In looking for books with protagonists of color, most readers find that the books they see about protagonists of color surround their marginalization (in fact, this recent New York Times piece on the topic went viral). Though it is vastly important for children to understand the history and complexity of oppression, racism, and discrimination, children, especially children of color, also deserve to see themselves thrive, to experience the joy of being a part of a loving community, and to not be stuck in a cycle of oppressive narratives that can shape how others view them. Below we’ve compiled a list of diverse books that reflect the daily lives of children and feature kids just being kids!
Black All Around
by Patrica Hubbell, illus. by Don Tate
Join a young girl as she discovers all the wonderful things around her that are black.
The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen
by Thelma Godin, illus. by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
A spunky African American girl has a hula-hooping competition with her friends in Harlem, and soon everyone in the neighborhood—young and old alike—joins in on the fun.
The Marisol McDonald series
by Monica Brown, illus. by Sara Palacios
Meet Marisol McDonald, a free-spirited Peruvian-Scottish-American girl headed straight into the hearts of young readers everywhere. Fans of the award-winning Marisol McDonald series will be encouraged to embrace their own uniqueness like Marisol who takes pride in her individuality.
Purchase the collection here.
Family Poems for Every Day of the Week/Poemas familiares para cada día de la semana
by Francisco Alarcón, illus. by Maya Christina Gonzalez
Partly based on the real life experiences of Alarcón’s own family, this festive, celebratory collection of poems highlights the daily life of children while also honoring the experiences of the poet’s Latino family in the United States.
by Jane Bahk, illus. by Felicia Hoshino
Juna and her best friend, Hector, love to go on adventures in the park, collecting things to put in Juna’s empty kimchi jars. But then one day Hector unexpectedly moves away. With the help of her special jar, Juna searches for her friend the world over. What Juna finds is that adventure—and new friends—can be found in the most unexpected places.
The Blue Roses
by Linda Boyden, illus. by Amy Córdova
With gentle words and magical images, this contemporary Native American story tenderly embraces the natural cycle of life.
Purchase the book here.
King for a Day
by Rukhsana Khan, illus. by Christiane Krömer
This lively, contemporary story introduces readers to a centuries-old festival and the traditional sport of kite fighting, and to a spirited, determined young boy who masters the sport while finding his own way to face and overcome life’s challenges.
written and illustrated by Cathryn Falwell
It’s a rainy summer day, but the vegetables in Grandpa’s garden are just waiting to be picked. Yellow peppers, purple cabbage, red tomatoes, green zucchini, orange carrots, and more. So many colors! So many delicious ingredients to slice, chop, peel, and dice for a great big pot of mouthwatering Rainbow Stew.
Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji
by F. Zia, illus. by Ken Min
Aneel’s grandparents have come to stay, all the way from India. Aneel loves the sweet smell of his grandmother’s incense, and his grandfather, Dada-ji, tells the world’s best stories. When he was a boy, adventurous, energetic Dada-ji had the power of a tiger. And what gave him his power? Fluffy-puffy hot, hot roti, with a bit of tongue-burning mango pickle. Does Dada-ji still have the power? Aneel wants to find out—but first he has to figure out how to whip up a batch of hot, hot roti.
A Morning with Grandpa
by Sylvia Liu, illus. by Christina Forshay
Mei Mei’s grandpa is practicing tai chi in the garden, and Mei Mei is eager to join in. As Gong Gong tries to teach her the slow, graceful movements, Mei Mei enthusiastically does them with her own flair. Then Mei Mei takes a turn, trying to teach Gong Gong the yoga she learned in school. Will Gong Gong be able to master the stretchy, bendy poses?
Can you think of other titles to add to the list? Share your recommendations in the comments!