Blog – Posted on Tuesday, Sep 15
60 Children's Books About Diversity To Read With Little Ones
Our world is not a simple place to live in. It is wide and full of color; its inhabitants enjoy a multitude of experiences and struggle with a variety of obstacles. Learning about these differences and appreciating them takes a whole lifetime, so what better way to prepare the generation of the future by reading children’s books about diversity with them?
We’ve put together here a list of 60 books to introduce to young minds a range of subjects: from cultural differences to gender fluidity, from social expectations to identity construction. Created by a diverse cast of writers and artists, these stories offer different lenses through which children can see the world. You can choose to ease little ones in with light-hearted and eye-catching picture books, or you can encourage self-reflection by going through more introspective stories.
We’ve divided the books into the sections below to help you find you the most suitable children’s book.
- General children’s books about diversity
- Books about cultural diversity
- Children’s books featuring disabilities
- LGBT+ books for children
General children’s books about diversity
1. Families, Families, Families! by Suzanne Lang and Max Lang
All types of families are valid, which is the message that this inspiring, joyous book imparts to children of all ages. Gentle rhymes accompany cleverly framed portraits of traditional and non-traditional families in these bright pages. All they want to tell you is this: whether you’re living with two dads, two moms, a mom and dad, your grandparents, a stepmom, or a stepdad, you’re in exactly the right place — you’re with your family.
2. Lovely by Jess Hong
You won’t find any preaching about the importance of differences here! Instead, Jess Hong’s Lovely straight-up offers a delightful look at every kind of person under the sun. Her portraits of people cover the gamut of race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender expression, body shape — all of which ask the question, “What is lovely?” And it all culminates in one simple, powerful message: there is beauty in everyone, and we are all lovely.
3. I Am Enough by Grace Byers and Keturah A. Bobo
From Empire actor and activist Grace Byers comes a wonderful and empowering collection of positive affirmations for your child to read and cherish. Put simply, this is a celebration of you. In unassuming but freeing terms, Byers will show you the merits of a positive sense of self while teaching you how to appreciate and embrace differences.
4. Just Ask! by Sonia Sotomayor and Rafael López
If your child is looking for a role model, you can’t do better than Sonia Sotomayor — the first Hispanic and Latina justice to sit on the Supreme Court, bestselling author, and all around great human being. And while the briefs that she writes for the Supreme Court might be a little too hard for kids to understand, Just Ask! might just be perfect for them. In this hopeful, affirmative picture book, kids of all sorts of backgrounds and personalities work together to build a community garden. In encouraging children to ask others about their varying experiences, Sotomayor's wisdom and kindness shines through on the page.
5. A Boy Like You by Frank Murphy and Kayla Harren
Brute strength. Unfeelingness. Misogyny. Those are the norms that underpin toxic masculinity in today’s culture — and A Boy Like You is the joyous, gentle book that’s here to teach boys everywhere that that’s actually not what you need to have in order to be a boy. Instead, Murphy and Harren (quite literally) paint a picture of positive masculinity that bucks stereotypical gender norms, providing a much-needed reminder that character, vulnerability, kindness, and sportsmanship are much more important than physical strength and privilege.
6. Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers and Marla Frazee
Diversity isn’t just a hot topic to learn about when you start entering school — it’s everywhere already even when you’re just a baby! Everywhere Babies is the perfect representation of that: full of charming rhymes and delightful watercolor illustrations, it never tries to preach or be assertive when it depicts diversity. Instead, its gentle, warm, and humorous approach to multiculturalism lets even the littlest kid get a grasp on the matter.
7. All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman
A book that belongs in every classroom and library, All Are Welcome invites children to step into a school where everyone is received with open arms. Even though it’s the nerve-wracking first day of school — and even though everyone is different, from the kid in the wheelchair to the kid with the hijab — all come together to learn from and laugh with each other. Accompanied by bright, accessible illustrations, this is a picture book that children will cherish throughout the school semester.
