Multicultural Books for Children: 40+ Book Lists

I was dismayed to discover that the number of multicultural books published hasn’t increased during the last 18 years despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color. This graphic is from Lee and Low publishers.

diversity books for kids, multicultural books for kids

 

I have posted a large number of book lists for kids focusing on multicultural books (some my own creations but others that I’ve happily discovered) but I know that my search capability in my blog is not that great. I am organizing them all here in hopes that more people will read multicultural children’s books. Hopefully this will spark an interest that will lead to more books depicting people of color being published.

 

Multicultural Book Lists for Kids

I’ve broken down my multicultural lists by:

  • Multicultural Book Lists for Kids (a catch-all for those lists that don’t fit the categories below)
  • Civil Rights Movement Books for Kids
  • Asian American Books for Kids with subcategories
  • Korean American Books for Kids
  • Japanese American Books for Kids
  • Chinese American Books for Kids
  • Southeast Asian Books for Kids
  • Native American Books for Kids

 

Top 50: Best Multicultural Children’s Books

This was a great list that covered many ethnicities and is categorized by genre.

Best Multicultural YA Books for Teens

I’m new to YA so I was excited to discover this great list.

Top 10: Best Latino American Children’s Books (ages 2-16)

I’m noticing some great Hispanic American KidLit lately across all children’s book genres!

Top 10: Best World Religion Children’s Books

We are “homeschooling” world religion since we don’t go to church.

How To: Teach Your Children About Islam (and tolerance in the process!)

In the wake of the conflicts in the Middle East, I thought it especially important for kids to learn about Islam and the people of the Middle East which might also teach them tolerance in the process. There is so much negative stereotyping during a war that can color a child’s perspective.

 

Life in Afghanistan for Girls

Deborah Ellis’s Parvana series shows a realistic view of what life is like in Afghanistan for girls today. It’s heartbreaking but also so important.

Chapter Books to Support 4th Grade or 5th Grade Immigration Unit

Our elementary school does an immigration unit using these chapter books. I’ve also added a few newly published books as well.

 

Civil Rights Movement Books for Kids

My kids study the The Civil Rights Movement in the United States in 4th grade and I’m pleased to see a handful of important and often, award-winning, picture books, chapter books and Young Adult books published each year.

Top 10: Best Children’s Books On Civil Rights Movement

This list covers picture books, chapter books and young adult.

Top 10: Best African-American Picture Books (ages 4-12)

If you read these picture books in order, it gives an overview of the African-American experience historically starting from slavery to the present day.

Ruby Bridges and Picture Book As Fast as Words Could Fly

Meeting Ruby Bridges was a thrill for me and further reinforced how important it is for kids to learn about the Civil Rights Movement.

Young Booker T. Washington: Fifty Cents and a Dream.

An advanced picture book that paints a portrait of Booker T. Washington as a determined young boy.

Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr with Three Books 

If you just want a snapshot of the Civil Rights Movement for young children, try these three books: two picture books and a chapter book.

2010 Africana Awards for Best Children’s Literature

 

5th Grade Social Studies And How to Make It Interesting

I have a section in this post about the Civil Rights Movement.

 

Asian American Books for Kids

One of the most exciting things for me about blogging was discovering Asian American books for kids. This genre was just starting to emerge a few years ago when I started blogging. Growing up, I read extensively but I never found books that were like me — an Asian American 2nd and 3rd generation girl living in the suburbs. I’m thrilled to find that this is no longer the case.

 

Top 10: Best Asian American Books by CoolAsianKids

CoolAsianKids made a wonderful list of their favorite Asian American KidLit.

Asian in America (Amy Chua, new Asian KidLit, dumpling recipe!)

These recently published books show the new diversity of Asian American KidLit as well as the high quality of this genre.

APALA Awards for Best Asian American Children’s Books 2013

The Asian Pacific American Libraries Association has announced their 2013 literature award winners.

Exploring Vietnam: Culture and KitLit

I created a series of posts a while back that I called Teach Me Tuesday. I wanted to explore a country using children’s books as well as different elements of their culture from art to food to artisans. This was the first post I did of this series on Vietnam (and my best one!).  The Teach Me Tuesday series is here.

Sri Lanka with Kids Books, Recipe and Design

A friend from Sri Lanka gave me a recipe that he loved as a child and this sparked this post. Finding the books is always the toughest part for me.

Exploring Laos with Books for Kids, Culture and Art

The more I learned about Laos, the more I want to go to this mysterious, beautiful and tragic country.

