Literally Cultured’s Best Picture Books of 2020!

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If you’re like me, then when you hear “2020” you tend to flinch a little bit. Beyond the obvious turmoil and heartache created by Covid-19, so many of us faced unimaginable obstacles and challenges that we are just thankful to have made it through another day. However, despite the troubles of the outside world, there was light we could depend on in the darkness…BOOKS!

2020 brought us some of the most beautiful and inspiring picture books to be enjoyed by children and adults alike. Take a look back at my favorite releases of each month, as well as my favorite book of the year…or maybe even the decade!

Written by Nikki Grimes & Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

It’s bedtime. But Mommy’s little one is not sleepy.

He growls like a bear, he questions like an owl, he tosses his mane like a lion. He hunts for water like a sly wolf, and hides like a snake.

Mommy needs to wrangle her sweet creature in bed so that the whole family can sleep. From tigers to squirrels to snakes, the little boy dodges around his bedtime, until he is tired enough to finally sleep. His imaginative animal friends weave their way through the illustrations, eventually joining him in curling up for the night.

For those seeking children’s books about diversity, this loving depiction of everyday shenanigans is sure to become a bedtime favorite. Bedtime for Sweet Creatures is an African American children’s book that celebrates imagination, playful moments, and the love between a Black mother and child.

FebruaryThe Paper Kingdom

Written by Helena Ku Rhee & Illustrated by Pascal Campion

When the babysitter is unable to come, Daniel is woken out of bed and joins his parents as they head downtown for their jobs as nighttime office cleaners. But the story is about more than brooms, mops, and vacuums. Mama and Papa turn the deserted office building into a magnificent kingdom filled with paper. Then they weave a fantasy of dragons and kings to further engage their reluctant companion–and even encourage him to one day be the king of a paper kingdom.

The Paper Kingdom expresses the joy and spirit of a loving family who turn a routine and ordinary experience into something much grander. Magical art by Pascal Campion shows both the real world and the fantasy through the eyes of the young narrator.

Written by Keilly Swift & Illustrated by Jamie Margolin

There’s a lot that can be changed by just one person if know what to do.If you are a kid with big dreams and a passion for what is right, you just might be a world-changer in the making! Through ideas as small as creating a neighborhood lending library to as important as public speaking and how to talk about politics, How to Make a Better World is a practical guide to activism for children.

Well-written and divided into sections on You, Community, Environment, and more, this educational book helps children to look at what they might like to achieve, and the logical approach makes it easy to navigate if you want to tie topics up with school projects.

Brightly illustrated inclusive art makes this factbook as visually appealing as its message. You can easily jump around without any loss of comprehension and dip in for short or longer periods. Learn about tricky social interactions like friendship fallouts, or bullying and how to maneuver them, or find out how to go about creating activist campaigns to tackle climate change or social injustice.

If kids are to think positive thoughts and be part of movements for positive change, they need to be encouraged to do it. This book is full of wonderful facts about the world, presenting such positivity as cool, sensible, exciting, and achievable. The perfect starter book to activism for kids.

AprilA New Kind of Wild

Written & Illustrated by Zara Gonzalez Hoang

For Ren, home is his grandmother’s little house, and the lush forest that surrounds it. Home is a place of magic and wonder, filled with all the fantastical friends that Ren dreams up. Home is where his imagination can run wild.

For Ava, home is a brick and cement city, where there’s always something to do or see or hear. Home is a place bursting with life, where people bustle in and out like a big parade. Home is where Ava is never lonely because there’s always someone to share in her adventures.

When Ren moves to Ava’s city, he feels lost without his wild. How will he ever feel at home in a place with no green and no magic, where everything is exactly what it seems? Of course, not everything in the city is what meets the eye, and as Ren discovers, nothing makes you feel at home quite like a friend.

MayWhat is Light?

Written by Markette Sheppard & Illustrated by Cathy Ann Johnson

Light can be so many things! The twinkle of a faraway star, a firefly captured in a jar, a mother’s love, a turtle dove…

Through this thoughtful and celebratory book, young readers will discover the special glow in everything from nature to the smiles of loved ones. Each page reveals a different sparkle found in a child’s simple but extraordinary world. The light revealed on the final page makes a fitting finale for this sweet, bright tale.

JuneAntiracist Baby

Written by Ibram X. Kendi & Illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky

From the National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning and How to Be an Antiracist comes a new picture book that empowers parents and children to uproot racism in our society and in ourselves, now with added discussion prompts to help readers recognize and reflect on bias in their daily lives.

Take your first steps with Antiracist Baby! Or rather, follow Antiracist Baby‘s nine easy steps for building a more equitable world.

With bold art and thoughtful yet playful text, Antiracist Baby introduces the youngest readers and the grown-ups in their lives to the concept and power of antiracism. Providing the language necessary to begin critical conversations at the earliest age, Antiracist Baby is the perfect gift for readers of all ages dedicated to forming a just society.

Written by Zetta Elliott & Illustrated by Noa Denmon

There is a place inside of me
a space deep down inside of me
where all my feelings hide.

Summertime is filled with joy―skateboarding and playing basketballuntil his community is deeply wounded by a police shooting. As fall turns to winter and then spring, fear grows into anger, then pride and peace.

In her stunning debut, illustrator Noa Denmon articulates the depth and nuances of a child’s experiences following a police shooting―through grief and protests, healing and community―with washes of color as vibrant as his words.

Here is a groundbreaking narrative that can help all readers―children and adults alike―talk about the feelings hiding deep inside each of us.

Written by Nikki Grimes & Illustrated by Laura Freeman

When Kamala Harris was young, she often accompanied her parents to civil rights marches—so many, in fact, that when her mother asked a frustrated Kamala what she wanted, the young girl responded with: “Freedom!”

As Kamala grew from a small girl in Oakland to a senator running for president, it was this long-fostered belief in freedom and justice for all people that shaped her into the inspiring figure she is today. From fighting for the use of a soccer field in middle school to fighting for the people of her home state in Congress, Senator Harris used her voice to speak up for what she believed in and for those who were otherwise unheard. And now this dedication has led her all the way to being elected Vice President of the United States.

Told in Nikki Grimes’s stunning verse and featuring gorgeous illustrations by Laura Freeman, this picture book biography brings to life a story that shows all young people that the American dream can belong to all of us if we fight for one another.

SeptemberSometimes People March

Written & Illustrated by Tessa Allen

Sometimes people march
to resist injustice,
to stand in solidarity,
to inspire hope.

Throughout American history, one thing remains true: no matter how or why people march, they are powerful because they march together.

Written by Tami Charles & Illustrated by Bryan Collier

Discover this poignant, timely, and emotionally stirring picture book, an ode to Black and brown children everywhere that is full of hope, assurance, and love.

Tami Charles pens a poetic, lyrical text that is part love letter, part anthem, assuring readers that they always have, and always will, matter. This powerful, rhythmic lullaby reassures readers that their matter and their worth is never diminished, no matter the circumstance: through the joy and wonder of their first steps and first laughs, through the hardship of adolescent struggles, and the pain and heartbreak of current events, they always have, and always will, matter. Accompanied by illustrations by renowned artist Bryan Collier, a four-time Caldecott Honor recipient and a nine-time Coretta Scott King Award winner or honoree, All Because You Matter empowers readers with pride, joy, and comfort, reminding them of their roots and strengthening them for the days to come.

November A Kids Book About Systemic Racism

Written by Jordan Thierry

Systemic racism is incredibly difficult to understand—even for grownups! This book was made to help kids understand what systemic racism is and how it’s built into laws, schools, stories, and other institutions in a way that collectively makes life much harder for people of color.

Jordan Thierry is a documentary filmmaker, activist, and storyteller. He has worked for over a decade to highlight the stories of people of color and working to undo the ongoing legacy of systemic racism in the U.S.A.

Written by Lyn Sisson-Talbert & David E. Talbert

A heartwarming picture book story based on the song “The Square Root of Possible” from the Netflix holiday film Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey! A holiday tale set in the snow-covered town of Cobbleton, Jingle Jangle follows eccentric toymaker Jeronicus Jangle (Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker) whose fanciful inventions burst with whimsy and wonder. But when a betrayal by a former protégé (Keegan-Michael Key) leaves Jeronicus withdrawn and down on his luck, it’s up to his bright and adventurous granddaughter, Journey (newcomer Madalen Mills) — and a singularly magical invention — to save the day. From the imagination of writer/director David E. Talbert and featuring original music by John Legend, Philip Lawrence, and Davy Nathan, Jingle Jangle reminds you that anything is possible…if you believe.

Picture Book of the YearI Am Every Good Thing

Written by Derrick Barnes & Illustrated by Gordon C. James

I am
a nonstop ball of energy.
Powerful and full of light.
I am a go-getter. A difference maker. A leader.

The confident Black narrator of this book is proud of everything that makes him who he is. He’s got big plans, and no doubt he’ll see them through–as he’s creative, adventurous, smart, funny, and a good friend. Sometimes he falls, but he always gets back up. And other times he’s afraid, because he’s so often misunderstood and called what he is not. So slow down and really look and listen, when somebody tells you–and shows you–who they are. There are superheroes in our midst!

Literally Cultured read aloud of “I Am Every Good Thing” by Derrick Barnes.

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60 Diverse Picture Books to Celebrate the Holiday Season

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All the Colors of Christmas

Written by Matthew Paul Turner & Illustrated by Gillian Gamble

It’s God within
a baby’s skin
on that very first Christmas Day.
 
All the colors come together when readers are reminded that Christmas is YOU—you’re a part of the story, the joy and the glory! Matthew shows us again and again that the holidays are nothing without being with the people we love, celebrating treasured traditions, and making new memories—all in vivid color.

Always Together at Christmas

Written by Sara Sargent & Illustrated by Mark Chambers

Christmas will always mean love.
Even if love looks a little different this year.

As families and communities come together–and stay apart–in creative ways this holiday season, bring comfort and joy to children with this story about a Christmas like no other. Always Together at Christmas highlights different family traditions and the ways they’re changing in 2020: from Santa’s elves practicing social distancing to opening presents via Zoom on Christmas morning. And it even includes ideas for new quarantine-appropriate Christmas traditions!

The sweet and cozy illustrations add classic touches, making this book the perfect gift to share with family and friends from across the miles.

This Is the Stable

Written by Cynthia Cotten & Illustrated by Delana Bettoli

A gorgeous, poetic new version of the Nativity story

Wondrous things are happening in this humble little stable. The animals are gathering round. Shepherds and wise men and angels are coming from afar. All of them are flocking to see the Christ child, born this night in Bethlehem.

Snow Globe Wishes

Written by Erin Dealey & Illustrated by Claire Shorrock

As the worst snow storm of the year rolls in, one family hunkers down together in a cozy blanket fort for the night. A little girl makes a wish on a snow globe and, in the morning, the sun rises on a winter wonderland–beckoning all outside. And what if, on this snow-filled day, families shake their busy lives and everyone goes out to play? A lyrical holiday story about wishes and community and snow–lots and lots of snow.

Christmas in Lagos

Written by Sharon Abimbola Salu & Illustrated by Maria Nikla

A delightful and charming story celebrating Christmas in Lagos, a modern West African city.  This picture book explores the sights and sounds of Lagos at Christmas through the eyes and words of a little Nigerian girl writing a Christmas journal.

The Miracle of the First Poinsettia: A Mexican Christmas Story

Written by Joanne Oppenheim & Illustrated by Fabian Negrin

Originally native to Mexico, beautiful poinsettia plants decorate homes around the world every holiday season. But few people who love the plant’s deep red tones know the traditional Mexican tale about how the poinsettia first came to be. This narrative transports readers to Old-World Mexico and into the arms of a young girl as her trust leads her straight into a miracle. A beautiful alternative to the traditional nativity story, this book is a wonderful evocation of Mexican customs and culture

Winter Wonderland (National Geographic Kids)

Written by Jill Esbaum

Each year, as days grow shorter and trees become bare, the world outside seems to slow and darken. But for children, this time of year is magical. The frosty air crackles with play and laughter. There’s a sense of excitement as snow and cold weather make for outdoor adventures that aren’t possible any other time of year. This charming picture book, the latest in National Geographic’s popular Picture the Seasons series, is a vibrant celebration of winter traditions. 

Over the River and Through the Wood

Illustrated by Emma Randall

In this stunning paper-over-board picture book, a blustering wind stings the toes and bites the nose, but hearts are warm and there’s lots to eat–for ’tis Thanksgiving Day! Bundle up as you navigate a winter wonderland of sparkling snow-covered trees and adorable woodland creatures in this cherished holiday tale. Coupled with Emma Randall’s delightful illustrations, the familiar poem-turned-song is the perfect way to celebrate the season. Just remember to leave room for pumpkin pie!

The First Day of Winter

Written & Illustrated by Denise Fleming

Alive with swirling snow and lots of outdoor fun, the first ten days of winter bring special gifts for a special friend. This cumulative tale will have children chanting along as they discover all the trimmings needed for the most perfect snowman ever!

12 Days of Christmas (The Christmas Choir)

Illustrated by Lara Hawthorne

Celebrate the magic of Christmas time with this well-loved traditional poem, The Twelve Days of Christmas, beautifully illustrated by Laura Hawthorne.

Take a walk through each beautiful scene brimming with details that will remind you of the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas. Perfect to read with your true love.

Oh no Mr. Snowman!

By Make Believe Ideas, Ltd.

Katy and her brother build a magical snowman. When it gets too cold to play outside, they go into the house – but Mr. Snowman wants to come in, too!

What follows is a humorous tale as Mr. Snowman tries to sneak in without anyone noticing. Everywhere he goes, things freeze! From crystals on the dinner plates, to icebergs in the bath, Mr. Snowman is found and asked to leave every time.

But at the Christmas Eve party, something goes wrong. The desserts won’t set and the ice-cream melts! Can Mr. Snowman save the day?

Roc and Roe’s Twelve Days of Christmas

Written by Nick Cannon & Illustrated by AG Ford

Nick Cannon and Mariah Carey’s twins, Roc and Roe, decorate their Christmas tree with their “pip” version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

From an angel with sparkly, shiny wings to four skiing snowmen to twelve chugging choo-choos, Roc and Roe have a frolicking time getting ready for the holidays.

The Night Before Christmas

Retold & Illustrated by Rachel Isadora

Caldecott Honor winner Rachel Isadora sets her colorful, unique version of this well-known Christmas poem in Africa, capturing the anticipation and excitement of the holiday in her stunning collages. Children will pore over the enchanting artwork–brimming with special touches like traditional African toys and a Santa who sports dreadlocks–as they chime along with the familiar rhyming text.

Jackie’s Gift

Written by Sharon Robinson & Illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Young Steve Satlow is thrilled when his hero Jackie Robinson moves onto his block. After the famed second baseman invites Steve to a Dodgers game, the two become friends. So when Jackie hears that the Satlows don’t have a Christmas tree, he decides to give them one, not realizing the Satlows are Jewish. But Jackie’s gift helps these two different families discover how much they have in common.

‘Twas Nochebuena: A Christmas Story in English and Spanish

Written by Roseanne Greenfield Thong & Illustrated by Sara Palacios

It’s Christmas Eve, and you’re invited to a Nochebuena celebration! Follow a family as they prepare to host a night filled with laughter, love, and Latino tradition. Make tasty tamales and hang colorful adornos (decorations) on the walls. Gather to sing festive canciones (songs) while sipping champurrado (hot chocolate). After the midnight feast has been served and the last gifts have been unwrapped, it’s time to cheer, “Feliz Navidad and to all a good night!”

Where Would Santa Go?

