This is a list of over 50 picture books featuring characters of varying ethnic backgrounds and experiences. I have read and enjoyed every book here with my children ages 0-5.
by Matt De La Pena Last Stop on Market Street
C.J. and his Nana ride a city bus on their way to serving at a soup kitchen. This beautiful story shows the importance of dignifying and loving all people.
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by Cathryn Falwell Feast for Ten
This book follows one family as they grocery shop and then prepare and enjoy a meal together at home. Lovely, collage-style illustrations.
Bu y Book
follows the same family as they celebrate Christmas. Christmas for Ten
by Natasha Antastasia Tarpley Bippity Bop Barbershop
This book shares the story of Miles as he and his father go the barbershop. Miles’ father shows him how to be brave for his first haircut. An upbeat, encouraging book.
by Debbie Carter The Animal Boogie
Children sing along as they discover jungle animals. The rhythmic language and vibrant illustrations make the book engaging.
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by Karen Hesse Come On, Rain!
A beautiful, lyrical book about the joy of rain after a drought and the ways people come together as a community.
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by Stephen Krensky I Am So Brave
This book addresses fears a child may have (new experiences, loud noises, etc). Simple and engaging.
by Stephen Krensky I Know a Lot
This book celebrates learning (rocks are heavy, flowers are light) and acquiring new skills (brushing teeth, zipping jacket). Simple and engaging.
by Anna McQuinn Lola Reads to Leo
This book follows Lola as she welcomes a baby brother into the family. A gentle introduction to welcoming a younger sibling and a reminder of parents’ continued love for the older sibling.
by Trish Cooke So Much
This is the story of a extended family who gathers for a surprise birthday. Its language is rhythmic and its depictions of family life are joyful.
by Lisa Brown The Airport Book
A young family navigates the airport together. This is a sweet, funny, informative book.
Illustrated by Tim Ladwig Psalm Twenty-Three
The text of Psalm Twenty-Three with the backdrop of an urban setting. The illustrations depict beautiful city scenes and the warmth of family.
by Gaia Cornwall Jabari Jumps
This book is about a boy who faces his fears. His father encourages and cheers him on.
by Phil Bildner Marvelous Cornelius
This book is based on the real story of Cornelius Washington, a sanitation worker in New Orleans’ French Quarter. It is an inspiring tale of a humble man willing to serve others in creative ways.
by Don Freeman Corduroy
This book follows a teddy bear in a department store on who looks for his lost button. A little girl shops with her mother, takes the bear home, and mends his overalls. Short and sweet.
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by Julie Flett Birdsong
A poignant story about a girl who moves to a new home and finds a kindred spirit in her elderly neighbor.
by Pat Hutchins The Doorbell Rang
This short book shows a family sharing cookies with several neighbors and friends. A simple way to introduce math concepts and encourage patience and generosity.
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by Floyd Cooper Max and the Tag-Along Moon
Max says goodbye to him Grandpa who assures him the moon will stay with him. Max and his parents drive back home. Grandpa was right, the moons follows him all the way home.
by Rachel Isadora Peekaboo Morning
This lighthearted book shows a toddler playing peekaboo with his toys, grandparents, friends, pets, and parent. Good introduction to foreshadowing. Great for ages 0-3.
by Angela Johnson Daddy Calls Me Man
A short collection of poems by a young boy based on four paintings. Lively illustrations show a happy, loving family.
retold by Rachel Isadora Hansel and Gretel
This fairy tale reimagines the original Brothers Grimm story of Hansel and Gretel but in an African setting.
*Isadora has published other fairy tales, too. We like her versions of
and The Fisherman and His Wife . I’ll add more as we review them! Rapunzel
by Jan Brett The Umbrella
This is the story of a boy named Carlos from Costa Rica who enters a nearby rainforest in search of animals. Beautiful, lush illustrations. It’s a good book to pair with Brett’s
, which shows animals squeezing into a mitten. The Mitten
by Leo and Diane Dillon Love and the Rocking Chair
This book tells the story of a family heirloom as it moves through generations. A beautiful story of family connectedness.
by Jaqueline Briggs Martin The Growing Table
This book shares the true story of Will Allen, a former basketball star who reimagines a blighted city block in Milwaukee as a bountiful community garden.
by Maurie J. Manning Kitchen Dance
A family enjoys an evening at home together. Mom and Dad dance into the night and the children come down to the kitchen and join them. Warm and exuberant.
by Ezra Jack Keats Peter’s Chair
Peter is not excited about a baby sister joining the family. He wrestles with the change and in the end accepts his new role.
