There are many beautiful books around to help children learn about their and other people’s backgrounds and cultures in a positive way. I have included many books that I have discovered while teaching and with my children. Some of these I have used while teaching and other’s my children enjoy at home. I hope you find some wonderful books to enjoy!
“Look up!” is a fun book about a young girls excitement and passion for astronomy and stargazing. The little girl, Rocket, is an admirer of Mae Jeminson (astronaut) and spends much of her time telling other’s to “look up!’ There is some lovely information about astronomy for young children. This book is recommended for children aged Kindergarten – grade 2.
Julian is a Mermaid
“Julian is a Mermaid” is a beautiful and simple story about love and acceptance. It challenges gender stereotypes without being preachy. This book is one of my children’s favourite books and is also a firm favourite at school. It is recommended for preschool – grade 2, but it’s a book that our whole family enjoys reading.
My Two Grandads
This book is lovely for children who have parents from two different cultures. The main character, Ashton has grandfathers from two different cultures. Each grandfather plays a different musical instrument in two different types of bands. “This delightful story of a mixed-race family reconciling their very different cultures is a wonderful celebration of diverse cultures.” It is a wonderful way for children to see how we can come together and share and appreciate our differences.
“Be Kind” is a lovely, gentle book about how to be kind to friends and others around us. It is written in the perspective of a child wondering how to be kind to her friend having a bad day. It provides examples of how to be kind to others such as helping, giving and paying attention. Strictly speaking, it isn’t a story about diversity, but it can be helpful for children to think of ways to be kind to everyone.
This book is recommended for children in preschool – grade 2.
Ada Twist, Scientist
“Ada Twist, Scientist” is the perfect book for any budding scientist! Ada is a second-grader who loves to question, discover and experiment (but who causes some chaos and havoc in the process). This book is an excellent opportunity to start discussions about scientists, gender roles, girls in science or forming questions and hypothesis. It’s a great way to encourage girls to be interested in STEM subjects.
Last Stop on Market Street
“Last Stop on Market Street” is a multi-award winning book that has beautiful pictures and a marvellous story.
It is about a boy and his grandmother on a bus trip to a soup kitchen, encountering many different and interesting people on their way. It addresses issues of class and inequality while also providing positive messages for children. There are so many things to love about this book!
The Snowy Day
“The Snowy Day” is a classic and award-winning book that was ground-breaking when it was published in 1962. It was one of the first books in America that was multi-cultural and portrayed a realistic urban setting. It is a simple story of a boy enjoying a day exploring after the city is covered in snow. I remember enjoying this book when I was a child, and I have, therefore enjoyed sharing it with my students and children even more.
The Proudest Blue
“The Proudest Blue” is a story about a young girl see her sister wear a hijab to school. This book is about family, school, bullying and life. It helps show children to be proud of themselves and to be kind to all.
All are Welcome
“All are Welcome” is a simple, beautiful story for young children to let them know that they, and everyone else is welcome. It has a positive message for young children, who see that children (who look very different) are welcome to be in school.
“Hair Love” is a lovely story about the loving relationship between a father and his daughter. One day Zuri wants a special hairstyle so her father tries valiantly and desperately until he can get it just right. This book highlights the importance of appreciating how our differences make us special.
“Handa’s Surprise” is a wonderfully fun book about a little girl bringing 7 delicious fruits as presents to one of her friends. She encounters different animals on her walk to her friend’s village… This book also has excellent opportunities for counting (and counting back).
“Amazing Grace” is a classic storybook which explores racism and sexism on children’s level. Grace wants to be Peter Pan in a school play, but a little boys says she can’t be because she’s black and a girl. This book discusses challenges children may face as they grow up and gives ideas for how children can address situations when people judge them based on their colour or sex.
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
“Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes” is a lovely book for babies. It shows babies and children from all around the world. It also looks at the many things they all have in common.
Dream Big, Little One
“Dream Big, Little One” is a simple board book about women from history. It is a simplified version from the Little Leaders Series which are about people who have made history (particularly women and minorities who aren’t usually represented in history books).