Written by Julia Inserro & Illustrated by Natalie Merheb

If you could travel the world, where would you go? How about Antarctica, Costa Rica, Tanzania, Nepal, Egypt, Iceland and Oman? Now who do you take with you? How about the most famous world traveler who’s seen it all?

Join Santa in this playful sleigh-ful Christmas adventure as he shows you all his favorite places around the world from his magic sleigh on Christmas Eve. Now you can answer the question, Where Would Santa Go?

Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem

Written by Maya Angelou and Illustrated by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher

Angelou’s beautiful, moving, and beloved poem, which she first read at the 2005 White House tree-lighting ceremony, now comes alive as a fully illustrated children’s book, celebrating the promise of peace in the holiday season. In this simple story, a family joins with their community—rich and poor, black and white, Christian, Muslim, and Jew—to celebrate the holidays.

A World of Cookies for Santa

Written by M.E. Furman & Illustrated by Susan Gal

A World of Cookies for Santa takes readers across the globe to see all the treats that await Santa on Christmas Eve. Head to the Philippines, where children leave out puto seko cookies and ginger tea for Santa; jet to Russia for a honey-spice cookie; then set out for Malawi for a sweet potato cookie! When you’ve returned home, the journey’s still not over—M. E. Furman provides recipes for children to bake some of Santa’s cookies for themselves.  

Under the Christmas Tree

Written by Nikki Grimes & Illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Presented from an African-American perspective by a Coretta Scott King Award-winning author, a holiday tale provides readers with twenty-three charming poems that capture the joy and happiness of one family’s Christmas celebration.

Long Ago, on a Silent Night

Written by Julie Berry & Illustrated by Annie Won

In this poignant and lyrical story by Printz Honor recipient Julie Berry, the miracle of Christmas and the promise in every new child come together in a luminous celebration of unconditional love and hope. With tender, incandescent illustrations by Annie Won, the wonder of the nativity story and the marvel of every baby come alive in a wholly extraordinary book for families everywhere.

Damon and the Magic Christmas Tree

Written by Tash Creates & Illustrated by Ebony Glenn

Damon and the Magic Christmas Tree teaches children about the delights of Christmas and Hanukkah. Damon will show readers how to recognize the joys that can be found all around them. This smart, sweet little boy dreams of being a superhero. His dream comes true as he brings light and laughter to your family this holiday season.

My First Kwanzaa

By Karen Katz

Hooray! Hooray!
It’s time to get ready for Kwanzaa.”

During the seven days of Kwanzaa, we celebrate the importance of family, friends, and community. This warm and lively introduction to a very special holiday will help even the youngest children join in!

The Square Root of Possible: A Jingle Jangle Story

Written by Lyn Sisson-Talbert & David E. Talbert

A charming picture book story based on the Netflix holiday film Jingle Jangle, starring Phylicia Rashad, Forrest Whitaker, Anika Noni Rose, Keegan Michael Key, and newcomer Madalen Mills, about an eccentric toymaker, his adventurous granddaughter, and a magical invention, that if they can get it to work in time for the holidays, could change their lives forever.

Walk This World at Christmastime

By Big Picture Press & Illustrated by Debbie Powell

A collection of global cultures, Walk This World at Christmastime illustrates the ways people around the world celebrate Christmas. Travel to a new set of countries with every turn of the page. Lift the numbered flaps for all the fun of an Advent calendar in a format to be read again and again.

When Christmas Feels Like Home

Written by Gretchen Griffith & Illustrated by Carolina Farias

After moving from a small village in Mexico to a town in the United States, Eduardo is sure it will never feel quite like home. The other children don’t speak his language and they do not play fútbol. His family promises him that he will feel right at home by the time Christmas comes along, when “your words float like clouds from your mouth” and “trees will ride on cars.” With whimsical imagery and a sprinkling of Spanish vocabulary, Gretchen Griffith takes readers on a multicultural journey with Eduardo who discovers the United States is not so different from Latin America and home is wherever family is.

Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa

Written by Donna L. Washington & Illustrated by Shane W. Evans

Li’l Rabbit is not having a very good Kwanzaa. Granna Rabbit is sick, and so his family won’t celebrate his favorite part of Kwanzaa this year: a big feast called Karamu. Li’l Rabbit knows what to do! He’ll find Granna Rabbit a special treat for Karamu so she can celebrate anyway. He looks under a pile of logs, in the field, and in the pond and along the way meets Groundhog, Momma Field Mouse, and the frogs—but he doesn’t find anything for Granna Rabbit.

Maybe I’m just too little to help Granna Rabbit celebrate Kwanzaa, Li’l Rabbit thinks. Or maybe he just needs a little help from his family and friends.

Native American Night Before Christmas

Adapted & Written by Gary Robinson and Illustrated by Jesse T. Hummingbird

An innovative retelling of the classic Christmas tale, Native American Night Before Christmas presents a whimsical look at a Native American Christmas Eve, when Old Red Shirt (the Indian Santa Claus) comes a-calling on his wooden sleigh pulled by a team of flying white buffalo. Jesse Hummingbird’s inspired illustration transform the author’s playful adaptation into a fresh and modern work of art. A delight for people of all ages and cultures. Winner of the 2010 Moonbeam Award for Holiday Books.

Grandma’s Gift

By Eric Velasquez

This prequel to Eric Velasquez’s biographical picture book Grandma’s Records is the story of a Christmas holiday that young Eric spends with his grandmother. After they prepare their traditional Puerto Rican Christmas celebration, Eric and Grandma visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a school project, where he sees a painting by Diego Velasquez and realizes for the first time that he could be an artist when he grows up. Grandma witnesses his fascination, and presents Eric with the perfect Christmas gift-a set of paints-to use in his first steps toward becoming an artist. 

King Island Christmas

Written by Jean Rogers & Illustrated by Rie Munoz

Winter is closing in on Alaska’s King Island, and soon the Eskimo villagers will be cut off from the world for many months. That suits them fine — but only if they can first brave a rough and windy sea to fetch the new priest in time for Christmas. 

Elijah’s Angel

Written by Michael J. Rosen & Illustrated by Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson

Michael and Elijah are friends, but when Elijah gives Michael one of his special carved angels, Michael doesn’t know what to do. How can he possibly take home a Christmas angel, a forbidden graven image–especially on Chanukah? “A strikingly illustrated story that tenderly bridges the boundaries of age, race, and religion.”–American Bookseller

An Angel Just Like Me

Written by Mary Hoffman and Illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright & Ying-Hwa Hu

An inspiring text and festive illustrations highlight the story of Tyler’s quest to find a Christmas tree angel who does not have golden hair and pink skin, but rather looks like him and his family, is a unique Christmas story that celebrates ethnic diversity.

Pick a Pine Tree

Written by Patricia Toht & Illustrated by Jarvis

Part of the magic of the Christmas season stems from the traditions that families and friends take part in every year: hanging up stockings; putting lights in the windows; and, one of the most important of all, picking out and taking home the Christmas tree. 

The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood

Written by Virginia Hawk Sneve & Illustrated by Ellen Beier

Virginia’s old coat is too small. The cold South Dakota wind blows across the Rosebud Indian Reservation, making her shiver as she walks to school. Virginia dreams of a new coat arriving in the Theast boxes–parcels of clothing from churches in The East. But, she knows she may not have a chance for a coat this year. Her father is the village Episcopal priest, so her family chooses last, and as Mama always says, The others need it more than we do. Generosity and unexpected joy remind Virginia of the importance of community within this story from the author s childhood.

Our Favorite Day of the Year

Written by A.E. Ali & Illustrted by Rahele Jomepour Bell

Musa’s feeling nervous about his first day of school. He’s not used to being away from home and he doesn’t know any of the other kids in his class. And when he meets classmates Moisés, Mo, and Kevin, Musa isn’t sure they’ll have much in common. But over the course of the year, the four boys learn more about each other, the holidays they celebrate, their favorite foods, and what they like about school. The more they share with each other, the closer they become, until Musa can’t imagine any better friends.

A Pinata in a Pine Tree

Written by Pat Mora & Illustrated by Magaly Morales

An award-winning author and a rising star artist have put a festive Latino twist on “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” populating it with piñatas in place of partridges, plus burritos bailando (dancing donkeys), lunitas cantando (singing moons), and much more, all displayed in the most vivid colors imaginable. In this version a little girl receives gifts from a secret amiga, whose identity is a sweet surprise at the book’s conclusion. There are things to find and count in Spanish on every page, with pronunciations provided right in the pictures and a glossary and music following the story. This joyous fiesta will warm even the coldest of hearts.

Simonie and the Dance Contest

Written by Gail Matthew & Illustrated by Ali Hinch

Simonie loves to dance! When he sees a sign for Taloyoak’s annual Christmas Jigging Dance Contest, he can’t wait to enter. But practising is hard work, and Simonie starts to worry that he won’t do a good job in front of all his friends and neighbours. Luckily, with a little advice from his anaana and ataata, and some help from his friends Dana and David, Simonie learns how to listen to the music and dance the way it makes him feel. When the time comes for the contest, he’s ready to dance his very best. Based on the annual Christmas dance contest in the community of Taloyoak, Nunavut, this heartwarming picture book shows how a lot of hard work―and a little inspiration―can go a long way.

Miracle on 133rd Street

Written by Sonia Manzano & Illustrated by Marjorie Pricemon

It’s Christmas Eve and Mami has bought a delicious roast for a Christmas feast. But, oh no! It’s too big to fit in the oven. Jose and Papa need to find an oven big enough to cook Mami’s roast. As they walk from door to door through their apartment building, no one seems to be in the Christmas spirit. So they head down the street to find someone willing to help, and only when they do, lo and behold, the scent—the itself magical smell—of dinner begins to spread, and holiday cheer manifests in ways most unexpected.

Danny’s Christmas List

Written by Tieska Jumbo & Illustrated by Aquil Khan

When Danny and his family visit a local Christmas market, he finds himself in a chance encounter with Santa. With his list in hand and Santa all alone, Danny sees a chance he must take. Can you guess what Danny asks? Join Danny and Santa in this heartwarming tale that is sure to be a Christmas classic!

Grace at Christmas

Written by Mary Hoffman & Illustrated by Cornelius van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu

Grace loves Christmas – acting out the nativity story, opening presents, celebrating with Ma, Nana and Paw-Paw. But this Christmas Nana announces they will have visitors from Trinidad. Grace is horrified! She does NOT want to share the day with another little girl she doesn’t even know. But after some wise words from Nana, Grace’s generous spirit shines through. And in the end, as they all share a special surprise, Grace thinks it could be the best Christmas ever!

Celebrate Kwanzaa (National Geographic Kids)

Written by Carolyn Otto

Celebrate Kwanzaa continues the spectacular Holidays Around the World series by focusing on this African-American holiday, which falls during the festive, gift-giving season and is celebrated by families, communities, and schools throughout America. With succinct, lively text and beautiful photographs, the book celebrates African-American culture and helps us to understand and appreciate this special holiday.

Silent Night (The Christmas Choir)

Illustrated by Lara Hawthorne

Celebrate the magic of Christmas with this beautifully illustrated book, based on the world’s best-loved carol. Rediscover the Nativity Story in all its glory—from quaking shepherds to heaven-sent angels—as the song lyrics are brought to life on every spread. The world’s diversity is reflected in a cast of characters with a range of skin tones. A gorgeous book for all the family to share during the festive season.

Amadi’s Snowman

Written by Katia Novet Saint-Lot & Illustrated by Dimitrea Tokumbo

When he runs off to the market instead of sticking around for a reading lesson, he encounters a much-admired older boy secretly reading at a book stall, and then Amadi becomes intrigued by a storybook with pictures of a strange white creature that has a carrot for a nose. Unable to shake his questions about the snowman, Amadi discovers the vast world reading can open up―especially for an Igbo boy of Nigeria.

N is for Navidad

Written by Susan Middleton Elya & Merry Brooks and Illustrated by Joe Cepeda

Bienvenidos! to a celebration of Christmas, Latino-style! From the ngel (angel) hung above the door to the zapatos (shoes) filled with grass for the wise men s camels, each letter in this festive alphabet introduces children to a Spanish word, and each colorful page takes them through another joyous aspect of the 22 days of the traditional holiday. Vibrant art from acclaimed illustrator Joe Cepeda beautifully complements the lively, rhythmic text to bring the reader a wealth of heritage and a season of light! Feliz Navidad!

12 Days of Christmas

Illustrated by Rachel Isadora

Set in Africa, this beautiful rendition of the classic Christmas carol has a unique twist: colorful icons illustrate the various gifts repeated in each verse of this cumulative song, creating a rebus-style text that gives young children a fun way to follow along and chime in with the lyrics. The gorgeous, wonderfully detailed collage illustrations, comprised of colorful kente cloth and cut paper, feature tribal drummers and dancers, traditional clothing and native wildlife, making every scene as visually striking as the last.

A Coqui and the Three Wise Men: From Boriquen to Bethlehen

Written by Lara Mercado and Armando Valdes & Illustrated by Nivea Ortiz

From Boriquén to Bethlehem: A Coquí and the Three Wise Men” is the story of a magical coquí (a tree frog native to Puerto Rico) who traveled with the Magi to the first Christmas. The coquí’s call helps the Magi find the little Baby Jesus. In gratitude, the Kings promise to yearly visit the children of Puerto Rico, and to find them wherever they may be if they hear the coquí’s song.

Count with Santa

By Angela Y. Nixon

This book combines simple counting with fun similar to game “I Spy”. A perfect book for your little learners. They’ll develop focusing skills while try to find the cute Christmas objects. As your child looks through the vibrant Christmas-themed pictures he or she will count their numbers 1-10. Your child will have so much fun reading repeatedly number book they won’t even know they’re learning! They’ll also develop the ability to concentrate, as well as their observational skills. This is a delightful book for parents, grandparents, teachers and friends to share with their children

A Very Noisy Christmas

Written by Tim Thornborough & Illustrated by Jennifer Davison

Some think that Christmas was a “”Silent Night””. Far from it. It was filled with shouting, singing and screaming! It was as noisy as any of our Christmas celebrations.

This fun and fresh retelling of the Christmas story comes with sound effects so that children can join in as parents read to them. But it also shows children that at the heart of the Christmas story is something we should all be quiet and see: God’s son Jesus was born, so that we can be friends with God forever. Now that’s something worth shouting about!

Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border

Written by Mitali Perkins & Illustrated by Sara Palacios

It’s almost time for Christmas, and Maria is traveling with her mother and younger brother, Juan, to visit their grandmother on the border of California and Mexico. For the few minutes they can share together along the fence, Maria and her brother plan to exchange stories and Christmas gifts with the grandmother they haven’t seen in years. But when Juan’s gift is too big to fit through the slats in the fence, Maria has a brilliant idea. Here is a heartwarming tale of families and the miracle of love.

I Got the Christmas Spirit

Written by Connie Schofield-Morrison & Illustrated by Frank Morrison

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and a mother and daughter are enjoying the sights and sounds of the holiday season. The little girl hears sleigh bells ringing and carolers singing. She smells chestnuts roasting–CRUNCH! CRUNCH! CRUNCH!–and sees the flashing lights of the department store windows–BLING! BLING! BLING! She spreads the spirit of giving wherever she goes. And when she reaches Santa, she tells him her Christmas wish–for peace and love everywhere, all the days of the year.

Christmas Makes Me Think

Written by Tony Medina & Illustrated by Chandra Cox

The young narrator of Christmas Makes Me Think is thrilled with the holiday’s prospects: the presents he’s wishing for, the big tree he’s hoping to get, the cake he’ll bake with his grandmother. But he begins to wonder. What about the people who don’t get presents, or don’t even have a place to live? He soon realizes that he can make a difference by giving some of his presents to kids who have none.

