50+ Children’s Books That Feature Kids Of Color Just Being Kids

Written by

Erin Feher & Katie Hintz-Zambrano

7:00 am
06/01/20

News flash—of the 3,134 children’s books published in 2018, 50% feature main characters who are white. Which wouldn’t sound too terrible until you hear that another 27% feature main characters who are animals, so that leaves only 23% to split up between American Indian/First Nation (1%), Latinx (5%), African/African American (10%), and Asian Pacific Islander/Asian Pacific American (7%) characters. With these stats in mind—how can we expect our kids to feel seen and build a more equitable future if the books we are writing for them have such glaring disparities?

Back in 2014, when the stats about diversity in kids’ books were even more abysmal (a 2013 study revealed that of 3,200 children’s books published that year, just 93 were about black people), author and illustrator Christopher Myers wrote poignantly about the apartheid of literature: “in which characters of color are limited to the townships of occasional historical books that concern themselves with the legacies of civil rights and slavery but are never given a pass card to traverse the lands of adventure, curiosity, imagination or personal growth.” Naturally, the lack of children’s books featuring kids of color just being kids can have a big effect. Studies have shown that recognizing oneself in a text and understanding that your life and lives of people like you are worthy of being told and celebrated helps kids develop a crucial type of self love.

As Christine Platt, the author of the Ana & Andrew series, recently wrote about on MOTHER, stocking your child’s shelves with books featuring a diverse array of characters is key for many reasons. One, she points out, is the importance of having both “windows and mirrors”—in essence, being able to see yourself in a book (a mirror) as well as being able to peek into the lives of others (a window). To help you strengthen the offerings in your own bookshelves with plenty of windows and mirrors for your children, we’ve rounded up over 50 great books featuring main characters from a variety of backgrounds. If your favorite is missing off of our list, please let us know in the comments, as we’ll be updating this article with new titles as they roll in!

For more great diverse kids books recommendations, check out our roundups on Black History Books For KidsKids Books About GenderChildren’s Books That Spotlight LGBTQ+ CharactersBooks That Shine A Light On Different AbilitiesKids’ Books That Celebrate Muslim Faith & CultureBooks With Strong Female LeadsThe Best Children’s Books of 2019, and our favorite books-themed Instagram accounts to follow!

Leave a Comment

11 comments

Danielle

Hiya! Great list! We love so many titles on this list! But you forgot to include The Amazing Adventures of Aya & Pete, it’s a series of travel inspired books for kids!

Joe Freeman

Greetings,

I love your list of amazing books but I was wondering if you would add my books: The Adventures of Bg series.

Sarah

Thanks for the list. however, I would recommend in the future that you do not link it to amazon to purchase and pick BIPOC bookshops or at least independent bookshops to purchase from. Just a thought

Amanda

Hiking Day by Anne Rockwell, a picture book for nature lovers.

Molly

Zoey and Sassafras is another great chapter book series!

Hannah

great selection!don’t leave out the original American Girl series which are for slightly older girls, and teach different periods of black history! Meet Addy, and Meet Melody . z

Tracie Loux

Recommending “Every Day is Making Day” by Sara Traina Mitchell, a story that encourages children to create and invent. It reflects diversity in numerous ways.

Kari Schiffman

Please add Dear Black Boy by Martellus Bennett

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