8. An ABC of Equality by Chana Ginelle Ewing and Paulina Morgan
In An ABC of Equality, Chana Ginelle Ewing and Paulina Morgan re-imagine everyone’s favorite ABCs in terms of diversity. Which means that A is for ability, B is for belief, C is for class, and P is for pick this one up if you’d like a cheerful, colorful book to help you explain social justice to your children. With its vibrant illustrations and simple explanations, this book is particularly great for younger children for whom it’s never too early to start learning about equality.
9. Maddi's Fridge by Lois Brandt and Vin Vogel
Sofia and Maddi are the best of friends. Everything they do, they do together: they play together, go to school together, and enjoy life together. But then Sofia finds out one day that Maddi’s fridge is almost completely bare… and that Maddi goes hungry more often than not. How can Sofia help Maddi — despite having promised her ashamed best friend that she’ll keep this discovery a secret? Brandt handles hard topics like poverty, hunger, and diversity with a sensitive, empathetic touch, and the result is a compassionate picture book that instills a true lesson about friendship and trust.
10. Geraldine by Elizabeth Lilly
No, no, NO! Geraldine is NOT moving, especially NOT to a new place where she’s always the odd one out. Not to mention that she’s a giraffe with an incredibly dramatic neck, which complicates matters (and doorways)! But in this whimsical, heartwarming book about getting along with people different from you, with the help of another girl as unusual as her, Geraldine discovers just how to fit in without losing herself.
11. Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
If you can’t get enough of Geraldine, check out Gerald the giraffe, who just wants to dance. As you might expect, this is quite a feat for a giraffe: his twisty neck, knobby knees, and spindly legs don’t make him the most natural fit for the stage! But there’s hope for Gerald yet, especially when he meets a little cricket who teaches him about the value of self-esteem and how to step to the rhythm of his own tune.
12. The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López
Award-winning Jacqueline Woodson is back with another awesome hit for children. For any child who’s ever felt scared and different from others, this sweet book will help them find the courage to reach out and connect. Whether they’re feeling excluded because of their race, hair style, family, or learning ability, The Day You Begin, with its gentle verse and gorgeous artwork, is here to give them the support and reassurance that there will always be someone out there who welcomes them.
13. We're Different, We're the Same by Bobbi Kates and Joe Mathieu
When there’s a complex question, trust Elmo and the Sesame Street gang to figure out the answer! In We’re Different, We’re the Same, the beloved show is packed into a beloved book that teaches children and adults alike that it’s what’s on the inside that truly matters. Colorful and engagingly illustrated, it will let you in on a secret about what makes our world so wonderful. (Spoiler alert: it’s us!)
14. One Big Heart by Linsey Davis and Lucy Fleming
If you’re looking for a book that approaches the topic of diversity from a Christian point of view, One Big Heart might be the one that you want to read out loud to your kids at night. In this multicultural picture book, similarities are celebrated as much as differences. From our laughter to our dreams, we’re more alike than we are different, and there’s always common ground to be found when you meet someone else.
15. Same, Same But Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
8,000 miles might separate Elliot and Kailash, but that distance won’t stop these pen pals from writing letters and exchanging pictures with one another! The more notes that they exchange, the more they realize exactly how different their cities, their lives, their families, and their backgrounds are. But they’re also much more similar than they realize, which is where the true magic of friendship lies.
Books about cultural diversity
16. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison
88 pages. 40 inspiring black women. This book will introduce children of all types to forty brave and beautiful ladies, from shining icons like abolitionist Sojourner Truth and poet Maya Angelou to more obscure (but no less important) leaders like Rebecca Lee Crumpler and Mary Bowser. Wonderfully illustrated and entertainingly written, Harrison nevertheless doesn’t shy away from hard topics like racism and sexism that these women faced in their lives. Put simply, this is a must-read for any child who wants to learn about the trailblazing, powerful, kind, and courageous black women who changed the world — and continue to inspire children’s lives.
17. Separate Is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh
Everyone knows about the towering significance of Brown vs. Board of Education, and the dynamic change that it wrought in the country. But do you know the story of Sylvia Mendez, who helped end school segregation in California about 10 years earlier? In Separate Is Never Equal, Tonatiuh has created a culturally rich and historically important children’s book about one family’s fight to desegregate schools in the United States. A true story that draws from court transcripts, newspaper articles, and reports, this nonfiction book is a must-read that fills in the gaps that school curriculums might skip over.
18. Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry and Vashti Harrison
Zuri is a lovable little girl who has an extremely relatable problem: her beautiful hair has a mind of its own. Whether it’s sticking up, kinking, or curling, it just doesn’t listen to her! It only listens to her mom, who does her hair everyday. But what will happen when her mom is away? Enter Zuri’s dad, who LOVES Zuri despite not knowing much about hair. This is the empowering book that you and your child will love reading together — a fun, touching ode to African-American heritage, and fathers and daughters everywhere in the world.
19. Parker Looks Up by Parker Curry, Jessica Curry, and Brittany Jackson
In 2018, a museum-goer snapped a photo in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC that quickly went viral and melted hearts: a 3-year-old black girl staring up in awe at Amy Sherald’s regal portrait of Michelle Obama hanging on the wall. Parker Looks Up is her story, which we get to relive with her. Told from her own perspective, it’s a moving tribute to the world of possibilities that appropriate representation can offer to children everywhere.
20. Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale by John Steptoe
A magnificent and timeless children’s book, John Steptoe’s Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters is a African retelling of Cinderella that will enchant your child even more than the original did. At its center are two daughters: Nyasha and Manyara. While Manyara is selfish and vain, Nyasha is kind and beautiful both on the inside and out. So what will happen when the Great King decides to take a worthy wife? Though you can probably guess the ending, it’s the journey there that counts — and Steptoe makes sure that it’s a stunning, original ride packed with folklore from Zimbabwe.
21. Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
Meet Grace, a girl who just loves stories. She’s “lived” as Joan of Arc, Anasi the spider-man, and every other character under the sun. When her school announces that it’s putting on Peter Pan, she wishes that she could try out for the role of Peter, even though her classmates insist on reminding her that Peter’s a boy and she, well, is not. But Grace’s positive attitude and brilliant imagination carry the day, as Hoffman delivers a transcendent book with an empathetic message about identity, gender, race, and the power of dreams.
22. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson
The 2016 winner of the prestigious Newbery Medal, Last Stop on Market Street is a magical, heartening picture book about a young African-American boy and his grandma who go on a bus ride across the city. CJ is full of questions, to which his grandma patiently answers along the way, helping him learn about the simple beauty in the world — and the people — that surround all of us, all the time.
23. Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine and Kadir Nelson
Henry Brown dreams of one thing growing up: freedom. As a slave in the deep South, he has no freedom, no birthday, and no rights. When one day his family is torn apart from him, his desire to escape slavery crystallizes into one desperate, dangerous plan: he will mail himself in a wooden crate to a place where slavery does not exist, and where the prospect of freedom will wait for him. A groundbreaking, moving book by an award-winning author and illustrator duo, Henry’s Freedom Box is a hard story, but a necessary one that everyone — children and adults — ought to read to remind ourselves that the concept of liberty, justice, and equality for all is something that we still fight for today.
24. Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o and Vashti Harrison
Sulwe’s skin is the color of midnight, and it’s made her yearn for a lighter, fairer tone ever since she was born. She struggles to come to terms with the darkness of her skin… until a beautiful legend about day and night helps her see her own beauty in the world. Vashti Harrison’s lush, dream-like illustrations combined with Academy Award winning actress Lupita Nyong’o’s wise prose culminate in a culturally important picture book that’s destined to become a beloved classic for future generations.
25. Mommy's Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and Ebony Glenn
Mommy’s khimars are colorful, lovely, and right there in the closet for our little protagonist to try on for dress up. And that’s exactly what she does! In this exquisite book that holds up a mirror for young Muslim girls everywhere, we learn how much a khimar means to her as she tries them on, one by one. One of them might make her imagine herself as a queen, and another might make her think of herself as a superhero — but all of them make her feel beautiful, and powerful.
26. Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina and Angela Dominguez
An award-winning duo paired up to bring us Mango, Abuela, and Me — a wonderfully tender story about a bright young girl and her Abuela who’s come to stay with her and her parents in the city. But there’s just one problem: Mia doesn’t really know Spanish, and Abuela doesn’t really know English. So what can they do? Start by bonding over learning each other’s mother tongues’ while cooking, of course. Add a chatty parrot to this team of pupils, and you get an exceptional picture book with a warm message: love truly knows no language barrier.
28. My Hair is a Garden by Cozbi A. Cabrera
Mackenzie is a beautiful young girl who has hair that is as wild, unruly, and untamable as a forest. She’s bullied relentlessly for it by the kids at school — until one day that she reaches a breaking point and runs to her next door neighbor’s house, where there’s a stunning garden Mackenzie thinks of as a sanctuary. How can Miss Tillie change her mind about how much trouble her hair is? Gorgeously rendered, My Hair Is A Garden will provide affirmation and support for black children who struggle with their hair and show them that there’s a garden to admire in every forest.
28. Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard and Juana Martinez-Neal
Fry bread isn’t just bread: it’s a gateway into Native American culture. In Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story, we learn about this dish’s place in food, art, and heritage for Native American people through simple but charming text. Don’t forget to read the back matter, which will take you even deeper into Native American life to show you what fry bread represents to Native Americans, and how it brings people together. The clincher? There’s a recipe at the end to make your own fry bread!
29. A Different Pond by Bao Phi and Thi Bui
The 2018 winner of the Caldecott Honor Book Award, A Different Pond depicts a simple fishing trip taken by father and son at dawn in Minnesota. In between reels, the father tells his son about life back in Vietnam, and a different pond in his homeland that he used to fish at. Soon, the father will need to go to his second job and work again, but for now, both have this: the pond, the fish that they need to catch in order to put food on the table for the night, and each other. This is an eye-opening and elegantly illustrated autobiographical account of the immigrant experience — a must-read, especially in this day and age.
30. We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell and Frane Lessac
Otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah): a word that members of the Cherokee Nation use to say thank you, or express gratitude. It’s also the word that We Are Grateful revolves around, as Traci Sorell zeroes in on it to create a truly remarkable picture book that illustrates all the different ways that the Cherokee people cultivate gratitude throughout the seasons. Complete with a helpful pronunciation guide, this book isn’t just insightful, it’s also engaging and fun to read. This will end up being a book that your child will be grateful to have on their shelves.
31. Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley and Peter J. Thornton
There’s no better way to introduce children to diverse cultures than through food. Everybody Cooks Rice makes this case by taking children on a journey through a diverse neighborhood with little Carrie. While calling her brother home for dinner, she happens to come across other families preparing their own meals — and, as with their differing nationalities, no dish is the same. And if the colorful illustrations can’t quell readers' hunger, then the recipes that come with each dish surely will!
32. Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham
As part of the Ordinary Terrible Things series, Not My Idea isn’t afraid to tackle heavy issues like systemic racial discrimination. The picture book features a young child who’s curious about the news and protests regarding racism around her, but can’t find satisfactory answers from adults who choose to overlook the matter. Through the scrapbook art style and the clear, simple language, Anastasia Higginbotham reminds adults and children alike that discrimination is more than just racist acts: it’s a system that affects us all, regardless of your skin color.
33. The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
As every immigrant would know, it can be hard for people to get your name right. Moving from a place like Korea to America, it’s sometimes tempting to switch to a name that’s common and easier to pronounce, like Suzy, Amanda, or Laura. That’s exactly what little Unhei does in The Name Jar. Instead of introducing herself to her new classmates, she picks names out of a jar everyone put together to find herself a new one. But in a heartwarming turn of events, Unhei realizes that there’s no need to change herself or hide her heritage in order to fit in — and understanding that is a good first step toward embracing diversity.
34. Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
Yuyi Morales's richly illustrated picture book is a memoir recounting her journey from Mexico to America with her son. While everything around them is unfamiliar, resilience and their strong familial bond help them endure the transition and chase their dreams. Sweet and lyrical, the story combines the experiences of an immigrant with the universal theme of family love to create a fantastic, soulful read for both children and adults.
