It’s no secret that kids see themselves in the characters that star in their favorite television shows and movies. Really, what little kid hasn’t imagined themselves as their favorite Disney princess or Marvel super hero?
That’s why it’s so important that we have a wide breadth of representation in the media that our kids watch.
If you are looking to incorporate more movies and shows that feature lead characters of color, check out this roundup of 10 multicultural movies and shows for kids — and don’t forget to check out our list of multicultural children’s books, too.
On her 13th birthday, Andi Mack finds out that her sister is actually her mother and must navigate life as a teenager while coming to terms with this fact. The actress that plays Andi is Peyton Lee — an American actor who is half Chinese. In addition, this show is the first Disney Channel show to feature a gay main character. The comedy-drama aired from 2017-2019 but you can still find it on Disney+.
After fighting inCaptain America: Civil War, Prince T’Challa returns to the African nation of Wakanda, as the new king, but two foes are conspiring to destroy the nation and he must work with a C.I.A. agent to keep Wakanda from a world war. Wakanda and the cast of this movie is almost entirely Black and features big names like Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira and others. Rated PG-13.
After their mother’s death, three sisters find out that they are witches and must band together and learn to harness their newfound powers to vanquish demons. Starring Madeleine Mantock, who is Afro-Carribean and white, Sarah Jeffery, who is African-American, Canadian and English and Melonie Diaz, who is of Puerto Rican descent. Rated TV-14 and plays on Netflix.
The beloved Disney classic was given a live-action makeover in 1997 with Brandy in the leading role of Cinderella. Whitney Houston and Whoopi Goldberg also stared in the film as Fairy Godmother and Queen Constantina, respectively. Rated G.
A little girl wants to be a doctor just like her mom. She’s practicing by communicating with and healing her broken toys and stuffed animals. Both Doc. McStuffins and her mom are Black. Doc has been voiced by two different voice actors since the show started in 2012: Kiara Muhammad (from 2012-2015) and Laya DeLeon Hayes (2014-2020). Plays on Disney Junior.
Sixteen-year-old Princess Elena has saved her magical kingdom from an evil sorceress and is learning how to be a compassionate, kind and thoughtful leader. Elena herself is voiced by Dominican-American actress Aimee Carrero. Supporting voice actors include Joseph Haro, Julia Vera, Jorge Diaz, Jenna Ortega and others. Plays on the Disney Channel.
This hit Disney flick from 2016 tells the story of a young woman living in ancient Polynesia who seeks to find the Demigod Maui to save her people from his terrible curse. In addition to the animated Polynesian characters, the cast of voice actors features names like Auli’I Cravalho, a woman of Native Hawaiian decent, and Dwayne Johnson. Rated PG.
Teenager Miles Morales is bitten by a radioactive spider and gains spidey powers. When Spider-Man dies, the city mourns and Miles takes over but ends up in an alternate universe with Spider-Men (and women) from other dimensions. The cast and characters are pretty diverse but it is notable that Miles, both the character and the voice actor, are Black men. Rated PG.
Kuzco, the very spoiled and selfish emperor of Peru, is the victim of a botched assassination and is turned into a Llama. With the help of Pacha, a lowly llama herder, Kuzco learns a lesson in humility and becomes a kinder leader. It features characters that are Peruvian and plenty of ancient Peruvian imagery. Rated G.
Set in Louisiana in the mid-1920s, Tiana is a waitress with big dreams to own a restaurant when she and strong drives to fulfill them. When she runs into a prince who has been turned into a frog, she kisses him to turn him back but ends up as a frog, herself. The animated characters in this flick are mainly Black, minus the role of Tiana’s best friend, Charlotte La Bouff, and her family. Voice actors include Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos, who is Brazilian, Keith David and Michael-Leon Wooley, among others. Rated G.
Do you know of any other multicultural movies or shows for kids? Share them with us in the comments — and if you’re looking for more resources and activities to teach your kids about race, visit the Talking About Race page at ChicagoParent.com.
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