My Baby Loves Christmas

Written by Jabari Asim & Illustrated by Tara Nicole Whitaker

Baby loves candy canes wrapped in bows.

Baby loves jingle bells.

Baby loves snow. . . .

Celebrate all the lovely things that Baby discovers about Christmas. This board book, the perfect gift for a new baby, features rhythmic poetry from Jabari Asim and adorable art from Tara Nicole Whitaker.

Ming’s Christmas Wishes

Written by Susan L. Gong & Illustrated Masahiro Tateishi

Ming wishes for three things at Christmas. First, to sing in the school Christmas choir. Second, to have a Christmas tree like the one in the department store window. And third, to feel she belongs somewhere.

Tree of Cranes

Written & Illustrated by Allen Say

As a young Japanese boy recovers from a bad chill, his mother busily folds origami paper into delicate silver cranes in preparation for the boy’s very first Christmas.

Christmas in the Time of Billy Lee

Written by Jerdine Nolen & Illustrated by Barry Moser

One holiday season Ellie makes three wishes: that her parents will see that her friend Billy Lee is not imaginary; that snow will fall on Septon’s Creek for the first time in fifty years; and that joy will return–especially to her parents, who always seem worried lately. Billy Lee always says, “There is magic in believing something good with all your heart.” When Ellie begins to believe, all kinds of miracles occur, from broken tree lights twinkling again, to angel shapes appearing in snow, to the biggest one of all: a baby brother arriving soon.

The Nutcracker in Harlem

Written by T.E. McMorrow & Illustrated by James Ransome

This jazz-inspired reinvention of The Nutcracker is a worthy tribute to the dreamlike wonder and magic of the Christmas season.

In this original retelling, set in New York City during the height of the Harlem Renaissance, one little girl finds her voice as a musician thanks to her enchanting adventures with a magical toy.

Chita’s Christmas Tree

Written by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard & Illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Papa and Chita leave downtown Baltimore in a buggy to find a Christmas tree in the deep woods.

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Written by C.C. Moore & Jayla Joseph

The classic Christmas poem. Twas the Night Before Christmas. (A Visit From St Nicholas)By Clement Clarke Moore. This is the original story featuring African American Characters.

Christmas for 10

By Cathryn Falwell

The cheerful, busy family that prepared the delectable meal in “Feast for 10” now gets ready for Christmas. A simple counting format frames all the festivities, from one star at the top of the Christmas tree to ten hands stringing popcorn, then counting once again from one wreath to ten folks wishing peace for all. There’s a special job for everyone: Grandmother reads a story, Mom bakes and her children taste, Dad and Sister wrap baskets for the needy, and everyone, even the littlest, joins together to sing carols. Inviting, cleverly patterned cut-paper illustrations complement simple rhymes as this special family make the preparations part of their Christmas celebration.

The Christmas Truck

Written by J.B. Blankenship & Illustrated by Cassandre Bolan

When celebrating a special Christmas tradition things go awry. Papa, Dad, their amazing kid, and one fabulous grandmother work together and implement a plan to save Christmas for a child they have never met.

The 12 Trains of Christmas

Written by Chrissy Bozik & Illustrated by Joe Bucco

This book is pretty simple: twelve kinds of trains presented in the style of the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” song: “On the third day of Christmas Santa gave to me, three streetcars, two maglevs, and an electric train with a fir tree. Choo-choo!” It features a different train for each number and my kid loves seeing them all. I also like that it helps with ordinal numbers.

Ten Ways to Hear Snow

Written by Cathy Camper & Illustrated by Kenard Pak

One winter morning, Lina wakes up to silence. It’s the sound of snow — the kind that looks soft and glows bright in the winter sun. But as she walks to her grandmother’s house to help make the family recipe for warak enab, she continues to listen. As Lina walks past snowmen and across icy sidewalks, she discovers ten ways to pay attention to what might have otherwise gone unnoticed.

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Literally Cultured’s 2019 “12 Days of Diverse Christmas Books” Reboot!

As I plan for this year’s winter book list and blog post of diverse titles, I couldn’t help but reminisce on the books I shared from last holiday season! This upcoming 2020 list will focus on a wider array of winter holidays and traditions, whereas last year’s picks were specifically chosen for Christmas.

Tis the season for warming up with a good book…and REPRESENTATION! Enjoy!

I Got the Christmas Spirit

Written by Connie Schofield-Morrison & Illustrated by Frank Morrison

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and a mother and daughter are enjoying the sights and sounds of the holiday season. The little girl hears sleigh bells ringing and carolers singing. She smells chestnuts roasting–CRUNCH! CRUNCH! CRUNCH!–and sees the flashing lights of the department store windows–BLING! BLING! BLING! She spreads the spirit of giving wherever she goes. And when she reaches Santa, she tells him her Christmas wish–for peace and love everywhere, all the days of the year.

Long Ago, on a Silent Night

Written by Julie Berry & Illustrated by Annie Won

Long ago, in a dusty barn, a mother took a child in her arms, wrapped him snug, made his bed in the hay. He was her gift that Christmas Day. There’s no sweeter gift than a life so new. My best gift, little one, is you.

In this poignant and lyrical story by Printz Honor recipient Julie Berry, the miracle of Christmas and the promise in every new child come together in a luminous celebration of unconditional love and hope. With tender, incandescent illustrations by Annie Won, the wonder of the nativity story and the marvel of every baby come alive in a wholly extraordinary book for families everywhere.

Roc and Roe’s 12 Days of Christmas

Written by Nick Cannon & Illustrated by AG Ford

Nick Cannon and Mariah Carey’s twins, Roc and Roe, decorate their Christmas tree with their “pip” version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

From an angel with sparkly, shiny wings to four skiing snowmen to twelve chugging choo-choos, Roc and Roe have a frolicking time getting ready for the holidays.

The Twelve Trains of Christmas

Written by Chrissy Bozik & Illustrated by Joe Bucco

This fun picture book shares twelve kinds of trains presented in the style of the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” song

“On the third day of Christmas Santa gave to me, three streetcars, two maglevs, and an electric train with a fir tree. Choo-choo!”

A World of Cookies for Santa

Written by M.E. Furman & Illustrated by Susan Gal

A World of Cookies for Santa takes readers across the globe to see all the treats that await Santa on Christmas Eve. Head to the Philippines, where children leave out puto seko cookies and ginger tea for Santa; jet to Russia for a honey-spice cookie; then set out for Malawi for a sweet potato cookie! When you’ve returned home, the journey’s still not over—M. E. Furman provides recipes for children to bake some of Santa’s cookies for themselves.  
 
A World of Cookies for Santa is a multicultural celebration that families will return to year after year.
Winner of the American Book Fest Best Book Award and the Moonbeam Book Award!

Walk This World at Christmastime

Written by Big Picture Press & Illustrated by Debbie Powell

Let’s take a stroll around the world,
to all four corners of the globe.
Peek through windows, open doors,
watch as Christmastime unfolds . . .

A collection of global cultures, Walk This World at Christmastime illustrates the ways people around the world celebrate Christmas. Travel to a new set of countries with every turn of the page. Lift the numbered flaps for all the fun of an Advent calendar in a format to be read again and again.

A Very Noisy Christmas

Written by Tim Thornborough & Illustrated by Jennifer Davison

Some think that Christmas was a “Silent Night”. Far from it. It was filled with shouting, singing and screaming! It was as noisy as any of our Christmas celebrations.

This fun and fresh retelling of the Christmas story comes with sound effects so that children can join in as parents read to them. But it also shows children that at the heart of the Christmas story is something we should all be quiet and see: God’s son Jesus was born, so that we can be friends with God forever. Now that’s something worth shouting about!

Christmas Makes Me Think

Written by Tony Medina & Illustrated by Chandra Cox

The young narrator of Christmas Makes Me Think is thrilled with the holiday’s prospects: the presents he’s wishing for, the big tree he’s hoping to get, the cake he’ll bake with his grandmother. But he begins to wonder. What about the people who don’t get presents, or don’t even have a place to live? He soon realizes that he can make a difference by giving some of his presents to kids who have none. Chandra Cox’s bright collage art adds beauty to Tony Medina’s thoughtful message about community and caring.

Silent Night (The Christmas Choir)

By Lara Hawthorne

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright

Celebrate the magic of Christmas with this beautifully illustrated book, based on the world’s best-loved carol. Rediscover the Nativity Story in all its glory—from quaking shepherds to heaven-sent angels—as the song lyrics are brought to life on every spread. The world’s diversity is reflected in a cast of characters with a range of skin tones. A gorgeous book for all the family to share during the festive season.

Christmas in Lagos

Written by Sharon Abimbola Salu & Illustrated by Maria Nikla

It is ten days to Christmas, and also the last day of school.  Ranti, a six year old girl who lives in the West African city of Lagos, Nigeria, sits in class and listens to her classmates describe all the exciting, far-away places they will visit during the Christmas holidays.  Many of them will travel abroad for Christmas with their families.

Ranti feels left out, and believes that her Christmas will be the most boring Christmas ever because she will be spending it in the city where she lives: Lagos.  Because there is no snow in Lagos, she won’t go ice skating or build a frosty snowman.

However, with the encouragement of her class teacher, Miss Ani, Ranti starts a Christmas journal where she details all the amazing things that take place in the city of Lagos during Christmas.  Although there is no snow in Lagos, and no tower to visit, Ranti develops a newfound appreciation for Lagos, and discovers all the exciting reasons that make Christmas in Lagos so special. 

An Angel Just Like Me

Written by Mary Hoffman & Illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Haw Hu

An inspiring text and festive illustrations highlight the story of Tyler’s quest to find a Christmas tree angel who does not have golden hair and pink skin, but rather looks like him and his family, is a unique Christmas story that celebrates ethnic diversity.

Snow Globe Wishes

Written by Erin Dealey & Illustrated by Claire Shorrock

As the worst snow storm of the year rolls in, one family hunkers down together in a cozy blanket fort for the night. A little girl makes a wish on a snow globe and, in the morning, the sun rises on a winter wonderland–beckoning all outside. And what if, on this snow-filled day, families shake their busy lives and everyone goes out to play? A lyrical holiday story about wishes and community and snow–lots and lots of snow.

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A Book List for Our Youngest Citizens: Future Voters & Change-makers

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As we anxiously await Election Day 2020 there is no better time to begin addressing questions such as these with our “future voters”:

What does it mean to be a good citizen?

What does it mean to be American?

and most importantly…What really makes America great?

This curated list of texts cover a variety of topics around citizenship, equality, voting rights, presidents, etc., as well as countless trailblazers and changemakers who forged a path to a more equal and just country. With these books we encourage our youngest citizens to remain hopeful and believe in the possibility of improving so that they, and future generations, will live in a better country and world than we do now.

Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights

Written by Rob Sanders & Illustrated by Jared Andrew Schorr

Protesting. Standing up for what’s right. Uniting around the common good—kids have questions about all of these things they see and hear about each day. Through sparse and lyrical writing, Rob Sanders introduces abstract concepts like “fighting for what you believe in” and turns them into something actionable. Jared Schorr’s bold, bright illustrations brings the resistance to life making it clear that one person can make a difference. And together, we can accomplish anything.

V is for Voting

Written by Kate Farrell & Illustrated by Caitlin Kuhwald

V Is for Voting is an ABC book that introduces progressive families to concepts like social justice and civil rights and reminds readers that every vote counts!

A is for active participation.
B is for building a more equal nation.
C is for citizens’ rights and our duty.
is for difference, our strength and our beauty.

An engaging introduction to the tenets of democracy, V Is for Voting is a playful, poetic, and powerful primer about the importance of voting and activism. 

The Night Before Election Day

Written by Natasha Wing & Illustrated by Amy Wummer

Wave your flags! It’s time to vote! Election Day is right around the corner in the latest big moment to be celebrated in Natasha Wing’s best-selling series.

Yes! It’s almost here. And the big question is: Who will be our next president? Will our leader be a he or a she? A young citizen gives her take on politics and Election Day in this charming story (featuring a colorful sticker sheet!), told in the style of Clement C. Moore’s holiday poem.

Equality’s Call: The Story of Voting Rights in America

Written by Deborah Diesen & Illustrated by Magdalena Mora

A right isn’t right
till it’s granted to all…

The founders of the United States declared that consent of the governed was a key part of their plan for the new nation. But for many years, only white men of means were allowed to vote. This unflinching and inspiring history of voting rights looks back at the activists who answered equality’s call, working tirelessly to secure the right for all to vote, and it also looks forward to the future and the work that still needs to be done.

Vote for Our Future!

Written by Margaret McNamara & Illustrated by Micah Player

Every two years, on the first Tuesday of November, Stanton Elementary School closes for the day. For vacation? Nope! For repairs? No way! Stanton Elementary School closes so that it can transform itself into a polling station. People can come from all over to vote for the people who will make laws for the country. Sure, the Stanton Elementary School students might be too young to vote themselves, but that doesn’t mean they can’t encourage their parents, friends, and family to vote! After all, voting is how this country sees change–and by voting today, we can inspire tomorrow’s voters to change the future.

The Power Book: What is it, Who has it, and Why?

Written by Claire Saunders, Georgia Amson-Bradshaw, Minna Salami, Mik Scarlet, and Hazel Songhurst & Illustrated by Joelle Avelino, Forward by Roxanne Gay

What makes you the boss of me? What makes a king a king, or a queen a queen? Why can some people vote for their leaders, but other people can’t? Does having lots of money make you powerful? Why are there fewer female scientists, leaders, and artists than men in history books?

These are things that kids wonder about. The Power Book answers these and other questions in a relatable way for young people, including thought-provoking discussions on challenging topics, like war, bullyingracismsexism, and homophobia. You will gain an understanding of your place in your family, your school, and the world, and will discover ways in which you can use your own power to shape the future.

I Voted: Making a Choice Makes a Difference

Written by Mark Shulman & Illustrated by Serge Bloch

I Voted explains the concept of choosing, individually, and as a group, from making a simple choice: “Which do you like better, apples or oranges?”, to selecting a class pet, to even more complicated decisions, like electing community representatives.

You may not always get want you want, but there are strategies to better your odds!

Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z

Written by Irene Latham & Charles Waters, Illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini

How can we make the world a better place? This inspiring resource for middle-grade readers is organized as a dictionary; each entry presents a word related to creating a better world, such as ally, empathy, or respect. For each word, there is a poem, a quote from an inspiring person, a personal anecdote from the authors, and a “try it” prompt for an activity.

Get Up, Stand Up

Adapted by Cedella Marley & Illustrated by John Jay Cabuay

A heartfelt and meaningful book that brings Bob Marley’s music to life in a new way: As a young girl goes on with her day in school, she comes across several instances of teasing and intimidation. But with loving action and some help from her friends, she’s able to make things right for herself and others.

Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing

Written by James Weldon Johnson & Illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist

Written by civil rights leader and poet Johnson in 1899, this anthem is sung throughout America. The song is recognized as a testimonial to the struggle and achievements of African-American people – past, present, and future. Featuring stunning, emotionally charged paintings by an award-winning illustrator, this picture book is a treasure for readers of all ages and backgrounds.

When Penny Met Potus

Written by Rachel Ruiz & Illustrated Melissa Manwill

From debut author Rachel Ruiz, When Penny Met POTUS is a unique and clever picture book about a young girl whose mother works for the president of the United States. Penny has heard the term POTUS over and over but doesn’t know what it means―and her imagination runs wild! When she spends a day at the office with her mother, she asks a few questions, looks around, and tries to discover just who―or what― POTUS is.

Americans

Written by Douglas Wood & Illustrated by Elizabeth Sayles

What really makes Americans great?

