Kids are exposed to all sorts of situations in their lives that are going to be different from their home lives. It’s important to expose them to both familiar and unfamiliar concepts through diverse books so they can grow to become well-rounded, curious, and empathetic people as they navigate life!
We’ve rounded up a list of our favorite diverse books to get you started.
LOLA AT THE LIBRARY, WRITTEN BY ANNA MCQUINN AND ILLUSTRATED BY ROSALIND BEARDSHAW
Every Tuesday Lola and her mother visit their local library to return and check out books, attend story readings and share a special treat. Lola loves Tuesdays because that is the day she and her mother go to the library. Everything about the trip is an exciting adventure, from packing her backpack with books and her all-important library card to storytimes and singing, to choosing new books and the walk home, when they always stop for a special treat. But the best time of all is when Mommy reads her story at bedtime.
SALSA LULLABY, WRITTEN BY JEN ARENA AND ILLUSTRATED BY ERIKA MEZA
How to get baby to sleep? Mami and Papi will try anything in this bouncy, loving, bilingual lullaby that gently says good night in both Spanish and English.
COURAGEOUS PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD, WRITTEN BY HEIDE POLEMAN AND ILLUSTRATED BY KYLE KERSHNER
From the brave efforts of Susan B. Anthony to the quiet courage of Rosa Parks, Courageous People Who Changed the World is a young child’s first introduction to the brave people who fought to make the world a better place. Simple text and adorable illustrations tell the contributions of eight champions of freedom: Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Malala Yousafzai, Harriet Tubman, William Wilberforce, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr.
LITTLE LEADERS: BOLD WOMEN IN BLACK HISTORY, WRITTEN BY VASHTI HARRISON
A collection of short bios of accomplished African American women. The bios include women in a wide range of fields -science, arts, journalism, politics, sports — who range from popular cultural figures like Oprah Winfrey to activist/scholar Angela Davis.
BRIGHT EYES, BROWN SKIN, WRITTEN BY CHERYL WILLIS HUDSON AND ILLUSTRATED BY GEORGE FORD
Four children who feel good about who they are and how they enjoy the activities of a typical day at school, happy and brimming with confidence and self-esteem.
WHOSE TOES ARE THOSE?, WRITTEN BY JABARI ASIM AND ILLUSTRATED BY LEUYEN PHAM
A vibrant, multicultural board book that celebrates a baby’s sweet toes, for fans of Ten Tiny Fingers and Ten Little Toes.
PEEKABOO MORNING, WRITTEN BY RACHEL ISADORA
A toddler plays a game of peekaboo, and you’re invited to play too. First, there’s Mommy to find, with Daddy not far behind. Then Puppy comes peeking around the corner, and a favorite toy train brings the toddler to Grandma and Grandpa. Isadora’s brilliant, joyful pastel illustrations capture the familiar and cozy people, toys and animals that will delight babies.
GLOBAL BABIES, BY THE GLOBAL FUND FOR CHILDREN
From Guatemala to Bhutan, seventeen vibrantly colored photographs embrace our global diversity and give glimpses into the daily life, traditions, and clothing of babies from around the world. Simple text in Spanish and English teaches the littlest readers that everywhere on earth, babies are special and loved.
GREEN IS A CHILE PEPPER: A BOOK OF COLORS, WRITTEN BY ROSEANNE THONG AND ILUSTRATED BY JOHN PARRA
In this lively picture book, children discover a world of colors all around them: red is spices and swirling skirts, yellow is masa, tortillas, and sweet corn cake. Many of the featured objects are Latino in origin, and all are universal in appeal. With rich, boisterous illustrations, a fun-to-read rhyming text, and an informative glossary, this playful concept book will reinforce the colors found in every child’s day!
BESOS FOR BABY: A LITTLE BOOK OF KISSES, WRITTEN BY JEN ARENA AND ILUSTRATED BY BLANCA GOMEZ
Everyone has kisses for Baby,from Mami and Papi to perro and gato. Using simple Spanish words, this charming read-aloud proves that love is the same in every language! Parents won’t be able to resist giving baby muchos besos as they share this bilingual read aloud, filled with bold, graphic illustrations, with their little bébé!
