I was going to call this post “Favorite Multicultural Picture Books” or “Favorite Ethnic Picture Books” except those are not accurate phrases to describe this list– there are many multicultural and ethnic picture books we read and love that feature light-skinned children. But this list is for those of you who want your kids to see brown people/children as the protagonists in picture books.
1.) Rain School (Rumford) This is my 4 year-old’s favorite book of all time. It goes with us everywhere. What a wonderful story about a group of kids in Chad who must build their own school. It’s the perfect back-to-school book!
2.) One Grain of Rice(Demi) This book has fallen apart at our house. I may have to break down and buy a new copy. Set in India, this book offers a great lesson about sharing, as well as a little math. The artwork is striking.
3.) The Empty Pot (Demi) In China, Ping learns about the grace of admitting defeat. Demi is one of my favorite children’s book authors. This one is a classic.
4.) Stone Soup (Muth) This version of the classic story is set in China. Another favorite book around here that gets read over and over again.
5.) The Story of Little Babaji We love this book set in India. It’s a little long for the younger ones, but a great read if your child can sit still for 10 minutes.
6.) El Barrio (Chocolate) I love the collage-like illustrations in this book. A young boy shows off the urban Hispanic neighborhood he comes from.
7.) Children Around the World (Montanari) This was probably the first multicultural picture book we ever read. I like it because it showcases different countries and the children who live in them.
8.) Ruler of the Courtyard (Khan). Set in Pakistan, Saba must overcome her fear of snakes. A great read about bravery and overcoming one’s fears.
9.) Beatrice’s Goat (McBrier) I need to go ahead and buy this one because I’m sick of checking it out of the library. Another wonderful, very different kind of Back-to-School book set in a small African village.
10.) Snowy Day (Keats) You already know this book– your toddler has chewed it up. Still, I couldn’t write this list without also mentioning this classic.
12.) Seed Magic Rose wants to grow a garden of beautiful flowers in her urban city. Will the magic seeds work? They will if your kids use their imagination. Gorgeous, painted illustrations.
13.) Lila and the Secret of Rain (Conway) Lila tells the sky the saddest things she knows so it will cry raindrops to end the drought in her African village. Poetic language and gorgeous illustrations.
14.) Tiger on a Tree (Ravishankar) What do you do with a tiger after you capture it? Set in India, this book is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.
15.) The Umbrella Queen(Bridges) Another favorite here. In Thailand, Noot finally gets to paint her own umbrella– and surprises everyone with what she comes up with.
16.) Yoon and the Jade Bracelet (Recorvits) Yoon, a Korean-American girl, learns how to speak up for herself.
Go check these books out of the library or purchase them for your kids today.
And if you know and love other picture books with brown children that aren’t on the list, please let me know! I’d love to read them.