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12 Children’s Books that Celebrate Diversity

The conversations and learning surrounding diversity are only just beginning, and one of the best places to continue to learn and grow with your kids is within the walls of your home. So, we thought we would share some of the children’s books we have uncovered. Each one highlights a different way of exploring diversity, and every book also seeks to educate and uplift equally. Though the following 12 books are meant for children, we’ve found they’re as heartfelt and eye opening for adults! We encourage you to explore diversity together, and we invite you to discover a new favorite children’s book in the process. 

1. Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel, Illustrated by Shane W. Evans:

This picture book follows the story of a little girl and all of the ways in which she raises her hands. First, she’s a baby raising her hands for a hug. Then she becomes a little girl with her hands raised while marching in a protest with her parents. This story has been called “triumphant”!

2. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History & Little Leaders: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison:

Both of these books (found here + here) are worth a mention, and we wanted to group them together. Each one highlights incredible known and not-as-well-known men and women throughout black history and how they have impacted their communities and our greater world. The illustrations are also so sweet and fun for young readers to enjoy.

3. Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry and Vashti Harrison:

NFL wide receiver Matthew A. Cherry and author and illustrator Vashti Harrison teamed up to share this sweet story about a bond between a father and his daughter. The book explores how Zuri’s dad helps her to love and embrace her natural hair – kinks and curls included. Hair Love also has a fun fact: The animated short movie of the same name won an Oscar at the 2020 awards!

4. Same, Same But Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw:

What if your pen pal lived in a different country? That’s the case for Elliot and Kailash because Elliot lives in America, and Kailash calls India home. This picture book shares a glimpse into the ways in which Elliot and Kailash’s lives are different (they live in different countries and immerse themselves in different cultures), but the things they do and the interests they have are the same. 

5. Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment by Parker Curry and Jessica Curry, Illustrated by Brittany Jackson:

Do you remember when the photo was shared of a little girl staring up at Michelle Obama’s portrait at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.? Well, she and her mom wrote a book! Through wonderful words and illustrations, this picture book shares how Parker saw herself in the First Lady’s portrait.

6. Mae Among The Stars by Roda Ahmed, Illustrated by Stasia Burrington:

Are your kids fascinated by space? Meet Mae! This picture book is inspired by Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel into space, and it shares what can happen if you stay curious and follow your dreams. 

7. This is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from Around the World by Matt LaMothe:

What if your kids could see an inside peek into the lives of seven kids from around the world? They can in this picture book as they travel to India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Peru, Russia, and Uganda.  

8. The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated by Rafael Lopez:

Whether your kids have felt left out or you want to explore the ways in which we all can be more inclusive, we think your kids will greatly enjoy The Day You Begin. The title offers great insight into what the picture book explores: Sometimes we simply need to start.

9. Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o, Illustrated by Vashti Harrison:

This picture book is known for its beautiful illustrations and the ways in which Oscar winning actress Lupita Nyong’o shares the story of Sulwe. She’s a little girl with “skin the color of midnight”, and throughout the story she learns how to become confident in her own beauty from within.

10. Chocolate Me! by Taye Diggs, Illustrated by Shane Evans:

What if you are different but want to fit in with your friends and classmates? Actor Taye Diggs and his friend and illustrator, Shane Evans, explore all of the ways a little boy’s appearance, from his skin color to his curly hair, make him unique and wonderful in Chocolate Me!.

11. Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea by Meena Harris, Illustrated by Ana Ramirez Gonzalez:

If your kids are wondering if they can effect change, turn to Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea! Through these sisters, little readers will learn how even two people can make a big difference. And, adults, you might recognize their names! Kamala is named after Senator Kamala Harris, and Maya is named after lawyer and policy expert Maya Harris.

12. Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester, Illustrated by Karen Barbour:

When he was describing his book, author Julius Lester said, “I am a story. So are you. So is everyone.” Enjoy reading as this book teaches what makes your kids (and everyone else!) special.

What children’s books are guiding your family’s conversations about diversity? Let’s keep the conversation going on Facebook.