FULL, FULL, FULL OF LOVE, WRITTEN BY TRISH COOKE AND ILUSTRATED BY PAUL HOWARD
For the youngest member of an exuberant extended family, Sunday dinner at Grannie’s can be full indeed — full of hugs and kisses, full of tasty dishes, full to the brim with happy faces, and full, full, full of love. With a special focus on the bond between little Jay Jay and his grannie, Trish Cooke introduces us to a gregarious family we are sure to want more, more, more of.
MOMMY’S KHIMAR, WRITTEN BY JAMILAH THOMPKINS-BIGELOW AND ILLUSTRATED BY EBONY GLENN
A young girl plays dress-up with her mother’s headscarves, feeling her mother’s love with every one she tries on. Charming and vibrant illustrations showcase the beauty of the diverse and welcoming community in this portrait of a young Muslim American girl’s life. Playing, sleeping, crawling, and, of course, very noisy babies doing all the wonderful things babies do best.
MALALA’S MAGIC PENCIL, WRITTEN BY MALALA YOUSAFZAI AND ILLUSTRATED BY KERASCOET
As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy, to erase the smell of garbage from her city, and to sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true.
SULIVE, WRITTEN BY LUPITA VYONG AND ILLUSTRATED BY VASHTI HARRISON
Sulwe’s skin is the colour of midnight. She’s darker than everyone in her family, and everyone at school. All she wants is to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey through the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything. In this stunning debut picture book, Lupita Nyong’o creates a whimsical and heartwarming story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty.
THE PIRATE OF KINDERGARTEN, WRITTEN BY GEORGE ELLA LYON AND ILLUSTRATED BY LYNNE AVRIL
Doubles are good for lots of things—double scoops of ice cream, double features at the movies. But double vision is NOT a good kind of double. In fact, it can make kindergarten kind of hard. Ginny sees double chairs at reading circle and double words in her books. She knows that only half of what she sees is real, but which half? The solution to her problem is wondrously simple: an eye patch! Ginny becomes the pirate of kindergarten. With the help of her pirate patch, Ginny can read, run, and even snip her scissors with double the speed!
A DIFFERENT LITTLE DOGGY, WRITTEN BY HEATHER WHITTAKER AND ILLUSTRATED BY SCOTTT ALBERTS
Being different doesn’t have to be an obstacle, and in A Different Little Doggy, colorful, lively illustrations and a rhyming story line about a disabled dog teach children ages 4 – 8 to love themselves and others. It’s an important lesson about acceptance and tolerance teaching children it is OK that we are different.
YES, I CAN!: A GIRL AND HER WHEELCHAIR, WRITTEN BY JACQUELINE B. TONER AND CLAIRE A. B. FREELAND AND ILLUSTRATED BY VIOLET LEMAY
Carolyn is a happy, energetic, caring first-grader who just happens to be in a wheelchair. She’s excited to start her new year of school and make new friends. Yes I Can! follows Carolyn on a typical day at home, at school, and even on a field trip! She can do almost everything the other kids can, even if sometimes she has to do it a little differently.
A RAINBOW OF FRIENDS, WRITTEN BY P. K. HALLINAN
Friends come in all colors and sizes; they can be funny or serious, musical or athletic, outgoing or quiet. This book reminds children to celebrate their differences because that is what makes each of us so special.
I AM ENOUGH, WRITTEN BY GRACE BYERS AND ILLUSTRATED BY KETURAH A. BOBO
This gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another comes from Empire actor and activist Grace Byers and talented newcomer artist Keturah A. Bobo.
THE DAY YOU BEGIN, WRITTEN BY JACQUELINE WOODSON AND ILLUSTRATED BY RAFAEL LOPEZ
Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.
CARTER READS THE NEWSPAPER, WRITTEN BY DEBORAH HOPKINSON AND ILLUSTRATED BY DON TATE
This first-ever picture book biography of Carter G. Woodson emphasizes the importance of pursuing curiosity and encouraging a hunger for knowledge of stories and histories that have not been told. Illustrations also feature brief biological sketches of important figures from African and African-American history.
THE OTHER SIDE, WRITTEN BY JACQUELINE WOODSON AND ILLUSTRATED BY E.B. LEWIS
Clover’s mom says it isn’t safe to cross the fence that segregates their African-American side of town from the white side where Anna lives. But the two girls strike up a friendship and get around the grown-ups’ rules by sitting on top of the fence together.