“So Much” is about the love and warmth of a family. It is a simple story written about extended family dropping in to see the baby and the lowing interactions between them.
“Ravi’s Roar” is one of the Big Bright Feelings books which explore emotional intelligence topics for young children. This book explores feelings of anger and frustration and ways to deal with them positively. These books are great for opening discussions about managing emotions, well-being and building self-confidence.
The Mega Magic Hair Swap!
“The Mega Magic Hair Swap!” is a story of two friends with two different types (on curly and one straight). They both want to swap, and with a magic wish, they do! It is a story about appreciating what you have, celebrating differences and self-love.
Masha and the Firebird
“Masha and the Firebird” is based on Slavic folklore and traditional tales. The protagonist, Masha, helps the Firebird protect her eggs from Baba Yaga. It’s a lovely introduction to mythology from different parts of the world.
The Name Jar
“The Name Jar” is a story of a girl starting school in the United States after just having moved from Korea. It is a lovely story about valuing the things that make you unique as well as your roots. This is a great story for children going back to school, especially if they have moved somewhere new.
Round is a Mooncake
“Round is a Mooncake” is a fun rhyming book where a little girl explores shapes around her. Some of the objects are Asian in origin, while others are universal. It is a lovely way to see how, while some things differ from country to country, many items are the same.
Hush! A Thai Lullaby
“Hush! A Thai Lullaby” is a poetic book about a mother asking animals to be quiet while she puts her baby to bed. It is a way to introduce young children to animals from different parts of the world.
Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth
“Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth” is a picture book re-telling how Ganesha helped his friend Vyasa to write the Hindu poem, the Mahabharata. It has a lovely lesson about how things that may seem broken can be useful. It’s a fun and imaginative rendition of a classic tale.
Wisp: A Story of Hope
“Wisp: A Story of Hope” is about a boy growing up in a refugee camp. The boy helps other sad and lonely people see happy times and memories from their past before they lived in the camp. It is a lovely book for older children and can help them see how other people may be living in different parts of the world and in challenging circumstances.
Want to Play Trucks?
“Want to Play Trucks?” is a story about two little friends Alex and Jack. Jack likes trucks, and Alex likes dolls… will they be able to find a compromise on what to play?
Don’t Spill the Milk
“Don’t Spill the Milk” is the tale of a young girl trying to bring her father milk through many different obstacles. There is a lovely message about appreciation her father has for all the love and effort she puts forth.
Baby Goes to Market
“Baby Goes to Market” is about a mischievous baby picking up items while his mother is shopping in a market somewhere in West Africa. Children enjoy the rhythmic text and humour.
Billy and the Beast
“Billy and the Beast” is the story of a young heroine who helps save herself and the forest creatures from becoming soup. She uses clever tricks to defeat the beast.
Ellie’s Magic Wellies
“Ellie’s Magic Wellies” is a fun rhyming book about a little girl who goes out to play in the puddles. She has a magical new pair of wellies and a new friend who joins her when she begins to jump in the puddles.
Lila and the Secret of Rain
“Lila and the Secret of Rain” is about a little girl in Kenya who tries to do everything she can to save her village from drought.
The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses
“The Girl who Loved Wild Horses” is a beautiful story about a girl from a nomadic Native American tribe who loves horses. This book won the Caldecott medal. I enjoyed having this book read to me as a child and, as an adult, I have had the pleasure of reading it to my classes.
Round is a Tortilla
“Round is a Tortilla” is a fun picture book that explores shapes that children encounter around them. This book includes some universal objects but also looks at some objects and cultural items that are Latino in origin. It is a lovely way to help children notice shapes in the world around them.
Dim Sum for Everyone
“Dim Sum for Everyone” is a simple story about a family eating dim sum together in a restaurant. The book emphasises the cultural custom of sharing food so that everyone gets a little bit of everything.
I hope you find some wonderful books to enjoy! If you have any books to suggest contact me below: