When we talk about books about joy, we talk about all aspects of joy and the many forms it comes in. Unfortunately, many children’s books that feature BIPOC characters do not explore the many facets of joy that BIPOC children experience. It’s so important for each child to see themselves in every aspect of life—especially those that exude happiness and normalcy.
Today, we are recommending books that explore the joy of family and friends. You can find more books in our Books About Joy reading list here.
When Aidan Became a Brother, written by Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita: This sweet picture book celebrates the changes in a transgender boy’s life, from his initial coming out to becoming a big brother.
The Electric Slide and Kai, written by Kelly J. Baptist, illustrated 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.
Maya’s Blanket/La manta de Maya, written by Monica Brown, illustrated by David Diaz: Based on a Yiddish folk song, a young girl’s cherished baby blanket becomes old and worn over time and she finds new ways to use it as she grows up.
A Space for Me by Cathryn Falwell: Alex needs a break from his pesky little brother, Lucas, so he creates a space for himself, but soon realizes that he and Lucas need time together too.
Family Poems for Every Day of the Week/Poemas familiares para cada día de la semana, written by Francisco Alarcón, illustrated by Maya Christina 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.
A Morning with Grandpa, written by Sylvia Liu, illustrated by Christina Forshay: A curious and active little girl spends the day learning tai chi from her grandfather, and in turn tries to teach him how to do yoga.
Juna’s Jar, written by Jane Park, illustrated by Felicia Hoshino: Juna, an imaginative Korean American girl, goes on magical adventures, by way of her special kimchi jar, in search of her best friend who moved away. Check out the upcoming Juna and Appa, a tender ode to fathers and to the many families working behind shop counters.
When the Shadbush Blooms, written by Carla Messinger with Susan Katz, illustrated by David Kanietakeron Fadden: A young Lenape girl observes and reflects on the small, important ways her family today, and her ancestors generations before, celebrate the cycle of seasons.
On These Magic Shores by Yamile Saied Méndez: Minerva must take care of her sisters after her mother’s disappearance in this magical middle grade story that pairs perfectly with Peter Pan.
Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe García McCall: In this young adult retelling of The Odyssey, Odilia and her four sisters journey to Mexico to return a dead man to his family and encounter magical creatures along the way.
Lee & Low’s Books About Joy Booklist & Book Collection:
Books About Joy Booklist
Books About Joy Book Collection
Additional recommended resources:
Home Library Questionnaire
Children’s Books About Joy Reading List
Children’s Books About Joy: 10 Books About the Joy of Play
10 Picture Books That Are Not About Oppression