Americans are different from one another in many ways. But despite these differences, Americans share certain ways of doing and being that hold us all together. From the Fourth of July to the Bill of Rights, Douglas Wood and Elizabeth Sayles share the story of what it is to be American.

Grace for President

Written by Kelly DiPucchio & Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

“Where are the girls?” When Grace’s teacher reveals that the United States has never had a female president, Grace decides she wants to be the nation’s first and immediately jumpstarts her political career by running in her school’s mock election! The race is tougher than she expected: her popular opponent declares that he’s the “best man for the job” and seems to have captured the votes of all of the class’s boys. But Grace is more determined than ever. Even if she can’t be the best man for the job, she can certainly try to be the best person!

This timely story not only gives readers a fun introduction to the American electoral system but also teaches the value of hard work, courage, independent thought — and offers an inspiring example of how to choose our leaders.

Granddaddy’s Gift

Written by Margaree King Mitchell & Illustrated by Larry Johnson

When her granddaddy becomes the first Black registered voter in their small Mississippi town, Little Joe learn about determination and courage in the face of prejudice.

The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch

Written by Chris Barton & Illustrated by Don Tate

John Roy Lynch spent most of his childhood as a slave in Mississippi, but all of that changed with the Emancipation Proclamation. Suddenly people like John Roy could have paying jobs and attend school. While many people in the South were unhappy with the social change, John Roy thrived in the new era. He was appointed to serve as justice of the peace and was eventually elected into the United States Congress.

Vote!

Written & Illustrated by Eileen Christelow

Eileen Christelow’s Vote! has everything you need to know about voting and how our democracy works—parties, voter registration, campaigns, rallies, debates, Election Day, even recounts! Topics are presented in a clear, kid-friendly graphic format as the story of a local election unfolds, with hilarious commentary by the candidates’ pets.

Rebel Voices: The Global Fight for Women’s Equality and the Right to Vote

Written by Eve Lloyd Knight & Illustrated by Louise Kay Stewart

A timely, beautiful and bold compendium of women around the world who said times up on inequality. Rule Breakers. Risk Takers. Rebel Women. Law Makers. This book is a celebration of women standing up, speaking out, and sticking together to battle inequality and win the vote. In January 2017, more than 3 million women around the world marched, demanding their voices be heard and their rights defended. Rebel Voices is a book about historical events, but truly for our times.

Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box

Written by Michael S. Bandy & Eric Stein, Illustrated by James E. Ransome

Based on the true story of one family’s struggle for voting rights in the civil rights–era South, this moving tale shines an emotional spotlight on a dark facet of U.S. history.

Life on the farm with Granddaddy is full of hard work, but despite all the chores, Granddaddy always makes time for play, especially fishing trips. Even when there isn’t a bite to catch, he reminds young Michael that it takes patience to get what’s coming to you. One morning, when Granddaddy heads into town in his fancy suit, Michael knows that something very special must be happening—and sure enough, everyone is lined up at the town hall! For the very first time, Granddaddy is allowed to vote, and he couldn’t be more proud. But can Michael be patient when it seems that justice just can’t come soon enough? This powerful and touching true-life story shares one boy’s perspective of growing up in the segregated South, while beautiful illustrations depict the rural setting in tender detail.

This Is America: The American Spirit in Places and People

Written by Don Robb & Illustrated by Joy Pratt

What is America? It’s the special places that remind us of important events. It’s the people who have dedicated themselves to improving our country. And most of all, it’s the ideals and beliefs that we share. Informative text and bold scratchboard illustrations pay homage to our country’s past and present.

Features a diverse collection of historical figures from science, entertainment, politics, and education.

ABC What an Informed Voter You’ll Be! 

Written by Modern Kid Press & Illustrated by Jacy Corral

In this A to Z overview of American government, children will be introduced to the structures of government, influential leaders in US history, and individual freedoms afforded to all people.

With topics ranging from the Constitution to Democracy to the Electoral College, complex subjects are simplified with engaging writing and eye-catching illustrations. Even young elementary children will be excited to learn what it means to be an American!

Small and mighty, this book will help raise up the next generation of engaged, informed, VOTING Americans prepared to exercise their democratic rights.

What Do You Do with a Voice Like That?: The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan

Written by Chris Barton & Illustrated by Ekua Holmes

Even as a child growing up in the Fifth Ward of Houston, Texas, Barbara Jordan stood out for her big, bold, booming, crisp, clear, confident voice. It was a voice that made people sit up, stand up, and take notice.

So what do you do with a voice like that?

Barbara took her voice to places few African American women had been in the 1960s: first law school, then the Texas state senate, then up to the United States congress. Throughout her career, she persevered through adversity to give voice to the voiceless and to fight for civil rights, equality, and justice.

What Does It Mean to Be American?

Written by Rana DiOrio & Elad Yoran, Illustrated by Nina Mata

What does it mean to be American? Does it mean you like apple pie or fireworks? Not exactly.

This patriotic picture book is perfect for Memorial Day, Independence Day, Election Day, or any day you want to share with your child what it means to be an American. After all, Fourth of July isn’t the only time to celebrate what makes America special!

While politics seem to divide our country into the two opposing teams of red and blue, one truth remains: we are all Americans. But what does that mean?

We Are the Change: Words of Inspiration from Civil Rights Leaders

Sixteen award-winning children’s book artists illustrate the civil rights quotations that inspire them in this stirring and beautiful book. Featuring an introduction by Harry Belafonte, words from Eleanor Roosevelt, Maya Angelou, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. among others, this inspirational collection sets a powerful example for generations of young leaders to come. It includes illustrations by Selina Alko, Alina Chau, Lisa Congdon, Emily Hughes, Molly Idle, Juana Medina, Innosanto Nagara, Christopher Silas Neal, John Parra, Brian Pinkney, Greg Pizzoli, Sean Qualls, Dan Santat, Shadra Strickland, Melissa Sweet, and Raúl the Third.

The Teachers March!: How Selma’s Teachers Changed History

Written by Sandra Neil Wallace & Rich Wallace, Illustrated by Charly Palmer

Reverend F.D. Reese was a leader of the Voting Rights Movement in Selma, Alabama. As a teacher and principal, he recognized that his colleagues were viewed with great respect in the city. Could he convince them to risk their jobs–and perhaps their lives–by organizing a teachers-only march to the county courthouse to demand their right to vote? On January 22, 1965, the Black teachers left their classrooms and did just that, with Reverend Reese leading the way. Noted nonfiction authors Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace conducted the last interviews with Reverend Reese before his death in 2018 and interviewed several teachers and their family members in order to tell this story, which is especially important today.

Finish the Fight!: The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote

Written by Veronica Chambers & The Staff of The New York Times

Who was at the forefront of women’s right to vote? We know a few famous names, like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, but what about so many others from diverse backgrounds—black, Asian, Latinx, Native American, and more—who helped lead the fight for suffrage? On the hundredth anniversary of the historic win for women’s rights, it’s time to celebrate the names and stories of the women whose stories have yet to be told.

How Women Won the Vote: Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and Their Big Idea

Written by Susan Campbell Bartoletti & Illustrated by Ziyue Chen

From Newbery Honor medalist Susan Campbell Bartoletti and in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in America comes the page-turning, stunningly illustrated, and tirelessly researched story of the little-known DC Women’s March of 1913.

Bartoletti spins a story like few others—deftly taking readers by the hand and introducing them to suffragists Alice Paul and Lucy Burns. Paul and Burns met in a London jail and fought their way through hunger strikes, jail time, and much more to win a long, difficult victory for America and its women.

Citizen Baby: My Vote

Written by Megan E. Bryant & Daniel Prosterman, Illustrated by Micah Player

Citizen Baby knows a thing or two about voting. It’s important to meet the candidates (they love babies!) and to call voters. Plus, you get a sticker at the polls! Children and adults alike will enjoy learning about voting in this adorable, informative board book.

Citizen Baby: My President

Written by Megan E. Bryant & Daniel Prosterman, Illustrated by Micah Player

What does the president do all day? Citizen Baby knows! Learn all about the most powerful person in the world from the most powerful person in the household. Children and adults alike will enjoy learning about the presidency in this adorable, informative board book.

We Came to America

Written & Illustrated by Faith Ringgold

From the Native Americans who first called this land their home, to the millions of people who have flocked to its shores ever since, America is a country rich in diversity. Some of our ancestors were driven by dreams and hope. Others came in chains, or were escaping poverty or persecution. No matter what brought them here, each person embodied a unique gift—their art and music, their determination and grit, their stories and their culture. And together they forever shaped the country we all call home. Vividly expressed in Faith Ringgold’s sumptuous colors and patterns, We Came to America is an ode to every American who came before us, and a tribute to each child who will carry its proud message of diversity into our nation’s future.

Lift as You Climb: The Story of Ella Baker 

Written by Patricia Hruby & Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

“What do you hope to accomplish?” asked Ella Baker’s granddaddy when she was still a child.
Her mother provided the answer: “Lift as you climb.”

Long before the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, Ella Baker worked to lift others up by fighting racial injustice and empowering poor African Americans to stand up for their rights. Her dedication and grassroots work in many communities made her a valuable ally for leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and she has been ranked as one of the most influential women in the civil rights movement. In the 1960s she worked to register voters and organize sit-ins, and she became a teacher and mentor to many young activists.

When a Bully is President: Truth and Creativity for Oppressive Times

Written & Illustrated by Maya Gonzalez

Bullying is real, but we can change the story by changing the focus. Begin with yourself. Begin the journey of art activist. You are the artist. You are the storyteller. Change yourself. Change the world!

The Next President: The Unexpected Beginnings and Unwritten Future of America’s Presidents

Written by Kate Messner & Illustrated by Adam Rex

Who will be the NEXT president? Could it be you? When George Washington became the first president of the United States, there were nine future presidents already alive in America, doing things like practicing law or studying medicine.

When JFK became the thirty-fifth president, there were 10 future presidents already alive in America, doing things like hosting TV shows and learning the saxophone.

And right now—today!—there are at least 10 future presidents alive in America. They could be playing basketball, like Barack Obama, or helping in the garden, like Dwight D. Eisenhower. They could be solving math problems or reading books. They could be making art—or already making change.

Her Right Foot

Written by Dave Eggers & Illustrated by Shawn Harris

If you had to name a statue, any statue, odds are good you’d mention the Statue of Liberty. Have you seen her?

She’s in New York.
She’s holding a torch.
And she’s in mid-stride, moving forward.
But why?

In this fascinating and fun take on nonfiction for kids, Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris investigate a seemingly small trait of America’s most emblematic statue. What they find is about more than history, more than art. What they find in the Statue of Liberty’s right foot is the powerful message of acceptance that is essential of an entire country’s creation.

What Can A Citizen Do?

Written by Dave Eggers & Illustrated by Shawn Harris

This is a book about what citizenship—good citizenship—means to you, and to us all: Across the course of several seemingly unrelated but ultimately connected actions by different children, we watch how kids turn a lonely island into a community—and watch a journey from what the world should be to what the world could be.

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters

Written by Barack Obama & Illustrated by Loren Long

In this tender, beautiful letter to his daughters, President Barack Obama has written a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation. From the artistry of Georgia O’Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson, to the patriotism of George Washington, President Obama sees the traits of these heroes within his own children, and within all of America’s children.

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35 Diverse & Inclusive Books for ‘Back to School’

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Hello Literally Cultured Readers!

Wow! I can’t believe a new school year is upon us, and whether a teacher, parent, or a caregiver — will be one that will surely be different than we have ever experienced before. I myself am gearing up for returning to school as full-time online teacher. Among the myriad of concerns I have, probably the biggest one is how to effectively build an online classroom community.

While building community was at the forefront of my mind in curating this list, as you know, representation and diversity in my picture book selections has always been my top priority. I kept these two goals in mind when selecting the books on this list. Even as a 4th grade teacher, picture book read alouds are a MUST. I am always looking for new or new (to me) titles that will resonate with my students and my own children — and in this case, that touch upon important social situations, emotions, feelings, and interactions within the school setting. Additionally, because many teachers like myself will not be in a brick and mortar classroom, I have included online versions of the texts that are available to read for free (for educators) on Epic.com. Click on the Epic logo when you see it to be redirected to the book on the website.

Still want more? Check out my “Back to School” book list from 2019 here!

Thank you for continuing to explore my book recommendations and I hope you have a safe and fun start to the school year!

Happy Reading,

Shannon

All Welcome Here

Written by James Preller & Illustrated by Mary GrandPre

The bus door swishes
Open, an invitation.
Someone is not sure . . .

The first day of school and all its excitement, challenges, and yes, anxieties, are celebrated here in connected haiku poems. A diverse cast of characters all start―and finish―their first days of school, and have experiences that all children will relate to.

ABC Ready for School: An Alphabet of Social Skills

Written by Celeste Delaney & Illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman

C is for cooperate. G is for grow. P is for play! This friendly and reassuring alphabet book helps young children (and those who care for them) consider, explore, and discuss a wide range of skills related to school readiness. Kids preparing for kindergarten or preK will learn social skills from A to Z, building or reinforcing their knowledge of the alphabet at the same time. Charming art brings the skills to life with encouraging scenes of fun and learning in the classroom, on the playground, and more. A special section for adults presents ideas for helping children get ready for this big change and have a successful start to school.

Grandmother School

Written by Rina Singh & Illustrated by Ellen Rooney

Every morning, a young girl walks her grandmother to the Aajibaichi Shala, the school that was built for the grandmothers in her village to have a place to learn to read and write. The narrator beams with pride as she drops her grandmother off with the other aajis to practice the alphabet and learn simple arithmetic. A moving story about family, women and the power of education―when Aaji learns to spell her name you’ll want to dance along with her. Based on a true story from the village of Phangane, India, this brilliantly illustrated book tells the story of the grandmothers who got to go to school for the first time in their lives.

When Charley Met Emma

Written by Amy Webb & Illustrated by Merrilee Liddiard

When Charley goes to the playground and sees Emma, a girl with limb differences who gets around in a wheelchair, he doesn’t know how to react at first. But after he and Emma start talking, he learns that different isn’t bad, sad, or strange–different is just different, and different is great!

This delightful book will help kids think about disability, kindness, and how to behave when they meet someone who is different from them.

Butterflies on the First Day of School

Written by Annie Silvestro & Illustrated by Dream Chen

Rosie can’t wait to start kindergarten—she’s had her pencils sharpened and her backpack ready for weeks. But suddenly, on the night before the big day, her tummy hurts. Rosie’s mom reassures her that it’s just butterflies in her belly, and she’ll feel better soon. Much to Rosie’s surprise, when she says hello to a new friend on the bus, a butterfly flies out of her mouth! As the day goes on, Rosie frees all her butterflies, and even helps another shy student let go of hers, too.

Danbi Leads the School Parade

Written & Illustrated by Anna Kim

Danbi is thrilled to start her new school in America. But a bit nervous too, for when she walks into the classroom, everything goes quiet. Everyone stares. Danbi wants to join in the dances and the games, but she doesn’t know the rules and just can’t get anything right. Luckily, she isn’t one to give up. With a spark of imagination, she makes up a new game and leads her classmates on a parade to remember! Danbi Leads the School Parade introduces readers to an irresistible new character. In this first story, she learns to navigate her two cultures and realizes that when you open your world to others, their world opens up to you.

