Cherishing Diversity Books for Children

A Place where Sunflowers Grow (2006) by Amy Lee-Tai
Winner of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, this book relates experiences of the author’s Japanese American grandparents during World War II.  The text includes English alongside a Japanese translation, and celebrates the “sense of purpose and peace” that the act of creation can bring. The illustrations offer a wide-angle view of the daily lives of internees.  Ages 4-9.

All Families are Special (2003) by Norma Simon
Everyone in this class wants to share information about his or her own unique family.  One child tells about flying to China to adopt her sister, another tells about his parent’s divorce, one on how he lives with his parents and grandparents and another how she loves to garden with her two mommies.  Ages 4-8.

All the Colors of the Earth (1999) by Sheila Hamanaka
A beautifully illustrated book.  A biracial couple lovingly gaze at their infant “Love is amber and ivory and ginger and sweet”….The author/illustrator, was inspired by the multiethnic heritage of her own children and by the richness of all the colors children bring to the world. Ages 2-8.

All the Colors We Are(1994) {in Spanish and English} by Katie Kissinger
Using outstanding full-color photographs, “All the colors We Are” illustrates the beautiful diversity of human skin color.  This special book offers young children a simple scientifically accurate explanation for how we get our skin color, thus freeing children from the myths and stereotypes associated with skin color.  A great book for anti-bias curriculum. Ages 2-8.

Amazing Grace(1991) by Mary Hoffman
Everyone should have a copy of this book!  It is a must!  An imaginative African American girl decides she can do anything she puts her mind to. This book has never failed to start a wonderful discussion about fairness and bias. Ages 4-8.

Claudette Colvin:  Twice Toward Justice (2009) by Phillip M Hoose
A winner of the Jane Addams Honor Book Award.
This book brings the story of a 15-year old girl who refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger back into the historical records of the Civil Rights Movement. The book is rich with photos and documents, Colvin’s story in her own words and the inspiring concept of the difference that a single young person can make. (Ages 10-up)

Clever Sticks (1991) by Bernard Ashley
Ling Sung doesn’t like school because he doesn’t seem to be good at something like his classmates’ until he discovers that his ability with chop sticks interests and excites his whole class. Ages 4-8.

Brothers (2007) by Yin
A beautifully illustrated book about two young boys who become fast friends during the challenging time of the turn of the century.  One is a Chinese immigrant and the other is an Irish immigrant.  Ages 7-10

The Color of Us (2007) by Karen Katz
Bold illustrations celebrate diversity with a child’s open-hearted sensibility and a mother’s love.  The book’s heartfelt theme:  “Love the skin you’re in.” Ages 2-8.

Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship & Freedom (2006) by Tim Tingle
This is a story of friendship across cultures in 1800s Mississippi. While searching for blackberries, a young Choctaw breaks her village’s rules against crossing the Bok Chitto. She meets and becomes friends with the slaves on the plantation on the other side of the river, and later helps a family escape across it to freedom. A Jane Addams Peace Award Honor Book.  Ages 4-12.

Daddy, Papa, and Me and Mommy, Mama, and Me (2009) by Leslea Newman
These two board books contain delightful illustrations and a rhythmic text.  Each book shows a toddler spending a typical day with loving same-sex parents.  Toddler-Preschool.

Faces (1994) by Shelley Rotner & Ken Kreisler
This is a book filled with wonderful, delightful photos of children.  I believe it was created for infants and toddlers, but all ages enjoy looking at the different feelings, facial features, thinking and sleeping faces, “each special in its own way.”  Ages infant-5.

Families (2009) by Susan Kuklin
This exceptionally affirming book combines engaging color photos with interviews of children from diverse families, including mixed-race, immigrant, gay, lesbian, and divorced, as well as single parents and families for whom religion is a focal point. The interviews give voice to the children’s feelings about being part of their family. Ages 4-8

Follow the Drinking Gourd (2008) by Jeanette Winter
A beautifully illustrated book depicting a group of away slaves following the directions to freedom hidden within the lyrics of the song “Follow the Drinking Gourd.”  The runaway’s are helped throughout their escape by sympathetic people, both white and black.  Ages 4-8.

Friends at School (2006) by Rochelle Bunnett
A photo essay that shows pre-school children of mixed abilities busily working and playing at school, illustrating the true meaning of the word “inclusion.” Ages 4-8.