THE OLDEST STUDENT: HOW MARY WALKER LEARNED TO READ, WRITTEN BY TIA LORRAINE HUBBARD AND ILLUSTRATED BY OGE MORA
In 1848, Mary Walker was born into slavery. At age 15, she was freed, and by age 20, she was married and had her first child. By age 68, she had worked numerous jobs, including cooking, cleaning, babysitting, and selling sandwiches to raise money for her church. At 114, she was the last remaining member of her family. And at 116, she learned to read. From Rita Lorraine Hubbard and rising star Oge More comes the inspirational story of Mary Walker, a woman whose long life spanned from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, and who–with perseverance and dedication–proved that you’re never too old to learn.
CITY GREEN, WRITTEN AND ILLUSTRATED BY DYANNE DISALVO-RYAN
Right in the middle of Marcy’s city block is a vacant lot, littered and forlorn. Sometimes just looking at it makes Marcy feel sad. Then one spring, Marcy has a wonderful idea: Instead of a useless lot, why not a green and growing space for everyone to enjoy? With her warm, hopeful text and inviting illustrations, DyAnne Disalvo-Ryan shows how a whole neighborhood blossoms when people join together and get involved.
PLANTING STORIES: THE LIFE OF LIRARIAN AND STORYTELLER PURA BELPRE, WRITTEN BY ANIKA ALDAMUY DENISE AND ILLUSTRATED BY PAOLA ESCOBAR
An inspiring picture book biography of storyteller, puppeteer, and New York City’s first Puerto Rican librarian, who championed bilingual literature.
THE BOY WHO GREW A FOREST, WRITTEN BY SOPHIA GHOLZ AND ILLUSTRATED BY KAYLA HARREN
As a boy, Jadav Payeng was distressed by the destruction deforestation and erosion was causing on his island home in India’s Brahmaputra River. So he began planting trees. What began as a small thicket of bamboo, grew over the years into 1,300 acre forest filled with native plants and animals. The Boy Who Grew a Forest tells the inspiring true story of Payeng–and reminds us all of the difference a single person with a big idea can make.
THE PROUDEST BLUE: A STORY OF HIJAB AND FAMILY, WRITTEN BY IBTIHAJ MUHAMMAD AND ILLUSTRATED BY HATEM ALY
With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It’s the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it’s her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab–a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong.
HIDDEN FIGURES: THE TRUE STORY OF FOUR BLACK WOMEN AND THE SPACE RACE, WRITTEN BY MARGOT LEE SHETTERLY AND WINIFRED CONKLING AND ILLUSTRATED BY LAURA FREEMAN
In this beautifully illustrated picture book edition, we explore the story of four female African American mathematicians at NASA, known as “colored computers”, and how they overcame gender and racial barriers to succeed in a highly challenging STEM-based career.
THE BOOK ITCH: FREEDOM, TRUTH AND HARLEM’S GREATEST BOOKSTORE, WRITTEN BY VAUNDA MICHEAUX NELSON AND ILLUSTRATED BY R. GREGORY CHRISTIE
In the 1930s, Lewis’s dad, Lewis Michaux Sr., had an itch he needed to scratch—a book itch. How to scratch it? He started a bookstore in Harlem and named it the National Memorial African Bookstore.
BLACK IS A RAINBOW COLOR, WRITTEN BY ANGELA JOY AND ILLUSTRATED BY EKUA HOLMES
A child reflects on the meaning of being Black in this moving and powerful anthem about a people, a culture, a history, and a legacy that lives on.
EVERYBODY COOKS RICE, WRITTEN BY NORAH DOOLEY AND ILLUSTRATED BY PETER J. THORNTON
In this multicultural picture book, Carrie goes from one neighbor’s house to the next looking for her brother, who is late for dinner. She discovers that although each family is from a different country, everyone makes a rice dish at dinnertime. Readers will enjoy trying the simple recipes that correspond to each family’s unique rice dish.
THOSE SHOES, WRITTEN BY MARIBETH BOELTS AND ILLUSTRATED BY NORAH Z. JONES
All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. Though Jeremy’s grandma says they don’t have room for “want”, just “need”, when his old shoes fall apart at school, he is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that are much too small. But sore feet aren’t much fun, and Jeremy soon sees that the things he has — warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend — are worth more than the things he wants.