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