Multiethnic Picture Books

A Note About This Collection:

This is a list of over 50 books featuring characters of varying ethnic backgrounds and experiences. We have repeatedly read and enjoyed every book listed here.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

This simple yet moving book is about a boy named Peter enjoying the wonders of winter.

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Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena

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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Feast for Ten by Cathryn Falwell

This book follows one family as they grocery shop and then prepare and enjoy a meal together at home. Lovely, collage-style illustrations.

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*The excellent Christmas for Ten follows the same family as they celebrate Christmas.



Bippity Bop Barbershop by Natasha Antastasia Tarpley

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.

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The Animal Boogie by Debbie Carter

Children sing along as they discover jungle animals. The rhythmic language and vibrant illustrations make the book engaging.

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Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse

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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I Am So Brave by Stephen Krensky

This book addresses fears a child may have (new experiences, loud noises, etc). Simple and engaging.

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I Know a Lot by Stephen Krensky

This book celebrates learning (rocks are heavy, flowers are light) and acquiring new skills (brushing teeth, zipping jacket). Simple and engaging.

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Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn

A sweet story about a young girl’s experience of discovering books.

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Lola Reads to Leo by Anna McQuinn

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.

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So Much by Trish Cooke

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.

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Loved: The Lord’s Prayer by Sally Lloyd-Jones

This book shares a modern version of the Lord’s Prayer from the Bible. A group of young children play outside together.

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The Airport Book by Lisa Brown

A young family navigates the airport together. This is a sweet, funny, informative book.

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Psalm Twenty-Three Illustrated by Tim Ladwig

The text of Psalm Twenty-Three with the backdrop of an urban setting. The illustrations depict beautiful city scenes and the warmth of family.

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Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

This book is about a boy who faces his fears. His father encourages and cheers him on.

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Marvelous Cornelius by Phil Bildner

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.

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Corduroy by Don Freeman

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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Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats

Peter learns how to whistle and call for his dog in this sweet book.

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Birdsong by Julie Flett

A poignant story about a girl who moves to a new home and finds a kindred spirit in her elderly neighbor.

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The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins

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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Max and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper

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.

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Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora

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.

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Whose Knees are These? by Jabari Asim

This simple, poetic book celebrates a young boy’s growing body. Great for ages 0-3.

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Daddy Calls Me Man by Angela Johnson

A short collection of poems by a young boy based on four paintings. Lively illustrations show a happy, loving family.

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Hansel and Gretel retold by Rachel Isadora

This fairy tale reimagines the original Brothers Grimm story of Hansel and Gretel but in an African setting.

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*Isadora has published other fairy tales, too. We like her versions of The Fisherman and His Wife and Rapunzel. I’ll add more as we review them!



The Umbrella by Jan Brett

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 The Mitten, which shows animals squeezing into a mitten.

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He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands by Kadir Nelson

A colorful, joyful rendition of the song “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”

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Love and the Rocking Chair by Leo and Diane Dillon

This book tells the story of a family heirloom as it moves through generations. A beautiful story of family connectedness.

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The Growing Table by Jaqueline Briggs Martin

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.

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Kitchen Dance by Maurie J. Manning

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.

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Peter’s Chair by Ezra Jack Keats

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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Do Like Kyla by Angela Johnson

A younger sister follows her older sister’s example throughout the day. A sweet winter story.

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Tickle, Tickle by Helen Oxenbury

This book features children doing everyday activities together. Playful and engaging. Best for ages 0-3.

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*Oxenbury has three other books in this series, and we enjoy all of them: Say Goodnight, All Fall Down, and Clap Hands.



I Can Do It Too by Karen Baiker

A young girl celebrates her growing confidence as she demonstrates news skills. Heart-warming.

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God Counts by Irene Sun

This book talks about the ways numbers are used in the Bible to display God’s glory. Detailed, engaging illustrations.

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Afro-Bets ABC Book by Cherly W. Hudson

This brightly illustrated book goes through the ABCs. It includes some terms commonly used by people of African descent (cornrows, Kente cloth, etc).

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The Dead Bird by Margaret Wise Brown

A sweet story of children who find a dead bird and decide to honor and bury it. A gentle introduction to mortality.

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*It undermines the reality of the eternality of human souls, so we discuss this when we read this book.



Joshua by the Sea by Angela Johnson

A simple story of a multiracial family enjoying a day by the sea. Best for ages 0-3.

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Thank you, Omu! by Oge Mora

An elderly woman makes a fragrant stew and shares it with neighbors. Celebrates generosity and community.

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The Nutcracker in Harlem by T.E. McMorrow

A spin on the classic Nutcracker ballet featuring a family in Harlem who hosts a party with lively musical guests.

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How Do You Go To Sleep? by Kate McMullan

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.

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1 2 3 the Farm and Me: Following Food from the Farm to Your Family by America’s Test Kitchen

This short book combines counting and cooking facts in an engaging way. It traces the ingredients in a pizza back to their origins. It features a loving family working together to prepare and share food.

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The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster

This book is about a young girl’s visit with her grandparents. Told from her perspective, it is filled with wonder, joy, and tenderness.

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Violet’s Music by Angela Johnson

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.

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Cassie’s Word Quilt by Faith Ringgold

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.

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The Human Body (A Shine a Light Book) by Carron Brown and Rachael Saunders

This book is an interactive introduction to the human body and its functions. Informative and playful.

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Abuela by Arthur Dorros

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.

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Off To Market by Elizabeth Dale

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.

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Shape Capers by Cathryn Falwell

A group of children goes on a journey and encounters shapes along the way. Playful and informative.

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All Aboard for the Bobo Road by Stephen Davies and Christopher Corr

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.

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Max Found Two Sticks by Brian Pinkney

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.

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Not Norman: A Goldfish Story by Kelly Bennett

The boy in this story is not happy to have a new goldfish as a pet but then grows to appreciate him. Lively photos.

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Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty

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.

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Hike by Pete Oswald

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. 

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Nya’s Long Walk by Linda Sue Park

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.

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Arlo and the Great Big Coverup by Betsy Childs Howard

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.

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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.

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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.

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