There’s been a great uptick in multicultural children’s books in the last few years but they are still, unfortunately, far fewer in numbers than they should be. It’s so important for kids to identify with the characters in the books they read yet it’s easy forget that not all kids get that chance. And those kids who do identify with the characters featured in the majority of books need a chance to see variety of culture, color, and tradition represented to help them form foundations of acceptance and empathy for those they’ll meet who may be different than they are.
So, I’m sharing a few books in honor of multicultural children’s book day today. Take a look at the stacks of books you get from the library, the ones that line your home shelves. Are they filled with diverse characters or could they be described as a little closer to vanilla? Here are a few options at varying age ranges to get you started if you need to broaden your horizons.
Written and Illustrated by: Vashti Harrison
Number of Pages: 96
Age Range: 4-12
First, a fabulous volume featuring mini-biographies of “bold women in Black history.” Ranging from the likes of Phyllis Wheatley and Sojourner Truth to Oprah Winfrey and Dominique Dawes each featured female has a one page bio giving you a snippet of information to whet your appetite. Then there’s the back matter with suggested reading, recordings, websites and more.
Written and Illustrated by: Nidhi Chanani
Number of Pages: 176
Age Range: 10-14
Next up is a vivid young adult graphic novel about Pri who finds a magical pashmina that transports her to a place where she learns about her Indian culture and finding peace as an Indian-American. The colors are gorgeous and anyone who’s ever struggled to fit in will connect instantly with Pri.
Written by: Tanya Lloyd Kyi
Illustrated by: Celia Krampien
Number of Pages: 64
Age Range: 8-12
Next is a fictionalized story of a female ninja in 1500s Japan. Based on actual events there are plenty of resources (maps, glossary, further reading, known facts vs. the fictionalized parts) to supplement the fascinating story of a fearless woman.
Written and Illustrated by: Paul Owen Lewis
Number of Pages: 32
Age Range: 5-9
Last up is an older release about a boy from an indigenous tribe from the Pacific Northwest. After being caught in a storm he washes ashore in a village inhabited by supernatural beings. Again, excellent back matter gives background on the tribal motifs, culture, and traditions.
Do you have any favorite multicultural stories or characters you think I’d like? I’m always looking for suggestions to add to my “To Read” list. Leave them in the comments below!