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Top 10 Children’s Picture Books About Diversity

Let's Talk About Race Picture Book by Julius Lester

We celebrate different cultures and diversity in our home. I think it’s an important lesson for our children to understand how people are all different but all the same too. People always ask what race my daughter is. I get the same question a lot too. I calculated Zoe’s ethnicity today. She is definitely a celebration of many cultures combined.

  • Filipino 37.5%
  • White 25%
  • Black 25%
  • Chinese 12.5%

Ethnicitymother and young daughter

Here are 10 children’s picture books that celebrate diversity and our world. Our world is a big melting pot of people and cultures, and I hope we can raise our children to be compassionate about the people who live in it.

every human has rights book cover

1. Every Human Has Rights by National Geographic: Take a beautiful and insightful journey about social issues based on the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The photography is vivid and shares stories through poems and short essays written by young people.

2. Global Babies by Global Relief Fund: Explore different cultures through this simple board book of baby photos. This is a perfect book for very young children and babies to explore babies just like them from around the world.

3. It’s Okay to be Different by Todd Parr: Get lost in this book filled with bright images and simple statements that celebrate diversity with messages about self-acceptance and understanding. “It’s okay to be you.”

4. Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester: Join the conversation with the author in talking about how our insides are all alike even though our outsides might be different. The illustrations are bold and inviting. This book talks about race and how all people deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.

5. Shades of People by Shelley Rotner: Introduce your child to the many skin tones that exist in our world with this photo book of children. Your child will have a better way of processing the unique characteristics that make up people if you explore and talk with your children about differences in the home.

the peace book by todd parr

6. The Peace Book by Todd Parr: Celebrate diversity with your child by letting them know what it looks like to honor and respect our world with peace. Peace is about respect, empathy and helping others. And Todd Parr’s images and positive messages just help spread love to the world in a simple way.

7. The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss: Spark a conversation about tolerance, diversity and the fear of the unknown with the Star-Belly Sneetches and the Plain-Belly Sneetches. A classic story that touches upon some important moral issues in a fun and enlightening way.

8. We Are All Alike . . . We Are All Different: Fall in love with the Cheltenham Elementary School Kindergartner class as they celebrate their differences but recognize “we are all family”. They use their own stories and personal illustrations to show how they live and who they play with.

9. Whoever You Are by Mem Fox: Identify and recognize the cultural differences that exist around the world in this beautifully illustrated story. Embrace diversity and similarities with the gentle messages and themes, ”their words may be very different from yours. But inside, their hearts are just like yours.”

10. You and Me Together: Moms, Dads, and Kids Around the World by National Geographic: Introduce your child to geography in this book of family photographs and a world map of where they live. This is an honest look into family life that is happening around the world everyday. Discuss the cultural differences and similarities of mealtime, play and family love.

national geographic book for kids


DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE PICTURE BOOK THAT CELEBRATES DIVERSITY?

What books would you add to this list? Share below– I would love to discover some new books that inspire dialogue about diversity and tolerance.

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13 Responses to Top 10 Children’s Picture Books About Diversity

  1. Sleeping Mama February 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    My two-year-old is a mix of races too (Filipino and Mexican) so we make it a point to surround him with family and grow up with the traditions my husband and I did. He eats traditional food, speaks Tagalog and Spanish, and by hanging out with family on a regular basis, is naturally immersed in his cultures.

    We’re lucky that we live in a city with a variety of ethnicities, so he’s exposed to seeing different-looking people, all ages, all abilities.

    We’ve read two books in your list that we really liked: Shades of People by Shelley Rotner and Whoever You Are by Mem Fox. Thanks for the other suggestions; I will add them to my library list! -Sleeping Mama

    • Jadah Sellner February 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

      That is so cool your son speak so many languages. Do you have any favorite children’s books in Tagalog or Spanish?

      Let me know your thoughts when you check out the other books from the libraries. We love discovering new books at the library!