I Am Because I Choose

Written by Patrice McLaurin & Illustrated by Dian Wang

I Am Because I Choose is an engaging picture book that encourages children to embrace their most amazing SUPERPOWER which is their power to CHOOSE! Each page demonstrates how children can become whatever it is that they choose to be while highlighting the positive consequences that can result from making good choices! The book is also a wonderful Social Emotional Learning tool that can be easily used to help facilitate the core competencies of SEL. It fosters an understanding of the important connection between behavior and personal choice, thus promoting self-awareness, which consequently results in better decision making. Furthermore, it emboldens children with the knowledge that they get to choose how they behave and empowers them by allowing for ownership of their choices. This will ultimately work to assist children in eliminating the urge to blame others for what it is that they choose to do. 

a kids book about bullying

Written by Elizabeth Tom

Sometimes kids can be mean. Really mean. While sticks and stones might break some bones, words will always hurt more.  This book explores how hard bullying can be and how complicated it can be to call it what it is when it’s happening.  

Our Class is a Family

Written by Shannon Olsen & Illustrated by Sandie Sonke

Teachers do so much more than just teach academics. They build a sense of community within their classrooms, creating a home away from home where they make their students feel safe, included, and loved.

With its heartfelt message and colorfully whimsical illustrations, “Our Class is a Family” is a book that will help build and strengthen that class community. Kids learn that their classroom is a place where it’s safe to be themselves, it’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s important to be a friend to others. When hearing this story being read aloud by their teacher, students are sure to feel like they are part of a special family.

I Promise

Written by LeBron James & Illustrated by Nina Mata

Just a kid from Akron, Ohio, who is dedicated to uplifting youth everywhere, LeBron James knows the key to a better future is to excel in school, do your best, and keep your family close.

I Promise is a lively and inspiring picture book that reminds us that tomorrow’s success starts with the promises we make to ourselves and our community today.

Where’s Rodney?

Written by Carmen Bogan & Illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Rodney is that kid who just can’t sit still. He’s inside, but he wants to be outside. Outside is where Rodney always wants to be. Between school and home, there is a park. He knows all about that park. It’s that triangle-shaped place with the yellow grass and two benches where grown-ups sit around all day. Besides, his momma said to stay away from that park. When Rodney finally gets a chance to go to a real park, with plenty of room to run and climb and shout, and to just be himself, he will never be the same.

I’m Gonna Push Through!

Written by Jasmyn Wright & Illustrated by Shannon Wright

Hold your head high. No matter what stands in the way of your dreams, remember this: YOU can push through anything!
If someone tells you it’s too hard, don’t you 
ever listen. You tell them, “I’m gonna push through!”

Inspired by a mantra written for her third-grade students, Jasmyn Wright’s uplifting call to “push through” is an invitation to young readers to announce their own power and to recognize and reaffirm that of others, regardless of setbacks. Her empowering words not only lift children up, but show them how to lift themselves up and seize their potential.

Your Name is a Song

Written by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow & Illustrated by Luisa Uribe

Frustrated by a day full of teachers and classmates mispronouncing her beautiful name, a little girl tells her mother she never wants to come back to school. In response, the girl’s mother teaches her about the musicality of African, Asian, Black-American, Latinx, and Middle Eastern names on their lyrical walk home through the city. Empowered by this newfound understanding, the young girl is ready to return the next day to share her knowledge with her class. Your Name is a Song is a celebration to remind all of us about the beauty, history, and magic behind names.

My Name is Bilal

Written by  Asma Mobin-Uddin MD M.D. & Illustrated by Barbara Kiwak

When Bilal and his sister Ayesha move with their family, they have to attend a new school. They soon find out that they may be the only Muslim students there. When Bilal sees his sister bullied on their first day, he worries about being teased himself, and thinks it might be best if his classmates didn’t know that he is Muslim. Maybe if he tells kids his name is Bill, rather than Bilal, then they would leave him alone. Mr. Ali, one of Bilal’s teachers and also Muslim, sees how Bilal is struggling. He gives Bilal a book about the first person to give the call to prayer during the time of the Prophet Muhammad. That person was another Bilal: Bilal Ibn Rabah. What Bilal learns from the book forms the compelling story of a young boy grappling with his identity.

S is for School

by Greg Paprocki

An ABC primer that introduces your brilliant baby to what to expect when they’re ready to go to school.

Lots of kids look forward to going back to school each fall. This collection of 26 illustrations featuring words from A to Z will introduce toddlers to what all the fuss is about in a unique and engaging way. Included are artist Greg Paprocki’s colorful and wonderfully detailed illustrations that bring to life concepts from the school bus to the classroom, including activities, school subjects, friends, classmates, and teachers.

Oopsie-Do!

Written by Tim Kubart & Illustrated by Lori Richmond

From Grammy Award–winning musician and TV host Tim Kubart and illustrator Lori Richmond comes a lively picture book debut that reassures children that it’s okay to make mistakes!

When a girl drops her snack or scrapes her knee, does she get upset? No! She says, “Oopsie-do!” Readers will delight as they follow along and call out the OOPSIE-DO! refrain throughout the story.

Goodbye Brings Hello

Written by Dianne White & Illustrated by Daniel Wiseman

There are many ways of letting go. 
With each goodbye, a new hello.

From being pushed on a swing to learning how to pump your legs yourself, from riding a beloved trike to mastering your first bike ride, from leaving the comforts of home behind to venturing forth on that first day of school, milestones are exciting but hard. They mean having to say goodbye to one moment in order to welcome the next.   
  

The Unicorn Came to Dinner

Written by Lauren DeStefano & Illustrated by Gaia Cornwall

The unicorn smells nice, but she is very rude. She never waits for an invitation to come over―she walks right in and tracks heart-shaped hoof-prints across the carpet. She sits in Elizabeth’s chair and makes a complete mess of the house. She even sleeps in Elizabeth’s bed.

But the unicorn is no ordinary unicorn . . .

In The Unicorn Came to Dinner, author Lauren DeStefano and illustrator Gaia Cornwall invite parents and their kids to talk about feelings―especially worries and anxiety―and ultimately about how to be yourself.

All Are Welcome

Written by Alexandra Penfold & Illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman

Discover a school where—no matter what—young children have a place, have a space, and are loved and appreciated.

Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where students from all backgrounds learn from and celebrate each other’s traditions. A school that shows the world as we will make it to be.

a kids book about belonging

Written by Kevin Carroll

This is a book about belonging. It tackles what it’s like when you feel like you belong to a group or family or team and what it’s like when you don’t. It addresses what it feels like when you don’t fit in, or when others don’t want you around. This book teaches kids how to belong to themselves and how that helps them belong anywhere.

Fun and Games: Everyday Play

Written by Celeste Cortwright & Illustrated by Sophie Fatus

Follow a diverse group of children as they enjoy their favorite games! Readers can delight in familiar play like hide-and-seek to more unusual activities like tangrams, all while learning about the importance of taking turns and participating. Includes educational endnotes about the cultural origins of the featured games and toys.

From Far Away

Written by Robert Munsch & Saoussan Askar, Illustrated by Rebecca Green

When Saoussan immigrated with her family from war-torn Lebanon, she was only seven years old. This picture book tells the story of how she had to adjust to her new home in Canada. She describes the frustration of not understanding the teacher when she started school, not knowing how to ask to go to the bathroom, and being terrified of a Halloween skeleton. This is the perfect book to help kids empathize with immigrant children whose experiences are very similar to Saoussan’s.

The Honest-to-Goodness Truth

Written by Patricia C. McKissack & Illustrated by Giselle Potter

If telling the truth is the right thing to do, why is the whole world mad at Libby?

“Tell the truth and shame the devil,” Libby’s mama has told her. So whatever is Libby doing wrong? Ever since she started telling only the truth, the whole world seems to be mad at her. First it’s her best friend, Ruthie Mae, who gets upset when Libby tells all their friends that Ruthie Mae has a hole in her sock. Then Willie gives her an ugly look when she tells the teacher he hasn’t done his homework. It seems that telling the truth isn’t always so simple.

Be Kind

Written by Pat Zietlow Miller & Illustrated by Jen Hill

When Tanisha spills grape juice all over her new dress, her classmate wants to make her feel better, wondering: What does it mean to be kind?

From asking the new girl to play to standing up for someone being bullied, this moving story explores what kindness is, and how any act, big or small, can make a difference―or at least help a friend.

With a gentle text from the award-winning author of Sophie’s Squash, Pat Zietlow Miller, and irresistible art from Jen Hill, Be Kind is an unforgettable story about how two simple words can change the world.

The Day You Begin

Written by Jacqueline Woodson & Illustrated by Rafael Lopez

There will be times when you walk into a room
and no one there is quite like you.

There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.

Book or Bell?: The Story of a boy, a great book, and a loud bell

Written by Chris Barton & Illustrated by Ashley Spires

The first page has Henry hooked. The second page has him captivated. The third page . . .

BBBBRRRRIIIIINNNNNGGGGG! . . . will have to wait. That is, unless Henry ignores the bell, stays put, and keeps on reading the most awesome book.

By not springing up with the ringing of the bell, Henry sets off a chain reaction unlike anything his school or town has ever seen. Luckily, Mayor Wise, Governor Bright, and Senator Brilliant know exactly what the situation calls for: A louder bell. MUCH louder.

My Panda Sweater

Written by Gilles Baum & Illustrated by Barroux

A quirky kid doesn’t mind too much when classmates tease her for dancing in her beloved sweater with panda ears. When she outgrows the sweater and donates it, she starts to think about the stories behind the clothing she sees. When she sees her panda sweater again, this time being worn by a new classmate who recently moved to town looking for a safer place to live, she knows she’s found a new dance partner. Brought to life by sweet, quirky artwork by beloved French illustrator Barroux, this timely story addresses difficult topics, such as immigration, with a light, engaging and child-friendly approach. It also offers the perfect opportunity to start conversations about a wide range of important subjects for social-emotional growth: bullying, friendship, sharing, new experiences and self-confidence.

Our Favorite Day of the Year

Written by A.E. Ali & Illustrated by Rahele Jomepour Bell

Musa’s feeling nervous about his first day of school. He’s not used to being away from home and he doesn’t know any of the other kids in his class. And when he meets classmates Moisés, Mo, and Kevin, Musa isn’t sure they’ll have much in common. But over the course of the year, the four boys learn more about each other, the holidays they celebrate, their favorite foods, and what they like about school. The more they share with each other, the closer they become, until Musa can’t imagine any better friends.

Greetings, Leroy

Written by Itah Sadu & Illustrated by Alix Delinois

The first day at a new school is nerve-wracking enough, never mind when it’s in a new country! In this lively picture book from award-winning storyteller Itah Sadu, Roy realizes he may come to love his new home as much as he loves his old home.

Rulers of the Playground

Written & Illustrated by Joseph Kuefler

One morning, Jonah decided to become ruler of the playground.

Everyone agreed to obey his rules to play in King Jonah’s kingdom . . .

Everyone except for Lennox . . . because she wanted to rule the playground, too.

I Got the School Spirit

Written by Connie Schofield-Morrison & Illustrated by Frank Morrison

Summer is over, and this little girl has got the school spirit! She hears the school spirit in the bus driving up the street–VROOM, VROOM!–and in the bell sounding in the halls–RING-A-DING! She sings the school spirit in class with her friends–ABC, 123!

The school spirit helps us all strive and grow. What will you learn today?

A New School Year: Stories in Six Voices

Written by Sally Derby & Illustrated by Mika Song

In a unique narrative, readers meet a diverse group of six children ranging in age from Kindergarten through fifth grade. With nerves and excitement each child gears up for a new school year by hustling in the morning, meeting new teachers and new classmates during the day, and heading home with homework and relief by day’s end.

Simple, bright illustrations focus on each child and his/her worries, hopes, and successes on the first day of school.

David Jumps In

Written by Alan Woo & Illustrated by Katty Maurey

This lyrical tale, written in simple free verse, tells how a game with roots in ancient China — called elastic skip in this story — helps a boy find his footing on his first day at a new school.

It is David’s first day at his brand-new school. He doesn’t know anyone. At recess, he stands alone and watches the other children enjoying their activities on the playground, from practicing soccer moves and climbing monkey bars to playing hopscotch and daydreaming in the grass. Bundled deep inside David’s pocket is a string of rubber bands, knotted and ready for a game of elastic skip. But will anyone want to try that game? he wonders. Will anyone want to play with him?

Ruby’s Walk to School

Written by Kathryn White & Illustrated by Miriam Latimer

It’s Ruby’s first day at school, and it feels like there are beasts lurking around every corner! How will Mom help her find her courage? Ruby and Mom’s adventures open the door for caregivers to ask children about their anxieties about new experiences.

Lola Goes to School

Written by Anna McQuinn & Illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw

Lola and her family prepare for the first day of school the night before, then get up early, take pictures, and head to class. Lola puts her things in her cubby, chooses her activities, reads, plays, and has a snack. Before she knows it, it’s time to sing the good-bye song and rush into Mommy’s arms for a warm reunion. A comforting, cheerful read that demystifies the school day for preschoolers and kindergarteners.

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Multiracial Representation: Books highlighting interracial families & the biracial experience

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At this point I’m sure that it is no secret that I am a momma of three biracial (black and white) boys, and am constantly looking for books that they can connect to. The following selection of picture books directly accomplishes one of the following:

  1. biracial and/or multiracial identity and addressing the concept of race
  2. books that depict multiracial and interracial families as characters within typical children’s book narratives

Not only is it important for my sons to see themselves in the books they read but it is also equally important for their non-biracial counterparts and peers. All children should have access to books that don’t depict BIPOC characters as a monolith or in stereotypical narratives. These books are great starting points for conversation with young children inside and outside the classroom, helping to foster understanding, acceptance, and eventually celebration of those that are different than themselves.

Mixed Me!

Written by Taye Diggs & Illustrated by Shane W. Evans

Mom and Dad say I’m a blend of dark and light:
“We mixed you perfectly, and got you just right.”

Mike has awesome hair. He has LOTS of energy! His parents love him. And Mike is a PERFECT blend of the two of them.

Still, Mike has to answer LOTS of questions about being mixed. And he does, with LOTS of energy and joy in this charming story about a day in the life of a mixed-race child.

I’m Mixed!

Written by Maggy Williams & Illustrated by Elizabeth Hasegawa Agresta

Growing up as a biracial child, Maggy Williams had three options: she could identify as black, white, or mixed. She chose to embrace her multiracial heritage because she was taught that she could. Her hope is that this book will help children to realize that it is possible to integrate their multiple racial identities.

black is brown is tan

Written by Arnold Adoff & Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

Brown-skinned mama, the color of chocolate milk and pumpkin pie. White-skinned daddy, not the color of milk or snow, but light with pinks and tiny tans. And their two children, the beautiful colors of both.

For an all-American family, full of joy, warmth, and love, this is the way it is for us / this is the way we are

When it was first published in 1973, black is brown is tan featured the first interracial family in children’s books. Decades later, Arnold Adoff’s and Emily Arnold McCully’s picture book continues to offer a joyous and loving celebration of all the colors of the race, now newly embellished with bright watercolor paintings that depict a contemporary family of the twenty-first century.

Me and My Family Tree

Written by Joan Sweeney & Illustrated by Emma Trithart

Who is part of your family? How are they related to you? 

In this edition of Me and My Family Tree, with new art by Emma Trithart, a young girl uses simple language, her own childlike drawings, and diagrams to explain how the members of her family are related to each other and to her. Clear, colorful, detailed artwork and a fill-in family tree in the back help make the parts of the family–from siblings to grandparents to cousins–understandable to very young readers.

Mixed: A Colorful Story

Written & Illustrated by Arree Chung

In the beginning, there were three colors . . .

Reds,

Yellows,

and Blues.

All special in their own ways, all living in harmony―until one day, a Red says “Reds are the best!” and starts a color kerfuffle. When the colors decide to separate, is there anything that can change their minds?

A Yellow, a Blue, and a never-before-seen color might just save the day in this inspiring book about color, tolerance, and embracing differences.