35. Mama's Nightingale by Edwidge Danticat and Leslie Staub
Stories about immigration are inspiring, and sometimes in very different ways. If Dreamers is full of hope, then Mama’s Nightingale introduces young readers to the darker side of immigration — when a parent is separated from a child. That’s what happens to Saya and her mother, who’s been taken to a detention center. Kept together only through voice recordings of Haitian folk stories that the mother sends her daughter from confinement, neither lose hope: in fact, their connection inspires Saya to write a story that will bring her mother home to her for good.
36. Paper Son by Julie Leung and Chris Sasaki
If you’re searching for another real-life story to touch your young audience, you don’t want to miss out on Paper Son. It’s a biographical picture book about Tyrus Wong, the lead illustrator of Disney movie Bambi. Crossing the Pacific Ocean with only a suitcase, Tyrus has to work hard to sustain himself and pursue his passion. His story, told through the intricate illustrations of Chris Sasaki, is as admirable as it is relatable, because the art of dream-chasing is exclusive to no one.
37. The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad, S. K. Ali, Hatem Aly
From Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad and award-winning novelist S. K. Ali comes the story of Faizah, a young girl who joins her sister on the first day of school. But her hopes for a wonderful day, especially with her sister wearing her beautiful blue hijab for the first time, falters a little when they are met with unkind comments. Rather than being daunted, the pair of siblings teach children to embrace cultural differences by holding their heads high against the negativity.
38. The Colors of Us by Karen Katz
Skin color is often bluntly put into neat categories like “white,” “black,” or “brown.” To an artist who looks at skin and sees a spectrum of shades and hues, that can be incredibly limiting. Lena, a little artist who’s contemplating a self-portrait, has this epiphany as she walks through the neighborhood with her mother. With that, she also learns that colors and differences should not stand in the way of people getting to know and appreciate one another.
39. Let the Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson and Frank Morrison
Teaching children history is not the easiest task, but Monica Clark-Robinson and Frank Morrison make it effortless in their captivating work on Let the Children March, which tells the story of the thousands of African American children in Birmingham who organized to march in 1963 after hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s empowering speech. With this picture book edition of a history lesson on the civil rights movement, young readers not only get to learn about the plight of people of color, but also get to see how people as small as them can make a difference to the world.
40. Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill and Bryan Collier
Dave the Potter is a lyrical, warmly illustrated picture book about a slave in 17th-century South Carolina. Though limited by his status in an unjust society, Dave’s talent with words and pottery shines through the page, and he brings life into every piece of art he creates. While this probably isn’t the most historically accurate portrayal of the dark history of slavery, it is an elegant way to breach the subject to young minds.
41. The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania of Jordan Al Abdullah, Kelly DiPucchio, and Tricia Tusa
Co-written by the Queen of Jordan (and based on her own experience as a child), this story is about two best friends, Lily and Salma, and the lunch that broke their friendship. Lily usually has a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while Salma has hummus with pita — a difference in preference that one day becomes far more serious than anyone thought it could be. A food fight breaks out, the severance of a friendship seems inevitable, and yet the solution is simple: open up to the other’s culture, and everything will be fine again. As dramatic as it sounds, this messy battle will do wonders when it comes to relating to young readers while also teaching them to be open-minded.
42. Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
New York Times bestseller Other Words for Home is a story of a young refugee who is fleeing Syria due to escalating violence. Leaving her brother and father behind, Jude travels with her mother to stay with their relatives in America, where she is to start a new life. While she never stops worrying about her family in Syria, Jude also has to process and learn to handle the stigma of being an outsider in America. Refugees’ experiences are always going to be a tough topic, and this tear-jerker of a novel doesn’t try to hide that fact: an honesty that goes a long way to inform children and inspire them to be sympathetic towards others.
43. New Kid by Jerry Craft
Moving to a new school is already difficult. But Jordan Banks has it even harder by being one of the few kids of color in his grade. Jordan’s new school is a private institution in a fancy part of town, where studying is competitive and his passion for drawing cartoons is not taken seriously. As if that’s not enough, he also has to balance his relationships with old friends in his neighborhood! Let children navigate class differences and cultural diversity with Jordan in this humorous yet profound award-winning graphic novel by Jerry Craft.
44. Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
Featuring a slightly older protagonist, Elijah of Buxton tells the story of Elijah, who’s the first child to be born free in a town populated by runaway slaves. He’s often considered a soft child, having not been toughened up by the horrors of forced labor. Still, he rises to the challenge when a thief steals the money his friend had been saving up to rescue his enslaved family. On this unexpected journey, Elijah encounters the harsh reality of this unjust social order, and so realizes that he has been taking his freedom for granted.
Children’s books featuring disabilities
45. Dan And Diesel by Charlotte Hudson and Lindsey Gardiner
Told through sweet and simple drawings, Dan and Diesel is the wildly imaginative adventure of a young boy and his pet dog. Like many children and their pets, this duo is inseparable, and they can go anywhere, from funky music halls to jungly dinosaur lair, and thoroughly enjoy the vivid worlds they build in their heads. Only at the end of the story can readers find out that those are the only worlds that Dan can see: he is blind, and Diesel is his guide dog.
46. The Push: A Story of Friendship by Patrick Gray, Justin Skeesuck, and Matt Waresak
The Push is the story of two young neighbors, John and Marcus, the latter of whom just moved into his new home. And even though Marcus walks on two legs and John uses a wheelchair, there’s no end to the amount of adventure that the two buddies can go on. In a collection of everyday wanderings that are close to home for young readers, this pair of friends learn to use their strengths to make up for each other’s drawbacks. It’s even more heart-warming to learn that the sweet tale is based on the friendship of authors Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck.
47. Moses Goes to a Concert by Isaac Millman
Moses and his school friends are just like many other children — they’re intrigued by musical instruments and would love to see a concert. The only difference? They wouldn’t be able to hear any of that music, because they’re deaf. That said, they have other ways to enjoy such experiences, as Moses’s day out with his class will show in this picture book. The added bonus is that readers can also learn the basics of Moses’s medium of communication: American Sign Language!
48. The Deaf Musicians by Pete Seeger, Paul Dubois Jacobs, and R. Gregory Christie
If you’re interested in learning even more about sign language and non-vocal communications, pick up The Deaf Musicians, a story about artists who have lost their ability to hear after having discovered their passion for acoustics. This talented trio of creators' vibrant and jazzy illustrations will help all children learn to deal with such negative turns of fate and, more importantly, let them know that these disabilities don't inhibit people from enjoying their lives.
49. Don't Call Me Special by Pat Thomas
There are a lot of disabilities that children will probably not encounter early on in their lives, but that’s not to say that they shouldn’t learn about them. Don’t Call Me Special offers a comprehensive run through a range of disabilities, along with all the tools and equipment that may be used to aid people living with them. Moreover, it’s an inside look at the difficulties and the emotional stresses that these friendly characters face because of their conditions. Carefully written by a psychotherapist, this book is graceful and candid in its approach toward disability, and provides an outstanding overview for children on this complex matter.
50. The Girl Who Thought in Pictures by Julia Finley Mosca and Daniel Rieley
Unlike our common mode of communication — that is, the spoken and written word — thinking doesn’t necessarily come with a language. Autistic people such as Dr. Temple Grandin, the main character of biographical children’s book The Girl Who Thought in Pictures, know this better than anyone. Indeed, the same brain functions that worried the adults surrounding her as a child led her to think outside of the box and come up daring proposals for ethical practices in the livestock industry as an adult. Colorful and filled with fun facts, this little biographic book is as informative as it is effective in letting readers know that there’s nothing wrong with being unconventional.
51. King for a Day by Rukhsana Khan and Christiane Kromer
Visit Pakistan’s yearly kite-flying festival, Basant, where Malik, a little boy in his wheelchair, hopes to be the champion. Basant is not merely a competition of which mosaic kite flutters the highest — it’s a series of string-cutting battles between kite-fighters. Will Malik, our little warrior, ride the wind better than anyone and win the contest? Jump into the cultural celebrations of Malik’s world and watch him fly beyond his disability in this beautiful multimedia picture book.
