Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for First Grade

Reading books with children at a young age not only helps them be better prepared for school, but it also opens their minds to new cultures and experiences. Exposing children in first grade to both “mirror” and “window” books – that is, books in which they can see themselves, and books in which they can learn about others- is the best way to create engaged readers and support social and emotional learning.

Lee & Low Books is a children’s book publisher specializing in diversity. We offers hundreds of great books for first graders, along with free teacher guides and lesson plans for each book! Our books include English, Spanish, and bilingual titles; books about many different cultures; books that span a wide range of subjects and themes; and both fiction and nonfiction. Browse all our books and collections for grades PreK – 2, and check out our other book lists by grade:

Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for Preschool

Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for Kindergarten

Favorite Multicultural Books for First Grade

1. Magic Like That by Samara Cole Doyon, illus. by Geneva Bowers: 

In this celebration of Black Girl Magic, a young girl finds confidence and excitement in the versatility of her natural hair and the way her different hairstyles reflect the natural world.

2. The Electric Slide and Kai by Kelly J. Baptist, illus. by Darnell Johnson: 

Kai is the only member of his family who can’t get the dance steps to the Electric Slide right. But Kai is determined to bust a move in this fun and sweet celebration of African American families.

3. Pablo’s Pet (Confetti Kids #9) by Sheri Tan, illus. by Shirley Ng-Benitez:

In this new early chapter book in the popular Confetti Kids series, Pablo learns to deal with the loss of his much-loved pet fish. Also available in Spanish, La mascota de Pablo.

4. The Protest (Confetti Kids #10)by Samantha Thornhill, illus. by Shirley Ng-Benitez:


In this new book in the popular Confetti Kids series, Lily and her friends organize a protest in order to save their neighborhood public garden from being demolished. Also available in Spanish, La protesta.

5. Family Poems for Every Day of the Week/ Poemas familiares para cada dia de la semana  by Francisco X. Alarcón, illus. by Maya Gonzalez: 

A bilingual collection of poetry by the late Francisco X. Alarcón, acclaimed Chicano poet, celebrating the days of the week and everyday childhood experiences.

6. The Turtle Ship by Helena Ku Rhee, illus. by Colleen Kong-Savage:

A young Korean boy named Sun-sin designs one of the greatest battleships in history and fulfills his dream of sailing the world.

7. Sparkle Boy by Lesléa Newman, illus. by Maria Mola: 

Young Casey loves sparkly things, just like his older sister, who does not approve until an encounter with teasing bullies helps her learn to accept and respect Casey for who he is.

8. Rainbow Weaver/Tejedora del arcoiris by Linda Elovitz Marshall, illus. by Elisa Chavarri: 

A young Mayan girl isn’t allowed to use her mother’s thread to weave, so with a little ingenuity she discovers how to repurpose plastic bags to create colorful weavings. Based on an actual recycling movement in Guatemala.

9. Destiny’s Gift  by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, illus. by Adjoa J. Burrowes:


Destiny loves words, and her favorite place in the world is Mrs. Wade’s bookstore, where words abound.

10. Summer Sun Risin’ by W. Nikola-Lisa, illus. by Don Tate:

From sunrise to sunset, an African American boy spends an activity-filled summer day helping his family on their farm. Also available in Spanish, El sol del verano.

Free Customized Orders

Want to create a book order based on reading level, theme, and/or student demographics? We can help! Our in-house Sales & Literacy Team can help you build a free custom book order for your school or district.

Contact Katie Potter at kpotter@leeandlow.com to get started!

Further Reading

Culturally Responsive Teaching in First Grade: Intentional Selection of Texts for Reading Instruction

Social Activism Books for First Grade

Bebop Books: Guided Reading Book Sets for the Classroom

Building Classroom Community in First Grade

What Does Close Reading Look Like in First Grade?

Also check out our amazing PreK-2 collections:

Diverse Background English Collection for PreK-2preschool classroom collections image

Asian American English Collection for PreK-2

English Fiction Collection for PreK-2

Poetry Collection for PreK-2

3 thoughts on “Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for First Grade”

  1. This is great! I was just looking for books for this age group. I will be adding an art project along with the book I choose. Can you point me in the direction of some ideas? A site, a page, a pinterest board? I find tons of art activities based on books, but not any that feature characters of color! Please help!
    Lisha and Big T of Tales with Big T

  2. Hi. I really like all these books. I am compiling a multicultural database library for my graduate school. I am currently compiling and I was instructed by my professor to place date of publication. Where can i possibly get it for the 10 multicultural books for first grade?

    Thanks alot.

Comments are closed.