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match: Marisol McDonald no combina

Written by Monica Brown & Illustrated by Sara Palacios

My name is Marisol McDonald, and I don’t match. At least, that’s what everyone tells me.

Marisol McDonald has flaming red hair and nut-brown skin. Polka dots and stripes are her favorite combination. She prefers peanut butter and jelly burritos in her lunch box. And don’t even think of asking her to choose one or the other activity at recess—she’ll just be a soccer playing pirate princess, thank you very much. To Marisol McDonald, these seemingly mismatched things make perfect sense together.

Unfortunately, they don’t always make sense to everyone else. Other people wrinkle their nose in confusion at Marisol—can’t she just be one or the other? Try as she might, in a world where everyone tries to put this biracial, Peruvian-Scottish-American girl into a box, Marisol McDonald doesn’t match. And that’s just fine with her.

I Am Mixed (I Am Book)

Written by Garcelle Beauvais & Sebastian Jones & Illustrated by James C. Webster

Jay and Nia are the children of two worlds, and as they will discover, they can enjoy the best of both. From Mommy’s jazz beats to Daddy’s classical piano, we will dance with the twins through a book that explores what it is to be of mixed ancestry, proving that a child is more than the sum of their parents.

Spork

Written by Kyo Maclear & Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

When you’re a little bit spoon and little bit fork, where do you go when the table is set? A funny “multi-cutlery” tale for everyone who has ever wondered about their place in the world.

Spork is neither spoon nor fork but, rather, a bit of both. His (spoon) mother and (fork) father think he’s perfect just the way he is. Only, Spork stands out. All the other cutlery belongs with those like themselves, and they all have a specific purpose. Spork tries fitting in with the spoons, and then with the forks, but he isn’t quite enough like either. Instead, he watches from the drawer at dinnertime as the others get to play with the food and then enjoy a nice warm bath in the sink. But one morning, a “messy thing” arrives. A thing that has obviously never heard of cutlery customs or table manners. Will Spork finally find his place at the table?

The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage

Written by Selina Alko & Illustrated by Sean Qualls

For most children these days it would come as a great shock to know that before 1967, they could not marry a person of a race different from their own. That was the year that the Supreme Court issued its decision in Loving v. Virginia.

This is the story of one brave family: Mildred Loving, Richard Perry Loving, and their three children. It is the story of how Mildred and Richard fell in love, and got married in Washington, D.C. But when they moved back to their hometown in Virginia, they were arrested (in dramatic fashion) for violating that state’s laws against interracial marriage. The Lovings refused to allow their children to get the message that their parents’ love was wrong and so they fought the unfair law, taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court – and won!

Mixed: Portraits of Multiracial Kids

Words & Art by Kip Fulbeck

From beloved writer and artist Kip Fulbeck, author of Part Asian, 100% Hapa, this timely collection of portraits celebrates the faces and voices of mixed-race children. At a time when 7 million people in the U.S. alone identify as belonging to more than one race, interest in issues of multiracial identity is rapidly growing. Overflowing with uplifting elements—including charming images, handwritten statements from the children, first-person text from their parents, a foreword by Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng (President Obama’s sister), and an afterword by international star Cher (who is part Cherokee)—this volume is an inspiring vision of the future.

Lulu the One and Only

Written by Lynnette Mawhinney & Illustrated by Jennie Poh

Lulu loves her family, but people are always asking: What are you?

Lulu hates that question. Her brother inspires her to come up with a power phrase so she can easily express who she is, not what she is.  

Includes a note from the author, sharing her experience as the only biracial person in her family and advice for navigating the complexity of when both parents do not share the same racial identity as their children.

Maisie’s Scrapbook

Written by Samuel Narh & Illustrated by Jo Loring-Fisher

As the seasons turn, Maisie rides her bull in and out of Dada’s tall tales. Her Mama wears linen and plays the viola. Her Dada wears kente cloth and plays the marimba.They come from different places, but they hug her in the same way. And most of all, they love her just the same. A joyful celebration of a mixed-race family and the love that binds us all together.

Two Mrs. Gibsons

Written by Toyomi Igus & Illustrated by Daryl Wells

Two Mrs. Gibsons is author Toyomi Igus’s tender and touching tribute to the two most important women in her life, her Japanese mother and her African-American grandmother. In it, Toyomi celebrates the richness of growing up biracial. From her grandmother’s big bear hugs to her mother’s light caresses, from playing with her grandmother’s fancy Sunday-meetin’ hats to trying on her mother’s kimono, the author conveys the warmth of these special relationships.

Black White, Just Right!

Written by Marguerite W. Davol & Illustrated by Irene Trivas

This simple story celebrates how the differences between one mother and father blend to make the perfect combination in their daughter. As this little family moves through the world, the girl notes some of the ways that her parents are different from each other, and how she is different from both of them. With each difference she lists, she highlights the ways that their individual characteristics join together to make her family. The fact that her mother is African American and her father is white is just one of the many interesting things that make this little girl and her family “just right.”

An African Princess

Written by Lyra Edmonds & Illustrated by Anne Wilson

I walk tall and say, “I’m Lyra. I’m an African princess. That’s me.”

Lyra’s mama tells her that she’s a princess from Africa. But at school the kids poke fun and call her silly. How many African princesses have freckles and live on the tenth floor? But on a visit to the Caribbean, Lyra meets her Taunte May, who shows Lyra how she is one in a long line of princesses from Africa. Based on author Lyra Edmonds’s own life and beautifully illustrated with Anne Wilson’s richly textured art, this is the wonderful story of a child who learns to be proud of who she is.

I’m Your Peanut Butter Big Brother

Written & Illustrated by Selina Alko

In this delightfully engaging picture book, our narrator, big brother, uses his boundless imagination to wonder what his new sibling will look like.

Baby brother or sister, will you look like me? I blend from semisweet dark
Daddy chocolate bar and strawberry cream Mama’s milk.
My hair is soft crunchy billows of cotton candy.
I’m your peanut butter big-brother-to-be.

Selina Alko’s lyrical and jazz-like text, matched with the vibrant energy of her illustrations, perfectly captures the excitement of a new baby for an older sibling, while celebrating the genuine love of family.

Honeysmoke: A Story of Finding Your Color

Written by Monique Fields & Illustrated by Yesenia Moises

A young biracial girl looks around her world for her color. She finally chooses her own, and creates a new word for herself―honeysmoke.

Simone wants a color.

She asks Mama, “Am I black or white?”

“Boo,” Mama says, just like mamas do, “a color is just a word.”

She asks Daddy, “Am I black or white?”

“Well,” Daddy says, just like daddies do, “you’re a little bit of both.”

For multiracial children, and all children everywhere, this picture book offers a universal message that empowers young people to create their own self-identity.

Real Sisters Pretend

Written by Megan Dowd Lambert & Illustrated by Nicole Tadgell

This warm, engaging story, which unfolds entirely through the conversation of two adopted sisters, was inspired by the author’s own daughters, whom she overheard talking about how adoption made them “real sisters” even though they have different birth parents and do not look alike.

Marvelous Maravilloso: Me and My Beautiful Family

Written by Carrie Lara & Illustrated by Christine Battuz

The world is full of different colors…hundreds of colors, everywhere.
People are different colors too. Our colors make us beautiful and unique.
Mommy says it is part of our culture and the big word diversity — diversidad.

Marvelous Maravilloso follows a young girl as she finds joy in the colors of the world all around her. Her vantage point is particularly special as she comes from a bi-cultural family, and is able to appreciate the differences between her parents, as well as her own unique and beautiful color. As she is coming into her own identity and exploring what this means for her, she comes to appreciate how all families are uniquely beautiful.

Includes a Note to Parents and Caregivers about celebrating the different kinds of people and families there are in the world.

The Heart of Mi Familia

Written by Carrie Lara & Illustrated by Christine Battuz

Follow a young girl as she works with her abuela and her grandma to create a wonderful birthday present for her brother that celebrates her multicultural family and honors both sides and generations of her family. This follow up to the award winning Marvelous Maravilliso: Me and My Beautiful Family is a must-read for all families.

French Toast

Written by Kari-Lynn Winters & Illustrated by Francois Thisdale

Phoebe―half Jamaican, half French-Canadian―hates her school nickname of “French Toast.” So she is mortified when, out on a walk with her Jamaican grandmother, she hears a classmate shout it out at her. To make things worse, Nan-Ma, who is blind, wants an explanation of the name. How can Phoebe describe the color of her skin to someone who has never seen it? “Like tea, after you’ve added the milk,” she says. And her father? “Like warm banana bread.” And Nan-Ma herself? She is like maple syrup poured over…well…

In French Toast, Kari-Lynn Winters uses descriptions of favorite foods from both of Phoebe’s cultures to celebrate the varied skin tones of her family. François Thisdale’s imaginative illustrations fill the landscape with whimsy and mouthwatering delight as Phoebe realizes her own resilience and takes ownership of her nickname proudly.

“Daddy Why Am I Brown?”: A healthy conversation about skin color and family

Written by Bedford Palmer & Illustrated by Winda Mulyasari

Joy lives in a diverse world and comes from a multicultural family. It is only natural for her to have some questions. Join Joy as she learns how to describe skin color, and about how her skin color can tell her about where her family is from, but not really about who they are. “Daddy Why Am I Brown?” is meant to be a starter conversation on how kids can learn to talk about skin color in a way that is kind, thoughtful, and healthy. And in the process, they learn a little bit about how to understand the difference between race, ethnicity, and culture.

Biracial, Multiracial & Interracial Representation in Picture Books

Oscar’s Half Birthday

Written & Illustrated by Bob Graham

Oscar is six months old today, but the truth is that no one can wait for his whole birthday. So there’s nothing else for Mom and Dad to do but pack some sandwiches, park Oscar in his stroller, and take older sister Millie — handmade fairy wings attached — to the “half country” of their urban park for a half-birthday party. As always in the warm, quirky world of Bob Graham, the joy is in the details — a stop in a graffitied tunnel as the train rushes overhead; the expressions on Oscar’s face as he watches a single leaf fall; the little half candle on his cake; and the impromptu gathering of admiring park visitors who join, one by one, in the hearty birthday song. With his jaunty watercolors full of charming surprises and a gently humorous text, Bob Graham creates an endearing, unconventional family readers will be happy to meet, and they’ll be tickled to join in their celebration.

Ten Tiny Tickles

Written & Illustrated by Karen Katz

From one tiny tickle on a lovely little head to ten twirling tickles on tender tubby toes, this book counts up the number of tickles each member of the family gives from one to ten! This charming Karen Katz board book with a counting concept is perfect for sharing with even the youngest readers!

Fussy Freya

Written by Katharine Quarmby & Illustrated by Piet Grobler

The old Freya loved nothing more than a delicious meal. The new one has suddenly decided that food is not nice and that she won’t take a single bite that night, or the next night, or the next! Before long, Mum and Dad are at their wits’ end. But Grandma and Grandpa have seen the problem before, and they may hold the key to changing the stubborn little girl’s mind. Fussy Freya uses a whimsical narrative and charming illustrations to explore a common childhood problem. In the process, it sensitively depicts a multicultural family and its cuisine, showcasing both parents’ and grandparents’ relationships with a child.

Shopping with Dad

Written by Matt Harvey & Illustrated by Miriam Latimer

It’s Saturday, and one small girl and her Dad are heading for the supermarket while Mom is working. It’s so exciting! How can she contain herself? She tries but she can’t! An enormous sneeze sets in motion a small calamity, and Dad gets the blame. But when his daughter speaks up and takes responsibility for her actions, the mood changes… Fast-paced, funny with a simple, uplifting message, this playful rhyming read-aloud is guaranteed to have you laughing out loud!

Cinnamon Baby

Written by Nicola Winstanley & Illustrated by Janice Nadeau

A contemporary fable about a magical remedy for a baby who won’t stop crying. Miriam is a baker whose bread is full of smells to make your nose twitch and tastes to make your tongue tingle. Miriam’s own favorite cinnamon bread so delights Sebastian, a musician who enters her shop, that he buys it every day for a year and then asks her to marry him. After a baby is born to the happy couple, all is blissful until their bundle of joy begins crying. And crying. Only when the two are almost at wit’s end does Miriam suddenly know, looking down at her baby curled up like a little raisin, exactly what she must do. A celebration of the bond between mother and child and an ode to the power of our senses, each delectable word and image of this beautifully told and illustrated story will be savored.

Twenty Yawns

Written by Jane Smiley & Illustrated by Lauren Castillo

As her mom reads a bedtime story, Lucy drifts off. But later, she awakens in a dark, still room, and everything looks mysterious. How will she ever get back to sleep?

Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley’s first picture book, illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist Lauren Castillo, evokes the splashy fun of the beach and the quietude of a moonlit night, with twenty yawns sprinkled in for children to discover and count.

Anna Hibiscus’ Song

Written by Atinuke & Illustrated by Lauren Tobia

Anna Hibiscus is so filled with happiness that she feels like she might float away. And the more she talks to her mother and father and grandfather and grandmother and aunties and cousins about it, the more her happiness grows! There’s only one thing to do…Sing!

Blackout

Written & Illustrated by John Rocco

One hot summer night in the city, all the power goes out. The TV shuts off and a boy wails, “Mommm!” His sister can no longer use the phone, Mom can’t work on her computer, and Dad can’t finish cooking dinner. What’s a family to do? When they go up to the roof to escape the heat, they find the lights–in stars that can be seen for a change–and so many neighbors it’s like a block party in the sky! On the street below, people are having just as much fun–talking, rollerblading, and eating ice cream before it melts. The boy and his family enjoy being not so busy for once. They even have time to play a board game together. When the electricity is restored, everything can go back to normal . . . but not everyone likes normal. The boy switches off the lights, and out comes the board game again.

Bringing Asha Home

Written by Uma Krishnaswami & Illustrated by Jamel Akib

It’s Rakhi, the Hindu holiday special to brothers and sisters, and Arun wishes he had a sister with whom to celebrate. Soon it looks as if his wish will come true. His parents are going to adopt a baby girl named Asha. She is coming all the way from India, where Arun’s dad was born.The family prepares for Asha’s arrival, not knowing it will be almost a year until they receive governmental approval to bring Asha home. Arun is impatient and struggles to accept the long delay, but as time passes he finds his own special ways to build a bond with his sister, who is still halfway around the world.With warmth and honesty, this tender story taps into the feelings of longing, love and joy that adoption brings to many families. Readers will find reassurance knowing there is more than one way to become part of a loving family.

A Most Unusual Day

Written by Sydra Mallery & Illustrated by E.B. Goodale

Today is a very unusual day! Caroline wakes up late, forgets her socks, and feels strange all the way to school. She tries to help her teacher, but everything is mixed up today and all Caroline manages to do is make a great big mess. Finally, the school day ends and Caroline rushes outside to greet her parents, who are having a rather extraordinary day themselves. In their arms they hold Caroline’s new baby sister, who has just arrived from far away.

Sydra Mallery’s debut picture book is a loving celebration of family, adoption, and sisters. Exquisitely realized by the acclaimed illustrator E. B. Goodale, this charming adoption story is perfect for anyone welcoming a new brother or sister into the family.

Teddy’s Favorite Toy

Written by Christian Trimmer & Illustrated by Madeline Valentine

A mom goes to great lengths to rescue her son’s favorite doll in this delightful tribute to treasured toys—and mothers.

Teddy has a lot of cool toys. But his very favorite doll has the best manners, the sickest fighting skills, and a fierce sense of style.

Then one morning, something truly awful happens. And there’s only one woman fierce enough to save the day. Can Teddy’s mom reunite Teddy with his favorite toy?