Bangladesh: Culture, Alpanas, Children’s Books, Recipe and More!

 

 

 

Korean American Books for Kids

I’m half Chinese and Japanese and I married a Korean. My first multicultural book lists were on these three ethnicities as a way to show my children their heritage. The Korean American culture is so strong in America that this first post went viral.

Top 10: Korean American Children’s Books (ages 2-16)

This is the first post of mine ever to go viral.

Discovering Korea for Kids with Kids’ Books, Art and Food

I wanted to learn more about my husband’s family history so this is a very personal journey of discovery.

Korean-American Picture Book Teaches Multicultural Lesson

I don’t often do individual book reviews but finding this great Asian American book at the library made me want to post on it.

 

Japanese American Books for Kids

WWII Internment seems to dominate Japanese American books for kids. I agree that it is an important lesson in history — my own mother was forced to relocate but I also hunger for books that explore other facets of being Japanese American.

Top 10: Japanese American Children’s Books (ages 2-16)

Let’s Go Fly a Kite!

Kite flying is an important ritual in Asia and I’ve rounded up every great kite flying book thanks to a little help from my friends and readers.

Best BiLingual Japanese Books for Kids

This was my response to a reader request.

Japan: Books for Kids on Shogun, Family Crests, Block Prints

I explore my own Japanese history in this post.

Japanese American Post Internment Story: Journey Home (ages 8-12)

These older books explore the Japanese American internment experience during WWII, a shameful chapter in America’s history.

 

Chinese American Books For Kids

There is such a diveristy of Chinese American books for kids from philosophy, culture and contemporary times.

Top 10: Chinese American Children’s Books (ages 2-14)

I wanted to show the breadth and depth of Chinese American books for kids. These were our favorites.

 

Top 10: Best Chinese New Year Books for Kids

I never had a great Chinese New Year picture book despite always doing a Chinese New Year presentation for my children’s preschool so I was determined to upgrade!

4th of July Picture Books with an Asian Twist

Fourth of July from a Chinese American immigrant’s perspective via picture books. Yep, this is what I blog about!

Grace Lin’s Latest Chapter Book is Her Best Ever!

I’m a huge fan of Grace Lin. I consider her the Amy Tan of children’s literature.

Grace Lin’s Dumpling Days: Delicious as Always!

I love the Pacy series which is based on Grace Lin’s life. This chapter book about her trip to Taiwan actually covers several of Lin’s own summer vacations.

Grace Lin Book Club for Kids

Grace’s favorite books growing up!

Asian American Chapter Book for Girls

Lisa Yee portrays the dilemnas of modern day Asian American kids caught between assimilation and Tiger parents.

Percy Jackson + Chinese Mythology = The Monkey King’s Daughter

A Chiense mythology action adventure series.

 

Southeast Asian Books for Kids

Southeast Asian culture and books are foreign to me too so I wanted to learn more.

Top 10: Best Southeast Asian American Children’s Books (ages 2-14)

It was sad to find that most of the books on this list were out of print. There are some great ones lately but with such a large population of Southeast Asian Americans, I’m hoping more books in this genre will be published.

4th Grade Skype Author Visit: Sheela Chari of Vanished

Sheela Chari’s debut mystery chapter book is award winning!

Native American Books For Kids

My first list was critized by Debbie Reese, the premient scholar on this topic, for including books that she did not feel accurately depicted the Native Americans. My response was to repost her great lists!

Top 10: Native American Children’s Books (ages 2-16)

This is the list I made.

Top 10: Best Native American Middle School Books

Debbie Reese’s list for middle grade chapter books.

Top 10: Best Native American Picture Book

Debbie Reese’s list for picture books.

Top 10: Best Native American Young Adult Books

Debbie Reese’s list of YA books is very popular.

Notable Native American Children’s Author: Joseph Bruchac

I am a huge fan of Joseph Bruchac, a happy discovery from chatting with my librarian when creating my list.

The Navajo Code Talkers of WWII

The author of this advanced picture book lives one town over!

 

 

To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book. I am an Amazon affiliate which means if you buy anything through my blog, I get a very small kickback at no cost to you. I use this money to pay for postage and handling for my giveaways.

