I love reading. There are many things that books can teach us, and they can also open our eyes to new worlds and give us new perspectives. It’s a feeling I love to share with my kids, too. Then I’ll read to them before they go to sleep. I’ll take them on their own wild journey.
It turns out that there are certain books that my kids and I keep reading again and again because they inspire us in a more direct way than other books. These are books that promote inclusivity and diversity and are great educational tools for my kids. They are almost like they were made for them. During Black History Month, I’ve already shared some of my favorite books, but you know what else? There are always new books coming out and new favorites of ours to share!
It’s easy to show your kids the beauty of our multi-colored and multicultural world by reading these 16 wonderful and cute books. They remind me that we all have something to give and there are things in this world that bring us together. This is true even in times like these, when things seem so divided.
Lupita Nyong’o’s book Sulwe was one of the best things I’ve done in the last two years. I read it at my kids’ school right before they went into lockdown. I was moved by how the kids talked about it. Six and seven-year-olds started talking about race in a healthy way on their own without any help. People use words and stories to make things happen. I can’t say enough good things about these books.
Why Diversity and Inclusion Books Are So Important
Representation is important. When society doesn’t look like everyone, people will always wonder, “Do I belong here?” I don’t want my kids to grow up feeling like they can’t do certain things because they don’t look, sound, or act like the people they see on TV or in the media.
It’s why there is so much anger about things like the Oscars not giving awards to non-white actors, producers, and directors. As you can see, this is not because white adults or kids have no opportunities and dreams. It’s not even because people don’t want that. Children who can identify with their heroes and try to be like them is a great thing for them to have. It’s important for people to see people who aren’t like them. And for us to see the world as the beautiful, unique place that it is. But, as a Black parent of three mixed-race kids, I sometimes worry that my kids won’t reach for the stars like other kids because they don’t see anyone who looks like them already doing it.
Those books for kids that teach them about diversity and how to be more inclusive are important because that’s why. They have main characters that my kids can relate to, as well as other characters that we can look into. They aren’t just side characters. They’ve been made into heroes. In the evening, I read to my kids. They feel like they belong.
My Favorite Diversity and Inclusion Books for Kids
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o
So, so much. I’m in love with this book. There were lots of kids in Ty’s class who were interested when I read it. Lupita Nyong’o, who won an Academy Award for her role in “12 Years a Slave,” has dark skin. Everyone else’s in her family or at school has a different color than hers. She starts to feel like an outsider, and all she wants to do is be like everyone else. Then, she goes on a magical journey that opens her eyes and changes her life for good.
I Love My Hair! by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
A great story about being proud of your skin and your hair. It doesn’t matter how gently Mama pulls on Keyana’s hair when she puts her to bed every night. Keyana thinks she’s cursed or even unlucky because she has frizzy hair, which I know I felt as a child. It doesn’t stop there. Mama shows Keyana all the ways her hair is great and how to make it look beautiful. 🙂 I love this book 🙂
Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor
Diversity and inclusion isn’t just about race. It’s about more than just that. Justice Sonia Sotomayor and artist Rafael Lopez have made the perfect book to show us that our differences are what make each one of us unique. As a child, Justice Sotomayor was diagnosed with diabetes. She talks about kids with all kinds of problems, and looks at the special powers they have, like being able to help other people. A must-have in your collection of books about diversity and inclusion for kids, this one is a good one.
Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry
Another fun book about curls, kinks, and coils. Zuri’s dad needs to give her an extra-special hairstyle like in the short film that won an Oscar. He has a lot to learn about how to do it. In this great story, you can be who you are and have a great relationship with your dad, too!
Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson
Based on a true story and another great book that was made into a movie, Emmanuel is a boy who was born in Ghana with a deformed leg. He is now an adult. The majority of people didn’t believe in him. His mother, on the other hand, told him to reach for his dreams. He used to walk two miles to school every day. In 2001, he cycled 400 miles to show that he can do anything he puts his mind to.
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
Tristan Strong doesn’t feel too strong after failing to save his friend in an accident. Angry, he opens a portal to a new world, where he finds himself in the middle of a fight between two black-American gods, John Henry and Brer Rabbit. He must save this new world before time runs out, so Tristan must act quickly. This is a series of books that I’m reading with my kids right now that I find very interesting. Great for kids who are older.
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson
As someone who has been through slavery, I think this book is a very real look at it. But it’s also accessible for a young child learning about the horrors of the era for the first time. African-American women helped our country achieve its promise of liberty and justice by getting their own freedom and equal rights. This book tells this story through the eyes of a one hundred-year-old African-American female narrator.
The Talking Eggs by Robert D. San Souci
Another Southern folktale. Her sister Blanche is greedy, so she mocks an old witch and learns a lesson. This is another one of my favorite stories to read to a group of young people.
I Promise by Lebron James
NBA star LeBron James has written a picture book that is based on his foundation’s I PROMISE program. It’s a great way to get kids all over the world to always try to be the best they can be. It’s done by the amazing artist Nina Mata, and the book is a great way to get your kids to dream.
The World Needs More Purple People by Kristen Bell
I love this story because it’s such a great idea. They want their readers to become purple people by embracing what makes them unique and finding common ground with the people in their lives.