  2. Jen Hansard February 21, 2012 at 5:51 am #

    I can’t wait to get some of these books at the library! Our family is a mixture of Irish, English and Polish… which doesn’t give us such a colorful story as yours Jadah.

    I love when my kids recognize the differences in one another— it’s purely them learning about themselves and others. And how we talk about all of our differences and learn about will set the foundation for not seeing skin color as a barrier, but as a canvas that God has painted.

    • Jadah Sellner February 29, 2012 at 10:18 am #

      Love that, “a canvas that God has painted.” :-)

  3. Popo Joy February 21, 2012 at 8:19 am #

    The rainbow of the people in our world, when brought together in diverse, beautiful beings, can have a way of bringing the people of the world closer together.

    Family tree roots are a fun thing to explore with your little ones.

  4. Shauna B February 21, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    Love this write up. My side of the family is mainly “white” German, Scottish and Irish. My husband on the other hand is like 12 different nationalities (but the majority are Hawaiian, Italian and Chinese.) So, our boys ate truly multi-national! ;)
    My eldest looks like an Irishman. The youngest looks like he just visited the Hawaiian islands for a few weeks vacation! Hah!
    These are great books to teach our kids that we can all look different but no matter what, you have to remember the golden rule:
    “Treat others how you want to be treated.”
    Much love and respect to you all!!!

  5. Sandy February 29, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    Love this list! Only familiar with #5, Shades of People which I checked out from one of the local libraries when my son was an infant. Always wanted/planned to get my own copy. Just added the entire list to my Amazon wish list. In the meantime, I will check if any are available at the library.

    My son is Filipino (from my side) and Vietnamese (from his Dad’s side. Our collection of books includes My First Tagalog Words, Filipino Friends, and My Filipino Word Book. To introduce him ethnic foods, we have noodles for baby and First Book of Sushi.

    A favorite book we have that’s message is “eveyone” counts is One by Kathryn Otoshi.

    Thanks for sharing. Really enjoyed this post and hope to see more like it!

    • Jadah Sellner February 29, 2012 at 10:28 am #

      I will have to check out those books about food. That’s a great kid-friendly way of introducing little ones to ethnic foods. My daughter loves sushi and noodles. Will your son be learning Tagalog and Vietnamese?

      And I just checked out the book “One” by Kathryn Otoshi. Wow, what a gorgeous book! The watercolor paint and simple statements are so bold and beautiful. Looks like a perfect birthday gift for kids: http://ow.ly/9mQ4p

      Zoe has a giftcard from Barnes and Noble. I think we will have to make a trip to pick up some Otoshi books. Thank you for sharing Sandy!

    • Jadah Sellner March 2, 2012 at 8:54 am #

      Sandy, I checked out “One” from the library yesterday, and I am in love. Zoe was wanted to go through the book after I read it and talk about feelings and retell the story. It was so touching and such a beautiful moment. That is going to have to be my birthday present book to give to friends. That’s one of those books worth owning. So we will be buying it this weekend.

      My husband performs in a show for kids about bullying and conflict mediation, I am definitely going to see if they can tie that book into their workshop curriculum.

      If anyone wants to pick up “One” by Kathryn Otoshi, you can get it on Amazon too:
      http://ow.ly/9mQ4p

      Thank you again for introducing me to such a phenomenal book!

      • Sandy March 2, 2012 at 10:15 am #

        Jadah,

        I had used the author/publisher’s website (which was not updated, but may be now) and sent an email inquiry about the book.
        I was able to order one signed by the author.

        At the time, she was getting to release her next book Zero.
        I meant to order it for Makani’s first birthday gift back in 2010.

        If you haven’t already used he gift card, look into ordering one direct. They/she is based in Northern CA/SF (I can’t remember exactly where).

        I love the artistry and message of the book too.
        I believe Zero is supposed to be just as wonderful.
        I am not sure, but think Zero might be about bullying.

        • Sandy March 3, 2012 at 1:13 am #

          Zero is not about bullying. Described as having “underlying message about self-worth.”

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