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23 Comments

  1. As always I love your lists. I too was stunned when I saw these statistics come out. Thanks for doing something incredible about it.
    Valarie recently posted…The A-Z Summer Reading Tree: 26 Ways To Encourage Reading This SummerMy Profile

  2. Great list!

    I would love for you to link up at the Mommy Archive – we’re focusing this week on favourite children’s books , Alice x
    Alice ( recently posted…Empty Your Archive – #12My Profile

  3. Wow, Mia you have been busy! I am really shocked that so many of these books are out of print. Hardly any of these books were available to teachers and children in the large multicultural population of the school in which I recently worked.

    • Hi Barbara,
      I actually just did a round up of my multicultural book lists from the past 3 years of blogging. I have quite a few, apparently [blushes]. Yes, so many of the books are out of print but usually a public library can request it from their network. For a school library, that is tougher. Sometimes teachers (and parents) will check out books from the public library for use in the classroom.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Developing Kids Self Esteem: 4 Surefire WaysMy Profile

  4. This is an amazing resource list! You are an inspiration! Sharing!
    Jennifer Fischer recently posted…{Kid’s Co-Op} Let’s Pretend: 5 Play Activities that Encourage Imaginative PlayMy Profile

  5. This is a tremendous resource! Thank you for sharing at the Culture Swapper!
    Leanna recently posted…World Citizen Wednesdays #34: Global Kids Beat the HeatMy Profile

  6. shelly

    Have you read The Wakame Gathers? It is a family favorite of ours. Love your lists! Thanks.

  7. Don’t buy those stats. Why? Because they are looking at books available from MAJOR publishers (owned by whites, risk-averse, only want to do biz with their own kind, etc) whereas the unique, multicultural, bilingual books you keep reading don’t exist DO exist! They are published by smaller publishing houses like mine.

    A School Library Journal article where librarians are interviewed offers other reasons why this so called news is not really. I wanted to share URL here but not allowed to do so. Here’s title so you can find it yourself: “Librarians Sound Off: Not a Lack of Latino Lit for Kids, but a Lack of Awareness.”

    We are the creators of the 1st bilingual children’s book about why mommies and women serve in our military. “Good Night Captain Mama / Buenas Noches Capitán Mamá”, ISBN: 978-0-9834760-3-0, debuted on the 3 Amazon bestseller lists in July.

    Keep publishing these lists please. They are important!

    Graciela Tiscareno-Sato
    U.S. Air Force veteran

  8. Thank you for the reply. My concern is how this “news” is reported and how the impression is created that the books do not exist. If headline was that the number of books published by white male dominant risk-averse publishing houses has not increased, then it would be accurate. :-) See, their idea of a multicultural book is to take a 50 year-old Curious George book and make it available in Spanish. Then, Scholastic distributes it and the good old boys club makes more millions of dollars. Meanwhile, no new actual multicultural literature got added to the mix, because they rarely if ever sign “unknown” ethnic authors, and if they do, NY Times won’t review. Google “An open letter to The New York Times” to read that one in the Huffington Post. :-) It’s complicated, so we must stay noisy.

    Graciela

    • Hi Graciela,

      Is this the link?

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/graciela-tiscarenosato/open-letter-to-the-new-yo_b_1584923.html

      Why are 90% of the books reviewed by the New York Times Book Review from white authors? What’s going on behind the scenes to create such an unrepresentative body of reviews for an increasingly diverse nation of consumers? We know you receive almost 1000 books (and select only a couple dozen) each week, but 90% seems like an outrageously skewed percentage. Surely you’re receiving books written by authors from different ethnic groups with that many books coming in? What selection process do you have in place that ultimately limits your reviews to only 10% by non-white authors? Is this intentional? Is this unintentional? Have you given this any thought? Perhaps it’s time.

      Why so few reviews of books written by Latinos? We know there are many thousands such books written each year, in English (many others are written in Spanish.) Are they submitted to the Book Review per your guidelines? If they are (as mine was), are they simply ignored? Considered too niche-y? Does the obvious ethnic name on the cover turn off the staff? Is it disinterest, bias, review process, makeup of the reviewing team, what?

      Yes, I agree! We must stay noisy and help create this market so that it can not be ignored.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Monsters In the Closet Picture Books: The DarkMy Profile

  9. Linda Mitchell

    all of Meg Medina’s books for Latino Kid/YA Lit. Milagros: Girl from Away, Tia Isa Wants a Car, The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass.

    all of Kekla Magoon’s books but especially: The Rock and the River, Camo Girl and Fire in the Streets

    Rita Garcia-Willams: PS Eleven

  10. Linda Mitchell

    and more books….this list is from mighty girls…..but see how many women athletes are non-wasp.

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