Life with My Family

Written by Renee Hooker and Karl Jones & Illustrated by Kathryn Durst

When a young girl gets frustrated with her chaotic life at home, she imagines what things would be like if her family were animals instead. Would life be better as a pod of pelicans, a pride of lions, or a herd of buffalo? Or is it ultimately a family of humans that she needs? In this beautifully illustrated book, young readers learn the names for groups of animals through a sweet, whimsical narrative that focuses on the importance of family.

Forever Rhen: A Story About Divorce

Written by Sandra Athans & Illustrated by John Joseph

Rhen’s parents are getting a divorce, and Rhen worries about the change. Find out what changes and what stays the same.

Our World is Whole

Written by Gail Bush & Illustrated by Jennie Poh

One little girl knows that our world is whole because the connections between us all makes it so–from the family cat to the chatty neighbor to Mom and Dad and cousin Jerry. Our World is Whole is a lyrical meditation on mindfulness that celebrates interconnectedness and the ways we support one another and keep our world whole and spinning.

Here and There

Written by Tamara Ellis Smith & Illustrated by Evelyn Daviddi

Can you hear the music all around you? In this touching picture book, Ivan finds healing and hope in nature’s music and beauty while experiencing the early stages of his parents’ separation. When he realizes that birds sing their enchanting songs both here at his mom’s house and there at his dad’s house, Ivan takes his first step toward finding the freedom and joy to sing along, whether he’s here or there. This tale of personal growth will provide a much-needed mirror for children in times of change — and an important reminder for all that there’s beauty everywhere you look.

The Good Dog

Written & Illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld

When a puppy in need of a friend follows a kind girl into town, he lands himself into all sorts of trouble. He gets lost. He’s nearly run over. And he gets chased out of a bakery for being a “bad dog.”

But when the pup and the girl reunite in the park and she leaves behind her favorite doll, the puppy has a chance to prove just what a good dog he really is!

Peace & Love, Shannon

I Am Every Good Thing: Q & A with author Derrick Barnes

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As a mom of three Brown boys, my pursuit of books with positive representation of Black and Brown boys is neverending… and Derrick Barnes answered the call. He quickly become one of my go-to authors, and following Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut and King of Kindergarten… I found myself anxiously waiting for “what’s next?”.

And let me tell you, he did not disappoint.

I Am Every Good Thing, another collaboration between Derrick Barnes and illustrator Gordon C. James, releases September 1, 2020…and you should probably go ahead and preorder it now. My immediate response to Derrick when I first read it was: “Are you considering making this in wallpaper? I think I need to plaster my sons’ walls with all of these positive words and images about boys just like them”.

Summary: The confident Black narrator of this book is proud of everything that makes him who he is. He’s got big plans, and no doubt he’ll see them through–as he’s creative, adventurous, smart, funny, and a good friend. Sometimes he falls, but he always gets back up. And other times he’s afraid, because he’s so often misunderstood and called what he is not. So slow down and really look and listen, when somebody tells you–and shows you–who they are. There are superheroes in our midst!

I knew I wanted to do something special to not only highlight this book, but honor Derrick and hear directly from him the inspiration behind this life changing book. I am forever grateful for his willingness to answer my questions, but even more grateful that he has chosen to channel his gifts into books that portray my sons for who they are and all they dream to be…and written by someone who looks like them.

I am forever grateful for his willingness to answer my questions, but even more grateful that he has chosen to channel his gifts into books that portray my sons for who they are and all they dream to be…and written by someone who looks like them.

Literally Cultured: What inspired you to begin/finish writing this book? 

Derrick Barnes: I began this book, as a poem, after the murder of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his murderer in 2012. I didn’t finish it, but I picked it back up after Michael Brown and Tamir Rice were both murdered in 2014. I finally reworked and finished it after H&M put out an international ad, where a little African boy wore a green hoodie that read ‘Coolest Monkey In The Jungle‘. Enough was enough. If anyone is going to tell the story of what it means to be a Black boy in America, it’s going to be us, not them; not the media, not pop culture, not corporate America. Us.

Literally Cultured: What do you hope readers will take away from reading I Am Every Good Thing?

Derrick Barnes: Two things: 1) Black boys all over the planet have loved ones that are grooming them, preparing them, teaching and guiding them towards extremely bright futures. We love our sons and want nothing but the best for them. And 2) Black boys are not a monolith. I have four sons and they are all totally different. No matter where Black boys come from, I along with the people that love them want them to win in life. They are not living breathing stereotypes that fit like jigsaw pieces into your biases, only useful for your entertainment, and to justify your ridiculous fears. They are human beings capable of extraordinary feats. 

Literally Cultured: As soon as I read the first page I was overcome with intense emotions, picturing my sons, and reflecting on the current world they face –how do you deal with the emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?

Derrick Barnes: My job as an author of children’s books that highlight the brilliance of Black and Brown children primarily is to fill their lives with characters, stories, and affirmations. Period. I write in the same way that I raise my sons, and that is to say that we will be optimistic, hopeful, positive, and intent on making positive change in this world. I have no time to dwell in darkness, sadness or any other non-productive mindset. I’m about teaching truths and holding up a mirror to our babies to always remind them of how amazing they are.

Literally Cultured: Your son Silas was the inspiration for Crown, was there anyone in particular that was the inspiration or is featured in I Am Every Good Thing?

Derrick Barnes: This book’s protagonist was just an amalgamation of every Black and Brown boy in the world. Although, the cover model this time was the son of illustrator, Gordon C. James. His name is Gabriel.

Literally Cultured: What is your favorite page of the book, and why?

Derrick Barnes: My favorite page is probably the “Boom-Boom-Bap-Boom-Boom Bap” page. It was my homage to the Golden Age of hip-hop. Gordon did a great job of showing the lyricist as a superstar MC, having fun, controlling the crowd, and more than likely, spitting some socially conscious, positive lyrics.

Literally Cultured:  I am so thankful that my sons are able to reap the benefits of having texts that are written just for them, written by someone who looks like them…was there any author that influenced you or that you looked up to as a child (or growing up)?

Derrick Barnes: Langston Hughes. Period. He was a master poet, essayist, short fiction writer, and we’re both from Missouri. As I grew into my voice as a writer, I became more and more aware of the opportunity to carry on his tradition as a scribe that highlighted the beauty and the triumph of Black life in America. He is definitely one of my heroes.

My son, Langston, loves Derrick’s book “The King of Kindergarten”.

Literally Cultured: What do you hope your legacy will be as a writer?

Derrick Barnes: Legacy is so important to me. So important. All of us have been given a charge to do something with our lives to make it better than it was before we came. No matter what gifts or talents you’ve been blessed with, we should use them to lift people up. To help someone see themselves and their lives as being valuable. That’s how I see my work. When all of this is over, I pray that my work inspires generations of children to hold their heads high and to be the very best versions of themselves.

To help someone see themselves and their lives as being valuable. That’s how I see my work. When all of this is over, I pray that my work inspires generations of children to hold their heads high and to be the very best versions of themselves.

Derrick Barnes, author of I Am Every Good Thing

And one more of my favorite pages…

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Black Man, the Superhero

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Today marks the 4th anniversary of the murder of Philando Castile. I can’t say for sure what about his death specifically impacted me so much, but four years ago today, I felt myself slip into a deep depression that was nearly impossible to get out of. The feeling of despair, heartbreak, hopelessness, and fear I felt, is indescribable. Even now, I can feel bile creeping up from my stomach.

On July 6, 2016 I wept for Philando, his partner Diamond, his 4-year-old daughter, and his family…but also,

Eric Garner,

Dontre Hamilton,

John Crawford III,

Michael Brown,

Ezell Ford,

Laquan McDonald,

Akai Gurley,

Tamir Rice,

Charly Leundeu,

Eric Harris,

Walter Scott,

Freddie Gray,

Alton Sterling,

AND

ALL

THE

OTHERS.

Buy why Philando? Maybe it was the fact that he was my husband’s age at the time and also a public school employee, or that he had his concealed carry permit (which my husband also has), or was it his “wide-set nose” that made him fit the description from an armed robbery…

As I watched and listened to the police footage, the 40 seconds of dialogue that included saying and doing the EXACT things that my husband has practiced with me over and over again, in the chance that he would get pulled over — and then 7 shots.

7 shots.

Philando’s last words were, “I wasn’t reaching for it.”

And then despair set in, the complete loss and absence of hope. Is this truly the world my husband has to navigate every day? Is this really the future for my sons? How can I protect them? How can I make sure they know they are loved, valued, worthy?

You may be wondering what I am getting at, or where this is going… and I wish I could say there is a happy ending to this story. While I was able to eventually pull myself out of the darkest of places, I continue to find myself treading lightly around the same thoughts and feelings, the emotional landmines that have the power to suck me back in.

One would say the opposite of despair, is optimism. As a mother of three Brown sons, I have no other option than to find hope, and where I can’t find it, CREATE IT. This desperate need and desire led me to creating the project I am sharing with you today. While our country continues to grieve the unwarranted and senseless murder of Black men (and women) at the hands of the state, allies and activists have found their own ways of taking action and demanding justice. When reflecting on my own sphere of influence it only made sense to create something that would bring hope, not only for my sons, but for every Black and Brown boy, for every Black and Brown man.

Enter a new superhero, and more importantly the protagonist’s hero of my first children’s book, Black Man. “Black Man” is a superhero that my 4-year-old son, Langston, created using his imagination. After listening in on him playing with his brothers and always hearing “I’m going to be Black Man, he always wins!” or “Black Man is the best superhero!”, my curiosity got the better of me, and I finally asked who this “Black Man” was. That conversation is how the story begins.

As I have watched my son pretend to be “Black Man”, it was clear that many of his superhero characteristics and qualities come from the important Black men in his own life—whether personally known, or learned about. This book will be for each of us that have our own “Black Man” in our lives. Our everyday heroes, our superheroes, and everything in between—paving a path for a bright and promising future for all of the young Black and Brown boys who see the very best in them, and want to be them.

While I don’t have a release date for you (yet), what I do have is hope.

…and a small excerpt from the book.

“Ugh! Nothing is right in here! How am I supposed to pretend to be Black Man if I can’t dress up as him?” Langston said, as he rummaged through the costume box.

Momma poked her head into Langston’s bedroom. “What’s wrong, baby?”

“I am trying to play superhero and I can’t find anything in here to make me Black Man.”

“You mean Batman?” Momma questioned, thinking she hadn’t heard him correctly.

“No, no…not Batman, BLACK Man.” Langston responded confidently.

“Black Panther?” Momma tried again, still confused.

“Mom! I said Black MAN!”, this time a bit more annoyed.

Amused she began to question him, “Who is he? Is he from a book? Did you see him on a TV show? What are his superpowers?” Momma asked.

Langston shook his head and let out a sigh. “That’s too many questions Momma!”

He turned and looked at his reflection in the bedroom mirror, “He’s just Black Man, and he’s the greatest superhero of all time.”

JULY IS NATIONAL MINORITY MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH

Resources:

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

US Department of Health and Human Services: Office of Minority Health

National Alliance on Mental Illness

How To Find A Therapist Who Focuses On Black Mental Health

One Way To Be An Ally Right Now? Support Black Mental Health.

‘Bear Our Pain’: The Plea For More Black Mental Health Workers

Book List: Black & Brown Boy Joy! Seeing our boys for all of the beautiful things they are!

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Even though the rest of the world seems to be finally waking up to the injustices, oppression, and systemic racism that Black people have faced, and continue to face in this country, the idea of celebrating Black and Brown boys…who eventually become Black and Brown men, is something that many of us have been vested in for quite some time now. The public murder of George Floyd by the hands (or knee) of a police officer has catapulted our nation, and even in the world, into the movement for Black Lives. But for those of us who have Black and Brown boys and men in our lives, especially mothers, we have been, and continue to seek positive images and media to surround our young kings with. In this way we hope that they have an abundance of stories that represent all of the good things they are, and the possibilities of who they will become…not buying into the singular narrative that our society so often assigns to them. While it is imperative that my sons see themselves represented in the books they read, there is an even more urgent, if not desperate need for other children (white children specifically), to see my sons, and others like them in this same positive light…because we are reminded quite often, and quite painfully, that many people do not see them this way.

I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes

The confident Black narrator of this book is proud of everything that makes him who he is. He’s got big plans, and no doubt he’ll see them through–as he’s creative, adventurous, smart, funny, and a good friend. Sometimes he falls, but he always gets back up. And other times he’s afraid, because he’s so often misunderstood and called what he is not. So slow down and really look and listen, when somebody tells you–and shows you–who they are. There are superheroes in our midst!

Seeing Into Tomorrow by Richard Wright and Nina Crews

A remarkable celebration of Richard Wright, poetry, and contemporary black boys at play.
From walking a dog to watching a sunset to finding a beetle, Richard Wright’s haiku puts everyday moments into focus. Now, more than fifty years after they were written, these poems continue to reflect our everyday experiences. Paired with the photo-collage artwork of Nina Crews, Seeing into Tomorrow celebrates the lives of contemporary African American boys and offers an accessible introduction to one of the most important African American writers of the twentieth century.

The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes

The morning sun blares through your window like a million brass trumpets.It sits and shines behind your head–like a crown. Mommy says that today, you are going to be the King of Kindergarten!

Starting kindergarten is a big milestone–and the hero of this story is ready to make his mark! He’s dressed himself, eaten a pile of pancakes, and can’t wait to be part of a whole new kingdom of kids. The day will be jam-packed, but he’s up to the challenge, taking new experiences in stride with his infectious enthusiasm! And afterward, he can’t wait to tell his proud parents all about his achievements–and then wake up to start another day.

Be You! by Peter H. Reynolds

Be curious…
Be adventurous…
Be brave…
BE YOU!

Discover a joyful reminder of the ways that every child is unique and special, from the beloved creator of The DotHappy Dreamer, and New York Times bestseller, The Word Collector. Here, Reynolds reminds readers to “be your own work of art.” To be patient, persistent, and true. Because there is one, and only one, YOU.

Just the Two of Us by Will Smith

“Just the two of us, building castles in the sky; just the two of us, you and I.”

Will Smith — musician, actor, and father — brings us a moving celebration of fatherhood. The song’s heartfelt lyrics and Kadir Nelson’s vibrant paintings capture the beauty and intensity of a father’s love as his child grows from a boy into a man. This poignant portrait will resonate with fathers and sons everywhere.

Riley Can Be Anything by Davina Hamilton

The inspiring rhyming story follows Riley as he discovers some of the wonderful things he can do when he grows up. With the help of his big cousin Joe, Riley is taken on a series of imaginative journeys that allow him to realise he can be anything he wants to be.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy by Tony Medina

These short, vibrant tanka poems about young men of color depict thirteen views of everyday life: young boys dressed in their Sunday best, running to catch a bus, and growing up to be teachers, and much more. Each of Tony Medina’s tanka is matched with a different artist―including recent Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Award recipients.

Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison

An important book for readers of all ages, this beautifully illustrated and engagingly written volume brings to life true stories of black men in history. Among these biographies, readers will find aviators and artists, politicians and pop stars, athletes and activists. The exceptional men featured include writer James Baldwin, artist Aaron Douglas, filmmaker Oscar Devereaux Micheaux, lawman Bass Reeves, civil rights leader John Lewis, dancer Alvin Ailey, and musician Prince.
The legends in Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History span centuries and continents, but each one has blazed a trail for generations to come.

I Love You More Than… by Taye Diggs

Some families look different than others. A father who doesn’t live full-time with his son tells him all the ways he misses and loves him.

I Love You More Than … by Taye Diggs, illustrated by Shane W. Evans, is perfect for families who are separated, whatever the circumstances. Its message of love underscores the bond between parent and child in ways that little ones will understand.

