It is so important to read our students’ picture books with diverse characters. Children need to learn about new cultures, places, and traditions. They also need to be able to “see” themselves in a book. For so long there was a shortage of diverse and multicultural children’s books. And while there has been a steady increase in the past few years, there is still a long way to go.
Below is a book list of 36 books that feature both multicultural and diverse characters. These include children of different races and ethnic groups as well as a child with two fathers and a boy who identifies as a girl. Before you read the book list, I want to share with you one of my favorite quotes about diversity.
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Carlitos lives in a happy home with his mother, his abuela and Coco the cat. Life in his hometown is cozy as can be, but the call of the capital city pulls Carlitos across the bay in search of his father.
Illustrations and simple, rhyming text introduce a school where diversity is celebrated and songs, stories and talents are shared.
A humorous picture book about a girl who doesn’t want to sleep in her little bed, so she presents her dad with his own bed – a camping cot – in order to move herself into her parents’ big bed.
A spacious umbrella welcomes anyone and everyone who needs shelter from the rain. The these of this book are inclusion and acceptance.
Encourages every boy to embrace all of the things that make him unique, and to be curious, brave, kind, thoughtful and more. This book is written to show boys that they do not have to act a certain way just because they are a boy.
Other students laugh when Rigoberto, an immigrant from Venezuela, introduces himself. Later he meets Angelina and discovers that he is not the only one who feels like an outsider.
Siblings Chintoo and Mintoo collect flowers and press the petals into a fine powder as they prepare for Holi, the Indian springtime Festival of Colors.
The inspiring true story of Malala Yousfzai, human rights activist and the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Follows a Native American family as they make fry bread and celebrate their culture.
One Chinese New Year, her mother sends Goldy Luck to the pandas next door with a plate of turnip cakes, but the pandas are out and disaster follows.
A little girl’s daddy steps in to help her arrange her curly, coiling, wild hair into styles that allow her to be her natural, beautiful self.
This engaging and beautiful book follows a young, biracial girl named Simone as she searches for her own place in the world. She wants to find the perfect color to understand her heritage, a color that isn’t brown or pink or black or white. Eventually, Simone creates a special word to describe the combination of her mom’s dark and her dad’s light skin colors: honeysmoke.
Eight-year-old Ava Murray lives in a Bronx neighborhood filled with music, art ad people from all over the world. It is very different from the Bronx she sees in the news. When her mother explains that the power of stories lies in the heads of those who write them, Ava decides to become a journalist. She shows everyone in the world as she sees it.
Charlie loves his birght, red purse. When he brings it to school, though, everyone questions him on his “strange choice”. Nothing his dad, his friend Charlotte, or the kids say can make Charlie change his mind. He’s stiking with his purse.
A timely picture book about how all of our lives are enriched by the vibrant cultural diversity immigrants bring to their new communities.
It’s a brand-new day, and a young girl decides to take on the world like a brave explorer heading off on an epic fairytale quest. From home to school and back again, our hero conquers the Mountain of Knowledge (the library), forges new bridges (friendships), and leads the victorious charge home on her steed (the school bus).
Jabari is definitely read to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons. He’s passed his swim test. It’s just… maybe he should do some stretches first. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back.
A confident little boy takes pride in his first day of kindergarten.
This picture book is a tribute to the beauty and nature of love. It shows images of familied and friends of different ages and appearances who live in cities and in rural or warm places.
Lubna’s best friend is a pebble. Pebble always listens to her stories. Pebble always smiles when she feels scared. When a lost little boy arrives in the World of Tents, Lubna realizes that he needs Pebble even more than she does.
Inspiration struck when Mofofuku Ando spotted the lines for a simple bowl of ramen following World War II. Magic Ramen tells the true story behind the creation of one of the world’s most popuarl foods.
A young Muslim girl puts on a head scarf and not only feels closer to her mother, she also imagines herself as a quenen, the sun, a superhero and more.
Billy’s beloved Nana’s memory is failing, but they are “always amigos”, so when disaster strikes the day of the family’s big summer show, Billy finds a way he and Nana can save the day.
Two girls, one white and one African-American, gradually get to know each other as they sit on the fence and divides their town.
Norman is thrilled to discover he grew a pair of wings overnight, but his excitement turns to doubt when he realizes the is now different from everyone else. This causes him to question whether there is suh a thing as perfectly normal.
An illustrated biography of the life of Pura Delpre, the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City.
Faizah relates how she feels on the first day her sister, sixth-grader Asiya, wears a hijab to school.
A little girl moves to the United States from Mexico with her family and writes litters to her aunt in Mexico about her new life.
Pen pals Elliott and Kaliash discover that even though they live in different countires, America and India, they both love to climb trees, own pets and ride school buses.
A story that explores the ways a single voice can make a difference.
As bombs and missiles fall on Baghdad in 2003, a young boy uses the art of calligraphy to distance himself from the horror of war.
Stella brings her two fathers to school to celebrate Mother’s Day.
When five-year-old Sulwe’s classmates make fun of her dark skin, she tries lightening herself to no avail. An encounter with a shooting star helps her understand that there is beauty in every shade.