52. Wonder by R. J. Palacio
If you’re searching for a longer read about kindness and acceptance for children, Wonder could be the novel to pick up. Entering junior high in this tale is Auggie Pullman, a young boy with an extraordinary face. All Auggie wants is to be treated as normal, even though it seems unlikely that his classmates will look past his appearance. But he’s far from alone: Auggie has his close friends and family to walk with him through everything. Wonder is a touching story about being different and yet being bullied for it; it’s a must-read for children everywhere.
LGBT+ books for children
53. Pink Is for Boys by Robb Pearlman and Eda Kaban
As common and pervasive as it is, the blue for boys and pink for girls dichotomy can be rather confining. And children tend to be very quick to pick up cues about this. But what if a boy likes pink, and a girl likes blue? What about all the colors in between? In Pink Is for Boys, children can pick any color they like! They’re encouraged to do things for their own happiness and not for anyone else, which makes it a wonderful children’s book to get little ones thinking about social expectations regarding gender — and how those can be broken.
54. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
First published over a decade ago, And Tango Makes Three is a lovely little story about Roy and Silo, a pair of male penguins taking residence at Central Park Zoo. They are always together, and they even want to make a family together. While the rest of the zoo may find it strange, their kind zookeeper is determined to make their dream come true by helping them adopt a new little penguin. As far as LBGT books about same-sex parents are concerned, there isn’t one as adorable as this!
55. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman and Laura Cornell
But that’s not all: here’s a story about a family with two mothers. While cute waddling penguins are not included, the soft-edge watercolor illustrations of Heather and her mothers enjoying picnics and reading bedtime stories are just as lovable. As Heather starts school, she realizes that her family isn’t the same as a lot of other children’s, and becomes very conscious of the fact that she doesn’t have a dad. But as the class goes on, she learns something else that puts her at ease — no two families are ever the same, and every one of them are just as valid.
56. Introducing Teddy by Jessica Walton and Dougal MacPherson
When someone is figuring out their sex and gender, what others can do to support them is to love them for who they are — not the gender identity they choose for themselves. That’s the compassionate message that Introducing Teddy has to send. Errol and Thomas are two teddy best friends, who have daily adventures together. When one day Thomas says that he feels more like a Tilly than a Thomas, Errol upholds their friendship and fully supports his decision.
57. Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
On his journey home on the subway with his abuela, Julian sees something that will occupy his mind for days to come: the vibrant, luscious costumes of some women dressed up as mermaids. As apprehensive as he is about his Abuela’s judgment, Julian can’t stop himself from trying out such a costume himself. He assembles one by using the curtain at home and some fern fronds — and he feels fabulous in this skin! And in loving himself and choosing to do what makes him happy, he realizes that those who love him will support his choice, too.
58. From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea by Kai Cheng Thom, Kai Yun Ching, and Wai-Yant Li
This magical picture book is about a child, Miu Lan, who is born with a special power: they can shift into any shape they want. They can be a star or a bird, a flower or a fish, a boy or a girl. But not everyone is accepting of Miu Lan’s wondrous ability, especially not at school. Miu Lan’s source of comfort is their mother, who reminds them that they can be anything they want to be. Movingly told through shimmering illustrations and poetic prose, From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea presents identity exploration as an empowering act and opens children’s hearts to gender fluidity.
59. This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman and Kristyna Litten
The struggle for LGBTQ+ rights has a long history, and it’s as important a part of our story as humans as any. In this vivid and exciting picture book, join the characters as they celebrate the different identities and colors that we all have and choose to be. In between the joyous conversations and dazzling images are fun facts about LGBTQ+ history and culture. There’s even a starter pack at the end of the book, which leaves some suggestions for parents and guardians to start talking about gender identities with their children.
60. The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy
For a bit of chaotic fun, head on over to the Fletcher family, where the two dads and their four boys are getting ready for a new school year while also welcoming the talkative new neighbor. There seems to be nothing ordinary about this big family at first sight, but through the messy halls of their home and their humorous dialogue, you’ll quickly feel like you can belong in such a home. Witty, entertaining, and compassionate, The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher is destined to become the next classic children’s book about family life.
Looking for books that young imaginative minds will adore? Take a look at these 60 fantasy books for kids.