Hats off to Hair! (1995) By Virginia Kroll
Lovely paintings of real children from many cultures show us the beauty, the wonder and the diversity of our hair. Ages 3-8.

How My Family Lives in America (1998) by Susan Kuklin
A multicultural consciousness-raiser that uses full color photographs of three families, each with at least one parent who did not grow up in the US, describe some of their adapted family customs.  The young narrators invite readers to see them both as individuals and as proud members of ethnic groups, but ultimately not so different from children everywhere. Ages 7-12.

Jingle Dancer (2000) by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Warm, evocative watercolor illustrations match the author’s lyrical style of writing as she tells the story of how a contemporary Muscogee girl turns to her family and community to help her jingle dance have a voice.  Just lovely. Ages 4-10.

In Our Mothers’ House (2009) by Patricia Polacco
This is a brilliantly illustrated and heartwarming story that celebrates a wonderful, yet untraditional family.  Two moms and three adopted children live by their own rules and are held together by a joyous love…despite a disapproving neighbor. Ages 4-8.

My Buddy (1992) by Audrey Osofsky
Buddy is a dog that helps a young boy attain independence and enhances his relationships with his peers.  The boy states, “Buddy is more than my friend.  He’s my arms and legs.” This first-person narrative is beautifully accompanied by graceful watercolor illustrations. Ages 4-10.

My Princess Boy (2010) by Cheryl Kilodavis
Dyson loves the color pink and sparkly things and he sometimes wears dresses, and sometimes wears jeans. Written by a mother about her true-to-self child, this book is about unconditional love, ending bullying and judgments, and making the world a brighter place by accepting people for who they are.  Ages 4-8

On Mother’s Lap (1992) by Ann Herbert Scott.
The universality of all-encompassing maternal love transcends ethnicity in this lovely book about an Inuit mother and her two children. Ages 2-5.

One Green Apple (2006) by Eve Bunting
A young Muslim girl, new to this country and to her school is faced with several challenges.  She doesn’t understand the English language, she finds that that some of the children are friendly, but some are not and she notices that is the only girl wearing a head scarf.  However, on a field trip to an apple orchard she is heartened by the sunshine, the familiarity of pet dogs, learning an English word “app-el” and that her classmates welcome her help turning the cider press.

Something Beautiful (2002) by Sharon Dennis Wyeth
A 7-9 year old girl longs to see beyond the scary sights on the sidewalk and halls of her building.  When her teachers write the word “beautiful” on the blackboard, the girl begins an odyssey to find beauty.  Her neighbors share their own beautiful things – a beautiful fruit store – a beautiful smooth stone – a beautiful fried fish sandwich.  She experiences the beauty of friendship and the power of hope. Ages 4-8.

The Storyteller’s Candle/La velita de lost cuentos  (2008)   by Lucia Gopnzalez & Lulu Delacre
This is a tribute to a remarkable woman, Pura Belpre, a librarian and storyteller who helped make immigrants from Puerto Rico and elsewhere feel welcome in New York.  Winner of the 2009 Jane Addams Children’s Literature award.  Ages 4-8

Too Many Tamales (1993) by Gary Soto
A warm family story about the children’s well-intended solution to finding a lost ring.  A beautifully illustrated story about love, honesty, trust and forgiveness. Ages 4-10.

Two Eyes, A Nose, and a Mouth (2000) by Roberta Grobel Intratater
Another book for very young childre.  Lovely photographs of all kinds of faces (“noses can be short and wide, or turn out long and bumpy, some are small and curve up and some are kind of lumpy.”)  A wonderful point is made by having a two-page spread of multiple images of the same face “Imagine how dull the world would be if everyone looked like you or me.” Ages Infant – 5.

The Upside Down Boy/El nino de cabeza (2006) by Juan Felipe Herrara
Juanito is bewildered by his new school.  Everything feels upside down. But a sensitive teacher and loving family help him find his voice through poetry, art and music.  A heart-warming story. Ages 4-8.

We are all Alike…We are all Different (2002) by The Cheltenham Elementary School Kindergarteners
This is a delightful book which was written and illustrated by kindergarten children!  I’m charmed every time I look through it.  Ages 3 – 8.

When the Shadbush Blooms (2007) by Carla Messinger
Warm and beautiful paintings illustrate a magical story of two Lenape girls from different times experiencing the joy of their families, the seasons and the moons.  Ages 4-8.

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