Best Multicultural Books Every Child Should Read
Every summer I stress out about what picture and chapter books to get for my kids that they will like but are also exposing them — as only books can do — to the wide world all around them both past, present and future.
This summer, we are going to take a trip around the world by reading these multicultural books. What is great about this list is that it covers all the ages of my kids: from preschool through elementary school.
I will be sneaky and check out these books for them and leave them strewn about the house for them to examine when they are bored. I will keep you posted on what books my kids actually liked because that is a whole ‘nother list! See you at the library!
What are your favorite multicultural books for kids? Please share!
Best Multicultural Books for Preschool
Ada, Alma Flor and F. Isabel Campoy, selectors. English adapations by Alice Schertle.
¡Pio Peep! Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes. Illustrated by Viví Escrivá. HarperCollins, 2003. 64 pages. Ages birth – 6 years
Heo, Yumi. One Afternoon. Orchard, 1994. 32 pages. Ages 2 – 4
Morales, Yuyi. Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book. Chronicle, 2003. 28 pages. Ages 4 – 7
Steptoe, John. Baby Says. Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1988. Ages 1 – 3
Tarpley, Natasha Anastasia. I Love My Hair! Illustrated by E. B. Lewis. Little, Brown, 1998. 24 pages. Ages 4 – 8
Te, Ata. Baby Rattlesnake. Illustrated by Mira Reisberg. Children’s Book Press, 1989.
Wheeler, Bernelda. Where Did You Get Your Moccasins? Illustrated by Herman Bekkering. Peguis, 1986.
Williams, Vera B. More, More, More, Said the Baby: Three Love Stories. Greenwillow, 1990. 32 pages.
Best Multicultural Books for Ages 5-7
Cisneros, Sandra. Hairs/Pelitos. Illustrated by Terry Ybånez. Knopf, 1994. 32 pages. Ages 3 – 7
Harjo, Joy. The Good Luck Cat. Illustrated by Paul Lee. Harcourt, 2000. 32 pages. Ages 4 – 7
Look, Lenore. Uncle Peter’s Amazing Chinese Wedding. Illustrated by Yumi Heo. Anne Schwartz / Atheneum, 2006. 32 pages. Ages 3-7
Messinger, Carla and Susan Katz. When the Shadbush Blooms. Illustrated by David Kanietakeron Fadden. Tricycle Press, 2007. 32 pages. Ages 4-8
Pinkney, Sandra L. Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children. Illustrated by Myles Pinkney. Scholastic, 2000. 28 pages. Ages 3 – 11
Tafolla, Carmen. What Can You Do With a Paleta? Illustrated by Magaly Morales. Tricycle Press, 2009. 32 pages. Ages 3 – 6
Vyner, Tim. World Team. U.S. edition: Roaring Brook Press, 2002. 32 pages. Ages 4 – 9
Waboose, Jan Bourdeau. Morning on the Lake. Illustrated by Karen Reczuch. Kids Can Press, 1998. 32 pages. Ages 5 – 8
Zepeda, Gwendolyn. Growing Up with Tamales = Los tamales de Ana. Translated by Gabriela Baeza Ventura (from the English). Illustrated by April Ward. Piñata Books / Arte Público Press, 2008. 32 pages. Ages 6-9
Best Multicultural Books for Ages 7-9
Alarcon, Francisco X.From the Bellybutton of the Moon, and Other Summer Poems / Del ombligo de la luna, y otros poemas de verano. Illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez . Children’s Book Press, 1998. 32 pages. Ages 7 – 10
Campbell, Nicola I. Shin-chi’s Canoe. Illustrated by Kim LaFave. Groundwood Books / House Anansi Press, 2008. 40 pages. Ages 7-10
Hamilton, Virginia. The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales. Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. Knopf, 1985.
Look, Lenore. Ruby Lu, Brave and True. Illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf. An Anne Schwartz Book / Atheneum, 2004. 105 pages. Ages 5 – 9
Ortiz, Simon. The People Shall Continue. Illustrated by Sharol Graves. Children’s Book Press, 1988.
Perkins, Mitali. Rickshaw Girl. Illustrated by Jamie Hogan. Charlesbridge, 2007. 91 pages. Ages 8-10
Ringgold, Faith. Tar Beach. Crown, 1991. Ages 5 – 11
Smith, Cynthia Leitich. Indian Shoes. Illustrated by Jim Madsen. HarperCollins, 2002. 66 pages. Ages 6 – 9
Walter, Mildred Pitts. Justin and the Best Biscuits in the World. Lothrop, 1988. Ages 7-9
Woodson, Jacqueline. Show Way. Illustrated by Hudson Talbott. Putnam, 2005. 40 pages. Ages 5-9
Best Multicultural Books for Ages 9-12
Bridges, Ruby. Through My Eyes. Scholastic, 1999. 63 pages. Ages 9 and older
Bryan, Ashley. Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life’s Song. Photographed by Bill McGuinness. Antheneum, 2009. 58 pages. Ages 9 and older
Curtis, Christopher Paul. Bud, Not Buddy. Delacorte, 1999. 245 pages. Ages 8 – 13
Erdrich, Louise. The Birchbark House. Hyperion, 1999. 235 pages. Ages 8 – 12
Grace, Catherine O’Neill and Margaret M. Bruchac, with Plimoth Plantation. 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving. Photographed by Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson. National Geographic Society, 2001. 48 pages. Ages 7 – 14
King, Casey and Linda Barrett Osborne. Oh, Freedom! Kids Talk About the Civil Rights Movement with the People Who Made It Happen. Knopf, 1997. 137 pages. Ages 8 – 14
Lin, Grace. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Little, Brown, 2009. 278 pages. Ages 8 – 11
Nye, Naomi Shihab, editor. The Tree Is Older Than You Are: A Bilingual Gathering of Poems & Stories from Mexico with Paintings from Mexican Artists. Simon & Schuster, 1995. 110 pages. Age 8 and older
Park, Linda Sue. A Single Shard. Clarion, 2001. 152 pages. Ages 9 – 12
Ryan, Pam Munoz. Esperanza Rising. Scholastic, 2000. 262 pages. Ages 10 – 14
Shange, Ntozake. ellington was not a street. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Simon & Schuster, 2004. 32 pages. Ages 6-18
Sheth, Kashmira. Boys without Names. Balzer & Bray, 2010. 320 pages. Ages 9-13
Skarmeta, Antonio. The Composition. Illustrated by Alfonso Ruano. U.S. edition: A Groundwood Book/Douglas & McIntyre, 2000. 36 pages. Ages 9 – 16
Taylor, Mildred D. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Dial, 1976.
p.s. If you want to find more great multicultural books and authors, I have a whole category of posts on People of Color KidLit.
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.