Multicultural Children’s Books That Showcase Diversity

Are you looking for a read that features a main character that looks like your kid? It can be tough to find multicultural children’s books that feature characters of color that don’t completely revolve around the character’s ethnicity. And it can be even tougher to find reads for kids with varying identities or characters with special needs or abilities that do the same.

While it’s really important for all parents to educate their kids about the wonderful things that make humans beautifully unique, sometimes it’s nice for parents to sit down and read a story about a character that is traditionally seen as a minority living their lives or having some big magical adventure, rather than a read that focuses entirely on the character’s defining features.

Here, find 10 children’s books with main characters that showcase diversity. Use them to expose your kids to a different way of life or as a bedtime staple to remind kids that being different really is normal.

Abuela by Arthur Dorros

Best for ages: 3-7

Rosalba and her abuela (grandma) celebrate their relationship as they fly high over the streets of New York City together in this colorful picture book.

Billy and Belle by Sarah Garland

Best for ages: 3-6

In this comic-style read, Billy and Belle belong to a biracial family that’s expecting a new edition and the kids are so excited for their new brother or sister. But when mom heads to the hospital and the kids go to school for pet day, with their pet hamster and spider, the pets get loose and fun ensues.

Susan Laughs by Jeanne Willis

Best for ages: 4-7

Susan is like any other kid. She loves to laugh, sing and play. She even loves to horseback ride. The only difference between her and her peers is that she’s in a wheelchair.

Grandmother’s Dreamcatcher by Becky Ray McCain

Best for ages: 4-8

As the parents of a Chippewa girl named Kimmy look for a home closer to her father’s work, the child stays with her grandmother. While she’s there, her grandmother teaches her how to make a dreamcatcher that will keep her bad dreams at bay.

Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan

Best for ages: 4-8

Rubina has been invited to a friend’s birthday and is super excited, until her mom makes her bring her sister, Sana, along. Sana proceeds to ruin the party for Rubina, demanding to win every game and even stealing her party favor. Find out how the big sis reacts in this read.

Penny and the Magic Puffballs by Alonda Williams

Best for ages: 4-8

This series focuses on a little girl named Penny who wants to wear her hair long and straight like the other girls in her class but her hair is too different to do that. Her mom reassures her that she’s perfect just how she is and styles her hair into magic “puffballs” that let her go on fun adventures.

Round is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Thong

Best for ages: 4-8

A little girl takes readers on a journey through her neighborhood searching for shapes. As she finds different squares, circles, rectangles and other shapes in her everyday life, she explains how they relate to Asian culture.

Mama’s Saris by Pooja Makhijani

Best for ages: 5-6

A young girl takes a peak in her mother’s suitcase to find a variety of gorgeous saris and decides that she wants to wear one. Soon, her mother realizes that though the child is too young for saris, dressing up is important to her daughter – so she dresses her up in one for her seventh birthday.

Call Me Tree by Maya Christina Gonzalez

Best for ages: 6-10

A child takes a journey of self-discovery and finds that similarly to trees, all people have roots, all people are different and all people belong.

Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Best for ages: 10 and up

A 12-year-old adopted girl with extraordinary academic abilities loses her parents in a car crash and now must adjust to making friends with her gift and coping to life without parents once again.

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This article also appeared in Chicago Parent’s July 2020 magazine. Read the rest of the issue here.


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