Monday, June 8, 2020

Books on Diversity and Race for Little Ones

It's been difficult to know what to do. When to speak up, when to keep quiet so others can be heard. What can I say that hasn't already been said more eloquently by others?

I've been thinking about how I can be a good influence on my preschooler. How can I teach her about race in an age-appropriate way? Predictably, I decided to look to children's books for help. I want to bring more images of people of color into my home. While there are many BLM-themed lists of books going around right now, I noticed that they tend to lean towards books meant for older kids, heavy on history and biographies.

So, here's my small contribution: a (definitely non-exhaustive!) list of picture books about diversity, race and acceptance for preschoolers and toddlers. The links are all to a website called, a new online bookstore which supports indie bookstores. However, at this time, most of the books are backordered! I guess I'm not the only parent thinking along these lines. I'd encourage you to order from your local bookstore if possible. You could also consider ordering from this list of Black-Owned Independent Bookstores!

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael Lopez
"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."

Say Hello! By Rachel Isadora
"Carmelita loves to greet everyone in her colorful neighborhood. Emphasizing the rich diversity of America's neighborhoods, this simple portrait of a child's day provides a great introduction to the joy of language."

He's Got the Whole World in His Hands by Kadir Nelson
"What began as a spiritual has developed into one of America's best-known songs, and now for the first time it appears as a picture book, masterfully created by award-winning artist Kadir Nelson.Through sublime landscapes and warm images of a boy and his family, Kadir has created a dazzling, intimate interpretation, one that rejoices in the connectedness of people and nature."

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena, illustrated by Christian Robinson
"Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don't own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn't he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty--and fun--in their routine and the world around them."

Maisie's Scrapbook by Samuel Narh and illustrated by Jo Loring-Fisher
"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."

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman
"Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where kids in patkas, hijabs, and yarmulkes play side-by-side with friends in baseball caps. All Are Welcome lets young children know that no matter what, they have a place, they have a space, they are welcome in their school."

B is For Baby by Atinuke and illustrated by Angela Brooksbank
"One morning after breakfast, Baby's big brother is getting ready to take the basket of bananas all the way to Baba's bungalow in the next village. Little ones learning about language will love sounding out the words in this playful, vibrantly illustrated story set in West Africa."

You Matter by Christian Robinson
"In this full, bright, and beautiful picture book, many different perspectives around the world are deftly and empathetically explored--from a pair of bird-watchers to the pigeons they're feeding. Young readers will be drawn into the luminous illustrations inviting them to engage with the world in a new way and see how everyone is connected, and that everyone matters."

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