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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Honeysmoke: a Story of Finding Your Color by Monique Fields
This engaging and beautiful picture 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.
I Can Write the World by Joshunda Sanders
Eight-year-old Ava Murray lives in a Bronx neighborhood filled with music, art, and 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 hands of those who write them, Ava decides to become a journalist. She shows everyone the world as she sees it.
I Will Be Fierce! by Bea Birdsong
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 Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
Jabari is definitely ready 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.