnie Blue

ISBN 0805043780

This is a tender and lyrical portrayal of the special relationship between a young girl and her great grandmother. "Quinnie Blue, did your mama teach you about the family tree?"


In this exceptional picture book, Dinah Johnson's expressive language joyously invokes the spirit of an African American community. James Ransome's beautiful paintings depict in turn the past and present generations of a family, and a special relationship that connects them. Quinnie Blue is a wonderful celebration of family roots and the passing on of heritage.

Sitting Pretty:

A Celebration of Black Dolls

ISBN 0805060979


Through her collection of black dolls, Dinah Johnson imparts a poetic message of pride and self-esteem. Dolls are playthings. Dolls are keepsakes. Dolls are magical. In elegant poems and striking photographs (by Myles Pinkney), dolls from around the United States and as far away as the Caribbean, Africa, and South America are brought together in celebration of the human spirit.


Dinah Johnson's poems--sometimes gentle and joyful, often bold and courageous--embrace the strength and imagination of many cultures. Eboni & Kiana, Sonia & Retta, and over thirty other dolls in this collection march proudly to their own voices and rhytms. Children and doll lovers of all ages will find beauty and inspiration in this extraordinary picture book.



Sunday Week

ISBN 0805049118


With charm and grace, this celebratory picture book takes young readers through the daily chores and activities of each week day--from hanging out the wash to jumping double dutch--all in anticipation of Sunday. Once this special day finally arrives, it is filled with prayer, song and dance, savory food, storytelling, country drives, and most of all, family warmth and cheer.


Dinah Johnson's vibrant, engaging language and Tyrone Geter's illustrations joyfully embrace the faith and spirituality within and African-American community and beyond.


The Best of the Brownies' Book

ISBN 0195099419


This anthology of selections from the 24 issues of The Brownies' Book is as important and entertaining for today's young people as it was over 75 years ago. There are wonderful stories and poems by people such as Langston Hughes, who was a teenage contributor, and other writers and visual artists who addressed the intellects and spirits of African-American children and young adults. There are selections from "The Judge," a colum written by Jessie Fauset that addressed all sorts of issues--parents, good behavior, friends, school work, and much more, and another column called "The Jury" that featured letters from young readers. There's even "The Grown-ups' Corner" with letters and comments from parents.


These liveley and entertaining pieces paint a vivid picture of what life was like for young African Americans in the early 20th century and address issues that are still important to children of all races today. The Brownies' Book was created especially for African American children, but the editors wanted it "to teach Universal Love and Brotherhood for all little folk--black and brown and yellow and white." Isn't that what we want for our children today?