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by Angela Johnson Do Like Kyla
A younger sister follows her older sister’s example throughout the day. A sweet winter story.
by Karen Baiker I Can Do It Too
A young girl celebrates her growing confidence as she demonstrates news skills. Heart-warming.
by Irene Sun God Counts
This book talks about the ways numbers are used in the Bible to display God’s glory. Detailed, engaging illustrations.
by Cherly W. Hudson Afro-Bets ABC Book
This brightly illustrated book goes through the ABCs. It includes some terms commonly used by people of African descent (cornrows, Kente cloth, etc).
by Margaret Wise Brown The Dead Bird
A sweet story of children who find a dead bird and decide to honor and bury it. A gentle introduction to mortality.
*It undermines the reality of the eternality of human souls, so we discuss this when we read this book.
by Angela Johnson Joshua by the Sea
A simple story of a multiracial family enjoying a day by the sea. Best for ages 0-3.
by Oge Mora Thank you, Omu!
An elderly woman makes a fragrant stew and shares it with neighbors. Celebrates generosity and community.
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by T.E. McMorrow The Nutcracker in Harlem
A spin on the classic Nutcracker ballet featuring a family in Harlem who hosts a party with lively musical guests.
by Kate McMullan How Do You Go To Sleep?
An exploration of how several different animals prepare for sleep. The last section shows a girl going through her nightly routine with her parents. A sweet, informative book.
by Norton Juster The Hello, Goodbye Window
This book is about a young girl’s visit with her grandparents. Told from her perspective, it is filled with wonder, joy, and tenderness.
by Angela Johnson Violet’s Music
This book follows Violet, an exuberant girl who loves music, from infancy through secondary school as she plays music and searches for others to join her.
by Faith Ringgold Cassie’s Word Quilt
This book follows Cassie as she explores her home and neighborhood. It is full of bright pictures that items that allow for good vocabulary building.
(A Shine a Light Book) by Carron Brown and Rachael Saunders The Human Body
This book is an interactive introduction to the human body and its functions. Informative and playful.
by Arthur Dorros Abuela
This book follows a young girl as she and her grandmother go on one of their regular adventures around New York City. Spanish phrases are used throughout this sweet story.
by Elizabeth Dale Off To Market
This heartwarming book reinforces the importance of putting others’ needs above your own. The words are rhythmic and and the illustrations are expressive and lighthearted.
by Cathryn Falwell Shape Capers
A group of children goes on a journey and encounters shapes along the way. Playful and informative.
by Stephen Davies and Christopher Corr All Aboard for the Bobo Road
This book follows a bus driver and his two children who guide passengers along Bobo Road and point out landmarks. A simple, vibrant introduction to Burkina Faso.
by Brian Pinkney Max Found Two Sticks
In this book, Max picks up sticks and drums with them. As he encounters people around him, he uses new items as drumsticks. A lively book that celebrates music and ingenuity.
by Andrea Beaty Ada Twist, Scientist
A quirky story of a girl who is curious and creative and seeks out answers by experimenting. Celebrates the process of discovery. A nod to scientist Ada Lovelace and mathematician Marie Curie. Detailed, playful illustrations.
by Pete Oswald Hike
This is a wordless picture book about a father and son who go on a hike and continue a family tree-planting tradition. Sometimes with wordless books it is difficult to trace the story arc and kids lose interest. This one is exceptionally engaging and our boys keep asking to read it. Plus it reinforces values like spending time outside, overcoming fears, and experiencing closeness with a family member.
by Linda Sue Park Nya’s Long Walk
This book is a companion to Park’s longer book,
A Long Walk to Water, that follows the true story of Sudanese refugee, Salva Dut, as he escapes war and travels to safety. This picture book follows a fictional girl who typifies others walking long distances for water in South Sudan in 2008. It both gently introduces children to acute suffering in the world and demonstrates the importance of resiliency and compassion.
by Betsy Childs Howard Arlo and the Great Big Coverup
In this book, a boy named Arlo decides to disobey and draw on his walls during his quiet rest time. He tries to cover it up and learns about repentance and forgiveness as his mom draws him out of hiding and shows the importance of bringing wrongs into the light.
*It references the Bible and a Christian perspective on sin and forgiveness.
Rain! by Linda Ashman
This book follows two characters, an old man (grumpy) and a young boy (delighted), as they each navigate a rainy-day outing in a city. It demonstrates the importance of being kind and generous to others even when they are resistant, and it shows how people can change. Sparsely worded — good opportunity for supplementing narration while discussing the book with children.
Who Likes Rain? by Wong Herbert Yee
This story follows a girl as she explores the outdoors and engages with nature during a rain shower. It uses rhythm, rhyme, and foreshadowing. Especially appropriate for ages 2-4.
A Whisper is Quiet by Carolyn Lunn
This is a short early reader on opposites. It has rhythmic, rhyming prose and the illustrations are big and expressive. The book itself is smaller than normal, so it fits well in small hands. Includes a handy word list at the end. It’s enjoyable to page through now, and I plan to add it to the early reader shelf as my children learn to read.