I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown

I Am Perfectly Designed is an exuberant celebration of loving who you are, exactly as you are, from Karamo Brown, the Culture Expert of Netflix’s hit series Queer Eye, and Jason Brown―featuring illustrations by Anoosha Syed.

In this empowering ode to modern families, a boy and his father take a joyful walk through the city, discovering all the ways in which they are perfectly designed for each other.

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes

The barbershop is where the magic happens. Boys go in as lumps of clay and, with princely robes draped around their shoulders, a dab of cool shaving cream on their foreheads, and a slow, steady cut, they become royalty. That crisp yet subtle line makes boys sharper, more visible, more aware of every great thing that could happen to them when they look good: lesser grades turn into As; girls take notice; even a mother’s hug gets a little tighter. Everyone notices. A fresh cut makes boys fly.

This rhythmic, read-aloud title is an unbridled celebration of the self-esteem, confidence, and swagger boys feel when they leave the barber’s chair—a tradition that places on their heads a figurative crown, beaming with jewels, that confirms their brilliance and worth and helps them not only love and accept themselves but also take a giant step toward caring how they present themselves to the world. The fresh cuts. That’s where it all begins.

Baby Boy, What Will You Be? by Terquoia Bourne

On a cold winter day, a new mom  snuggles with her baby boy and warms her heart with the thoughts of all the limitless possibilities that her baby can achieve in his lifetime. “When I gaze upon your face, there’s so much hope I see. As I gaze, I begin to wonder, just what you’ll grow up and be.”

Be A King: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream and You by Carole Boston Weatherford

Featuring a dual narrative of the key moments of Dr. King’s life alongside a modern class as the students learn about him, Carole Weatherford’s poetic text encapsulates the moments that readers today can reenact in their own lives. See a class of young students as they begin a school project inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and learn to follow his example, as he dealt with adversity and never lost hope that a future of equality and justice would soon be a reality. As times change, Dr. King’s example remains, encouraging a new generation of children to take charge and change the world . . . to be a King.

I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes was a courageous voice of his time, and his authentic call for equality still rings true today. Beautiful paintings from Barack Obama illustrator Bryan Collier accompany and reinvent the celebrated lines of the poem “I, Too,” creating a breathtaking reminder to all Americans that we are united despite our differences.

Baby Blessings: A Prayer for the You Are Born by Deloris Jordan

This touching story from bestselling author Doloris Jordan celebrates the blessings new parents wish for their babies all through their lives. With a strong emphasis on the bonds families share, the inspirational text is accompanied by exquisite art from renowned illustrator James E. Ransome. From infancy to adulthood, there is always a place for Baby Blessings.

All Because You Matter by Tami Charles

Discover this poignant, timely, and emotionally stirring picture book, an ode to black and brown children everywhere that is full of hope, assurance, and love.

Tami Charles pens a poetic, lyrical text that is part love letter, part anthem, assuring readers that they always have, and always will, matter. This powerful, rhythmic lullaby reassures readers that their matter and their worth is never diminished, no matter the circumstance: through the joy and wonder of their first steps and first laughter, through the hardship of adolescent struggles and the pain and heartbreak of current events, they always have, and always will, matter

I Am…(Positive Affirmations for Brown Boys) by Ayesha Rodriguez

In this book for boys, author Ayesha Rodriguez uses rhyming verses, followed by a positive affirmation. I am and the words that follow are powerful. Repeated affirmations will build up your child’s self-esteem and transform his sense of self! 

My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood by Tameka Fryer Brown

On a really good day, Jamie feels purple like the first bite of a juicy cold plum. And with a crayon in his hand, Jamie eases into a green feeling–like a dragon dancing through a jungle made of green jello.

But when his brothers push him around and make fun of his drawings, Jamie feels like a dark gray storm brewing. What will it take to put Jamie back in a bright-feeling mood? Through Jamie, young readers will learn to describe how they’re feeling in a unique way.

A Boy Like You by Frank Murphy

There’s more to being a boy than sports, feats of daring, and keeping a stiff upper lip. A Boy Like You encourages every boy to embrace all the things that make him unique, to be brave and ask for help, to tell his own story and listen to the stories of those around him. In an age when boys are expected to fit into a particular mold, this book celebrates all the wonderful ways to be a boy.

Brown Boy Brown Boy What Can You Be? by Ameshia Gabriel Arthur

Join Matthew as he considers all the things he can accomplish and the careers he can do.

The Joys of Being a Little Black Boy by Valerie Reynolds

The Joys of Being a Little Black Boy is a vividly illustrated, history-based children’s book that brings to life Roy, a joyful Black boy. Roy will take your sons, daughters, nephews, nieces, or class on a biopic journey of joy with some of the world s most notable Black men who, lest we forget were all at one time young Black boys.

Brown Boy Joy by Thomishia Booker

I am brown boy joy and I shine like gold. Smiling ear to ear, I am fearless and bold!

Filled with love and light, I speak my mind. Take a look at me, I am smart and kind.

This book is a beautiful celebration of all things that Little Brown Boys LOVE, and all that they can be!

What Will I Be? by Jayla Joseph

A positive and uplifting book for young children. You can be anything that you set your mind on. This lovely book showcases an array of different careers in an easy to understand way. Ideal for young children.

It is also very important for non-black children to read books with BIPOC characters. Differences should be celebrated from a young age.

Cool Cuts by Mechal Renee Roe

When the stars shine, the world is mine! I am born to be awesome! My hair is free, just like me! I am born to be awesome!

Boys will love seeing strong, happy reflections of themselves in this vibrant, rhythmic picture book celebrating a diversity of hip black hairstyles. From a ‘fro-hawk to mini-twists and crisp cornrows, adorable illustrations of boys with cool curls, waves, and afros grace each page, accompanied by a positive call-and-response affirmation that will make kids cheer. It’s a great read-aloud to promote positive self-esteem to boys of all ages, building and growing the foundation of self-love (and hair love!) and letting every boy know that “You are born to be awesome!”

Brown Baby Lullaby by Tameka Fryer Brown

From sunset to bedtime, two brown-skinned parents lovingly care for their beautiful brown baby: first, they play outside, then it is time for dinner and a bath, and finally a warm snuggle before bed.

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwell

Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board. In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fears, newcomer Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for.

Nighttime Symphony by Timbaland feat. Christopher Myers

As a little boy gets ready for bed, the sounds of a wild storm echo around him, lulling him to sleep. From the crash of thunder to the pitter-patter of raindrops to the beat of passing cars, the music of the city creates a cozy bedtime soundtrack.

Dear Black Boy by Martellus Bennett

Dear Black Boy is a letter of encouragement to all of the black boys around the world who feel like sports are all they have. It is a reminder that they are more than athletes, more than a jersey number, more than a great crossover or a forty-yard dash, that the biggest game that they’ll ever play is the game of life, and there are people rooting for them off of the courts and fields, not as athletes, but as future leaders of the world. The same things that make these strong beautiful black boys great on whatever playing surface they choose are the same things that will propel them forward in life: mental toughness, dedication, passion, determination, and effort are all things that carry over into the game of life. With the right preparation, every Black Boy can win.

Bedtime for Sweet Creatures by Nikki Grimes

Mommy needs to wrangle her sweet creature in bed so that the whole family can sleep. From tigers to squirrels to snakes, the little boy dodges around his bedtime, until he is tired enough to finally sleep. His imaginative animal friends weave their way through the illustrations, eventually joining him in curling up for the night.

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Book List: It’s Never Too Early to Introduce Diversity & Activism into Your Home Library

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This curated book list is targeted towards our littlest readers. These book picks are full of diverse, positive messages and images that depict a wide range of people, lifestyles, and experiences. Whether you are seeking to create a more diverse and inclusive collection for your little one, or looking to purchase a baby shower gift— this list is for you!

Little Heroes of Color: 50 Who Made a BIG Difference by David Heredia

Say hello to heroes! This book introduces preschoolers to 50 men and women of color who have changed the world!

A perfect book for tomorrow’s leaders, Little Heroes of Color educates and inspires by showing readers 50 trailblazers from a range of races and ethnicities. Bold colors and simple captions bring the youngest readers face-to-face with those who’ve shaped history and broken boundaries in science, the arts, government, and more.

Love the World by Todd Parr

What the world needs now is love–and who better than Todd Parr to share a message of kindness, charity, and acceptance. Touching upon themes including self-esteem, environmentalism, and respect for others, Todd uses his signature silly and accessible style to encourage readers to show love for themselves and all the people, places, and things they encounter.

Mixed: A Colorful Story by Arree Chung

In the beginning, there were three colors . . . Reds, Yellows, and Blues.

All special in their own ways, all living in harmony—until one day, a Red says “Reds are the best!” and starts a color kerfuffle. When the colors decide to separate, is there anything that can change their minds?

A Yellow, a Blue, and a never-before-seen color might just save the day in this inspiring book about color, tolerance, and embracing differences.

Woke Baby by Mahogany L. Browne

For all the littlest progressives, waking up to seize a new day of justice and activism.

Woke babies are up early. Woke babies raise their fists in the air. Woke babies cry out for justice. Woke babies grow up to change the world.

This lyrical and empowering book is both a celebration of what it means to be a baby and what it means to be woke. With bright playful art, Woke Baby is an anthem of hope in a world where the only limit to a skyscrapper is more blue.

A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

A is for Activist is an ABC board book written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives: families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for. 

The alliteration, rhyming, and vibrant illustrations make the book exciting for children, while the issues it brings up resonate with their parents’ values of community, equality, and justice. This engaging little book carries huge messages as it inspires hope for the future, and calls children to action while teaching them a love for books.

Brave by Stacy McAnulty

An empowering picture book for all kids that demonstrates to children that they can be real-life superheroes and that all kids have what it takes to be brave.Superheroes seek adventure, never give up, and stay calm when others are afraid. Superheroes are brave. But they aren’t the only ones.

Kids are brave every day. When they are told they are too little, but accomplish something big. When they check for monsters under the bed, just in case. When they face something uncertain, whether a thunderstorm or a hospital visit. When they stand up for what’s right, even when it means facing consequences.

Love is You and Me by Anna W. Bardaus

This adorable book helps young children to remember that love — whether between a parent and child, best friends, or even a dog and a mouse — is the most wonderful offering of all. Love Is You and Me is a vibrant, uplifting title perfect any time of day, any time of the year.

One Love by Cedella Marley

One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel all right: Adapted from one of Bob Marley’s most beloved songs, One Love brings the joyful spirit and unforgettable lyrics to life for a new generation. Readers will delight in dancing to the beat and feeling the positive groove of change when one girl enlists her community to help transform her neighborhood for the better. It’s a testament to the amazing things that can happen when we all get together with one love in our hearts.

Colors of Me by Brynne Barnes

Intriguing collage illustrations frame this playful rhyme told through the eyes of a curious, creative young child who determines the whole world is full of color. Would I climb a tree striped orange and blue? Does the rain have a color when it makes a puddle? If flowers had no color, would they smell as sweet? The child comes to realize and appreciate a world filled with all colors that paint the earth and sky–and decides she’d like to be them all.

No! My First Book of Protest by Julie Merberg

Little ones who love to say “No!” can chime in while they learn about iconic activists from Frederick Douglass and Alice Paul to Martin Luther King Jr. and Malala.

Each spread introduces an iconic figure—such as Gloria Steinem or Cesar Chavez—along with a super simple summary of the actions they took to change the course of history. Activists of all ages will learn about the abolitionist movement, civil rights, women’s rights, and more! Detailed, colorful art will thoroughly engage toddlers and preschoolers. And the chance to join the refrain on every spread “NO, NO!” is sure to please the tiniest protestors. (A mini history of protest movements at the end of the books is a handy cheat sheet for parents!)

Every Little Thing adapted by CedellaMarley

A beautiful book that brings Bob Marley’s beloved song to life for a new generation: Every family will relate to this universal story of a boy who won’t let anything get him down, as long as he has the help of three special little birds. This cheerful book will bring a smile to faces of all ages—because every little thing’s gonna be all right

Be Who You Are by Todd Parr

Be who you are!
Be proud of where you’re from.
Be a different color. Speak your language.
Wear everything you need to be you.

Who better than Todd Parr to remind kids that their unique traits are what make them so special? With his signature silly and accessible style, Parr encourages readers to embrace all their unique qualities.

Skin Again by Bell Hooks

Celebrating all that makes us unique and different, Skin Again offers new ways to talk about race and identity. Race matters, but only so much–what’s most important is who we are on the inside. Looking beyond skin, going straight to the heart, we find in each other the treasures stored down deep. Learning to cherish those treasures, to be all we imagine ourselves to be, makes us free.

The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler

With the ease and simplicity of a nursery rhyme, this lively story delivers an important message of social acceptance to young readers. Themes associated with child development and social harmony, such as friendship, acceptance, self-esteem, and diversity are promoted in simple and straightforward prose. Vivid illustrations of children’s activities for all cultures, such as swimming in the ocean, hugging, catching butterflies, and eating birthday cake are also provided. This delightful picture book offers a wonderful venue through which parents and teachers can discuss important social concepts with their children.

Happy in Our Skin by Fran Manushkin

Is there anything more splendid than a baby’s skin? Cocoa-brown, cinnamon, peaches and cream. As children grow, their clever skin does, too, enjoying hugs and tickles, protecting them inside and out, and making them one of a kind. Fran Manushkin’s rollicking text and Lauren Tobia’s delicious illustrations paint a breezy and irresistible picture of the human family — and how wonderful it is to be just who you are.

Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi

Take your first steps with Antiracist Baby! Or rather, follow Antiracist Baby‘s nine easy steps for building a more equitable world.

With bold art and thoughtful yet playful text, Antiracist Baby introduces the youngest readers and the grown-ups in their lives to the concept and power of antiracism. Providing the language necessary to begin critical conversations at the earliest age, Antiracist Baby is the perfect gift for readers of all ages dedicated to forming a just society.

We’re Different, We’re the Same by Bobbi Kates

Who better than Sesame Street to teach us that we may all look different on the outside—but it’s important to remember that deep down, we are all very much alike. We all have the same needs, desires, and feelings. Elmo and his Sesame Street friends help teach toddlers and the adults in their lives that everyone is the same on the inside, and it’s our differences that make this wonderful world, which is home to us all, an interesting—and special—place. This enduring, colorful, and charmingly illustrated book offers an easy, enjoyable way to learn about differences—and what truly matters. It is an engaging read for toddlers and adults alike.

Global Babies by The Global Fund for Children

From Guatemala to Bhutan, seventeen vibrantly colored photographs embrace our global diversity and give glimpses into the daily life, traditions, and clothing of babies from around the world. Simple text in Spanish and English teaches the littlest readers that everywhere on earth, babies are special and loved.

I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont

High on energy and imagination, this ode to self-esteem encourages kids to appreciate everything about themselves—inside and out. Messy hair? Beaver breath? So what! Here’s a little girl who knows what really matters.      

At once silly and serious, Karen Beaumont’s joyous rhyming text and David Catrow’s wild illustrations unite in a book that is sassy, soulful . . . and straight from the heart. The sturdy board book is just right for little hands. 

I Love Me by Sally Morgan & Ambelin Kwaymullina

I Love Me is a vibrant, multi-colored, and award-winning board book that teaches kids one of life’s most important lessons: self acceptance.

The 2019 Children’s Picture Book Silver Nautilus Book Award winner. “I love my eyes, I love my nose, I love the way my curly hair grows!” Acclaimed Australian creators Sally Morgan and Ambelin Kwaymullina celebrate individuality and joyous self-esteem in bouncy, rhythmic prose and lively color. I Love Me is inclusive, fun, simple, and contains a necessary lesson for all about the positivity of self love.

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